Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Paul Patton, January 5, 2018

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries


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00:00:02 - His career in the coal industry

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Partial Transcript: The following is an unrehearsed interview with former Kentucky Governor Paul Edward Patton for the University of Kentucky Libraries Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History.

Segment Synopsis: Patton discusses how he got involved in the coal industry and how he started his own coal company with the help of his father-in-law and his brother-in-law. He also talks briefly about his marriage to his first wife and his relationship with his father-in-law.

Keywords: Aeronautical engineering; Banks; Brother-in-law; Coal industry; Coal shortages; Coal tipples; Company; Consumers Power Inc.; Contracts; Conveyors; Cross ties; Equipment; Father-in-law; Fathers; Finances; Gabe Newsome; Hauling cars; Henry Stratton; Houses; Income taxes; J. C. Cooley; Kentucky Power Company; Lawyers; Loading machines; Money; Nick Cooley; Oil embargos; Opportunity; Prices; Production; Sales commissions; Sophomores; Students; Undercutting machines; University of Kentucky

Subjects: Businessmen; Coal; Detroit (Mich.); Employees; Engineering; Kentucky. Governor (1995-2003 : Patton); Labor; Louisa (Ky.); Manual labor; Marriage; McDowell (Ky.); Mining; Pikeville (Ky.); Railroads; Strikes and lockouts; United Mine Workers of America

00:20:42 - J. C. Cooley's Coal Company

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Partial Transcript: Um, tell me about Jake Cooley.

Segment Synopsis: Patton discusses how his father-in-law got started in the coal industry and how he climbed his way up the ladder of a company until he was in charge of his own coal company called Sizemore Mining Company. He also talks about the different types of coal, as well as the farm Cooley ended up buying in Wayne County, Kentucky.

Keywords: Block coal; Business; Carbon grade; Coal brokers; Coal industry; Collapse; Company; Contracts; Copper; Diesel; Eastern Kentucky; Egg coal; Equipment; Farms; Fathers; Flu Epidemic of 1918; Government; Home coal; Influences; J. C. Cooley; Leases; Mechanization; Mothers; Natural gas; Preparation plants; Self-made; Sizemore Hollow; Sizemore Mining Company; Steel; Stoker coal; Storage lots; Summer; Supervisors; Utilities; Wages; Winter; World War II

Subjects: Businessmen; Coal; Detroit (Mich.); Education; Manual labor; Marriage; Martin (Ky.); McDowell (Ky.); Mining; Railroads; Wayne County (Ky.); World War, 1939-1945

00:30:30 - His philosophy regarding manual labor

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Partial Transcript: You've got--to this day, you still have coal in your hands, don't you?

Segment Synopsis: Patton talks about his thought process when it comes to manual labor and his employees, as well as some of the injuries he obtained during his days in the coal industry. He also discusses how he applied his philosophy about manual labor to his political career later on in life.

Keywords: Belts; Blood; Buckets; Business; Coal dust; Coal tipples; County judges; Cuts; Equipment; Filthy; Gabe Newsome; Garbage; Governors; Hands; Leases; Materials; Mud; Offices; Philosophy; Preparation plants; Scale; Showers; Tattoos; Thumbs

Subjects: Coal; Education; Employees; Engineering; Leadership; Manual labor; Mining; Railroads; Religion; Wealth

00:38:10 - How coal affected Eastern Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: For future generations, explain what coal meant to Pike County and Eastern Kentucky economically, socially, culturally, and politically.

Segment Synopsis: Patton discusses how coal affected the eastern region of Kentucky. He also talks about how the coal camps affected the coal miners' families and what kinds of amenities the coal camps offered. Patton also comments on how the families were affected once the coal companies left.

