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Voices from Beaver Hill

Beaver Hill Coal Mine and Company Town

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 copyright c  2006 by Marilee Miller.  This is a work in progress, a rough draft. 

                                  PART   1  

          Life in a Company Town

   1 - 4   HEALTH, HOSPITAL, &             DR. MINGUS


     At least by the spring of 1895, the bustling coal company provided its
community with “the Beaver Hill mine hospital”  -- with a Dr. Cross in charge as  the company physician.   [Coquille City Herald  Apr 2, 1895;  Nov 24, 1896.]   Whatever his regular duties, Dr. Cross is known to have tended laborers injured in the mine.   (Little more seems to be heard about this fellow, except that in December of 1897, Rev. W. Horsfall (of Marshfield) performed a marriage ceremony between Dr. Cross to Miss Vina Fenton, at Beaver Hill.) [source]

     The only nurse actually named in news accounts, received press attention because of dire circumstances. 

               Miss Mertie Lemon, employed as nurse in the hospital at
          Beaver Hill, died suddenly of heart disease, Friday afternoon.
          She was about 22 years old and was highly esteemed by all who
          knew her.  [ Myrtle Point Enterprise  July 31, 1897. ]

     Little seems to be known about the hospital at the camp.  However, it must have had excellent in-patient care (for its day), even for serious cases, as sometimes patients were brought here even if they had been injured elsewhere.

               Brakeman on CBR RR injured while coupling cars at
          Marshfield.  Died of his injuries at Beaver Hill.  [not full quote]

               Boy fm B.H. hurt in tunnel Mon. Narrowly escaped with life.
          Had given helping hand in adjusting something abt the cars, 8 of
          which loaded and going out of tunnel, during which he got
          tangled and bruised.  Is now in  hospital.  [Ed.  Doesn’t say which
          hosp.]   [not full quote]
                             [Coquille City Herald Dec 31, 1895. Dec 29, 1896]

                Serious and prob fatal accident occurred last evening near
          Myrtle Point. Team unmanageable.  Special train delivered him
           from Myrtle Point to Beaver Hill hospital in critical condition.
          [Patrick] Phelan employee of Beaver Hill Mining & Railroad Co.
          scaler in Porter mill, which under lease to above company.  [not a
          direct quote.]

               (Marshfield News.)  P. L. Phelan was able to be down town
          Mon for first time since accident.  [not full quote]
              [Herald   Sept 21,  Oct 12, 1897.]

               (C.B. News.)  W. Trollinger, colored, received injuries at
          Beaver Hill, one day last week, which, in most cases would have
          terminated fatally.  He was riding a horse, and when close to the
          stable jumped off and turned the animal loose.  He then got behind
          the horse, and threw up his hands and yelled with the intention of
          scaring him.  It probably had the desired effect; anyhow, the horse
          let fly with an upper cut, catching Trollinger over the left eye,
          cutting the scalp and fracturing the skull.  Dr. Mingus [physician at
          Beaver Hill] trephined the skull and took out the portion of bone
          that was pressing on the brain.  The condition of the injured man is
          reported very satisfactory, and the doctor anticipates a complete
           recovery.        [Coquille Bulletin  Dec 6, 1901]

     On the South Coast of Oregon around the turn of a former century, small town hospitals tended to be small outfits, often a room or two in a  home, or upstairs over an office building.  Patients may have had much individual “TLC” (Tender, Loving Care).  But  the surgery scrub room might be little more than a kitchen sink.  Medical apparatus such as is associated with the word hospital in later years, was as yet uninvented, or else unavailable in this region.  People with complicated problems had to sail one of the coastal steamers to San Francisco for medical treatments.  [M. observation of local history; newspaper accounts]

     (It wasn't until 1906 that the Sisters of Mercy; a Catholic order, opened Mercy Hospital at North Bend, bringing  Southwestern Oregon its first sizeable hospital – with up-to-date medical equipment and efficient patient services.  [Peterson, pg 227]    Transportation by train and road had also begun to improve.  And a greater awareness of the need for good sanitation in treating patients.  So after this time, more and more of the difficult cases from isolated districts wound up being transported there.  “The terms [were] $10 per week and upwards.” [Marshfield Sun
March 15, 1906
.]  (That sounds, today, so cheap as to seem ridiculous. 
But when laborers earned only a dollar or two a day, or a dollar for picking and loading a ton of coal – and confinements in those pre- antibiotic times were likely to be lengthy – spending $10 a week for hospitalization would have been a serious matter.)

