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A trip of coal cars at the Frances mine is ready to be taken to the tipple where it would be weighted and dumped into a waiting railroad coal car. Each car could hold from one to three tons. The cars were built so they could be easily tipped. The coal would be dumped into large railroad cars, which held approximately 100 tons. Photo from Rossiter, Pennsylvania: Her Past and Present, 1978, Frank Basile.

nineteenth Century immigrant Displayed Dedication and heroism in the Coal Mine

This picture shows the Frances mine tipple under construction. The tipple would house the weight-master and the scales. It had to be of sufficient height to accommodate a railroad hopper, which held up to 100 tons. Photo from Rossiter, Pennsylvania: Her Past and Present, 1978, Frank Basile.


By the Coal Memorial Committee for Hometown magazine homas Madden arrived in the United States from England in 1882. He was seven years old. His father, John Madden, was born in County Galway, Ireland, and migrated to England where he met and married Catherine Silk. Seeking a better life for their family of four children: John, Thomas, Hannah and Julia, they came to America and arrived in the Punxsutawney area about 1890. They established a home in Clayville, now the West End of Punxsutawney. Three children were born to the family in the United

States: James, Matthew and Felix. Punxsutawney was in the midst of the coal boom. After completing school, four of their sons found jobs in the coal industry. John found work at Riker’s Yard with the Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburg Railway. He later moved to Youngstown, Ohio, where he was employed as an engineer with United States Steel. James found work with the Rochester and Pittsburg Coal and Iron Company in their mine at Eleanora. James enjoyed playing baseball with the local Eleanora team. He was considered the best amateur pitcher in this area of the state. He had advanced to the po-

sition of assistant mine foreman at Eleanora mine No. 2, and had a solid mine career ahead when he was taken ill with the Spanish influenza and died in October, 1918. Felix opted to work as a coal miner and lived at home with his parents. The Madden’s daughters married men who were engaged in coal industries. Julia married Thomas O’Malia, who worked on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and Hannah married John F. Quinn, who was a machine man in the mines operated by the A.L. Light Company. Quinn was killed in a rock-fall at the Munderf mine in 1922, leaving Hannah and six children under the age of 14. Thomas Madden’s mining career was both heroic and tragic. By 1907, he had advanced to the position of fire boss at the Eleanora mine. This position carried the responsibility of inspecting the mine to assure the working conditions were safe. He continued his studies of mining and passed the examination which qualified him for promotion to the position of mine foreman second grade in 1910. During Thomas Madden’s time, mining in the Punxsutawney area was undergoing major changes. About 1905, the BerwindWhite Company began to dispose of their coal mining operations and their undeveloped coal lands in the Jefferson County area. The A.L. Light Company purchased and continued the operation of some of the Berwind White Company mines in the Horatio area. The Punxsutawney Coal Company, whose principals included Dr. W.S. Blaisdell and Dr.

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Frank Lorenzo, purchased a Berwind-White mine at Anita. The Punxsutawney Coal Company expanded its operation when Dr. Blaisdell purchased the farm of H.F. McCullough near Rossiter, where the company made the first of the three openings for the Frances mine in 1908. The Frances mine opening was on a hillside. A hoist was used to haul the cars up and down the incline. In 1919, in an effort to shorten the tracks, the Punxsutawney Coal Company built a tunnel through the hill. While the tunnel was being built, a fine grade of coal was discovered on the north-facing slope. Two additional headings were driven off the main line in order to mine what seemed to be an unending seam of four-foot coal. These headings were numbered Frances No. 4 and No. 5. The Buffalo and Rochester Coal and Iron Company closed their operations at Eleanora after the strike in 1924. The company was focusing its efforts on mines in Indiana County. The closing of these mines was the beginning of the end of large mining companies investing in the local coal mining industry. This opened the doors for local operators to organize mining companies, purchase the vacated properties and operate the mines. Leaving Eleanora, Thomas Madden found work as a mine foreman with the A.L. Light Company mine at Sportsburg. On an April morning in 1926, he went to work, entering the mine alone as he usually did. He turned on the air pump and begin the day’s opera-


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Punxsutawney Hometown’s Groundhog Festival Edition – July 2019 - Issue #225 – 23

Profile for Punxsutawney Hometown Magazine

#225 July 2019  

53rd Annual Groundhog Festival Punxsutawney Groundhog Festival Schedule of Events 2019 Just a Hometown Girl and Her Truck Aimee Rheaume's Pl...

#225 July 2019  

53rd Annual Groundhog Festival Punxsutawney Groundhog Festival Schedule of Events 2019 Just a Hometown Girl and Her Truck Aimee Rheaume's Pl...