Keywords: Acreages; Bankruptcy; Bethlehem Steel Company; Big Sandy Coalfield; Big companies; Cable; Capital; Cash advances; Coal camps; Coal miners; Coal mines; Company stores; Company units; Contract mining; Creeks; Cycles; Demand; Duplexes; Dynamite; Eastern Coal Company; Eastern Kentucky; Effects; Factory; Factory jobs; Father-in-law; Garden clubs; Golf courses; Grandfathers; Grandmothers; Hazard Coalfield; Houses; Ice boxes; Ice cream; Immigrants; Industrial states; Jobs; Kentucky River Coalfield; Lizard shuttle cars; Local owners; Lumber; Managers; Milk; Minerals; Open markets; Opportunities; Pickup trucks; Power company; Production; Profit; Property taxes; Rates; Residential property; Rock falls; Schools; Seams; Sidewalks; Steel companies; Students; Subsistence farmers; Swimming pools; Teachers; Tennis courts; Theaters; Towns; Trees; Tunnels; Uneducated populations; Welfare capitalism; World War I; World War II

Subjects: Coal; Columbus (Ohio); Education; Employees; Families; International Harvester Company; Kentucky; Lawrence County (Ky.); Manual labor; Mining; Pennsylvania; Pike County (Ky.); Pikeville (Ky.); Railroads; Transportation; West Virginia; World War, 1914-1918; World War, 1939-1945

01:03:46 - His coal companies

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Partial Transcript: What were the names of the coal mines that you have owned?

Segment Synopsis: Patton names the companies that he and his brother-in-law owned.

Keywords: Chaparral Coal Company; Coal industry; J. C. Cooley; Kentucky Elkhorn Coal Corporation; Kentucky Elkhorn Mining Company; Nick Cooley; Preparation plants; Profits; Unit Coal Corporation

Subjects: Coal; Companies; Mining

01:05:59 - Broad form deeds

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Partial Transcript: You used a broad form deed to mine coal, didn't you?

Segment Synopsis: Patton defines "broad form deed" and what it entailed for families that signed them with coal companies.

Keywords: Acres; Broad form deeds; Business; Coal banks; Coal companies; Cornfields; Eastern Kentucky; Farming; Homesteads; Investments; John C. C. Mayo; Mineral rights; Minerals; Property; Sleds; Squatter's rights; Strip mining; Surface mining; Timber; Wagons

Subjects: Coal; Companies; Kentucky; Mining; Railroads

01:12:32 - The process of starting a coal mine

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Partial Transcript: Well, I'm not a coal miner.

Segment Synopsis: Patton describes how to establish a coal mine and how to find the coal seams. He also discusses the different types of mining and how to begin the process of mining.

Keywords: Beltline; Boundaries; Bulldozers; Cable; Coal mines; Coal seams; Core drilling; Dirt; Ditches; Eastern Kentucky; Elevation; Farms; Flats; Jacks; Longwall mining; Moss; Mountains; Properties; Rock; Rubble; Sandstone; Sediments; Shuttle cars; Slate; Swamps; Systems; Tunnels; Underground mining; United States Geological Survey

Subjects: Coal; Gambling; Mining

01:20:44 - Hazardous conditions in the coal mines

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Partial Transcript: And what are the hazards of mining?

Segment Synopsis: Patton discusses the hazardous conditions that come with coal mines, and the injuries his workers suffered while working at his coal companies. He also talks about his own near-death experiences while working in the mines.

Keywords: Air; Belts; Bulldozers; Carbon dioxide; Chains; Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969; Coal dust; Coal dust explosions; Coal tipples; Collapses; Crane operators; Cranes; Cutting machines; Deadly; Dynamite; Electricity; Equipment; Flooding; Freight trucks; Gravel; Gravel bars; High voltage; Hydraulic oil; Limestone; Lloyd Elswick; Lonnie Hampton; Machines; Maps; Mining timber; Oxygen; Preparation plants; Rock falls; Roofs; Shivs

Subjects: Black Damp; Coal; Coal mine accidents; Death; Electrocution; Explosions; Injuries; Mass casualties; Mining; Responsibility

01:42:51 - Health conditions resulting from working in the coal mines

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Partial Transcript: One thing that's not often mentioned but coal mining is a noisy business, isn't it?

Segment Synopsis: Patton discusses the risk of Black Lung and deafness that came with working in the mines. He also talks about the regulations that were put into place to protect coal miners from the misery of the health conditions that threatened them. He mentions his coal miner grandfather's death and talks about the older gentlemen that worked until retirement for his coal companies.

