The White Oak Valley

The White Oak Valley (HM2LDR)

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N 37° 57.51', W 81° 9.949'

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— Coal Heritage Trail — National Coal Heritage Area Interpretive Site —

Pioneers settled the White Oak Valley in the 1800s. In 1892 the mineral rights were sold and the White Oak Fuel Company and the Whipple Colliery Company sunk five mine shafts at Whipple, Carlisle, Oakwood, Scarbro and Wingrove. Each of the five coal camps operated as distinct towns, with its own company store and a one-room school for whites and another for blacks. By the 1920s, a consolidated school for whites was built near the Whipple Company Store and ten years later a
consolidated school for blacks was built in Gentry Town, an area independent of the coal camps. A baseball diamond behind the Whipple Company store served all five coal camps.

Diversity in the Coal Fields.
West Virginia in the late 1800s was sparsely populated and coal mines needed workers. To meet this need, companies attracted African-American coal miners from the South and workers from all over the world. The 1920 census of the five towns in the White Oak Valley shows a significant number of African-Americans and immigrants from the following countries:
Poland · Lithuania ·
England · Russia ·
Austria · Hungary ·
Bohemia · Slovakia ·
Germany · Scotland ·
Spain · Ireland ·
Canada · Mexico ·
Syria · Wales.

Polish Immigrants.
The largest group of foreign-born immigrants in Whipple were from Poland, and they

lived on what is known as Hunk Hill, adjacent to the Catholic Church. Between 1870-1914, more than 2.6 million people left Poland to pursue new economic opportunities in the U.S. and to escape political struggles and religious persecution in their homeland.

A History Mystery.
The 1910 census shows a large number of Welsh and Italian residents. But, by 1920, there were only one Welsh and 13 Italians. Scholars believe that the Welsh left West Virginia in the 1910s because the union was stronger in other parts of the country. But, why did the Italians leave the White Oak Valley? It is possible with the influx of Polish immigrants, the Catholic Church began to give Mass in Polish and the Italians may have wanted to go to a place where there were more Italians, such as nearby Kilsyth. Who knows why the Italians left in large numbers? It's a mystery!
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Tuesday, October 1st, 2019 at 5:01pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)17S E 485433 N 4201223
Decimal Degrees37.95850000, -81.16581667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 37° 57.51', W 81° 9.949'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds37° 57' 30.6" N, 81° 9' 56.94" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling East
Closest Postal AddressAt or near , ,
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