Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

Letters to the Editor

August 22, 2006

Letter to the Editor 8-22

To the editor:

We always enjoy Bill Heusinkveld’s grasp of regional history, and especially his series on the coal mines of Appanoose County. Perhaps we can add some interesting details to his column last week on the Gladstone Coal Mine.

As noted, this mine was on the John C. Felkner farm, later owned by James and Barney Felkner, now known as the Paul E. Felkner Farms. Many of these added details come from the stories Uncle Barney told. I also have an interview tape in which Barney tells of other interesting experiences in our county.

The New Gladstone Coal Mine, as noted in Bill’s article, had a 90-foot shaft. The ponies that pulled the coal to the top stayed in the mine all winter, during the mining season. Paul and I were down in the mine twice, and I noted the old bathtub that held the water to water the ponies. When the mine closed for the summer, the ponies were then brought up to spend the summer in the old Kingsbury barn. (This barn, now falling down, was put up by Paul’s great-grandfather Kingsbury, using wooden pegs instead of nails. The Kingsbury farm has been a part of the Felkner farm since Barney and Jim’s time.)

One summer some visiting nieces wanted a pony to ride, and Chesco Massa offered Ol’ Bill for a week. Ol’ Bill must have been the meanest mining pony in the world; after he bit the girls a few times, they were glad to return him to the barn.

We do not feel quite sure where the original Marsdenville was, but Barney told about how they got the mail. As the train went by, it was easy for the trainmen to throw off the sacks of incoming mail; outgoing mail was something else. Someone would stand by the tracks holding up the outgoing mail bag. The train slowed down going up the hill from Mystic to Jerome, so one of the trainmen used a long pole with a hook to capture the outgoing mail bag. We can’t help but wonder what happened if he missed. I guess the mail would just have to go the next day.

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