Franks, Johnnie 1967-04-01

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Former Italian-American coal miner Johnnie Franks and two women familiar with Thurber recall their impressions of the mining community from the turn of the century to the mine’s closing in 1921. Included are discussions on the town’s economic and social character, social and recreational activities, the company’s facilities and policies, and labor union organization.

General Interview Information

Interviewee Name: Johnnie Franks

Additional Parties Recorded:

Date: April 1, 1967

Location: Mingus, Texas

Interviewer: Charles Townsend

Length: 2 hours


Tape 1, Side 1: Work with coal mine at Thurber, 1914-1921, Recalls United Mine Workers strike, 1921, W. K. Gordon, owner of T. P. Mine, characterized, Coal miners' wages, $5.70 a day, Working conditions and mining methods discussed, Fatal accident described, Geological and technological contrasts to Illinois coal mines, National and ethnic groups in Thurber, Various mines and mining facilities remembered, Scattering and return to Europe of immigrant miners after closing of the mine, Origin and history of Thurber mines, United Mine Workers organized, 1903, Labor-management conflict and accommodation, Labor union administration discussed, Comparison of attitudes of Italian and American locals

Tape 1, Side 2: Blank

Tape 2, Side 1: Describes collective bargaining session between company official, E. L. Marston, and union officials at Fort Worth, Lawrence Santi, union representative, mentioned, Entertainments at Thurber, Italian community and socialists recalled, Americanization of Italian names, Thurber politics and businesses remembered, Mentions "The Snake" saloon and food prices, Thurber as a local agricultural market, Varieties of Italian social activities, T. P. brickyard described, Discusses early Thurber, Praises housing accommodations at Thurber, Water supply problems and wine making, Housing accommodations, again, Company even owned mortuary

Tape 2, Side 2: Blank

Tape 3, Side 1: Describes company payroll, recruiting, and personnel policies, Company officials' backgrounds and characters recalled, Oil boom and subsequent decline of the mine--1918-1924, Present condition of the mines, Liquidation of Texas and Pacific Coal and Oil Company for $250 million, Company medical plan explained, Company owned telephone company and fire department discussed, Independent barbers mentioned, Discusses company coupons, payroll, and advance payment policies, Information concerning company utilities, Describes varieties of coal, Union officials mentioned, Union records discussed, Reference to upcoming article in Fort Worth Star Telegram concerning Gordon, Texas, Cites Mary J. Gentry's thesis: "A History of Thurber", Personal appearance of miners, Texas Governor James E. Ferguson visited Thurber, Attitude toward Governor Ferguson, Union dues were $0.60 a month

Tape 3, Side 2: Blank

Tape 4, Side 1: Union organization and administration discussed, Negroes held membership in the Italian local union, Contrast between American and Italian union locals, Farm labor union in Erath County recalled, AF of L bricklayers union, Describes two or three month strike and company reaction to the strike, Texas Rangers present at the 1903 strike, Past and present labor demands listed and compared, Company policy on working hours and bath policy, Bitter attitude toward public reaction to miners demands, Company sponsorship of prize fights, Immigrant interest in operas, Community law enforcement and mores, Company sponsored trip to the Dallas Fair and parade in Fort Worth, Townsend reads the inscription on the memorial in Thurber

Tape 4, Side 2: Blank

Range Dates: 1903-1924

Bulk Dates: 1903-1924

Access Information

Original Recording Format:

Recording Format Notes:


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