Jerome, Pennsylvania

Jerome, Pennsylvania

Jerome is a census-designated place (CDP) in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 1,068 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Johnstown, Pennsylvania Metropolitan Statistical Area. Jerome is part of the municipality of Conemaugh Township, Somerset County, Pennsylvania, as are nearby towns of Davidsville, Thomas Mills, Tire Hill, Seanor, Hiyasota and part of Holsopple. Jerome area code: 814; zip code: 15937.


Jerome is located at coor dms|40|12|36|N|78|59|8|W|city (40.210047, -78.985652)GR|1.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 2.6 square miles (6.8 km²), all of it land.

Elevation: 1796 feet/547 meters above sea level. ["Rand McNally Commercial Atlas & Marketing Guide 2007." 138th edition. Vol. 2: Index, p. 241.]


As of the censusGR|2 of 2000, there were 1,068 people, 425 households, and 308 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 408.9 people per square mile (158.0/km²). There were 444 housing units at an average density of 170.0/sq mi (65.7/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 100.00% White. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.19% of the population.

There were 425 households out of which 29.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.9% were married couples living together, 13.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.5% were non-families. 24.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.46 and the average family size was 2.96.

In the CDP the population was spread out with 23.0% under the age of 18, 6.6% from 18 to 24, 25.9% from 25 to 44, 21.3% from 45 to 64, and 23.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 86.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.5 males.

The median income for a household in the CDP was $26,667, and the median income for a family was $33,872. Males had a median income of $36,528 versus $16,553 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $13,033. About 5.3% of families and 6.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.1% of those under age 18 and 7.5% of those age 65 or over.


Jerome was built in 1904 as a company town for what became the Hillman Coal & Coke Company of Pittsburgh, ["Hillman Coal and Coke, Annual Report, 1919." The town and mine were founded by United Coal Corporation. United Coal changed its name to Hillman Coal and Coke in May 1919, according to the company's Annual Report for that year, in Yale University Library. The 1919 Hillman Annual Report also indicated that the coal mine in the neighboring town of Boswell, operating under the subsidiary Merchants Coal, was also a Hillman concern,] and named for Jerome Coulson, the son of a coal company official. [ Cassady, John C. 1932. "The Somerset County Outline." Scottsdale, Pa.: Mennonite Publishing House. p. 213. However,note that, based on a town marker erected by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, the town was named for Jerome Hillman, scion of the Hillman family. This marker stood at the eastern approach to Jerome at Route 601 (Penn Avenue) for several decades in mid-20th century. The marker was removed by the State as part of road realignment and construction for US Route 219 in the late 1960's.] The town filled mostly with immigrants from Croatia, Poland, Hungary, Russia and Italy -- particularly Italians from the Alpine province of Trentino and the town of San Lorenzo in Banale (part of the Dolomiti di Brenta area) [] [] -- in addition to local Scots-Irish, Welsh and German stock. Jerome was the largest single coal mine in the Cambria-Somerset district. [Blankenhorn, Heber. 1924. "The Strike for Union: A Study of the Non-Union Question in Coal and the Problems of the Democratic Movement." New York: H.W. Wilson Co. p. 89.]

Jerome's wood frame houses were primarily of two designs -- two-story semi-detached houses and smaller single-family cottages. [For a thorough discussion of the form, structure, development and ultimate economic disposition of coal company towns such as Jerome, see M.M. Mulrooney. 1991. "A legacy of coal: the coal company towns in southwestern Pennsylvania." "Perspectives on Vernacular Architecture." 4, 130-137.] Most of these initial dwellings still stand today. These houses, especially in the period before 1970, typically were surrounded by large vegetable gardens, fruit trees and grape arbors. Homemade wine was a local specialty.