[gap in info; situation unknown to author.]


     When questioned more than 50 years after the fact, some late-period residents didn’t recall any health facility at the mining camp.  For example, Fern Delong, a school marm at Beaver Hill in 1919-20, feels that in her time, there was no infirmary, and no one around the camp who could have treated the injured.  [Chappell interview.

     On the other hand, some folks say that one of  the identical row houses, right in among the residences on the first level, was called “the hospital”, though it was primarily a first aid station, with a doctor in attendance one, or perhaps two, days a week.  Mary Arnot and Hilda Tobin, [nee ?  girls] [1914-1918?] and Alex McKelvie [1915-16; 20-21?] remember the doctor treating illnesses and injuries.

               If it was serious enough [that a person couldn’t wait for
          treatment], you had to get up and get in to town… [Or] maybe
          you had to telephone to have him [the doctor] come in. Otherwise,
           ...Dr. Mingus…came in… one day a week…looked the people
          over.  …  I remember one time…I had a boil on the back of my
           neck.  I waited until he came up to lance it.

               …We had a family -- …a couple… always lived there [in the
          hospital”]…  There had to be somebody there all the time.  …If
          anybody got hurt or needed a bandage…, why they could always
           go there, ‘cause the wife would be the nurse.   …In them days,
          they  were like nurses, …You know, if you’re going to take care
          of your children when they get banged up----        [McKelvie]

     One of the couples in residence at the facility during McKelvie’s years in the camp, was named Fry [or Frye?].  Evidently the name of the couple just  before them was Perrens, or perhaps Parent.  [McKelvie]    A Mrs. Oland is mentioned as living there earlier.  [date]  [Arnot-Tobin].   None of the other names are known [to the author ]  It is a strange position to think of as a patronage job.  However, it has been said that each new mine manager released the hotelier and store keeper, nurse, any other “staff”, so he could reward his personal friends.  [McKelvie, &?

     But from late 1897 on, evidently the staff doctor’s position didn’t change.  As Alex McKelvie points out: “Dr. Mingus… he was there for years and years.”

     In addition to the “nurse”, many of the foreign-born women living at Beaver Hill knew some of the practices of midwifery.  This was a most necessary service – and one freely offered.  Most of the infants coming into the world were born in their own  homes.  [As was one of Alex McKelvie’s sisters.]  “…If you were born and he [the doctor] wasn’t there, that was just too bad.  ...Next time the doctor came around, he would look in on the mother and baby to see how they were getting along.  [McKelvie 21,22]

     McK:  Yeh.  Well, when the miners all blowed up, see, they had them in there.  Laying around on the---  [M. find]


               [aside:  ]   .  Dr. and Mrs. Minnis, of Roseburg, are visiting the
        bay.  [Herald Aug 12, 1890  [M.  note: Could this poss be Mingus?  I don’t
           see how, since he married later while living Coos.]

     Doctor Mingus.  From the time of his first appointment as camp physician in December of  1897 [Herald Dec 28, 1897] – except possibly for a short time in 1904, when a Dr. Swenson is said to have been at Beaver Hill [Coquille Bulletin July 1, 1904]  -- apparently Dr. Everett Mingus served the coal company until the mine’s closure in [1921-2.].  [M:  but is this really true, given his record as county officer etc?]  

     The short, pudgy doctor must have been a young man when he first showed up at Beaver Hill.  [Winsor-Kingsley]  He was a general practitioner, both physician and surgeon.  [Coos Bay News Jan 2, 1900.]  He came, the reports said, from Grants Pass, and apparently also once lived in Portland.  [Herald Dec 28, 1897; Sept 20, 1898. ]  But for the rest of his days, he would build friendships and fulfill his life’s work in Coos County.  [M. is this true in his retirement?]  [M Oral history.

     Some area residents, looking back from later years, describe Mingus as “a fine person, a fine doctor.”  He’s also been called a “character” --  outstanding and noticeable. He wasn’t the sort of person to do much joking.  One person observed, “It wasn’t all hilarity with him; he was very serious and rather dignified.”  Not that Dr. Mingus was a grouch, or mean in temper – by no means!  Possibly overexposure to the pain of others made him emotionally reserved.  However, people loved and respected him.  [Winsor-Kingsley]

     At first, Mingus may have resided in the Beaver Hill mine hospital.  Soon, however, the physician acquired new duties in Marshfield.  In the
summer of 1899, “Dr. Mingus [was] appointed health officer for Coos bay”.  [Herald May 2, 1899 cited fm Coos Bay News]  And early in 1900 he “received the appointment of physician and surgeon for the railroad”.  [Coos Bay News. Jan 2, 1900.]   His office for the latter was at the railroad depot in Marshfield. 

