Coal Miners’ memorial dedicated

| October 21, 2013
Coal Miners Dedication 24

COAL MINERS DEDICATION: Sam Bennett, Wilma Bennett, and Debra Bennett Brown stand beside a statue with the likeness of their father, Arthur, who was killed in a coal mining accident in Coshocton County in 1971.

COSHOCTON – On the corner of 3rd and Chestnut Street stands a memorial as an epitaph of the 46 coal miners who lost their lives in Coshocton County while performing their daily jobs. On Saturday, Oct. 19, members of the community and surrounding counties gathered on the courtsquare lawn to dedicate this lasting tribute and remember their loved ones who had passed away.

“I am reminded of the names that appear and those who do not appear on the memorial who gave their lives to a profound industry in Coshocton,” said Mayor Steve Mercer. “It’s a beacon to all those who lost their lives in the mines of Coshocton County.”

The memorial pays tribute to the 175-year legacy of mining in the county which started in the early 1830s. In the early days, the coal was hauled by mules and horses. This later transformed into trains with 15 – 20 cars loaded with coal. On average, seven trains left Coshocton County in a single day, filled with coal.

The memorial started as a dream of Sam Bennett’s who lost his father in the coal mines in 1971. In addition to the memorial slate, a life-sized statue of a coal miner stands close to the memorial which bears a resemblance to Bennett’s father, Arthur S. Bennett Sr. Bennett also lost his wife to cancer after starting work on the memorial. Through it all, Bennett credits the spirits of his father, his wife, and all the coal miners who have driven him to complete the monument.

“I’m excited,” said Bennett. “I’m elated and I’m so glad it’s done. It’s been a mission. I had my wife, my dad, and the other miners pushing me all the way. It’s refreshing now that it’s over. It will be here forever for everyone to come out and enjoy. I’m very thankful to Coshocton for helping me raise these funds.”

When Bennett first pitched his idea to the Coshocton County Commissioners, they jumped at the idea, but rejected the original design as it looked too much like a gravestone. Bennett then revised his original idea into the memorial that stands today.

“This is a great location and where a lot of people will see it,” said Commissioner Curtis Lee. “This memorial is a testament to the hard work and dedication to Sam’s commitment to the project. We would like to thank Sam for his hard work and dedication for making this memorial a reality.”

Bennett started the project in March 2011 and said he wanted to honor not just his father, but all of the 46 coal miners who were killed in the county. He was also thankful to all of the contributors in the county who made this memorial possible through financial means.

Bill Camden, a coal miner for 43 years, wanted to also remember those who not only died on the job, but those who died from black lung, including wives who contracted the disease from washing their husband’s clothes.

“This is a good place to start and think about what these miners have done for Coshocton County,” said Camden.

Larry Vucelich, a coal miner for 44 years, was also present at the ceremony to remember those who had been killed by this profession.

“An injury to one is an injury to all,” he said. “We’ve always looked out for our brothers. This memorial will be here long after we are gone, but the memory of those guys will be enshrined forever.”

Tim Ross, a representative of Gov. John Kasich’s office, read a proclamation from the governor, and to end the event, Ken Smailes read the list of the 46 miners who lost their lives in Coshocton County. A few people also spoke about how they were connected to the monument, including a woman who had lost her father in the mines of Coshocton County. Tim Milligan of Milligan Memorials, who created the memorial, spoke briefly about the hard American labor that went into producing this stone.

To view a list of the donors to the memorial and to see upcoming events planned to celebrate the completion of the memorial, visit Donations are still being accepted for the upkeep of the memorial.

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About the Author ()

I have been employed at the Coshocton County Beacon since September 2009 as a news reporter and assistant graphic artist. I am a 2004 graduate of Newcomerstown High School and a 2008 graduate of Capital University with a bachelor’s degree in Professional Writing. I am married to John Scott and live in Newcomerstown. We have two beautiful daughters, Amelia Grace Scott and Leanna Rose Scott.

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