At its economic peak, Jerome boasted a 300-seat movie theatre, a bank, a hotel, an auto dealership, several dry goods and grocery stores, several taverns, an electrical appliance store, a YMCA, and a bowling alley. A local tavern maintained a popular bocce court. The mine employed over 1000 men. ["Jerome: A Stroll in the Past." Commemorative book. Year 2000 Jerome Homecoming. p. 5. ] Residents from that period claim Jerome's population stood at about 3,000 at its peak, although this information is yet to be documented. However, Jerome's population certainly was sufficient to justify the capital investment to tie the town into the interurban transit system. In 1921, Jerome gained electric streetcar service to the nearby city of Johnstown. The streetcar tram left from the Jerome terminus every two hours for the 60 minute trip that ended on downtown Johnstown's Main Street. ["Jerome: A Stroll in the Past." Commemorative book. Year 2000 Jerome Homecoming. p. 12.] Property right-of-way was obtained to extend this tram service to the south to Boswell, Jenners and Somerset, although track construction never commenced. Separately, a branch line of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad served Jerome and its coal mine, connecting to the B&O trunk line at Hollsopple. An underground explosion killed two miners instantly and two later from burns received at the Jerome mine on July 29, 1932, ["Two Killed, Two Others Burned in Mine Explosion." "Chicago Daily Tribune." July 30, 1932, p. 8.] the single largest accident in the mine's history uncovered in research to date.

The coal mine closed in the 1954. ["Jerome: A Stroll in the Past." Commemorative book. Year 2000 Jerome Homecoming. p. 15. Also see M.M. Mulrooney. 1991. "A legacy of coal: the coal company towns of southwestern Pennsylvania." "Perspectives in Vernacular Architecture." 4, 130-137. "Faced with increasing competition from cheaper fuels, the American coal industry went into sharp decline after World War II." at 136.] Jerome rapidly became a bedroom community. The town retained much of its close-knit ethnic character and its spirit well into the 1990s, however. As an example, the Jerome Volunteer Fire Department was founded in 1952 with Steve Gironda as its first president. The Volunteer Fire Department remains today as an anchor of community activity. In 1955, the Dorfman and Hoffman Company established a garment factory in the former Hillman company store building, bringing 200 needed jobs to Jerome. The factory continued operation until 1964. ["Jerome: A Stroll in the Past." Commemorative book. Year 2000 Jerome Homecoming. p. 16.] A lumber mill operated out of former mining-operations buildings in the 1970s. A wind-whipped fire destroyed the lumber mill in 1975, and remaining mining buildings were demolished subsequently.

National Football League quarterback Jeff Hostetler (career 1985-1997) [ Accessed July 16, 2007. [] ] grew up on a farm just outside Jerome. Hostetler led the New York Giants to their 20-19 win over the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXV (see 1990 New York Giants season). Jerome native Brian Ferrari qualified for the 1992 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. Ferrari also holds two NCAA Division II championships in 10,000 meters and one national cross-country championship. [California University of Pennsylvania's Athletic Hall of Fame: Brian Ferrari. Accessed July 16, 2007. [] ] In 1998, Jerome natives Dick Trachok and Tom Kalminer each were inducted into the University of Nevada, Reno's football Team of Century. Kalminer played in Nevada's backfield, 1946-48 and later played for the Los Angeles Rams and Baltimore Colts. Trachock was a top running back at Nevada and later served as Nevada's head football coach (1959-1968) and athletic director (1970-1986). [McConnell, Pat. 2007. "What I've Learned -- Dick Trackok '49 54M.A." "Nevada Silver and Blue." Summer, pp. 18-19. [] ] Jerome's Tony Venzon (1915-1971) was a baseball umpire for the National League 1957-1971, including the 1959, 1962 and 1969 All-Star Games and 1963 and 1965 World Series. Jazz clarinetist, band leader and composer Ted Lach (1914-1968) was a native of Jerome. [Palazzolo, Laurie A.G.. 2003. "Horn Man: The Polish-American Musician in the Twentieth-Century." Detroit: Wayne State University Press. pp. 241-244.]

The miners' strike of 1922-1923

Jerome was the scene of several unionization efforts by the United Mine Workers Union. An important and the longest of these efforts was the strike that began on Good Friday morning, April 14, 1922, led by local miner George Gregory, with the assistance of outside union supporters. [Blankenhorn 1924, p. 60. An earlier effort in 1906 failed here and elsewhere in Somerset County and no further organizing effort was directed at Somerset County until 1922, according to Beik,"The miners of Windber", which see below.]

