Tag Archives: Slovenia

Herminie, PA Coal Mining and Ignatz Kolar

The internet is great and constantly updated.  I feel like every year or so I need to re-search the internet for family names and the history of different regions.

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Rozalija (Rose) and Ignatz (Ignac) Kolar, circa early 1930s

Rozalija and Ignatz Kolar were from Slovenia, or what was then part of Austria-Hungary in the late 19th/early 20th century.  When they first came to the U.S. at the turn of the 20th century, they lived in Herminie, Pennsylvania, outside of Pittsburg.  The region of Slovenia they came from was largely a mining area, and so one of the first jobs Ignac had in the U.S. was a mining job.

I came across the Virtual Museum of Coal Mining in Western Pennsylvania that lists him as a Slovenian miner circa 1912 for the Ocean Coal Company in Herminie, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania at the Ocean/Herminie No. 1 bituminous coal mine.  Sounds about right to me!

There were coal company owned houses and stores in Herminie, but it looks like my great great grandpa Ignatz owned his own home, or at least rented a non-company house.  On the page about the Ocean/Herminie No. 1 mine, there is a line that notes:

“The first settlers, such as Sornig, Mole Gradisek, Coz, Kolar, Bedek, Kapla, Arnold, Drab and Cirar, have their own homes, but religious conditions are rather bad.

On Sundays many worship in the Irish church of Our Lady in Madison. Once a year Rev. J. Mertelj comes from Pittsburgh to hear confessions. In the village there are the following lodges: SNPJ Lodge #87 which was founded in 1906 with 14 members; St. Barbara’s Lodge, founded in 1908 with 16 members, and SSPZ Lodge founded in 1911 with 17 members. The immigrants came mostly from the Upper Carniola (Gorenjska) or Notranjska and have found work in the coal mines. {from Rev. J.M. Trunk text published originally in 1912 Part 8, History of Slovene Communities.}”

The family eventually purchased a farm and moved to Sheldon, Wisconsin.  I believe the photo above was taken in the early 1930s in Wisconsin.  I’ve never been to Herminie and I’ve never worked in a mine, but I can’t help but imagine that working hard as a farmer was a huge move up from laboring in an early 20th century coal mine.