Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Aud Williamson, October 8, 1988

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:01 - Race relations

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Partial Transcript: Hi, Mr. Williamson, could you tell me your whole name?

Segment Synopsis: Williamson states his name and birth information, and explains his nickname. He details the origin of the diverse workforce of the coal mines in Johnson County. Williamson talks about friends in mining that have ancestry other than Anglo-Saxon roots. Williamson explains his limited relationship with his co-workers and their families, and explains the dynamic of the forgiveness expressed by minorities regarding the prejudice they faced. Williamson describes his wife's and his own personal ancestry. He talks about segregation in the coal camps.

Keywords: African American property ownership; Ancestry; Betsy Lane (Ky.); Birth; Diversity in friendship; Eastern Kentucky; England; Families; Friends; Genealogy; Great Britain; Immigrant miners; Last names; Names, Personal; Nicknames; Personal life; Pride; Segregated schools; Slavery; Social life; Teachers; Wales; Work life

Subjects: African American coal miners; African Americans--Segregation; Coal miners; Coal miners--Kentucky--Johnson County; Consolidated Coal Company; Families; Immigrants--Kentucky; Immigrants--Kentucky--Van Lear; Johnson County (Ky.); Segregation in education--Kentucky

GPS: Boons Camp (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.8325, -82.701111
00:10:31 - Wife's background / education

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Partial Transcript: Well let me ask you this. I want to interview men, and I certainly don't mind interviewing you, I mean this is very important. But I want to ask you things about women in the coal camps. Can I--can you tell me about, uh, your wife what was her name?

Segment Synopsis: Williamson provides information about his wife and her background. Williamson talks about his childhood and experience with education. He also explains his attitude toward education.

Keywords: Boarding high schools; Paintsville (Ky.); US-23; Wife of a coal miner

Subjects: Coal miners' spouses; Education--Kentucky; Subsistence farming

00:16:14 - Family dynamics

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Partial Transcript: And how many children did you have? And how--

Segment Synopsis: Williamson responds to inquires about his family's size and describes their age ranges. The interviewer questions Williamson on his wife's daily routine and domestic life. The interviewer attempts to prompt Williamson to describe the ethnographic data of the residents of the mining community in which he resided.

Keywords: Birth; Breakfast; Coal stoves; Company doctors; Domestic duties; Family size; Foreigners; Garden plots; Italians; Polish; Running water; Spigots

Subjects: African American; African Americans--Segregation; Coal miners' spouses; Families.; Immigrants; Immigrants--Kentucky

00:23:07 - Coal mine conditions

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Partial Transcript: The coal mine shut down in nineteen and forty--1949, beg your pardon, ma'am.

Segment Synopsis: Williamson talks about his work experience after the Van Lear mines shut down, and moving around to find work. Williamson describes mining conditions in low coal and how taxing it was physically.

Keywords: Coal mine shut down; Gum shoes; Inland Steel Company; Low coal; Pocahontas Fuel Company; Republic Steel; Suffering

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

00:25:32 - Family dynamics

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Partial Transcript: Female Interviewer: Can you tell me when your wife, what do you think she worried about the most?

Segment Synopsis: Williams tells about his children.

Keywords: Family; divorce

Subjects: Family--history; divorce; marriage

00:32:02 - Union and labor relations

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Partial Transcript: What do you think about the, uh, the Union? Were you--how do you feel about that?

Segment Synopsis: Williamson explains how the unions fought for the miners' wages, and how a presidential intervention avoided violence between the union and the coal company. He also expresses his views on creating markets.

Keywords: Gold standard; Great Depression; Labor unions

Subjects: Coal miners--Labor unions--Kentucky; Depressions--1929--Kentucky

00:37:09 - Religious beliefs and alcohol

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Partial Transcript: Did, did she go to church?

Segment Synopsis: Williamson explains his experience with Christianity and alcohol.

Keywords: Alcohol; Christian; Church of God; Free Will Baptists; Moonshine; Moonshine stills; Prohibition; Whiskey

Subjects: Christianity; Churches; Distilling, illicit; Prohibition

00:41:05 - Socioeconomic divisions

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Partial Transcript: Um, I was gonna ask you, was there a, a class division here in Van Lear where there were some real poor people, and then some real wealthy people and then everybody else in the middle?

Segment Synopsis: Williamson explains the socioeconomic groups of Van Lear residents and how company employees interacted with each other.

Keywords: Social classes

Subjects: Classism; Social classes--Kentucky--Van Lear

00:44:56 - Work in the mines

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Partial Transcript: How many, uh--what is, what is your day in the mines? How many hours did you have to stay in the mines?

Segment Synopsis: Williamson describes his work in the mines, and mealtimes.

Keywords: Dangerous work; Dinner buckets; Lunch; Prayer

Subjects: Coal miners

00:52:38 - Children's education

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Partial Transcript: I hear what you're saying. Let me ask you, uh, some other things. Do you believe you raised your, uh, your girls and your boys about the same? That, uh, you didn't try to keep your girls from getting an education or anything like that? How do you feel about raising--

Segment Synopsis: Williamson talks about how he and his wife educated their children.

Keywords: Gender; Love; Sex instruction

Subjects: Education--Kentucky; Families

00:55:48 - Tough economic times

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Partial Transcript: I see. Well, uh, I want to ask you one more question cause I could talk to you more and I do want to come back again.

Segment Synopsis: Williamson explains how his family survived tough economic times in the 1930s.

Keywords: African Americans; Credit; Evictions; Great Depression; Grocery stores; Immigrants

Subjects: Depressions--1929--Kentucky; Economic conditions

01:00:20 - Home size / his wife's activities

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Partial Transcript: Let me look through my cards here. Cause we've talked about a lot of things. Oh, how many rooms was in your house here in Van Lear?

Segment Synopsis: Williamson explains the type of homes he lived in for the company, and some domestic tasks his wife performed.

Keywords: Apple butter; Biscuits; Community help; Company stores; Cornbread; Home size; Homemade soap; Houses; Quilting frames; Quilts

Subjects: Churches; Company stores; Van Lear (Ky.)

01:05:46 - Community safety / motivation for working in the mines

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Partial Transcript: You felt like the kids would be pretty safe out in the woods. They--there were paths--

Segment Synopsis: Williamson talks about the how safe his community was for his family, and why young men who grew up on farms would go to work in a coal mine.

Keywords: Coal companies; Company housing; Land ownership; Land tenure; Safety; Woods

Subjects: Coal miners; Coal mines and mining--Kentucky; Murder.