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Joe Beafore, Page One

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Joe Beafore, 10 years old, Fairmont, West Virginia, October 1908. Photo by Lewis Hine

Monongah Glass Co., Fairmont, W. Va. Jo Before a glass wks boy going home, 5 P.M. He says he is 12 years old, and has been at it one year: is a "ketchin-up-boy" $.70 a day: says glass business is all right. Asked if he was going to be a glassblower when he grows up, he said "Sure!" Goes to school during school term: asked is [sic] he had to, he answered "Don't unless I want to" asked why he went then, said "Want to learns something." October 1908. Location: Fairmont, West Virginia, Lewis Hine.

"December 27, 1905: Dominick Beafore, New England Mine, left his place of work at 12:00 o'clock and rode to the outside of the mine to get his dinner. Upon returning to his work he got on front end of mine locomotive, and upon reaching a cross-over of main heading he jumped from the motor, of his own accord, evidently intending to throw switch. In so doing, he in some manner fell on the track and was run over by the motor. - Annual Report, Coal Mines in the State of West Virginia, 1906

Dominick was one of Joe's older brothers. When Joe grew up, he also worked in a coal mine. When this photo was taken, Joe was only 10 years old. At the time, the child labor laws in West Virginia allowed the employment of children 12 and over, with no limitation on hours. So it is likely that Joe's parents lied about his age and the employer was complicit. As documented by the National Child Labor Committee investigators such as Charles Chute, the boys in the glass factories were subjected to intense heat and unrelenting, high-pressure physical activity that often resulted in dehydration and dangerous exposure to glass dust.

The Monongah Glass Company started in Fairmont in 1902. It produced pressed and blown glassware, and was one of the first glass companies to use machinery for mass production. By 1928, they were one of the largest glass factories in the United States. That year, they were purchased by the Hocking Glass Company.


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Joe Beafore (front, 6th from right), Fairmont, WV, Oct 1908. Photo by Lewis Hine. CLICK TO ENLARGE.

5 P.M. Boys going home from Monougal (Monongah) Glass Works. A native remarked "De place is lousey wid kids." Location: Fairmont, West Virginia. October 1908, Lewis Hine.

Researching this family was difficult. There are many spellings of Beafore in government records. But I finally found most of what I wanted in the census, and in birth, marriage and death records. That led me to several descendants.


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