A look at
Minonk's past

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The following text is provided by Barth Weistart who has done extensive research on the Minonk coalmines.
The Minonk Coal Co. was incorporated in 1869. Dr. Samuel Ewers was the first president and manager. A 4 foot vein of coal was found at a depth of 314 feet. The quality was poor so digging continued to the 553 foot level where a 2 1/2 to 3 foot vein of higher grade coal was found. Financially the Company was unable to proceed. They formed a partnership with Miner T. Ames of Chicago who provided needed cash. The shareholders were unable to pay their portion of continuing expenses and sold their interests to The Chicago and Minonk Coal Co. Miner T. Ames was president and general manager of the new Company. The Company's name became The Chicago and Minonk Coal and Tile Company (C. & M. C. & T. Co.). About 300 workers were employed.

The picture on this page is of the first mine operated in Minonk. For information on the tile works see the old photo BRICK AND TILE YARD. Miner T. Ames died in 1890 and was succeeded as general manager of the mine by an heir, Knowlton Ames. A second mine was opened 1 mile north of the first mine in 1900--and then the troubles began.

The picture was provided by David Gutherz.

The Minonk News reported in March, 1901 that the "SHAFT CLOSED DOWN". C. & M. C.& T. Co. officials closed the mines and brought up the mules. In August, 1901 the newspaper reported that a decree of foreclosure and order for sale was obtained by the bond holder- American Trust and Savings Company. On October 15, the property was sold in Eureka to the bond holder for $83,798.15.

The following week personal property including merchandise in the store, show cases, fixtures, soda fountain, mules, horses, wagons, pit cars, props, lumber, tools and everything about a coal shaft were sold. C. F. Hall Co. of Dundee, Ill paid $3,800 for the store merchandise worth $8,000. Accounts receivable totaling over $3,000 were sold to Miss Kennedy for $30.The soda fountain, show cases, cashiers desk, safe, and other fixtures were sold for $135 to Mr.. Duggan of Toluca. Mr. Duggan bought a good many horses and mules for less than $10 each. They were worth from $25 to $150 each. All props at the old mine were sold for $100 to B. M. Stoddard. Total receipts from the sale were just over $5,400 for property worth over twenty thousand dollars.

Some 300 to 400 men and boys were out of work when the shafts shut down. Many moved out of Minonk to seek work in other mining towns. K.L. Ames moved to Evanston where he engaged in other business. The store building was leased by its owners, who included Mrs.K.L. Ames, as a department store. Mr, Ames was described as a "thoroughly good fellow". He befriended the workmen, carrying them on credit for months. In fact, he was too easy on the men. Money was undoubtly loss through his inability to say no.

The Minonk Register reported in July,1904 that W. Sutton had leased the No.2 coal mine. Boilermakers were fixing the old boilers so water that had accumulated in the mine could be pumped out. W. Sutton said the mine would be opened and worked.

The Minonk Dispatch reported on a fire at the old No.1 shaft in October, 1905. Coal chutes had caught fire. Water mains didn't extend far enough to put the fire out. Support posts were cut letting the chutes and runway fall to the ground thereby saving the main tower. Thus started the end of the old mine. Most of us never saw it. We only have pictures as this one to spark our imaginations and dreams as to what it must have been like.