A Glamorgan Family History
|Rees and Sarah Phillip's
letter from America
|America has had her own troubles and worries and it is not always a good time here any more than in any other country, although too many in the Old Country are too ready to think and say that. We have seen quite a lot of worry and trouble between ill health and the death of Thomas, my son, together with the general strike which spread throughout this state and lasted for many months in some parts so that we have been thrown backwards and forwards almost since we arrived in this country. Although the strike was rather hard, especially for men just come to this country and unused to it's ways, I believe, in spite of this, that the strike paid fairly well in the end. A miner's wage is two dollars a day more than when we came to the country and the wages of every kind of workman have risen accordingly and it is likely that we will keep the price as the coal market tends to rise. Some who have been here for years say that the market tends to fall in the winter.
At present I am working in a pit preparing to produce coal and it will be working in a week so that I should be cutting my own coal before long. The wage I am earning from the company is three dollars a day and the miner earns about five dollars fifty cents. Work has been going on every day since the strike so you can gather what money is being earned here at the moment. There are two veins to be worked in the pit in which I am now but at present it is intended to start only one. The names of the veins are "Rock Vein" and "Bye Vein". It is about fifteen feet thick and the pit is about one hundred yards deep.
The method of working is as follows. There is a miner, or as you in Wales call him a collier, and a laborer in each stall, breast, or chamber as they call it here. The miner cuts coal and the laborer fills. Each one works by himself. The laborer has six cars to fill each day, each of which holds about two tons. The laborer's work is fairly hard and this is the first work a stranger gets when first coming here and it has become the custom for a man to labor first of all wherever he comes from. Most labor for six to nine months before they get a place of their own. The laborer's wage is one third of that earned by the miner.
There is good food for the workmen, much better than any workman can get in the Old Country and plenty of it. I am not at all sorry that I have come to America and wish that I had come before as it is much better here for workmen. Colliers and farmers are in the best circumstances among the workmen. I am also of the opinion that the Old Country is much better for old men.