     Given the peculiarities of the train schedule -- and absence of good driving roads -- Mingus could hardly have lived at Beaver Hill and commuted daily to work in Marshfield.  On the other hand, it would be possible to live in town and call at Beaver Hill for a few hours between trains.  

     Between 1899 and 1903, newspaper items freely interchange “Dr. Mingus, of Beaver Hill” with “Dr. Mingus, of Marshfield”.  [Myrtle Point Enterprise Mar 7, 1899; Dec. 7, 1900.  Coquille Bulletin Dec 6, 1901. Jan 10, 1902,  Herald June 23, 1903.]   But certainly he lived in Marshfield before he had been in the Coos area very many years -- although he continued to be the Beaver Hill company doctor.
     During his years of practice, Dr, Mingus' house in Marshfield (now Coos Bay) was a large, two-story residence not far from the present day Mingus Park.  [M. verify who Mingus Park  named for, etc.]  Later on, this house was sold and remodeled into apartments.  [source]

     As physician for the Coos Bay, Roseburt & Eastern  railroad (which was, in fact, nothing but a shortline system of some 32 miles of track), Mingus looked after accidents and illnesses of the company’s workers – and doubtless settled claims where the company was found at definite fault in causing injuries.  [MeKelvie? or source?}  Sometimes his duties with the Railroad interacted with those as the Marshfield health officer, and later, [ date?], Coos County health officer.  Iin the early 1900s, an important part of his work focused on contagious disease.

               Dr. Mingus, of Marshfield, came over…to vaccinate some of
          the railroad employes and their families of this place [Coquille]. 

                [on first page of paper, directions for care of infectious
          diseases]   The article was furnished by Dr. Mingus for publication
           in the Marshfield papers and we copy it from them. 

               (Coast Mail).  Health Officer Mingus reports two cases of
          smallpox in town [Marshfield].  These are probably the result of
          the case that was not discovered and isolated in time.  All
           precautions have been taken and there will probably be no more
           trouble.    [Bulletin Jan 10, Feb 14, 1902.  Feb 13, 1903]

               Dr. Mingus, of Beaver Hill, was over to Fishtrap [a small
          farming community across the river from the town of Coquille] to
          S.M. Rowan, and finds that he is suffering from smallpox.  It
          seems that John Landers, who is suffering from the disease at
          Bandon, whom we mentioned last week, had been visiting in that
           neighborhood, and Mr. Rowan contracted the malady from him.
          Mr. Rowan’s case seems to be in mild form.
               County court proceedings; bills.  Dr. Mingus, attending case of
          small pox Fishtrap, $20.

               Marshfield Sun.  Judge Harlocker, as county health officer, has
         ordered Dr. Mingus to Sumner, where a small epidemic of scarlet
          fever is raging and quarantine all patients that he finds afflicted with
           the malady.  Dr. Mingus left today to fulfill his mission. 

               (Sun.)  Dr. Mingus reports that the cases of  scarlet fever at
          Sumner are under strict quarantine.  No new cases have been
          reported and everything is favorable to stamp out the disease.

               (Coast Mail)  The Japanese section hands employed on the
          C.B.R.& E. railroad were quarantined yesterday by Dr. Mingus,
           city health officer, one of them having developed a case of

               Dr. Mingus, deputy county health officer, to NB to confer with
          school board; measles broke out; decided to close school 2
          weeks. (Coast Mail.)  [not full quote]

               Dr. Everett Mingus, county physician, who visited Myrtle Point
          Monday to investigate the typhoid fever spread, was told that the
          cases there had all been traced to a well that had been used at a
          time when the city water supply got low this fall. (City water not
          responsible for epidemic. Nq)
                [Herald June 23, 1903    Bulletin  July 17, Oct 23, 30, 1903.   Jan 22, Feb                          5, 1904      Coquille Valley Sentinel Dec 16, 1921]

[M. give approx dates he was co physician]

     In 1902, Mingus ran on the Republican ticket for County Coroner, but was defeated by the Democratic candidate, Dr. Wm. Horsfall.   However, in 1903, Dr. Horsfall resigned, and the county appointed Mingus “to fill the vacancy”.  Elected to the post in in his own right in
1904, Mingus continued as County Coroner until 1908.
      [Bulletin Apr 25, 1902.  July 7, 1903.  June 17, 1904.   Herald  July  7, 1903.
      Jan 22, Mar 11, 1908.   Peterson  p 314
     As County Coroner, Dr. Mingus had to rule on whether to hold inquests concerning deaths within the county.

