Friday, October 11, 2013

About My New Book

History is story.

Story handed down orally, generation to generation. Story made more permanent in written form. Story as legend.

My latest book, “Digging Dusky Diamonds,” is this kind of history. Based on contemporary newspaper accounts, genealogical records, family stories and even some legends that have become part of the lore of Pennsylvania’s anthracite mining region where I grew up.

I clearly remember as a boy seeing throngs of miners pouring like a stream, their faces blackened, shoulders slumped in weariness, boots shuffling along the paving as they ended their shifts at the Glen Burn in Shamokin.

My paternal ancestors were mainly involved as canal boatmen and, later, as railroaders transporting the coal from place to place. But my great-grandfather, Henry Francis Fisher, his father and brothers were all miners. Three of Henry’s brothers died as the result of mine accidents.

My focus is on Northumberland and Schuylkill counties—the areas I’m most familiar with—though similar conditions prevailed across the anthracite mining region in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

While there is some technical information on the process of mining, the emphasis is more on the miners and how they and their families lived and worked, loved and died. The stories reveal the harshness of their lives, their daily concerns, their diversions, social attitudes and prejudices.

The accounts reveal what was different about those people and what has remained constant in us, their descendants.



11 comments:

  1. Fascinating, John. You will know that Northumberland has a mining tradition (coal) before Thatcher ruined it!

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    1. This area has much in common with its namesake. Coal did much for both, but its time is past.

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  2. I was the lucky winner of Sooner than Gold by John. This weekend I plan to sit down with several cups of coffee and enjoy John's descriptive writing of an era I love. Good luck with your new book.

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    1. Each year as we drive south from NY State through Pennsylvania to Florida, we use I83 and go through areas in PA that were once heavy into strip mining. Years back the area looked barren, but in the past few years vegetation has grown up and it has begun to look greener, healthier. You book sounds fascinating. What an interesting history your family has.

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    2. Thanks for commenting, Lesley. I'm also glad they're now replanting those old stripping sites. The land has more than enough scars.

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  3. Geez this looks great! I'm adding it to my to read list. What an amazing history you have.

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  4. This sounds fascinating, John. And I admire your thorough delving into the past, into your family history, and into the coal-rich mountains. I wish this book great success. Should be a natural for the library market.

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    1. I'm hoping the libraries will like it. I've been sending them information. Thanks.

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  5. I like how you say so much in such a short blog, John. It makes me want to know more, to learn more -- and reading your book will surely help. Good luck with it!

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