HAYES, JAMES, who has been in charge of the Mount Olive coal mines as “pit boss” ever since the mines were opened in 1875, was born at Newcastle-on-Tyne, England, January 2d, 1841. He has followed the coal mining business all his life, and has the reputation of understanding it thoroughly. His father, Joseph Hayes, was a coal miner at Newcastle, and was “deputy” or “assistant superintendent,” and had charge of a number of men in the coal pits. Newcastle is the great centre of the coal mining business in England. Mr. Hayes went to school for a few years, and when twelve years old first went to work at coal mining on top of the pits, and afterwards was promoted to a place in the yards. At Newcastle coal mining is carried on extensively and he had opportunities for learning many practical details of the business. In 1859 he came to America when eighteen years old. Landing at New York he came directly to Alton, where a gentleman lived with whom he had been acquainted in England. He found employment at once at repairing cars for the Madison county coal company of Wood river, and worked for that company till he went into the army.In 1862 he enlisted for three years in Company “K’, Eightieth Illinois regiment. His regiment was in the Army of the East, and served in Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama. He was in the battle with the Confederate General Morgan at Perryville, eight miles from Murfreesboro, and was on the raid through Georgia against Gen. Forrest. This raid was made by a brigade of picked men, and the whole brigade was captured six miles from Rome, George. He was taken with the others to the celebrated Belle Isle prison at Richmond, Virginia, but was exchanged after staying there twelve days. He rejoined his regiment at Nashville, Tennessee, and was next in the battle of Lookout Mountain. He had held the rank of second sergeant; but after that battle it being ascertained that he had some knowledge of the mining business, he was detailed to the quartermaster’s department to superintend the construction of shutes and the mining of coal at Chattanooga for the boats on the Tennessee river. He was in the quartermaster’s department mining coal, and attending to the shipment of goods till the close of the war. He came back to Illinois after the war and worked a while for the Madison county coal company, and then went to O’Fallon in St. Clair county, where he was building cars and laying switches till 1873. From that date he was in the mining business at Moro till 1875, when came to Mount Olive.
In 1868 he married Ida Sathoff, of Montgomery county, Illinois. She died in 1875. He has four children. He is a republican in politics. His long experience in coal mining has made him a competent man for the position he now occupies. He has learned his business in all its details, and under his direction the Mount Olive mines have been worked with a high degree of success and efficiency.