Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Pearl W. Davis, August 21, 1986

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:00 - Early coal mining

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Partial Transcript: When we started--when I first started...

Segment Synopsis: Pearl W. Davis talks about his early work in the coal mines.

Keywords: 1940s; Coal camps; Horses in mines; New Garden Coal Company; Pay per ton; Physical work; Tonage

Subjects: Buckhorn (Ky.); Coal miners--Kentucky; Coal mining

00:03:24 - The coal mines: employees, pay, safety and Explosives

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Partial Transcript: What was different about the mines then and than now?

Segment Synopsis: Davis talks about the wages, lack of safety, and the use of black powder in the mines.

Keywords: "Shoot the coal"; Black powder; Dangers; Hard work; Mine inspector; Pay by shift; Section bosses; Timber supports; Wages; Work conditions

Subjects: Coal miners--Kentucky; Coal mines and mining-Explosives

00:10:28 - Mechanization of coal mining / injuries

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Partial Transcript: The last that I worked in the mines?

Segment Synopsis: Davis talks about the machines that replaced men in the mines, and his many injuries. [This segment contains considerable background noise]

Keywords: Injuries; Less men; Missed work

Subjects: Coal mine accidents; Coal miners--Kentucky; Coal mines and mining--Kentucky

00:15:39 - Workmen's compensation / lack of mine safety in the past

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Partial Transcript: Uh, they just, created an accidental insurance and that was all...

Segment Synopsis: Davis talks about the compensation he received after being hurt. He also talks about the condition of the mines, including air quality and ventilation.

Keywords: "Cable Smoke"; Accidental insurance; Air quality; Bad air; Buchanan (Ky.); Fire in the mines; Gas in mines; Returning to work; Ventilation

Subjects: Coal mines and mining--Safety measures; Mine safety; Patient care

00:21:41 - Foreigners in the coal mines / gtories of a gambler and gunslinger named Zeb Nugent

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Partial Transcript: Yeah, they were some around Jewel Ridge, but I never worked none with them.

Segment Synopsis: Davis talks about the three foreign coal miners that he knew, and the stories he was told about Zeb Nugent (??).

Keywords: "Big Tony"; "Little Tony"; "Screwdriver"; Foreign miners; Gunslinger; Zeb Nugent, Gambler

Subjects: Folktales; Migrant labor

00:34:03 - Making moonshine / making the still

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Partial Transcript: Oh, yeah, there was plenty of it made around

Segment Synopsis: Davis talks about moonshiners and their locations, mentioning that some hollows were named based on moonshiners.

Keywords: Equipment; Hollows names; Ingredients; Moonshine; Moonshiners; Regulators

Subjects: Alcohol; Beer; Liquor; Stills

00:45:28 - Getting moonshine for his grandfather / medical uses of moonshine

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Partial Transcript: Well, my grandpa, he was well crazy enough with his moonshine whiskey that way.

Segment Synopsis: Davis talks about his grandfather's familiarity and use of moonshine.

Keywords: "Little Squires"; Moonshine; Strength of moonshine

Subjects: Liquor

00:50:31 - Making moonshine and the dangers

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Partial Transcript: Was there ever a time when I did get scared? Yeah!

Segment Synopsis: Davis talks about being scared while making moonshine and the men who were his partners in the venture.

Keywords: ; Being scared; Buchanan (Ky.); Cold cream and soot; Destroying the barrels; Getting "run off"; Moonshine; Moonshine making buddies; Passing for Black; Revenuers

Subjects: Hiding places; Liquor; Tricks