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Miners' Good Times in '73 and '74 - 1896

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Miners' Good Times in '73 and '74 - 1896

Posted: 18 Apr 2004 6:05PM GMT
Classification: Biography
Edited: 23 May 2005 8:15PM GMT
Surnames: Myers, Bryan, Bivens, Anderson
The Miner and the Good Times in 1873 and 1874--An Object Lesson.

How apt we are to look back to the "good old times," which usually exist only in imagination, and teach ourselves to believe that we had things better than now. The Western Kentucky coal miner always refers to the "good time of '73 and '74, when money was plentiful." At that time whiskey was plentiful, indeed, in Earlington, and much money spent for it. But the miner of those days lived quite differently from the way he lives now. Then his bed was of straw or hay--each new arrival going to the company barn to fill the bed-tick with fresh supply of straw or hay.
His house with the simplest cheap furniture--no carpets, all his surroundings of the roughest kind. How different in 1896! No more sleeping on bags of hay--but he has the best beds, handsome furniture, organs and pianos, books and pictures and all the comforts of civilization.
His dollar buys twice what it did in '74 and he usually spends all his money now as at that time.
One of our old citizens, a miner, is Pierce MYERS. His first year's work in Earlington was October '73 to October '74 and he earned $405.68. In 1895, in the same mine in which he worked in 1873-74 he earned, digging coal, $599.77, and for entry work $139.50--to total earnings of $739.27.
Suppose Pierce had spent his whole earnings in '74 for any one of the following articles; flour, sugar or calico, and had bought with his earnings of 1895, the same articles, the account would have stood as follows. His wages of '74 would have bought: 45 barrels of flour; 2,400 pounds of sugar; 3,245 yards of calico.
His wages of 1895 would have bought: 164 barrels of flour; 12, 286 pounds of sugar; 14,744 yards of calico.
We see here that Pierce was able to buy of the necessities of life in 1895 more than four times what he could buy in 1873-74. But he is not happy, he wants a change and will vote for the BRYAN 50-cent dollar. He will evidently get the "change" if the 50-cent dollar wins.
Another of our good citizens, Hiram BIVENS, remembers "those good old times," and longs for them to come back. Hiram did not begin work in the Earlington mines till 1876, when he earned $410.98, and could have bought: 52 barrels of flour, or 3,161 pounds of sugar, or 3,736 yards of calico.
In 1895 he earned $383.47, and could have bought: 85 barrels of flour, or 6, 391 pounds of sugar, or 7,669 yards of calico.
And Hiram, too, wants a change and will vote for the BRYAN dollar, and the time of '73.
Another good citizen, Luke ANDERSON, in 1873, earned $426.95 and in 1895, he earned $424. He could buy of food and goods with his wages in 1895 full twice the amount that he bought in 1873, and Luke says the present dollar is good enough for him. He don't want a change.
The Bee tells the miner that BRYAN's election means for the miners of Earlington the times of '73, when hay beds and carpetless floors ruled! How will the wives and babies like this? (Source: Earlington Bee, Thur., Oct. 8, 1896)

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