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Lon Taylor†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Ray Taylor†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Ferd Taylor

 

 

A TRIBUTE TO THE BLACK LEAD MINERS

By Jane (Taylor) Turner

 

Many have forgotten that there were Black Lead Miners who lived and worked in the lead and tiff mines of Jefferson County, MO.`Some of the miners were slaves, some free and some were women.Among the names of the miners, you will find, Taylor, Murphy, Brown, Kelley, Cacy/Casey, Bisch, McGuire/Maguire and many others.

 

During slavery, the slave owner would allow some of the slaves to work in the mines during a part of the year, and they would farm the land during another part of the year.

 

The Valles Mining Company also used some black miners to extract the lead from their mines. Some of the mineshafts were called by the last name of the family or slave owner. Some of our relatives worked for this company even after slavery was abolished.Some remained and lived on the land and made an agreement with the company to work in the mines, sale what they mined to the company, and they received credit or payments for their labor.Some received credit to buy items through the companyís store. These agreements helped them to provide for their families.

 

I have been researching my family on Ancestry.com and as I looked over the census records, and the Civil War Record.Our Great Uncle, Ferdinand Taylor worked for the company doing underground mining at the age of 17.His father, Jerome Taylor, is also listed as an underground miner during this same period of time.Our Grandfather, Lon/Alonzo Taylor, listed the Valles Mining Company as his employer on his draft registration card. It was through this listing that I found additional information about our family history.

 

As we try to piece together our lost history, it was wonderful to find information of where our family lived, how they worked and some of the struggles they had. I had an opportunity to tour the Lost History Museum, in Valles Mines, MO.I saw some of the equipment the miners had to use. I saw pay check stubs that belonged to some of our family members on the wall of the museum.I saw ledger books with the names of other family members written in the ledger books.†† For a time, a part of history came alive to me as I connected with the names that appeared. I viewed the land that the Taylors, Bisch, and Kelley Families lived on, when they lived there.

 

As generations lived on, our family members moved to the Herculaneum, MO area of Jefferson County, MO, in the early 1920ís.Some of the black miners were hired by the St. Joseph Lead Company, and some were hired by the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company that was located in Crystal City, MO.Some businesses would not hire black workers, but some of the factories in the area would.

 

When I grew up in Herculaneum, there were about 10-12 black families in the area.

Most of those families lived in a segregated section of town. Everyone that could work at the plant seemed to work there. I would see some of the workers going down the street, walking to work with their bib overalls, and their blue shirts and their blue denim jackets with pin-stripped pockets and collars on them.Blacks came from other surrounding cities to go into work for the company.

 

I didnít know until recently, that the black workers for a long time were only allowed to work in the Blast Furnace.My Great Uncle Ferd/Ferdinand Taylor, retired from the company, as did his brother, Lon/Alonzo. Our father, Ray R. Taylor, also retired from the company, after over 40 years of service. Before his retirement, he was a guard on the back gate of the factory.Our brother, Robert, recently retired after working first in the laboratory, and at their Viburnum,

MO, location.It was a sign things were changing. After many years, the name of the company has changed, to The Doe Run Company.

 

I thank God for our relatives that endured hardships, and adversities, so that their families could live and thrive.We are all grateful for our parents who sacrificed for us, and let their dreams be sit aside, so their children would have a better life.

 

I am grateful for this lost legacy that has been revealed to us even now, to know we also had loved ones who worked, lived and died in the mines of Jefferson County, MO.