George Benjamin Page, the Pioneer L & Z Miner

George Benjamin PAGE is my husband’s paternal great grandfather.

On this date in 1946, George passed away.

Memories of a Grandson

I asked for my father-in-law’s memories of his grandpa. He said when he was a child (about 9 or 10 years old) he spent the night with George. When it got cold at night, his grandpa George would get up and add wood to the stove. Once his Grandpa George threw some wood in the stove and then jerked the door open again and said, “Oh my goodness!” About the time he said that, the family’s cat jumped out of the wood stove! Apparently the cat had been inside the wood pile for warmth and was carried in with the wood. My father-in-law said his grandpa George and grandma Ina lived in separate places. Ina lived in the house and George lived in a one room cabin separate from Ina’s place. George usually went to Ina’s house for meals.

George’s Childhood

George’s dad (William Benjamin PAGE) died when George was about 6 years old. George’s mom, Rebecca DUKES PAGE, remarried two (or possibly three times) after William died. George had 4 siblings and 1 half-sibling that I know of. George was born and grew up in the state of Kansas. However, by 1899 he was living in Joplin, Jasper County, Missouri. In 1899 he married Ina Jane CAWYER in Carthage, Jasper County, Missouri. Ina’s father, David Alexander “Eleck” CAWYER whom I wrote about here) gave his permission for the marriage as noted on the couple’s marriage certificate. Ina was 16 years old when she married George and George was about 24 years old.

Photo of a page from a family Bible found on Ancestry.

George’s Adult Life

In 1900, barely a year after they were married, they were taking care of Mary BURK. Mary is listed as George’s grandmother and is shown to be a widow on this census. George and Ina were still living in Joplin at the time the census taker came. By 1910 they had moved to Boone Township, Wright County, Missouri. George and Ina were living there together with their 5 children. On this census, Ina declared she had given birth to 5 children and all 5 were still living. George’s mom, Rebecca, is living two houses up from them with a DICKINSON family and she is going by the last name PAGE, as opposed to one of her married names (which included FONBURG and WORKMAN).

In 1918, America was heading into World War I. George was required to sign up for the draft. He listed his permanent home address as Tar River, Ottawa County, Oklahoma. He was 43 years old and his occupation was Miner. He was working for Pioneer Lead and Zinc Company.

Pioneer Mine map from US-Mining.

If you are local, your little red flags started waving as soon as you red ‘Tar River’. Tar River is now part of the Superfund site in northeast Oklahoma. You can learn more about the area here and here and here.

Tar River Mining map found at OSU’s Chronicles website.

While we’re talking about maps, do you remember a couple of weeks ago when my mom and I made a trip to Missouri Southern State University to look at their mining maps? Well, if you’d like to see a digital collection of their maps pertaining to Pioneer Mine, you can go here.

Tar River later merged with another mining camp and was renamed Commerce. Commerce is in Ottawa County, Oklahoma. It sits on top of an ore seam. The ore seam marks the merging point of Tar River and Hattonville before they became Commerce. Picher, Ottawa County, Oklahoma and surrounding areas (including Tar River/Commerce) played a large role in World War I. “Over 50 percent of the lead and zinc metal consumed in World War I came from the Picher Field. During the mining boom years more than fourteen thousand men worked in its mines, and another four thousand worked in approximately fifteen hundred mining service businesses. Many of these workers commuted to work using an extensive trolley car system that ran all the way to Carthage, Missouri. In the subsequent years Picher could not attract new industry, because a majority of the real estate belonged to restricted Quapaw heirs and because the town had many mines distributed underneath the surface.” ( You can find more information and photographs at this link also.)

Housing was crude in Tar River. The miners lived in shanties with no indoor plumbing. Here is an old photo of miner housing that I found:

Tar River Housing photo

Below is an article I found in the 1 November 1918 edition of the Baxter Springs News out of Baxter Springs, Kansas, about the Pioneer Mine. An article next to this one in the newspaper talks about the 1918 Flu epidemic and how bad it was in the Picher-Cardin mining area.

Pioneer Mine article,

I’m going to have to wrap up this blog post for today before I have to get out the door to work. George’s WWI draft registration gave a description of him that I want to pass along to you before I go, though. According to his registration, George was tall, had a slender build, and had brown hair and blue eyes. I don’t have a photograph of George to show you so this short description will have to do for today. I have some of my own photos of the Cardin-Picher mining area that I took before the government bought it up, forced everyone out and then fenced it off. I’ll try to find those photos for the weekend wrap-up. I even have some photos of Tar Creek. For now, though, I have to get ready for work. I hope you’ve enjoyed this post about George as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. I always enjoy delving into local history, especially where it connects with my family history. I especially love the history of the Picher-Cardin mining area as so many of mine and my husband’s ancestors lived in that area.

Until tomorrow,

Lisa @ Days of Our Lives blog

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