Rumors of strikes at non-union mines, such as Jerome at that time, had been circulating for several weeks. Indeed the General Policy Committee of the United Mine Workers Union issued a call on March 24 for the nation's 200,000 non-union miners to join a planned nationwide strike on April 1, ["Calls on 200,000 Non-Union Miners To Join in Strike" "The New York Times." March 25, 1922. Mines in northern Somerset County generally were non-union at this point, while most mines in Cambria County were organized. See Blankenhorn 1924, map inserts, for details.] to coincide with the expiration of the current union contract. [Beik, Mildred Allen. 1996. "The miners of Windber: the struggles of new immigrants for unionization 1980s-1930s." University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press. pp. 268-272.] . Organizers slid past armed company police to circulate pamphlets and leaflets, as seen [] and [] , to encourage the miners' walk out. [ Blankenhorn 1924, pp. 15-17.]

Hillman Coal's viewpoint

For its part, Hillman Coal and Coke believed it provided a willful benevolence within Jerome and Boswell, its two coal towns in Somerset County, [For an excellent overview of corporate paternalism in western Pennsylvania company towns, see Metheny, Karen Bescherer. 2007. "From the Miner's Doublehouse: Archeology and Landscape in a Pennsylvania Coal Company Town." Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, pp.37-40.] although miners under Hillman tutelage disagreed, as the strike would show. To be sure, Hillman ran these towns with an iron fist; simply to enter Jerome by car required inspection by a gauntlet of armed private police, for instance. But Hillman also built Boswell with a number of extra amenities, such as a high school, central business district, and brick construction for its patch housing. And in Jerome, the Company built a community center including a YMCA, pool hall, bowling alley, butchery, green grocer, theater, and post office, in addition to the Hillman Supply Company store. In October, 1921 Hillman established the First National Bank of Jerome [Hillman Coal and Coke Company 1921. "Annual Report to Its Stockholders" p.4] for its workers. It allowed for the construction of a streetcar line from Johnstown in 1921 (as noted above), which made travel easier and more frequent than could be provided by railroad. Hillman even engaged in a significant capital re-investment at Jerome, rebuilding a brick new community center after the initial structure was destroyed in a spectacular, wind-driven fire on April 2, 1922. [”Jerome Is Swept by $100,000 Fire: Blaze Destroys Y.M.C.A., Hillman Company Store and Residence.” "Johnstown Tribune." April 3, 1922, p. 18.]

However, demand for coal nationwide dropped precipitously and continually in the several years after World War I. In a response, Hillman closed its mines at Ella and Patterson, Allegheny County, and at Naomi, Fayette County, [Hillman Coal and Coke Company 1921. "Annual Report to Its Stockholders" p. 3.] but maintained production at Boswell and Jerome. By mid 1921, the Company told its shareholders in its Annual Report, “…the demand [for coal] became so small and the competition from non-union fields so severe that it was evident that the non-union mines of your Company could not continue to operate unless wages were readjusted. As a result of this condition, wages were reduced…at your Jerome Mines on July 16, 1921.” [Hillman Coal and Coke Company, 1921. "Annual Report to Its Stockholders." p. 3] Hillman continued that the reduction allowed the Jerome mine to operate “on a competitive basis” and “with regularity,” with the result being that “earnings of the men at your non-union mines for the year 1921 are far in excess of those received by men at union mines….”, who, Hillman implied, suffered frequent short-term furloughs as the result of slack demand. [Hillman Coal and Coke Company, 1921. "Annual Report to Its Stockholders." p. 3.] Hillman told its shareholders that, prior to the pay cut, “men working by day were being paid $7.50 for eight hours work, and men working by the ton were able to earn $10.00 to $14.00 per day.” [Hillman Coal and Coke Company 1921, "Annual Report to Its Stockholders" p. 3.] (Note that these wages reported by Hillman to its stockholders were flatly contradicted by other reportage, for instance, Blankenhorn maintained that union gross wages in 1922 more typically ranged from $14.60 to $17.50 per "week", and after deductions for goods purchased through company stores, a typical miner's weekly net take-home pay often was less than $1.00. [Blankenhorn 1924, p. 116] ) On all its coal operations, including Jerome and Boswell, Hillman Coal and Coke reported an operating profit of approximately $925,000, on revenues of $8.225 million in 1919, [Hillman Coal and Coke Company 1919, "Annual Report to Its Stockholders." p. 8] and an operating profit of approximately $336,000, on revenues of $4.475 million in 1921. [Hillman Coal and Coke Company 1921. "Annual Report to Its Stockholders." p. 7.]

