By Bill Heusinkveld - correspondent
Following the Milwaukee Railroad on west from Mystic and Brazil, there was an extremely heavy concentration of about 17 small coal mines along the one-mile portion of track before coming to the company settlement of Diamond. These mines were started in the late 1890’s and most lasted only a few years with unknown acreage mined. One of these mines was the scene of a fatality. In 1895 Albert Harris died in the Enterprise mine when a large stone in the roof dislodged and caved in.
The coal mining town of Diamond was on the east side 160th Avenue between the railroad underpass on the south and 495th Street on the north. It was in Section 19 of Bellair Twp., a little north of Walnut Creek.
The Diamond Post Office was established by William R. Warren in January 1891. The Appanoose Coal and Fuel Co. sank their Diamond Mine and developed the company town in about 1900, maybe somewhat earlier. A railroad spur was built from the main line, curving northwest to provide an outlet for the coal. This was a large mine, with a total of 320 acres mined before closing in 1924. It was a shaft mine, powered by steam.
The coal lease covered about 200 acres north of the railroad on William Baker’s land. The road shown on the bottom is now 160th Avenue. There were about two dozen company-owned houses and several private homes nearby. There was a post office in the company store from 1891 to 1927. There was a big school for the miners’ children. The mine is shown on the left side of the map. There was a blacksmith shop, a pond and a slag pile.
The Diamond mine was quite successful for a time. The shaft was about 65 feet and there were two air shafts near the tipple and a large slag pile to the southeast. The town of Diamond covered about 40 acres. There was a network of small roads to the homes and a ditch in the gully west of the spur track. There was a spring near the ditch and a well near the main road to serve the homes.
There was a fatality in the Diamond Mine in 1897. Lou Gordon was killed by a fall of rock when insufficient timbers were installed for support. In 1905 Frank McCory was killed by a fall of rock. In 1912 Rush Pullen, age 64, was caught under a heavy fall of rock as he was leaving work. Then in 1922 Vic Rockage was killed when a heavy rock fell on him.
The mine was eventually closed in 1925 because of major water flooding problems. The post office was discontinued in 1927 and the town eventually disappeared. The school was closed in 1953 and the building moved to a farm to the north. Today, only the railroad overpass and the pond remain to mark the settlement.
Leon Kauzlarich is a staunch supporter of the preservation of the history of the town and mine. He developed the map at left for the monument placed at the site. He also built a relief model of the mining camp, built to scale and gave it to the museum. Many of his relatives worked in the Diamond Mine; both grandfathers, his father and several uncles, and all had houses in the immediate area.
Leon showed me a three-generation picture of his grandfather, Joseph Kauzlarich, and his family in the kitchen of his home. Joseph Kauzlarich came to America from Croatia in 1903. At first he came alone and then went back once every four years to return with another of his children. The older members of his family are therefore each four years apart in age. Eventually he got all of his family here. They first lived in the Gladstone area until they moved to Diamond. Leon’s father, Fred Kauzlarich, is also in the picture. Leon was unborn at the time along with some other children, but the ten people in the picture already filled the small kitchen.