Marker Honors Coal Miners Role In Early Labor Unions

By
WOUB Staff Writer

Dateline
Updated Thu, Oct 20, 2011 11:32 am

A historical organization commemorated Hocking Valley coal miners role in the nation's early labor movement over the weekend.

 
The Ohio Historic marker is in the southern Perry County village of Shawnee.
 
Shawnee Historian Rob Dishon is with the Little Cities of Black Diamonds Council, which helped make the marker possible. 
 
Dishon explains membership in the Knights of Labor movement had to be kept a secret when it first began. "Prior to that time and even after that time, you could be blacklisted for belonging to a union. Which meant that as a miner, you would not only not
be able to work in the town where you personally lived, but anywhere in the area, miners shared that list and you would not be able to work anywhere," Dishon said.
 
Dishon says that organization built the Knights of Labor Opera House, which was one of the first labor union halls in the nation, and is still important today. "We were able to come up with a list in the 1880's of about 9 other buildings.  It was the only opera house that the Kinghts of Labor owned at the time. And as far as we can tell through our research at this time, it's the last remaining Knights of Labor building in the United States," Dishon explained.
 
Dishon was a guest on WOUB TV's Newswatch last night.
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