1th Annual Briceville School
4th & 5th grade

Mining History and
Ecology Field Trip

20 May 2011


Carol Moore with students as they clear
Eugene Ault's headstone at Briceville Church
and Cemetery... Who could
resist all the thanks and hugs
of the smart, sweet Briceville kids?!

Miners of Coal Creek rebuilt from the ashes of the Coal Creek War (1891 to 1892) and the Fraterville Mine explosion (1902), but disaster struck again on 9 December 1911 when the Cross Mountain Mine exploded.  December 9, 2011, will mark the 100th anniversary of the Cross Mountain Mine Explosion and Rescue, so Briceville students visited historical sites associated with the event as described at http://www.coalcreekaml.com/Legacy5.htm.

We also cleared the area around historical markers at Militia Hill and planted American chestnuts in the on-going restoration of the site.

Chestnut trees that we planted
on this field trip are growing
and producing burrs!!  --->>>
Click on image to enlarge
Photos taken by Gary Tackett

Fort Anderson at Militia Hill

Militia Hill historic markers after students cleared
brush and growth and planted American chestnuts

Plaque to be mounted at
Cross Mountain Miners’ Circle

Circle Cemetery

Thirty of the 84 miners who perished at Cross Mountain are buried in concentric circles around a monument.  The circular arrangement of headstones may be rooted in the Welsh ancestry of early miners to the area and the stone circle monuments in their native land.  Their headstones say they are “gone but not forgotten”, claims which are validated by listing of the site on the National Register of Historic Places.  The plaque designating the listing of Cross Mountain Miners’ Circle on the National Register will be installed during a dedication ceremony on the 100th anniversary of the event.

At Leach Cemetery, students visited Fraterville Miners’ Circle, which was placed on
the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.  They also visited headstones of the early
Welsh miners to Coal Creek to learn where they were born in Wales.

Leach Cemetery


Click on image to enlarge:

John D. Jones born in
Kidwelly, Wales (1837-1896)

Longfield Cemetery

Before he suffocated in the Fraterville Mine, Powell Harmon wrote in his farewell message, “My Boys, never work in the coal mines. Henry and Condy be good boys and stay with your mother and trust for Jesus sake.”  Condy didn’t take his father’s advice and was one of the miners who perished at Cross Mountain.  If you wanted to support your family in Coal Creek in the early 1900s, you mined coal.  Today, a college education provides unlimited opportunities for Briceville students.

Students read farewell messages of Powell
Harmon and Jacob Vowell and cleaned the
headstones of Powell and Condy Harmon and
Jacob and Elbert Vowell in Longfield Cemetery.

Students clean headstone of
Jacob & Elbert Vowell who perished
in the 1902 Fraterville Mine disaster

Headstone of little Eddie Vowell was
cleaned.  Jacob & Elbert Vowell are
buried next to little Eddie as they
requested in their farewell message.

Briceville Church
& Cemetery

At Briceville Cemetery, students cut limbs and vegetation encroaching on the headstone of Eugene Ault who wrote a farewell message on a barricade wall before he suffocated in the Cross Mountain Mine.  Students also made rubbings from his headstone.  His farewell message says, “Dear Father, Mother, Brothers, and Sisters, I guess I come to die.  Well I started out and come to the side track and Alonzo Wood is with me.  Air is not much now.  Well, all be good and I aim to pray to God to save me and all of you.  Tell Clarence to wear out my clothes, give him my trunk.  I guess I'll never be with you any more.  So goodbye.  Give them all my love.  Give Bessie Robbins a stickpin of mine.  Tell her goodbye.”

Charcoal rubbing was made after clearing
Eugene Ault's headstone


Coal Creek Miners'
wore bandanas as
their uniforms

So why are students wearing bandanas?  

Coal Creek miners fought the Tennessee Militia over the use of convict labor in the mines during the Coal Creek War from 1891 to 1892.  Miners wore bandanas to show they were in the miners' army.  We wear bandanas during our history field trips as the miners did during their war.

After the field trip, bare-root American chestnut seedlings were distributed to the students for planting throughout the watershed.


Students visit to historic Cross Mountain Miners' Circle at Circle Cemetery in Briceville, TN
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places:


Visit to Fort Anderson on Militia Hill to clear brush and debris from around the new historic markers
and plant additional American chestnut trees:

Chestnut trees are growing
and producing burrs!!  ---->>
Click on image to enlarge
Photos taken by Gary Tackett

Visit to historic Leach Cemetery where the National Register's Fraterville Miners' Circle is located:

Miners' headstones
need continuous care
and preservation

Visit to Longfield Cemetery where many of the miners are buried. Students cleaned headstones
of Jacob and Elbert Vowell and Powell and Condy Harmon.  They then read their farewell messages.

Lunch at Cracker Barrel!


Students cut trees and removed vegetation from around his headstone and read the farewell message of Eugene Ault at Briceville Church and Cemetery:

Farewell message of
miner Eugene Ault
carved on
his headstone


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