               Guisseppe Abelo, an Italian employed in the Beaver Hill mines,
          was accidentally killed by a caving of the walls in the room [of
          coal] where he was working yesterday afternoon… Coroner
           Mingus was sent for but on arrival and after investigating the case,
          found the deceased came to his death through his own negligence
          and that no inquest was necessary.
               E. Mingus, coroner, $16.30 inquest for John McPherson.

               County court proceedings.  Coroner’s  court.  E. Mingus
           Inquest Lyman and Sally Ann (Indians) $18.90.
                 [ Herald  July 22, 1904.   Jan 22, Mar 11, 1908.]

Other Medical Activities of Dr. Everett Mingus

               Dr. Mingus comes to town [Coquille] each day to look after
          the patients of Dr. Culin during his absence.  [Dr. Culin went to
          Salem w/Sheriff Gallier to take an insane person to asylum.]

               Dr. Mingus paid Coquille a professional visit Monday.

               [Article abt] operation on skull of John Pierce at Central hotel
          [in Marshfield?] by Dr. Mingus and others.  Delicate op not usually
          performed outside highly equipped hosp.  Chances of recovery
          look good.  [Not q at all]    [Ed.  Papers don't seem to refer again
             to the Pierce case.
               Coast Mail.  Ernest Folsom, amputation of foot, Dr. Horsfall
          operation, asst. Dr. Mingus and Miss Perch, while young man
          working at Minard & Folsom mill, 3 mi below Dora, last Monday
           he was flipping a heavy cant when his foot slipped, and the
           bottom of it came in contact with circular saw, gutting gash into
           bones near the toe.  Taken to Myrtle Point: where physician
           endeavored to save foot, gangrene set in.  Foot taken off back of
           instep, leaving heel intact, if heals without trouble he won’t be
           badly crippled.  [not full quote]   

               (CB News?) Operation for appendicitis on Mrs. E. Lewin, Dr.
          Mingus,  Straw, McCormac. [not quote]  [Ed.  Is this operation
          by 3 drs on Mrs Lewin?  Or 2 entries?

               F S Dow ends life by drowning in C. Bay, suicide notes, how
          he died.  Dr. Mingus says a year ago he suffered from mental
           trouble.  His [Dow's] extensive business in country, selling flour,
           feed, handling produce.  His family.   [not quote at all]
                 [ Herald  June 11, 1901.   Bulletin Mar 6, 24, 1903.  Oct 9,  1901.  Dec 25,
               1903.   Herald Mar 10, 1914

The Man and His Experiences

     This author's favorite story about Dr. Mingus invites a lot of pondering.

               Dr. Mingus has put up a small furnace at Beaver Hill in
          connection with his late discovery of silicious sandstone in the
           mine, and will resume experimental work in glass manufacture this
           week.    [Bulletin  Oct 3, 1902.]

          Glass-making?  Shows that he had a lot of curiosity and a wide
range of interests!  The item makes it sound as if his study with glass spanned some little time.  Certainly the mine abounded in sandstone, and sedimentary clays!  As a matter of fact, a 4” inch streak of clay ran between the two (4 ft and 12 ft?) main faces of coal mined as a single vein.  So the miners would have known all about sandstone.  It isn't known whether they knew -- or would have cared -- if the rock they worked contained the right amount of silica to melt into glass.  However, this mattered to Dr. Mingus.  He must have been asking some special

     How large was his furnace?  Did it function as intended?  Did the glass-making quietly continue?  Or wasn't the silica appropriate for glass-making?  What did Mingus wish for?  Only to satisfy a piquant
curiosity?  Or to make ampules and vials and other apparatus for his lab work?  Unfortunately, newspaper editors did not comment further on the project.

Other stories.  

Personal and family.

               [fm] Marshfield Sun.  Married – at Marshfield, Oregon,
          Tuesday, May 21, 1901, Rev. Horsfall officiating,  Dr. E. Mingus
          and Miss Edna Seeley.  Both of the contracting parties are well
          and favorable known [sic] in this vicinity where they have many
          friends who with the Sun wish them a long and prosperous voyage
          o’er the sea of life.    [Herald  May 28, 1901]  [Ed,  see further.
              [Bulletin Dec 27, 1901. Marriage licenses for 1901…  Dr E.
               Mingus and Edna I. Seeley.  May.