But Jerome was seething. Hillman Coal & Coke cut miners' wages a second time during the deflation of 1921 and working conditions remained hard and strict, to miners' perception. [Blankenhorn 1924, p. 50] Additionally, mine owners had recently ceased payment and expected miners to do for no pay "dead work", which was the removal of non-bituminous soils, slate and rubbish from the mines. ["Worse Than Slaves Says Berwind Mine Committee's Report." "The New York Times." January 2, 1923.] Gregory and local miners held several secret pre-strike rallies at the "Sokolniapolskawjerom", the Jerome Polish Falcons Hall, [Blankenhorn, p. 89] although one wonders how secret they were, given over 600 men attended one meeting. Sensing trouble, Hillman suddenly increased its armed guard patrolling the town at the end of March, 1922. [Blankenhorn, 1924, p. 60.] Hillman police also were stopping all autos before entering Jerome. [Blankenhorn, 1924, p. 17.] Scattered walkouts began at smaller non-union mines -- in St. Michael, Cambria County, a partial strike began April 1 and gained momentum through April 5, and at Mine 36, near Windber, Somerset County, a walk-out on April 6. [Blackenhorn, 1924, pp. 18-20; Beik, p. 510.]

Powers Hapgood and his work

On April 11, John Brophy, president of United Mine Workers Union District 2, asked Powers Hapgood, a 23-year-old Harvard graduate, who had given up his silver spoon to live and work as a miner, if he would volunteer to help organize Somerset County non-union mines. [Brophy, John. 1964. "A Miner's Life." Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, p. 184.] Hapgood began at Jerome and Boswell. [Bussel, Robert. 1999. "From Harvard to the Ranks of Labor: Powers Hapgood and the American Working Class." University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, p. 45. Hapgood went on to found the union local at Boswell and provide important support to miner Albert Armstrong at Gray and Acosta. See Bussel 1999, pp. 43-63, for full history of Powers Hapgood in Somerset County.]

The gentle-looking Hapgood, nephew of the U.S.’s ambassador to Denmark, at first evoked much derision among some Union officials, although apparently not among miners, with whom he worked shoulder-to-shoulder deep in the mines. [Brophy, p. 184.] [Coleman, McAlister. 1943. "Men and Coal." New York: Farrar & Rinehart. p. 111.] Four decades later, Brophy wrote of Hapgood, "He was sincere, friendly, and courageous to the point of foolhardiness. By that I mean that he would sometimes drive ahead in a situation without considering sufficiently what he was up against. As a result, he got some pretty hard knocks at times." [Brophy, p. 185.] In Jerome, Hapgood linked up with Gregory. While more acquainted with the rough-and-tumble than was Hapgood initially, Gregory himself -- who went by the nickname "Praying George," because of his frequent and vocal prayers during workers' rallies -- was a strict teetotaler, who had been deputized by the local sheriff for a Prohibition squad. [Blankenhorn, p. x] In idealism and social vision, Gregory and Hapgood were kindred spirits. The two became lifelong friends. [Bussel, p.x]

In addition to direct work as a miner, Hapgood relied on three approaches to organize the Somerset coalfields – civil disobedience, litigation and publicity. First, in pioneering methods evocative later of Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Hapgood depended heavily on peaceful, civil disobedience. Coal towns were the wholly owned, private property of corporations at the time, and so, in the eyes of these companies, simply walking the street uninvited was deemed to be trespassing. Hapgood in Somerset County was arrested more than a dozen times on the picket line and at the head of marches, as the strike unfolded. [Bussel 1999, p. 46.] (Hapgood, Gregory and other also took picketing directly to various corporate headquarters on Wall Street, where they did not invite arrest but achieve considerable positive publicity and access.)

Hapgood’s arrests then gave him venue to the judicial system, where Hapgood insisted on his – and the miners’ – procedural and Constitutional rights. Indeed, an important part of the Somerset County coal strike played out in the courtroom of Somerset County Judge John Berkey, where mine owners sometimes, but not always, prevailed under Judge Berkey’s often even-handed rulings. [Bussel 1999, pp. 46-49.]

