Rose Marie Briggs recreated Tipperary, the town, the mine and also the people between 1914 and 1927 in her book entitled "Tipperary, Gone But Not Forgotten". She also wrote a book about the Olmitz mine named "Memories about Olmitz". Her blog is located at

"History of Hiteman - A Mining Town (Albia)" by Rosalie Mullinex is also available from Rosalie.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Tipperary - A Coal Mine

Taken from the History of Lucas County Iowa 1978.

Tipperary was known as Mine No. 2 and Olmitz was known as Mine No. 1.

In the early 1900's William Haven, an eastern engineer, organized the Inland Coal and Western Iowa Development Companies and a coal mine was sunk in Section 9, Lincoln Township, northeast of Chariton.  In 1902 coal options were first recorded for Pleasant Township at which time land owned by P.T. Bebout and wife was optioned to S.H. Mallory for $25 per acre.

In 1903 mineral title was transferred by Eli Manning, agent for S.H. Mallory, to Lee N. Goodwin, and in 1904 assigned by Goodwin to the Western iowa Development Company.  It held title until 1913 when all mineral rights held by the company were deeded to the Central Iowa Fuel Company for $335, 000.

This same year the Rock Iscland Railroad Company built a rail line between Des Moines and Allerton, making possible the development of the coal field in northeastern Lucas County.  Work started immediately on plans for a railroad spur and the sinking of a deep coal shaft and air shaft on the land covered by the Bebout option.  Some months were required to complete the sinking of the main shaft and an air shaft.  The former reached a depth of 186 feet and the latter 240 feet.

A Mr. Taylor from Kansas City was the contractor for the building of the railroad grade to mine No. 2.  This was accomplished by a work force of colored men and mule power.

People drove from miles around to observe the activities as work progressed on both the railroad grade and mine shafts.

The work force for the railroad construction was housed in tents.  A large screened-in tent served as dining hall and kitchen, both supervised by a lady by the name of Lee, a widow with two small daughters by the name of Arlella and Tommie Lee.  The little girls attended Center School for a time.

The work force and their families grew and the need for a post office was discussed at a local union meeting.  Two names recalled were Pity Me and Tipperary, the latter a very popular song at that time.  The men, bearing in mind the difficulties encountered in reaching the mine site, unanimously approved the name and the mining camp became the well known and remembered Tipperary.

The first post office was located in the Bill Greenhalgh residence in the north part of the camp and the mail was delivered there by the rural mail carrier, Jonathan D. Lenig.  For some reason the post office was discontinued for a time and again mail boxes lined the road north of the camp.

In March of 1924, Miss Wilhelmina Fisher was appointed to re-establish the post office.  The mail was brought to the post office by Harold Moon, then rural carrier, and many times on horseback in severe winter weather.   The post office closed in September 1927 after the mine had closed in April.

Pay day was every other Saturday and payment was first made in gold, brought to the camp brom Chariton by the paymaster, Mike Carr, in a heavy locked wooden chest.  The men who brought the payroll were armed but there was never an attempted hold-up to the writer's knowledge.  When working at full capacity, thousands of dollars were paid to the approximately 400 workers.

Despite the fact that the work was hard and dangerous, money was squandered in gambling games and drinking, sometimes with tragic or near tragic results.

In one instance, the death record reads that "Evidence of the coroner's inquest showed that during a drunken brawl a man was struck a hard blow on the jaw, crumpled and fell to the ground and died within a few minutes."

It was such happenings that caused the camp to be looked upon with disfavor.  However there were many good people in Tipperary that were an asset to the community and to Lucas County 

(This is a very long article, so it is in two parts.  Part Two is below this one).


cool said...

Any way to contact Rose Marie Briggs for copies of her books?

Lynne said...

Hi Cool, I contacted Rose Marie Briggs and she would be glad to sell you one of her books. Please send me your email address at

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