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The Bennett Family's SmokeStack Restaurant: Serving Texas-Style Comfort Food Since 1971 in Thurber, Texas.
Open Sunday-Thursday 7am-9pm :: Friday and Saturday 7am-10pm
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Miners in Mine

Lives of the Miners

Eventually there would be people from 20 different countries working for the Texas & Pacific Coal Company, most coming from Italy or Poland. Families of similar nationalities congregated together, and soon areas of Thurber where known as Italian Hill, Stump Hill, Polander Hill, and New York Hill, where company executives and clerks lived.

  Miner in Mine
In 1905, the average miner earned $54 per month. Houses rented for $6 to $9 per month, medical care by company doctors and nurses cost from $1 to $2, water was $2, electricity (from the first electric plant built in 1895 that made Thurber the first city in Texas to be completely electrified with amenities including refrigeration and running water) was $.25 per drop, and the weekly newspaper cost $1 per year, delivered. Miners resented the $1 per month the company withheld from their pay for riding the train to work.

At one time it was estimated that 65 percent of the miners were single men, most living in the homes of other miners. As many as 6 individuals lived in a room, sleeping on cots and paying the housewife $28 to $30 per month for their room, meals, and laundry.

The company allowed employees to draw a portion of their wages before payday in the form of a checkbook, or scrip, made up of coupons ranging in value from 5 to 50 cents. Once an employee began using scrip, it was difficult for him to get out of debt to the company. As you can imagine, the scrip system was beneficial to the company because the coupons were only redeemable in company-owned stores. Over a period of 20 years, 50 percent of company store receipts were in the form of coupons.

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Living by the Whistle



Find out more about the Thurber whistles that governed miners' lives.





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