Hapgood, as the strike continued, then made sure that the plight of Somerset County miners remained front-page news across the United States. From the strike's beginning, Hapgood, Brophy, Gregory and other union leaders understood the powerful role public opinion could play; [See for instance, "Mine Strike Develops Into Tug Of War for Support of the Public." "Johnstown Tribune", April 4, 1922, p.1] the men engaged in what, even by today’s best practices, would be seen as a sophisticated public relations program. In New York City, the program sparked sympathetic press coverage, generally effective public affairs, the intervention by the Mayor of New York on the miners' side, direct public appeals in the subways, and even the support of mine owners, such as John D. Rockefeller, Jr., whose family owned strike-bound Somerset County coal mines in Gray, Jenners, Acosta, Ralphton and Randolph. Gregory and other miners later traveled to Washington to meet with President Warren G. Harding. ["Miners' Delegation Calls on President." "The Washington Post." November 21, 1922, p.2.]

The strike at Jerome begins

On April 14, Jerome miners dressed for work and gathered at the shaft head, but refused to enter the mine. Blankenhorn, in his history of the strike, wrote, "The super began a conciliatory speech of promises of good treatment, 'What's the good of that? We've heard that bull for ten years,' cried Gregory.....'If you don't go to work, I'll shut down this mine till the grass grows over the drift mouth,' [the super responded] ....A boy miner, DiGiancomo, shouted back, 'I'll eat that grass before I'll scab." [Blankenhorn 1924, pp. 60-61. Note that the Johnstown Tribune reported the strike began on Thursday, April 13. Further research will be required to clear contradiction. See "Somerset and Indiana County Miners Joining Union Men in Strike; Between 500 and 700 at Jerome Walked Out Yesterday Afternoon." "Johnstown Tribune." April 14, 1922, p. 1.] And the strike was on. The men marched through Jerome, with an accordion player in the lead, to a mass-rally that was still going strong when union organizers arrived around noontime. The mine owners were thunderstruck; never before had they been hit by a successful universal rebellion against their rule. [Brophy, pp. 185-186.] The Jerome action lit the fuse; the strike spread to non-union mines in Hiyasota, Kelso, Boswell, Jenners, Listie, Acosta, Gray and elsewhere the next days; within one week a regional non-union coal work stoppage was in full force. [Blankenhorn 1924, p. 62. Blankenhorn relates the story of one young anonymous miner from Acosta, Jenner Township, who could barely contain his excitement upon hearing of Jerome's strike. "The day I heard the Jerome boys was out I walked over there to be union. Thirteen miles over, thirteen back." at p. 25. Blankenhorn gives these dates for strikes in other Somerset County towns: Boswell, April 17; Jenners and Acosta, April 24. See also "Boswell Miners Walk Out; Union Activity in Somerset Is Extending." "Johnstown Tribune." April 18, 1922, p.1.] The Jerome strike was significant in that it was among the first and the largest non-union site in the region to join in the nationwide strike called by the United Mine Workers Union, thus provided tipping-point momentum for the strike, or as Blankenhorn expressed it in his book's table of contents, "Jerome's Explosion." The 1922 strike became the largest action in United Mine Workers Union history; at its peak more than 500,000 union and non-union miners, in the bituminous and anthracite fields, had walked off their jobs. [ Bussel 1999, p. 45.]

Jerome was turned into an occupied camp by a strike that lasted sixteen months. [Beik, Mildred A. 1989. "The miners of Windber: class, ethnicity and the labor movement in a Pennsylvania coal town, 1890s-1930s." Ph.D. dissertation. Northern Illinois University, p. 557] By mid-May 1922, for instance, 29 Somerset County sheriff's deputies patrolled Jerome, along side a much larger contingent of company police and a unit of the Pennsylvania State police. The State Militia arrived a few months later. [Blankenhorn 1924, pp. 89-105.] During this period, Hillman Coal systematically began to evict miner families from company-owned housing. According to Hillman records, quoted by Blankenhorn, 192 families in Jerome were set out into the street, about one-third of Hillman employment at the mine at the time. [Blankenhorn 1924, p. 106] A 'tent city' was established for homeless strikers and their families on the nearby lands of sympathetic farmers. [ "Jerome: A Stroll in the Past." Commemorative book. Year 2000 Jerome Homecoming. p. 10. ] These evictions here and elsewhere in Somerset County sparked an unusual swell of public sympathy. A commission appointed by the Mayor of New York City, which got its coal to run subways from various Somerset County coal mines, found "hundreds of strikers evicted and suffering from the cold", "saw in tents, hen-houses, stables and other improvised homes women and children whose feet were bare and bleeding" and declared that living and working conditions "were worse than the conditions of slaves prior to the Civil War." ["Worse Than Slaves, Says Berwind Mine Committee's Report." "The New York Times." January 2, 1923.] John D. Rockefeller, Jr., whose family owned several Somerset County coal mines, but not Jerome's, wrote, "I believe that the underlying grievances of the miners in this district are well founded, and I have urged with all the sincerity and vigor at my command that the present labor policy of the operators, which seems to me to be both unwise and unjust, be radically altered." ["Rockefeller Sides With Coal Strikers." "The New York Times." October 26, 1922.]

