Person:James Taulbee (10)

James Earl Taulbee
b.6 Sep 1919
d.3 May 2000 Sturgis, MI
m. 1910/1919
  1. James Earl Taulbee1919 - 2000
  2. John Frank Taulbee1920 - 1964
Facts and Events
Name James Earl Taulbee
Gender Male
Birth[1] 6 Sep 1919
Death? 3 May 2000 Sturgis, MI

Mining Memories by Earl Taulbee

"We came to Kenmont when I was three years old. I grew up in Kenmont. I went to school in the four room school house down at the mouth of the hollow. The school was heated with those old potbellied stoves. On a cold winter day those rooms never did get warm, but we made it and got by. School only lasted for seven months so we were out of school in early spring. Boys will find something to do. We'd get together and dam up the creek and make us a swimming hole as soon as the weather was warm enough for swimming. We got tired of swimming pretty quick. It was during the depression and none of us had money for toys so we made are own wagons out of a blackgum tree. We'd saw the tree down and then take a crosscut saw and saw little wheels off the tree. With an auger we'd bore holes in the center of the wheel, make us a wood axle out of hickory and we would have us a car to coast and play Indians and Daniel Boone all over the hillsides. Those hills in Kenmont were covered with chestnut trees and those wild chestnuts were good - not anything at all like chestnuts you buy today. There were plenty of walnuts and hickory trees too. So in the fall we'd gather meal sacks full of chestnuts, walnuts and hickory nuts. The depression just kept getting worse so all of our Daddies decided that we had better start farming on the hills around the camp. The Company had no objection to the men clearing them out a garden spot on Company land. Clearing new ground is a tough job. All the trees had to be cut down and all the brush piled and burned and those stubborn roots have to be grubbed out. My Daddy, Frank Taulbee, from Breathitt County, was an experienced hand at clearing new ground. With him, me and my brother Jr., we cleared a whole hillside on the left hand side of Barn Hollow in Kenmont all the way to the top of the mountain. It kept us pretty busy all the time. That new ground would grow anything. We raised corn, beans, tomatoes and potatoes. We raised enough stuff to help out a lot. Daddy always had a couple of hogs which we would kill in the winter time. We had plenty enough to eat but the clothes situation wasn't too good. My family just didn't have enough money to buy clothes. What clothes we had we took very good care of them. By the end of the worst of the depression I was a teenager and started working for Kenmont Coal Company. My first job was carrying the mail when I was twelve years old from the Kenmont Commissary down to the post office at Jeff. I was paid a salary of eleven dollars a month which gave me a little spending money. When I was a little older they let me work on the tipple picking bone out of the coal. I was big for my age. I fibbed about my age to get the job and when they found out my real age they stopped that. But they did let me work around the store helping out cleaning up, stocking and things like that. When I did get old enough they put me back on the tipple and I worked there awhile and then I went in the mines. The first job I had in the mines was to keep track of the motors and cars. That was a good job. When I got married I was put on the hog crew that shot and cut coal. It paid $5.60 when I started. There wasn't an empty house in Kenmont so me and Jen moved into an apartment down there at Jeff over Floyd Hall's store and then we built a house and moved to Acup and lived there a long time. When mining began to go down in the early fifties I went to Dayton and got a job at General Motors, a good job, but I was always getting laid off. I tried that for five years and every year I would get laid off. I would go back to Kenmont then they would call me back to General Motors. I got tired of that. The last time they laid me off I went back to Kenmont . The old Kenmont was gone, but Mr. Eckert had started up a mining operation working the coal old Kenmont had left. Mr. Eckert gave me a job. I worked for Mr. Eckert for seven years working the coal that the old Kenmont hadn't mined. When all the coal was worked out I had to do something again. I went to Michigan this time and got a job building punch presses and stayed with that for thirteen years and retired from it. We are still here in Sturgis, Michigan but I tell you back in that depression at Kenmont, it was a rough time. One thing about it though, everybody was equal, wasn't nobody better than anybody else. At Kenmont everyone liked to hunt rabbits and squirrels. Back when I was working on the tipple at Kenmont, the President of Kenmont Coal Company lived in Toledo, Ohio and he had a grown boy, who came down to Kenmont. He wanted to go possum hunting with us so we took him out and we caught a big old possum that night and gave him the honor of taking care of it. He carried it in the coffee sack and said, 'I'm going to send this possum back to Toledo.' The next morning he came up to the shop in the head of Kenmont where they had all kinds of supplies needed around the mine including screen wire. He was going to make a cage to send it back to Toledo. My Grandpa, Sherman Roberts had the keys to all the supplies up there. He told Grandpa he wanted to get some screen wire and he went in and got a whole roll of it. That was enough wire to build a cage for a tiger. Now Sherman didn't believe in wasting anything and he immediately told Dennis, the Superintendent, 'That boy is destroying everything on this place up here. He's got enough screen wire - he's making too big a cage for a possum,' he said. The Superintendent told Pap that his Daddy owns this place and to let him go to it. He made the cage and took the possum down to the store. Alfred King hauled the mail down to the post office at Jeff every morning to put it on the train. He told Alfred to mail the caged possum to Toledo. Alfred asked the Superintendent what to do with this unusual piece of mail adding, 'if we send this up there to Cleveland that old man will fire every one of us.' The Superintendent said, 'Well, Alfred take it with you and turn the possum lose down at Jeff and throw the cage away.' That's what Alfred did. I never did hear the boy say anything about his possum after that."

Remembering Earl Taulbee by Paul Taulbee

On May 3rd 2000, my father, James Earl Taulbee Sr. died from consequences of an aneurysm he had on April 24th. The aneurysm in his stomach would have killed a normal person. My brothers and sisters couldn't persuade Dad to go the the Doctor until a second attack left him unconscious. Brother Jim who also lives in Sturgis, went over to check on Dad and he was in his bedroom in the floor and couldn't get up. Jim went in the house and called 911. Dad said, "Jim, there is no need for that, you can drive me over to the hospital in the car." They got him to the hospital and the nurse was asking all those medical questions. "When was the last time you were examined by a Doctor?," asked the nurse. "In 1963 I was operated on for gallstones," he answered. (Dr. Charles Rutledge did the surgery). The nurse asked, "Do you smoke Mr. Taulbee?" "For 65 years," Dad answered. Dad smoked regular Camels, the highest tar and nicotine cigarette sold. "Mr. Taulbee I'll order you a nicotine patch," the nurse told him. "No need for that, I'll just quit," he told her. After the questioning they rushed Dad in for a CAT scan. The CAT scan revealed the aneurysm. Dad would have been dead except that the blood had clotted. They flew him by helicopter to Kalamazoo's Bonson Methodist Hospital where he underwent six and a half hours of emergency surgery. When I got to Kalamazoo on Saturday morning the medical staff had just removed the ventilator and Dad could talk. Throughout the day Dad became stronger and was making remarkable improvement for a man who would be 81 on September 6th. On Tuesday May 2nd Dad was taken from the IC unit to a regular room. On the way to his room, he was telling funny stories to the nurses and showing off his incision scar, and commenting on the length of the feeding tube. Everything looked so promising. At 4:00 am the phone rang and I knew what my brother Mike was going to say when he said, "Dad didn't make it." We never want to lose a parent . We never get over the loss of a parent. How wonderful it is to have had good parents who loved us and set an excellent example for us to follow and pass on to our children and grandchildren. In 1997 I got Dad to give me some information about his life for Paul Lynn Ellington's Mining Memories, a history of Kenmont Coal Camp. Click here for the story.

  1. 1920 Census.

    4 months old in 1920 Census