Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

Correspondents

October 19, 2006

The Numa Coal Co. in Martinstown

The Chicago and Southwestern Railroad (later called the Rock Island) came to the Martinstown area, about a mile east of Numa, in 1871. The Numa Coal Co. was not started until 1911. It had a 150 foot shaft and mined 96 acres. The mine employed 155 men and hoisted 300 tons per day. They loaded an average of 175 cars per month. It loaded three grades of coal, commercial chunk, railroad egg and nut. The main shaft was 8 by 14 feet by 150 feet deep.

The mine caused the village of Martinstown to be platted on May 14, 1913, named after Mr. Wesley Martin. There were 40 or 50 houses. The village was more commonly known as Shantytown. There was a large foreign element among these miners.

The Italians, many of whom came from the same villages in the Florenzo and Bolomi provinces of northern Italy, have all been good coal miners, as well as active citizens. There were also immigrants from Austria, Croatia, Germany, England and Belgium. Most came from large families and, after serving their military duties, came here to seek a better life. Many went back to Europe after awhile to return with their families or future brides.

William Fox died in this mine in 1916. Then in 1920, George King, age 63, was kicking away some sprag from under the coal and was killed by falling drift.

By 1923 it was called the Numa Coal Co. It closed in 1937 after undermining 96 acres. Mr. Martin then began a truck mine called the Martin Coal Co in Section 9 of Bellair Twp. Dr. J.L. Sawyers was president, J.W. Martin was general manager and H.W. Fox superintendent. Bert Arbogast was Supterintendent in 1943.

The Rock Island Railroad discontinued passenger service and then removed the tracks in 1978. The streets and houses are now gone, and the only road remaining is on the west side of town.

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