The strike held together, despite its length and brutality; the Company said later that, of the approximately 750 miners on strike at its beginning, only about 100 broke ranks and returned to work early. [Blankenhorn 1924 p. 99.] In the last days of the strike in 1923, a number of buildings, railroad bridges and other property were destroyed by dynamite in acts of sabotage. A gunpowder or dynamite blast destroyed a shelter for homeless striking families. [Blankenhorn 1924, p. xx.] ["Dwelling Dynamited, Several Hurt." The Washington Post. June 4, 1923. p. 3. The building destroyed stood at the corner of Jerome Avenue and Keim Street. The Washington Post reported that the blast was heard miles away and caused over 500 broken windows in nearby homes.] Dynamite destroyed a 200-foot steel railroad bridge spanning the Stoneycreek River near Jerome on July 19, 1923. ["Arrest 7 in Bridge Blast." "The New York Times." July 23, 1923.] Somerset County Sheriff J.W.Griffith told writer Blankenhorn that both strikers and company employees held responsibility for explosions. "There are guards who want to keep their jobs going and strikers who have been making threats," Sheriff Griffith said. [Blankenhorn 1924, p. 212.]

Results of the strike at Jerome

While the strike caused significant hardship, and even decayed into violence frequently from both sides, not all was grim. Blankenhorn, who was a writer for the magazine "The Nation", relayed the adventure of one young student and union organizer from Pittsburgh, named Viscosky, who convinced Hillman to hire him as a guard just prior to the strike. Blackenhorn wrote, Viscosky "used his very special opportunity to line them [the miners] up for a strike. The only man whom he reported to the company was one who refused to have anything to do with the 'union,' the company faithfully discharged that one." Later, when Viscosky thought it prudent to disappear from Jerome before Hillman caught on, he convinced police officials to give him a free conduct pass through checkpoints, "so he could visit his sister in Jenners." [Blankenhorn 1924, p. 60.]

In August 1922, union miners agreed to a new contract that did not include non-union miners. [Beik, 1989, p.557.] [Ricketts, Elizabeth Cocke. 1996. "Our battle for industrial freedom": radical politics in the coal field of central Pennsylvania, 1916-1920." Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation. Emory University. p. 465.] The miners at Jerome and other Somerset County mines, left out of the contract, continued on for another twelve months, agreeing on August 14, 1923, to return to work [Beik, 1989, p. 557.] finally having been exhausted by a process that, for them, produced little economic benefit immediately. At Jerome, Hillman Coal offered a general amnesty to most miners, if each returned to work as an individual and not as part of a union local. [Blankenhorn 1924, p. xx.] Nevertheless, the solid front displayed by Jerome miners laid the groundwork for the mine's eventual unionization in the 1930s. Further, as Hapgood, Blankenhorn, Beik and others point out, the miners themselves felt the 1922-23 strike to be a victory. Prior to the strike, miners felt atomized, helpless and hopeless; the coal towns of Somerset County were "visibly split" by ethnic divisions "admittedly...fostered by the coal companies" as a means of social control. [Blankenhorn 1924, p.49. See also, Singer, Alan J. 1988. "Class-conscious coal miners: Nanty-Glo versus the open shop in the post World War I era." "Labor History." 29.1, at pp. 60-61, which describes, "a period of operator-operated Ku Klux Klan activity that attempted to drive a wedge between...Catholic and Protestant miners [in nearby Cambria County] ."] . " [C] oal mining families.... [lived] within a social, economic and political system of profound autocracy thinly veiled by shallow, pragmatic paternalism." [Ricketts 1996, p.132.] After the strike, Jerome emerged with the beginnings of an increasingly strong, tolerant social fabric, which remained tight-knit for several generations and still provides important unifying elements today.

