Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Jonesville Mine, Sutton, Alaska

James Stephens: "The top bunkhouse wherein I dwell. An X denotes my room."
   I went back to work today (15 August, 2011). I'm only teaching two periods now, partially retired, but it felt good to be back teaching. I used to go back to the bakery and work in the summers. It used to feel good to be back. I think about the bakery where I worked on and off from 1958 until 1982, twenty-four years. I even dream about it occasionally. The place where a man spends so much of his life is important to him.

"The bldg. to the right, in full view" Blacksmith Shop. Jonesville."
   I have had trouble figuring out why I should post or write about these mine pictures, but that is the reason. They were important to Jim Stephens. We have hundreds of the Stephens' pictures, and nothing is written on the backs of most of them, but the mine pictures....... they are almost all written on and explained.
"A few Shacks of the original camp. Young married people live in them."

   There are two sets of pictures, the Buffalo Mine in the early 1950's, and the Jonesville mine in the 1940's. I think he worked at first at the Jonesville mine, and it appears that Edna also worked for one of those two mine companies, probably the Buffalo Mine, and even Jim Stephens' father, James Andrew Stephens worked at one of the mines. I have said that I think the Stephens were a coal mining family, from Wales, so there may be more of the family that worked in the Alaska mines. This is a discovery story, so we will see what is discovered as I write.

   Evan Jones started the Jonesville mine at Sutton, Alaska, sometime in the 1920's and it continued operating until about 1967. It's my guess that Jim Stephens went to work for the Jonesville mine when he was released from the army,  in about 1946. The pictures in this earliest time period appear to explain to someone about the mine. It is possible that he sent them to Edna, explaining on the back what each building was. There are also some colored pictures that may have been Edna's, or may have been given to the family. They will go in the next post about the Buffalo mine. These have little written on the back, but appear to me to be mine pictures also.
"Super's house."  All these pictues also have "Jonesville" written on them.

    There was a serious disaster at the Jonesville Mine in 1937 that killed 14 miners. It would deter a young man from wanting to work there today, but to a soldier just returning from the much more serious disasters and death of World War II, it probably seemed like little risk. Probably just having a job was great. People in those days did not have any income, little if any government unemployment and little government welfare. When the war was over soldiers were sent home with no more pay and had to figure out how to deal with life on their own.
"Entrance to the mine. Jonesville."

"Looking down into Timber yard. Jonesville."
   James Roland Stephens enlisted in the army 22 Dec 1942 in Vigo, Indiana. His enlistment papers say he was 25, single with dependents (that's another mystery which I just now discovered) as a private in the Warrant Officers branch of the army, and that he had experience as a bookkeeper and cashier.  When the war was over he had probably already investigated different areas in Alaska on leaves and decided what he wanted to do. He may have already met Edna whose name at that time was Edna Poore.

"View of Mine Bldg's standing from my Bunkhouse. Jonesville."
   Edna had married Flodia V Poore in 1925. I don't know yet what happened to him. He may have been killed in the war, or they may have divorced. I have not yet found a record of him. This information I found on a slip of paper that Grandma Moody, Edna's mother,  had written. It was a type-written list of her children, their birth dates, their spouses and the number of children. Jim Stephens was not on the list, so it was probably written before their marriage.