Beauty and Tragedy in Mount Savage
In 1842, the Maryland and New York Iron and Coal Company reported the construction of a village known as Mount Savage. It consists of twenty two dwellings, a school, a store, and buildings for the manufacture of iron.
In 1860, William Cullen Bryant wrote for the New York Evening Post---
“You alight among smoking furnaces and forges and vast heaps of cinders at Mount Savage, near the foot of the mountain-range of the same name, a village of four thousand inhabitants, gather[ed] from various nations, mostly employed in the iron works and the mines and living in cottages. As you ascend from the village you perceive more and more of beauty of that region. You are among deep, winding valleys and broad mountainsides, forests of grand old trees and grassy fields, and at every step some new charm of the property opens upon you.”
George Fair came from a long line of Marylanders who also agreed that Mount Savage was a beautiful place to live. My grandfather, Robert was born in Allegany Co., MD in 1796 and my father, Jacob was born here in 1821. My family lived between Mt. Savage and Glencoe, PA for many years. I married Ella Nora Hutzell on December 20, 1889. We settled in Mount Savage where I went to work as a coal miner. In 1900, after 11 years of marriage, we had seven children, the oldest, ten and the youngest, eight months.
On September 20, 1900, I walked to worked, lunch bucket in hand, as I did every day. But this day was like no other.
“George Fair, a driver, was instantly killed in the New York Company’s mine Wednesday. His car jumped the tracks and knocking out some supports, the roof fell on Fair, breaking his neck. His wife and seven small children are left. He lived in Mt. Savage.” wrote the Frostburg Mining Journal, September 22, 1900.
As I write this article, I wonder what happened to Ella and her children after George died. There were only minimal pensions from he coal companies and no Social Security. What did Ella do to support seven children? How did she manage?
What Happened to Ella Nora Hutzell Fair?
Several weeks ago, Miner Recollections printed a story about George Fair of Mt. Savage who was killed in a mining accident, leaving a wife and seven children. At the end of that story I asked the question, "whatever happened to his wife, Ella Nora, and their children?"
I received an email from Ella Nora’s great-granddaughter, Nancy Paul Hobbs. This is her story:
“Ella Nora and her seven children lived in a house on Calla Hill near Dutch Hollow in Mt. Savage. I believe the house may have been owned by her brother, John Hutzell. Ella Nora took in laundry and cleaned for others. She also cleaned for businesses, one of which was the Mt. Savage Bank. This was a time when children worked to help support families. ‘Chris’, the oldest boy, worked in the mines. Dulcie, the oldest girl, worked as a domestic for Dr. Price and his wife in Frostburg.
The family had a garden and vegetables were canned and stored for winter. They had a cow and chickens. The younger children picked berries from the surrounding woods. At this time the citizens of the town looked after each other. When someone butchered a cow or hog, Ella Nora’s family was gifted some meat.
The social organizations at the time cared for widows. Ella Nora received money pledged by members of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F). These men pledged 10 and 25 cents a month to her and her children. I have a little account book with the names and amounts listed. Ella Nora was an experienced seamstress, making quilts using material people gave her. She sold them in the
In later years she lived with my grandparents, Frank and Arvada (Fair) Paul, until her death on October 11, 1938.”
Nancy goes on to tell about each of George and Ella Nora’s seven children. They each married, had good jobs and produced a total of 25 grand children.
I admire Ella Nora’s courage and fortitude and think our generation could learn some lessons from her.
The Coal Miner Memorial Statue Fund Is accepting contributions for the placement of an educational memorial near the crossroads of state Route 36 and the National Road in Frostburg. A bronze statue will honor all of our George’s Creek Valley miners, and name those who perished while mining. Tax-deductible donations can be mailed to the Foundation for Frostburg, CMMSF, P.O. Box 765, Frostburg, MD 21532.
We thank Nancy for her updated information on the Fair family and encourage other participation.
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