Valley’s Italian Heritage Has Roots in ‘Great Coal War’

Jun 26, 2019 301

BY: Marah Morrison

Following the unification of Italian states in the latter half of the 19th century, many peasants faced financial hardships caused by years of war and political turmoil over who would rule what – and how. The process was particularly hard on the southern regions of the country, viewed by their powerful northern counterparts as corrupt and uncivilized. In the fall of 1872, one of the first great waves of immigrants from southern Italy made their way to the United States, lured by fraudulent reports of easy riches. 

In New York City, a flood of destitute Italians began to arrive. In the spring of the following year, telegrams flew between the Mahoning Coal Co. and the Labor Exchange in New York. Soon after, the first contingent of Italians arrived to work in the mines in Coalburg, just outside Hubbard. In May, a second group was sent to the Church Hill Coal Co. mines in Liberty Township. What they didn’t know, however, was that they were brought in as strikebreakers.

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