JOPLIN, Mo. —
If your ancestors lived in Southeast Kansas in the late 1800s or early 1900s, their lives were connected in many ways with the coal mines that dotted the land and provided employment for thousands of people, many of whom were immigrants from other countries.
In order to learn about those ancestors, genealogists must first research the coal mines and camps, railroads, and ethnic groups of the area. A knowledge of those aspects of their lives will provide the clues needed for a successful family history search.
A great place to start your genealogy journey is the Miners Hall Museum, located in the Franklin Community Center, which is at the site where the former Miners' Union Hall once stood at 701 S. Broadway in Franklin, Kan. The museum focuses on the coal mining history of Crawford and Cherokee counties.
In addition to exhibits, the museum has a gift shop that sells books, photographs and other materials that will be helpful with your research. The materials can be bought at the museum or can be shipped by the museum to your home.
One item is the Weir-Pittsburg Coalfield Map which shows the location of all the mining camps, many of which no longer exist. Another excellent resource is "Raisin Pie in a Miner's Bucket," an extensive book compiled by Carolyn Loss Winters and Kaye Lynne Webb. The book "Coal Mining Days in the Weir-Pittsburg Coalfield," written by Debby Close, will be helpful too.
Another good source is "Southeast Kansas: Coal Mining Towns" published by Betty Ales-DeVoss and Nanette Azamber-Krumsick. Their book is a reprint of a scrapbook made by Ira Clemens, who owned Clemens Coal Co.
Each month, the museum provides free programs that coordinate with their quarterly exhibits. On Feb. 9 from 2-4 p.m., Jan Campbell and Elma Hurt will serve as hosts for the "Evolution of Quilts" program. Plan to arrive early to enjoy the exhibits and visit the gift shop before the program.
For further details, call 620-347-4220 or email the museum's Executive Director, Sally York, at minershallmuseum@ yahoo.com. Also check the museum's website at www. minershallmuseum.com.
Suggestions or queries? Send to Frankie Meyer, 509 N. Center St., Plainfield, IN 46168, or contact: frankiemeyer @yahoo.com.