By Bill Heusinkveld - correspondent
One of the best-known mines in Mystic was the Lodwick Mine. It was drilled in 1889 three years after the Milwaukee Railroad came through Mystic and two years after the town was platted.
David Lodwick was born in Wales in 1864 (spelled Loddewyk there) where he married Margery Griffiths. They came to Appanoose County, and he became one of the pioneer coal operators. The Lodwick Brothers, David and Llewlyn, established their large Lodwick Bros. Coal Co. in the N.E. part of town. There was also a third brother, Gwelyn S. Lodwick who was an engineer and invented much of the equipment for the mines, such as the mining machine. In 1905 the mine became Diamond Block Coal Co. Mine No. 12 and in 1907 the Mystic Block Coal Co., Mine No. 12. It closed in 1920 after 123 acres of coal had been removed.
The mine suffered a fatality in 1896 when Robert Jones, age 60, was buried by a fall of several tons of black bat. Also in 1915 Desire Periott, age 16, was an oiler who died when he got caught between the cage and the shaft, normally a space of 4 inches, and was dragged up the shaft for 15 feet.
Joe Coates showed me the exact location where the mine had been. We started at the west edge of the school and walked south across a grassy area of about 300 feet. Joe said the mine had been in the wooded area just south of the fence. Since 1920 it has become heavily overgrown with trees.
We walked down a bulldozed path just to the east and saw a huge concrete block. Joe explained that it had been used as an anchor for a pulley to pull the empty railroad cars up the steep slope to be in readiness to be loaded with coal.
David Lodwick became one of the most constructive factors in the development of the coal operations in Mystic showing a continuous interest in civic affairs. In 1934 he wrote an article for the Iowegian regarding Mystic and its growth and industry. He related that when he came in 1889 the town was rather topsy-turvy with very few businesses or dwelling houses.
He stated: “The J.H. Martin family ran the only rooming house and I was very glad to stay there for some time. However, the town was incorporated under the instructions of G.D. Porter with Thomas Seddon as mayor and David Lodwick as clerk. Many mines were being opened, the first being by Orr Bros. and Colgan. Wm. And Alex Orr started a slope mine right in town in 1887. A year later, Thomas and Jas. Seddon opened a slope mine. Then in 1889, Jas. Lee, Frank Silknitter, Lodwick Bros., and others started mines along the C.M. & St. Paul road through Rathbun, Clarkdale, and Mystic to Diamond and Jerome.
“The mining price in those days was 80 cents per ton in the summer months and $1.00 per ton in the winter months. Chunkers wages were $1.65 per day and underground work $1.80 to $2.00 per day. Miners came from many places, locally and from surrounding coal mining counties. Practically they were English, Scotch, Irish and some Welsh, mostly good pick men.
“Frank Smith was our first newspaper man and a very good one, very prophetic regarding Mystic, and most of his prophesies came true. He called his paper the Breeze. Organizations came fast and strong, public schools, churches and benevolent organizations of all kinds, some good and others not so good. Political parties were organized at the time of the Bryan and McKinley campaign. The two old parties were very much enthused with torch parades and political meetings. Many incidents happened during this campaign that the old settlers here like to talk about during present depression times. Joe Coates also told me about the store owned by Dave Lodwick. He had excavated north from his store on the east end of Main St. into the side of a hill, striking coal. What a unique feature for a store! His house was located on top of the hill on Second St. and still stands today. It should also be noted that a street in Mystic has been named East Lodwick St. in honor of those entrepreneurs. David Lodwick died in 1944. He and Margery are buried in the Highland Cemetery. Llewlyn Lodwick is buried in the Elgin Cemetery.”