               Arrivals by Alliance [passenger ship] fm Portland Feb 2,
          [1902] ...Dr.E. Mingus and wife...

               Dr. and Mrs. Mingus returned from Ashland via Roseburg
          passing through this place [Coquille] on Monday’s train.  They
          went to attend the marriage of Dr. Mingus’ sister which took place
          in Ashland June 11th [1902]. 

               Mr. and Mrs. W. S. Chandler [manager at Beaver Hill coal
          mine] were on last evening’s train returning home to Marshfield
          from San Francisco.  At the depot here they were visited by Mrs.
          Wm. Aiken and Miss Daisy Mingus.--Ashland Town Talk, Oct. 4.
           [1902]  [Ed.  But she was maried by then.  Did I get the wrong
            year?  Or did Mingus have another sister?]
                [Bulletin Feb 7, June 20, Oct 17, 1902.]

               Dr. Culin was called to Marshfield at 3 o’clock Thursday
          morning in consultation with other physicians of that place over Dr.
          Mingus, who is quite low, and is thought an operation would be
          necessary to relieve him. 

               (fm Coast Mail.)  Dr. Mingus is again able to come down
          town, after his operation for appendicitis, whereat [sic] his friends
          are pleased.

               Dr. Mingus, of Marshfield, was a passenger on Tuesday’s
          steamer for the lower river.  The Doctor was operated on for
          appendicitis recently and is now O.K. and able to attend to work.
                [Bulletin  Oct 30, Dec 4, 1903   Jan 10, 1904].

Activities and experiments.

               Atty J.W. Bennett and Dr. Mingus, Marshfield, attended
          meeting of Republican committee Wed.  nfq  

               Dr. Mingus and Attorney Seaman, of Marshfield, came over
          on Monday’s train. 
                [Myrtle Point Enterprise May 18, 1900   Bulletin Feb 20, 1903]

               The weather bureau at Beaver Hill has made the discovery that
          we have thirty different kinds of rain in Coos County, and that all
           kinds are represented nearly every month. 

               [Possibility of establishing storm warning station Marshfield,
          E. A.  Beals, forecaster for northern district.]
          Mr. Beals is desirous that Dr. Mingus should continue the
          observations which have been carried on at the depot for the past
          three years, and will use his influence to have the Doctor supplied
          with the necessary instruments and record blanks.  --We hope that
          a storm-warming station will be established here.   [a benefit to
          shipping, other; Beals will recommend to Dept. in Washington.]
                [ Bulletin  Feb 21, 1902.  Herald July 29, 1904]

His Strong Opinions about Oregon's South Coast Country

                   Portland Evening Telegram of 10th published interview
          with Dr. Mingus of Beaver Hill complaining that Coos Bay trade
          should belong to Portland.   Dr. Mingus and other people pointed
          out that Coquille Valley trade is quite worth reaching out to and
          why didn't Portland make any effort to secure it.  E. Mingus… is
          among those who believe Portland is making a big mistake in not
          reaching out for Cood Bay trade… He says…S.F. now controls
          all trade; all lumber and coal goes to S.F.  S.F merchants sell to
          Coos Bay merchants, supply news.  Portland papers are seldom
          seen here.  In fact, one feels he is in California and Oregon. is
          another state. There is scarcely s merchant in Coos Bay Country
          who would not prefer to trade with Portland, had he opportunity.
          Portland does  not seem to care for this trade   [Herald  Sept 20,

               Dr. E. Mingus, of Marshfield, gave a…visitor on Coos Bay a
          very fitting description of the southwest Oregon empire in a few
          words.   The stranger accosted him on Central avenue with the
          query, “Do you not have any parks here?”
                “Yes,” replied the doctor.  “Go down to Broadway, follow it
           south and east to Bunker Hill [near the outskirts of Marshfield]    
          and keeping on the highway you will find for 250 miles the
          finest park that God ever created.”   [Sentinel, Apr. 11, 1930 ]


A Reflection----

     With his intellect, curiosity, and apparent keenness for living, probably Dr. Mingus could have become a prominent doctor at some major metropolitan hospital or successful clinic.  But obviously he had given his heart to the South Coast.  And the people here are said to have loved and respected him greatly.  Like many other persons who shared their skills and dedication, his presence and years of work added to the richness on which our local heritage is built.

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