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Red Jacket

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First half of 20th century. East side of Mingo County 9, 2 miles north of Matewan

Red Jacket, once a model coal company town, received a coveted score of 83 out of a possible 100 in the U.S. Coal Commission's 1920s rankings. Huntingtonian W. M. Ritter, whose company operated coal mines here from 1904 to 1960, built the town. In 1915, of a total of 589 miners, 39 percent were American whites, 25 percent Hungarian immigrants, 23 percent Italian immigrants, and 10 percent blacks. Standard employment contracts between employer and employees at Red Jacket required miners to declare that they were “not now a member of the United Mine Workers of America, the I. W. W., or any organization of mine workers” and to acknowledge that “the policy of the company is to operate a nonunion mine.” By World War II five mining operations surrounding Red Jacket employed some 2,000 miners. At the peak of occupation, approximately 500 prefabricated houses stood on both sides of Mate Creek. All were built of lumber provided by the W. M. Ritter Lumber Company, and standard leases decreed that if miners ceased to be employed, they “shall immediately vacate said house without notice so to do.” Houses were of three basic types, as described in Coal Road (1989): the Shotgun, twelve feet wide and three to five rooms long; a four-room, board-and-batten box; and two-story houses for the top echelon of company officials.

Writing Credits

S. Allen Chambers Jr.


What's Nearby


S. Allen Chambers Jr., "Red Jacket", [Red Jacket, West Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

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