Keywords: Belts; Black Lung; Coal dust; Decks; Diseases; Dry screen plants; Edgar Hampton; Fine dust; Gabe Newsome; Grandfathers; Hearing; Irritants; Limestone dust; Live Potter; Lungs; Mucous; Nodules; Noise; Noise regulations; Older people; Respirators; Scars; Sleep

Subjects: Coal; Death; Disease prevention; Employees; Mining; Virgie (Ky.)

01:47:21 - Unions in Eastern Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: You mentioned in a previous, um, uh moment there that, uh, uh, Floyd County was a union county, uh, for coal miners where Pike County was not.

Segment Synopsis: Patton tells the story of why the unions left Pike County and about the period of time that he feared for his well-being because of the strikes that were happening. He also discusses the time that he fired a gun at some picketers that were surrounding his house to get them to go away.

Keywords: Abner Mountain; Big mines; Cars; Contracts; Guns; Healthcare; J. C. Cooley; Little mines; Miner's pensions; Picketers; Shooting; Son-in-law; Steel mills; Turner Elkhorn Mining Company; Union miners; United Miner's Health and Welfare Fund; Wages

Subjects: Coal; Employees; Floyd County (Ky.); Mining; Pike County (Ky.); Strikes and lockouts; United Mine Workers of America

01:55:09 - Getting involved in politics

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Partial Transcript: As a coal mine owner, you sat on the board of directors of the Kentucky Coal Association.

Segment Synopsis: Patton talks about how he got involved with coal legislation and how that got his foot in the door with politics. He also tells of his first television interview and how the legislation that was passed affected his coal company.

Keywords: Booms; Carl Perkins; Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969; Commercial airplanes; Congressional committees; Effects; Federal regulations; Films; Fortunes; Jerry Sander; Mine laws; National Independent Coal Operators' Association; Power company; Public speaking; Television interviews; Worker's compensation

Subjects: Coal; Employees; Frankfort (Ky.); Kentucky Coal Association; Law and legislation; Mining; Politics and government; Washington (D.C.); Wealth

02:01:03 - Mining safety

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Partial Transcript: But first I want to ask you, in response to the Scotia Mine Disaster...

Segment Synopsis: Patton discusses the commission Governor Julian Carroll established after the Scotia Mine Disaster. He also talks about the fact that the laws needed to prevent such disaster were already in place, but the miners were not following them; therefore, the commission established an inspector position that was responsible for coming to the mines to make sure they were safe, as well as the daily briefings that were implemented to remind the miners to follow the rules. He also briefly talks about his relationships with the politicians that helped him begin his political career in Kentucky.

Keywords: Aviation; Bad tops; Civil engineers; Coal industry; Daily briefings; Dangerous conditions; Deep Mine Safety Inspectors; Fatalities; Federal mine officials; Inspectors; Kenneth Gibson; Kentucky Deep Mine Safety Commission; Labor; Labor industry; Management; Miners; Mining cultures; Precautions; Safety; Safety analysts; Shortcuts; State mine officials; State senators; Tunnels; University of Kentucky

Subjects: Carroll, Julian Morton, 1931-; Coal; Combs, Bert T., 1911-1991; Kentucky. Governor (1971-1974 : Ford); Kentucky. Governor (1974-1979 : Carroll); Law and legislation; Letcher County (Ky.); Mine accidents; Mining; Politicians; Politicians--Kentucky; Scotia Mine Disaster, Oven Fork, Ky., 1976

02:08:33 - Getting out of the coal business

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Partial Transcript: When did you know you had finally made it financially and how old were you?

Segment Synopsis: Patton discusses the end of his affiliations with the coal mining business and how that led to the beginning of his career in politics. He also talks about how the companies he helped established were split after his divorce from Carol Cooley.

Keywords: Bankruptcy; Carol Cooley; Chaparral Coal Company; Deputy secretary of transportation; Divorces; Federal bankruptcy court; Henry Stratton; Houses; J. C. Cooley; Leases; Legal fees; Leroy Jones; Management; Minerals; Mining business; Money; Nick Cooley; Premier Elkhorn Coal Company; Royalties; Secretary of transportation

Subjects: Brown, John Young, 1900-1985; Coal; Frankfort (Ky.); Mining; Strikes and lockouts; Wealth