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Interview Summary

Buster "Buck" Ratliff was born in the mining camp at the Henry Clay mine on Marrowbone Creek in 1918. His paternal grandparents, Harvey and Jane Bartley Ratliff, at one time held vast tracts of land there. His father, Cephus, worked at the Henry Clay mine and other mines around Marrowbone for forty years. Buck Ratliff began working in the coal mines in 1936. In 1933 and 1934, Buck Ratliff carried a shotgun with other union miners and supporters to help organize the Henry Clay mine for the UMWA. He describes how Wash Kinney, one of the union leaders, wore his army uniform and marched the striking miners like troops. When fighting between the company guards and the miners broke out, one miner, Perry Adkins, was killed and another miner was wounded. Ratliff recalls that at Adkins' funeral, which drew UMWA members from several states, everyone was armed and there was talk of finding the sheriff who killed him and hanging him over Adkins' grave. Ratliff attributes his decision to fight for the union to the treatment his father received in the mines. He was able to see his father only on Sundays because his father operated a pump and would come home at night in the winter with his pant legs frozen. Ratliff also worked at the Rockhouse mine where miners had to trade at the company store and were paid $2.10 a day, and comments that it "was slavery." He states that John L. Lewis "stopped the slavery." Ratliff recounts the divisions and violence within the community over the union, the frequent fights between the "rednecks" who were the union supporters, and the "yellow dogs" who supported the company. He also talks about Marrowbone figures like Lawrence E. Ratliff who owned a general store in Lookout and was known for his generosity to miners and their families.

Interview Accession

1987oh194_app117

Interviewee Name

Buster Ratliff

Interviewer Name

Nyoka Hawkins

Interview Date

1987-07-25

Interview Rights

All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.

Interview Usage

Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.

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Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.

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Ratliff, Buster Interview by Nyoka Hawkins. 25 Jul. 1987. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.

Ratliff, B. (1987, July 25). Interview by N. Hawkins. Appalachia: Social History and Cultural Change in the Elkhorn Coal Fields Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.

Ratliff, Buster, interview by Nyoka Hawkins. July 25, 1987, Appalachia: Social History and Cultural Change in the Elkhorn Coal Fields Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.





Persistent Link for this Record: https://kentuckyoralhistory.org/ark:/16417/xt7b8g8fj12n