There are perhaps a half-million people scattered throughout America who have ancestral ties to Thurber. This is the “Thurber Diaspora.” When Thurber was shutting down from 1921 to 1933, about 3,500 people had to relocate. The majority of Thurber’s coal miners moved to the Illinois coal fields or other jobs in northern cities. Others went to potash mines in New Mexico. Some went to California where there were a viriety of job opportunities. Many chose to remain in nearby Thurber Junction (Mingus) because they owned homes or they might have been involved in bootlegging. Those connected with Thurber’s oil operations moved to Fort Worth offices or to other T P Oil Co. locations in Texas.
Shutting down Thurber meant the foreign-born miners would be starting over again. But this they did with the same determination which brought them to America. With the exception of my book “The Back Road To Thurber”, the literature has been virtually void on the immigrants’ contributions to Thurber’s development. Indeed, without this predominant, industrious Eastern European work force (85% of the coal miners), Thurber might not have succeeded. By looking at some of the individual sacrifices and efforts of the early Italian and Polish Thurber immigrants we attempt to set the record straight.
Leo S. Bielinski, March 2003
Thanks to Pete Galik, Daryl Berezik and Gen. Tut Daskevich