Harry S. Gay, Jr. – Gay Coal and Coke Company

Harry S. Gay, Jr. – Gay Coal & Coke Company

Mt. Gay Coal Company Scrip
History of West Virginia, Old and New
and West Virginia Biography
Volume II Biographical, Page 236-37
The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York
Published 1923 (Public Domain)

HARRY S. GAY, Jr. Some of the most extensive operations in the Logan County field are conducted by the Gay Coal & Coke Company, whose headquarters are known as Mount Gay, near Logan. The active manager of this industry for several years has been Harry S. Gay, Jr., himself a mining engineer with a successful experience in all the technical phases of coal mining here and elsewhere. The company is in an important degree a result of the cumulative efforts and enterprise of three generations of this family.

Very rare photo of  the Gay Coal Mine Barn and the mules used to work the mine.

Very rare photo of the Gay Coal Mine Barn and the mules used to work the mine.

The founder of the family in America was Samuel Gay, grandfather of Henry S. Gay. He was born in England, and from an early age worked in the coal fields of his native country. Coming to America, he became a miner in the anthracite fields of Pennsylvania. In the early days of the coal development in Southern West Virginia he was attracted to this
field with William McQuail. For a time they conducted operations under the name of the Turkey Gay Coal Company in the Pocahontas District. Samuel Gay, served as mine inspector of the Eighth Anthracite District for fifteen years, holding this position until the time of his death. Finally he returned to Pennsylvania. He possessed the physical strength
of an English coal miner, was a man of resolute will, had little education himself, and his greatest ambition apparently was to train his own children by the best advantages obtainable so that they might be in a position to continue his line of work but on a higher plane, though his own success was by no means negligible. He, therefore, sent his sons through the best technical schools.

H. S. Gay, Sr., a son of the pioneer and one of the founders of the Gay Coal and Coke Company in Logan County, was born at Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania. He finished his higher education and technical training in Lafayette College, and as a mining engineer he has handled some of the most complicated technical problems in his profession. Most of
his professional work was done in the anthracite fields of Pennsylvania. For a time he was general manager for J. Landon & Company of Elmira, New York, and also general manager of the Thomas A. Edison Iron Ore Mines in New Jersey. He was coasulting engineer for several mining corporations at Shamokin, Pennsylvania. He paid his first visit to the coal fields in Logan County in 1903 as an engineer to report on coal lands for some Shamokin people. While here he located the Monitor-Yuma Land lease and incidentally acquired for himself a lease of eight hundred acres, land on which the mines of the Gay Coal and Coke Company are situated.

H. S. Gay, Sr., deserves the record of history as one of the pioneers in the development of this district. He shipped the first car load of coal from the district on Thanksgiving day, 1904. This coal was hauled in wagons from the mine to Logan and there loaded on a car and sent out over the recently completed railroad into the valley. The mine of the Gay Coal and Coke Company is the only one in this field of any consequence that has remained under the same management from its opening, a period of eighteen years. In 1921 the company shipped two million tons of coal from their operations. Another feature of the record for that year is that not a single man was killed in the operations. This company has maintained a splendid record in the handling and treatment of their employees, and this has contributed in no small measure to the success and continued prosperity of the company. In the early years they gave preference to local men in their mines, until the period of the war made it necessary to bring in miners from other fields.

H. S. Gay, Sr., while still vice president and general manager of the Gay Coal & Coke Company, has spent little time at the mines since 1912. He is now virtually retired and lives at Baltimore. When he made his first trip to the Logan field there was no railroad, and he left the train at Dingess on the Norfolk and Western, and the rest of the journey of about thirty miles he made by horseback over the mountains. As an operator and as a mining engineer H. S. Gay, Sr., has been associated with operations in every field in West Virginia, including the New River, Pocahontas, Paint Creek and Cabin Creek districts. There is nothing in the mining industry with which he has not come in contact by practical experience. The first work he ever did around the mine was running a pump in the anthracite field of Pennsylvania. At one time he had charge of the deepest mine in the United States, located at Shamokin, Pennsylvania, and owned by the Nielson Colliery Company. This mine was 2,000 feet deep.

H. S. Gay, Sr., married Lallia J. Batdorf, a native of Tremont, Pennsylvania. Their family consisted of two sons and two daughters. The other son, Leslie N., is a physician at Baltimore, and was a first lieutenant in the Medical Corps during the World war.

Harry S. Gay, Jr, who is the active representative of the third generation in this notable family of miners and mine operators in America, was born at Lykens, Pennsylvania, April 7, 1889. He was of age for active military duty during the great war, and it was his sincerest desire to get overseas with the troops, but the authorities would not permit him to leave his essential duties in the mining field. Mr. Gay is a graduate of the Shamokin High School with the class of 1906. That school, located in a great industrial district, offered unsurpassed facilities for technical training and gave him the foundation of his technical training as an engineer. From high school he entered Lehigh University without examination, and graduated in 1910 with the degree of Mining Engineer. For six months following his graduation he was employed by the Tremont Water and Gas Company, of which his father was president. He was then a constructing engineer with the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad at Frackville, Pennsylvania, and left that to come to Logan as mining engineer for the widely known firm of Pittsburgh engineers, W. G. Wilkins & Company. Six months later, in June, 1912, Mr. Gay became assistant to his father in the Gay Coal and Coke Company operations. Since 1914 he has been general superintendent of the plant, and was the responsible executive in charge throughout the period of the World war.

As a mining engineer he has been identified with other important work in these mining fields. He assisted in building the Rum Creek Branch Railroad, assisted in laying out the Logan Mining Company’s operations, the Amherst Mines at Amherstdale, the McGregor Coal Company’s operations at Slagle, West Virginia, also Monitor No. 3 Mine, and he surveyed all the mines on English Run, and other mines on Buffalo Creek.

When Mr. Gay came to the Logan field in 1912 there were forty-two mines in operation, and at the present time there are one hundred and thirty-five. Mr. Gay, who is unmarried, is affiliated with the Masonic Lodge and Chapter at Logan, the Elks and his College fraternity is the Sigma Nu. He is an active member of the American Institute of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers.

Note: The header image is from a 1908 postcard showing the flooding of the “Gay town” area.

Gay Coal and Coke Co. Mt. Gay WV

Photo courtesy of Claude “Sam” Tiller Jr., Logan Hydraulics, Cherry Tree, WV.

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One Response to Harry S. Gay, Jr. – Gay Coal and Coke Company

  1. My house was just across the road from the mine entrance. I had the pleasure to meet Mr. Gay when I was a young boy. I later got to know his daughter Sharon, who came back home and went to Marshall while I was there.

    The story I like to hear is that Mr. Gay got Jack Dempsey, who was working at the mine to go into boxing and become a World Champion. The story goes that Mr. Gay saw Jack kill a mule with his fist and said you should be a boxer. Jack and his family came from Utah and lived in Dempsey Branch in Mud Fork.

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