Newspaper articles often bare witness to family members caught up significant moments in history. The Buck Coal Mine disaster fueled a growing concern for the safety of workers in a newly industrialized country. Calvin Harrison Croy and all of his sons worked in the coalmines that proliferated at the height of the Industrial Revolution. Regulation was a word unknown during those early days and three of his sons died in work related accidents, one in a railroad accident and two in coal mining incidents. His son Justus Croy, my grandfather, was to die of Black Lung, a common coal related illness of the time, but, as this article shows, he and these early workers regularly came close to disaster. Ironically, my father remembered Justus, as a mine foreman, warding off unionizers at gunpoint and then later challenging a bank official with gun in hand to get payroll for his workers. Obviously, the union efforts of the time were a matter of life and death. One of my dad’s favorite songs was Tennessee Ernie Ford singing, “Saint Peter don’t you call me ‘cause I can’t go. I owe my soul to the company store.”
Tag Archives: Justus Croy
Exuding working class strength, Justus Croy, Mary Elizabeth (Mollie) Ison Croy and Ralph Croy gaze directly into the camera. Many photographs exist of Justus Croy as a young man, but this picture provides a window into his world as an older man at the height of the depression. A best guess for the date of the photo is 1935 to 1940. Justus Croy died of Black Lung on December 13, 1940 in Rock Springs, Wyoming at the age of 61.
I rediscovered this photograph of Justus Croy, my grandfather, in a box of family items. Note that the studio was in Indian Territory thus placing it between about 1898 when the family first came to the territory, and 1902, when Oklahoma became a state.