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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Dock E. Hall, January 7, 1976. Interview H-0271. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Labor laws in the mining business

Labor regulation restricted the number of hours miners could work underground, Hall remembers, but it seems that the laws were sometimes disregarded, resulting in sixteen-hour shifts underground for some miners. It does seem that the mine owners abided by child labor laws, however, as Hall does not recall ever seeing a child in the mine.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Dock E. Hall, January 7, 1976. Interview H-0271. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

BRENT GLASS:
Where did you prefer to work, in firing the boiler or in the stamp mill or in the mine?
DOCK E. HALL:
Well, that's what I done mostly, firing the boiler. But it kept you busy, now, firing wood, you see—cord wood. And it had two a hundred and fifty horse boilers, and you can imagine… Well, I'll tell you, it'd average about seven cords of wood on every twelve hours, you can just about figure. You see, the man on top worked twelve hours.
BRENT GLASS:
Oh, I see: only underground worked eight hours.
DOCK E. HALL:
That's right. That's all the law would allow them to do, work eight hours, I think.
BRENT GLASS:
Underground?
DOCK E. HALL:
Yes. Well now, what I mean is, that was like it is now—of course they didn't pay overtime or anything. Now, I've knowed them to, maybe when somebody'd be out or didn't come in (maybe it would be a chucker or maybe it would be a machine runner—what we called a miner), well, they'd give you so many candles (we used to use candles, you see) and send them down and tell them to stay down. That way he'd work sixteen hours before he'd come out of there.
BRENT GLASS:
I see.
DOCK E. HALL:
Not too often, but every once in a while they'd do that.
BRENT GLASS:
You mean to make up for the person who wasn't there?
DOCK E. HALL:
Yes, if anyone was out, see, sick or something, why this other fellow'd work in his place.
BRENT GLASS:
So the candles were a way of people knowing how many people…
DOCK E. HALL:
And how to see around in there; that's all you had to go by was them candles. And they had what we called candle holders, a thing that you'd put the candle in. And it had a swirl on the end; you could stick it in a timber or hang it on a rock (you got a hanger for it too; you could hang it either way).
BRENT GLASS:
But why couldn't they make someone stay down there sixteen hours? Why did someone have to be absent?
DOCK E. HALL:
Well, that would be if there was somebody… They'd run then, like I told you, three shifts, you see. And if a machine runner was out (a miner) or a chucker was out, then they'd get somebody else up there to go down and make up for them, and send down for him to stay down 'til the other man would come in.
BRENT GLASS:
I see. Did people miss work a lot?
DOCK E. HALL:
No: people back then had to work.
BRENT GLASS:
Six days a week?
DOCK E. HALL:
Yes, we worked about six days a week; didn't work on Sundays, now. Come off at eleven o'clock Saturday night, and then go back Sunday night at eleven o'clock.
BRENT GLASS:
Did any children work at the mine at that time?
DOCK E. HALL:
No.
BRENT GLASS:
They weren't allowed to?
DOCK E. HALL:
No.
BRENT GLASS:
How about women? Did they have any jobs?
DOCK E. HALL:
No, none. Maybe in the office they'd work a little, but that was all. No women around the mine work.