Environmental impact of coal mining activities at Jerome

For the first 70-some years of its history, Jerome's landscape was dominated by a black, man-made mountain of coal mining wastes. The "bony pile," as it was called, loomed from the hillside south of Penn Avenue and east of Cross and Fifth Avenues. Only a few plant species were hardy enough to survive the hot, dry, nutrient-deficient conditions on the pile. [Bramble, W.C and R.H. Ashley. 1955. "Natural revegetation of spoil banks in central Pennsylvania." "Ecology" 36, 417-423. Also see Baig, M.N. 1992. "Natural revegetation of coal mine spoils in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta and its significance for species selection in land restoration." "Mountain Research and Development." 12.3, 285-300. "Natural revegetation of coal spoils is sparse and patchy with low plant cover and this fact may be attributed to poor moisture and nutrient availability. Colonization by certain species is effective because of their low growth form, efficient vegetative reproduction mechanism, low nutrient requirements and/or N-fixing ability." (at 285).] Heavy metals, including arsenic and mercury, leached from the pile into the immediately adjacent area. [Joensuu, O.I. 1971. "Fossil fuels as a source of mercury pollution." "Science" 172, 1027-1028. Finkelman, R.B. 1995. "Models of occurrence of environmentally-sensitive trace elements in coal." In: "Environmental aspects of trace elements in coal." D.J Swaine and F. Goodzari, eds. Boston: Kluwer. pp. 24-50. Also confirmed by 1964 observation by Wikipedia contributor.] The pile was removed in the 1970s, when local electric generating stations found cost-effective ways to render additional coal out of the pile. A much smaller scar remains on the hillside, which can be seen as the bare spot, center in the photo [ here] . A photo of a typical western Pennsylvania bony pile can be seen [] . While the bony pile in this photo is believed not to be Jerome's, the bony pile in Jerome looked remarkably similar.

Most water runoff from the Jerome mine emptied into the South Fork of Bens Creek at Thomas Mills. Bens Creek formerly was a robust trout habitat. Mine effluent contained high concentrations of iron, which rendered downstream sections of Bens Creek effectively sterile [ Mountain Laurel Chapter, Trout Unlimited [] "...the alkaline discharge causes...a red carpet of ferric hydroxide that smothers aquatic insect life... [and] ...makes survival of fish in the affected area impossible because of lack of a food source." ] from about 1900 to 1994. A remediation project (construction 1992-1994, re-engineered 2002) coordinated by the Stonycreek-Conemaugh River Improvement Project (SCRIP), a local non-governmental organization, restored Bens Creek by precipitating iron toxins from the effluent. [ Stonycreek-Conemaugh River Improvement Project Rock Hill Tunnel Project [] "...the alkaline nature of the discharge...simplified the treatment to a simple process of oxidation and settlement of iron oxide." ] The Bens Creek project, also known as the Rock Tunnel Project, [] is home to SCRIP's first mine drainage effort. SCRIP subsequently went on to restore other creeks and rivers in Somerset and Cambria Counties. Supplemental to the efforts of SCRIP, the Mountain Laurel Chapter of Trout Unlimited, a non-governmental organization, completed a substantial habitat improvement project [] aimed at increasing the number of fish that Bens Creek can hold. Bens Creek today again contains brook, brown and rainbow trout. [Mountain Laurel Chapter Trout Unlimited website. Accessed July 14, 2007. [] ] Some of these fish are stocked while wild species can be found in headwaters.

Jerome's churches

For much of its history, Jerome’s social life revolved around its churches. These churches are, in order of founding: [ "Jerome: A Stroll in the Past." Commemorative book. Year 2000 Jerome Homecoming. pp. 22-27.]

Maple Spring Church of the Brethren.Organized 1849, from predecessor congregation in Berlin, Somerset County. First church at current site -- northeast corner, Spring Road and Maple Springs Road -- 1875. Adopted current name, 1894. Current structure, 1905, enlarged 1950, enlarged again 1968.

Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church.Organized 1911. Building, southeast corner, School Street and First Avenue, completed 1913. Parish merged with St. Anne’s Roman Catholic Church, Davidsville, [] 1995. Jerome building closed and sold.

The Assumption of the Holy Blessed Virgin Mary Russian Orthodox Church.Organized 1911. Building completed 1918, on plot between Front Avenue and Penn Avenue, to the west of current (2007) site of Jerome Church of the Nazarene. Congregation closed 1974 and building demolished.

Ss. Peter and Paul Byzantine Catholic Church. [] Organized 1913. Original building completed, 1913, rebuilt, on west side of Phillips Street near Coal Avenue, after fire 1935. Renovated 1985, 1996. Church currently served as part of St. Mary’s church, Windber. []

Jerome Evangelical Lutheran Church.Building, Penn Avenue at the foot of Oak Street, completed 1914 as Union Church, to provide worship space for several Protestant congregations, including United Brethren, Methodist, Presbyterian and Lutheran congregations. Lutheran congregation formally organized 1919. Union Church affiliated solely with Lutheranism on vote of congregation, 1925. Building enlarged 1974. Jerome building closed 1997, members moving to St. David Evangelical Lutheran Church [] in Davidsville or to St. Andrew Evangelical Lutheran Church, Boswell.

Jerome Church of the Nazarene.Organized 1928. Current building, on north side of Penn Avenue at Front Avenue, completed 1969.

(All street names verified via Google Maps, accessed 14 July 2007; link provided below.)

Fraternal and community organizations

* American Legion Post 802, chartered Jan. 5, 1946.
* Jerome American Legion Ladies Auxiliary, organized 1947. ["Jerome: A Stroll in the Past." Commemorative book. Year 2000 Jerome Homecoming. p. 15.]
* Jerome Volunteer Fire Department, chartered June 2, 1952. ["Jerome: A Stroll in the Past." Commemorative book. Year 2000 Jerome Homecoming. p. 15.]
* Polish Falcons of America, Nest 556, organized 1914. []

External links

Local public and non-government organizations

* [ Conemaugh Township Area School District.]
* [ Conemaugh Township Area Primary School, formerly Jerome Elementary School, 1910 Penn Avenue, Jerome.]
* [ Conemaugh Township government.]
* [ Stonycreek-Conemaugh River Improvement Project.]

Jerome mining history websites and downloads

* [ Photo documentation of Jerome's coal mining past.]
* [ Map of Windber coal field showing Jerome's proximity to other local coal mines.]
* [ University of Pittsburgh Labor Legacy Digital Archives "Somerset Coal Strike".]
* [ Indiana University of Pennsylvania Special Collections and Archives "That Magnificent Fight for Unionism".] :Narrative on Somerset County Coal Strike, including its violence, and its hardship for women in particular. Note also the photograph of miners' families being evicted from homes, which appears to be taken in Jerome.
* [,313 "Somerset Coal Miners' Strike Now in Its Seventh Month".] :Poster, printed by District 2, United Mine Workers of America, October 1922. Available for .pdf download from Contentdm Collection, Digital Archives, Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
* ["Case of the Somerset Miners".] :Handbill, printed by District 2, United Mine Workers of America, n.d. Available as a .jpgfrom Labor Legacy Digital Archives, University of Pittsburgh.
* [ One miner's story: an informal oral history as told by James Orlandi.]


elected key references

Blankenhorn, H. 1924. "The Strike for Union: A Study of the Non-union Question in Coal and the Problems of a Democratic Movement; Based on the Record of the Somerset Strike, 1922-23." (H.W. Wilson Co., reprint Arno & The New York Times, 1969).

Brophy, J. 1964. "A Miner's Life." (University of Wisconsin Press). Chapter 14: The Somerset County Strike.

Bussel, R. 1999. "From Harvard to the Ranks of Labor: Powers Hapgood and the American Working Class." (Pennsylvania State University Press). Chapter 3: The Somerset Strike. ISBN 0-271-01897-6 (cloth); ISBN 0-271-01898-4 (paperback)

"Jerome: A Stroll in the Past." Commemorative book. 2000. Year 2000 Jerome Homecoming. (Spiral-bound book, published privately, Jerome).

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