Proposed Coal Creek Scholars High School Project:

Compiling names of Convict Miners who died in
the Knoxville Iron and Coal Company Mine in the
Wye Community of Coal Creek, Tennessee

See efforts being made by the scholars to complete this project

Clinton Courier News Article

Miners who died in the 1902 Fraterville Mine disaster and the 1911 Cross Mountain Mine disaster have monuments listing their names in Coal Creek.  Convict miners who died in the Knoxville Iron and Coal Company (KICC) Mine No. 1 in the Wye Community are not remembered.  They were part of the convict lease system that operated there from 1877 to 1893.  According to state historian, Walter Durham, Tennessee Prison Records are available that can be used to identify them.  Those records also list the county they were from, the crime they committed, the date of their death, and the cause of their death.


Abandoned Knoxville Iron and Coal Company (KICC) Mine No. 1

As many as 200 convict miners may have died in KICC Mine No. 1.  According to the oral history of Coal Creek, when they died, they were carried up the hillside above the mine and buried.  Some have fieldstones marking their graves and others have no marker.


Fieldstones marking graves in Convict Miners Cemetery


Someday, we would like to erect a monument listing their names, similar to the ones of the Fraterville and Cross Mountain miners.  First, we need information about them.  Tennessee prison records for the period in question are being sent to the downtown Knoxville Main Public Library on microfilm for that purpose.  It will take a lot of digging through the records to identify the convict miners who died in the KICC Mine No. 1, but what a great research project that could be for a group of Coal Creek scholars.

If you are interesting in volunteering to help, please contact Carol Moore at 865-584-0344 or clmoore@geoe.comWe will arrange to meet you at the Lawson McGhee Main Public Library at 500 West Church Street in Knoxville, show you the records, and what type of information needs to be mined from those records.  It would be a good group project, so you might want to recruit other Coal Creek scholars to help.  You can use the information you gather for research papers in your high school history classes or even later in college.    

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