Thursday, July 11, 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday: Our Brick Walls, A Coal Miner's Prayer

You know how it is: when something comes up on your radar as a pleasant surprise and a little while later a similar thing pops up again? Well it was like that for me recently when someone who is helpful and a genea-pal to all posted "The Coal Miner's Prayer" to the Allegany County, Maryland RootsWeb mailing list. Then in a couple of days Genie Regan who is "editor by default" of the wonderful web site of all things Allegany County, Our Brick Walls, posted another Coal Miner's Prayer!

I can't decide which I like most, and why should I, because each has its charms. If you have coal mining ancestors, especially those who were coal miners over The Pond and came here seeking a better life for their families only to find hard work and difficulties here, then your heart will melt just a bit (or maybe a lot) reading the following.

From Our Brick Walls:

Allegany County ~ 1845

Take a look at these hands, Lord.
They’re worn and rough.
My face scarred with coal marks. My language is tough.
But you know in the heart lies the soul of a man.
Who toils at a living that few men can stand.
There’s sulphur and coal-dust and sweat on my brow.
To live like a rich man — I’d never learn how.

But if you’ve got a corner when my work is through,
I’d be mighty proud to live neighbors with you.
Each dawn as I rise, Lord, I know all too well
I face only one thing — a pit filled with Hell.

To scratch out a living the best that I can.
But deep in this heart lies the soul of a man.
With black-covered faces and hard calloused hands,
We ride the dark tunnels, our work to begin.
To labor and toil as we harvest the coal.
We silently pray, "Lord, please harvest our souls!"

Just a corner in Heaven when I’ve grown too old.
And my back it won’t bend, Lord to shovel the coal.
Lift me out of the pit where the sun never shines,
‘Cause it gets mighty weary down here in the mine.

But I’d rather be me, Lord, Tho’no riches I show,
Though tired and wary, I’m just glad to know
When the Great Seal is broken the pages will tell
That I’ve already spent my time in Hell.
~Author Unknown
(Courtesy of Marion Chappel)

From Shawn McGreevy posted to the MDALLEGA RootsWeb email list.

The Coal Miner's Prayer

Each dawn as we rise, Lord we all know too well,
We face only one thing - a pit filled with hell.
To scratch out a living the best we can,
But deep in the heart, lies the soul of a man.
With black covered faces, and hard calloused hands,
We work the dark tunnels, unable to stand
To labor and toil as we harvest the coals,
We silently pray "Lord please harvest our souls".

The Coal Miner's Prayer, By: W. Calvert

Some of the coal miners on our tree, and some other photos:

My great grandfather Daniel Williams (1852 - 1920), second from left and a mine supervisor.

Standing, my Grandpop Kelly, a coal miner who contracted black lung disease.
John Lee Kelly (1892 - 1969)


Above, the interior of a typical coal mine interior in the George's Creek mine fields,
at the Frostburg Museum, Frostburg Maryland.

Treasure Chest Thursday is a blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers.

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1 comment:

  1. I have more than a handful of coal miners among my ancestors. Thanks for sharing the poems.