working title, self-published pamphlet in-progress
research began spring 2014
Fire in the Hollow is the in-progress story behind the forced-at-gunpoint excommunication of twenty-five Italian immigrant families from the Guffey Hollow coal mine in Western Pennsylvania on the night of September 15, 1901. The “eviction” of these families followed on the heels of the anarchist Leon Czolgosz’s assassination of President William McKinley, which sparked a nation-wide sweep of judicial and vigilante crack-downs on immigrants generally, and all facets of the American Left specifically.
The men who carried out the excommunication of these families remain anonymous to this day, as do the families who were forced to move. I’m currently sourcing as much material as I can from the time period in order to piece this story together. I started working on this project in earnest in 2014, but it’s one of those stories where I keep having to put a pin in it and save it for later – whether because a more pressing project steps in, or because I’ve hit many walls in the research.
Are you from the area, and know something about the history of Guffey Hollow and the Italians who worked those mines leading up to 1901? Please get in touch! Email me: shaun (at) justseeds (dot) org.
Guffey Hollow is in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. Also known as Guffey Station, the exact mining settlement was on the Youghiogheny River: south of McKeesport, north of Sutersville (40°17’16.0″N, 79°46’15.9″W, marked on map below).
Philadelphia Inquirer, September 17, 1901
People's History: Research & Writing