One Family’s History in the Coal Mining Camps of Southern Iowa
The website www.buxtoniowa.com is a story of one family’s history in the coal mining camps of southern Iowa’s Monroe County and the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad owned Consolidation Coal Company. That family’s history is told by a grandson of grandparents who lived in the coal camps throughout its history and then remained in the deserted coal camps by farming land that once was Buxton. The grandson has spent his life exploring and learning from grandparents, aunts, uncles and family acquaintances the joys and sorrows of an era that is long gone. Since very little coal is being mined now in Iowa, the turn of the 20th century coal mining era continues to fade from the pages of history, including the fact that Iowa was once a leading supplier of coal to the nation. The coal was used to power rail travel since the gas and diesel powered automobiles and locomotives were just being developed. The grandson is hopeful those with family history in Iowa’s coal mining camps will be able to relate their families’ histories to his family’s history.
He once was asked how he feels when he returns often to explore the land that once housed thousands of miners and their families, including his ancestors. He responded that the experience is very humbling as he walks and explores the very ground that once was a grand and glorious era in his family’s history as well as the history of Monroe County, Iowa, the nation and for that matter the world. Immigrants came to Iowa from around the world to places called Given Muchakinock, Buxton, Consol, Bucknell and Haydock - all are now gone with the coal dust but not from the memories of so many with family history embedded in those coal mining camps. Once after leading a tour of the coal camp locations, the grandson heard the comment that there is “nothing here except cornfields and trees.”
The comment is somewhat correct unless you include the lore of the land that once was occupied by thousands of coal miners and their families. It is hoped the website will dispel the notion that “there is nothing there” and that the glorious history of the coal mining camps will come alive for others as it has for the grandson.