John Nugent was born in Wales in 1862 of American parents and was educated in Perry County, Ohio, public schools. He came to West Virginia as a United Mine Workers of America organizer in 1902. He was elected president of UMWA District 17 in 1904 and, in 1905, as president of the state Federation of Labor, holding both offices simultaneously for two years. He was elected in 1907 for one term to the House of Delegates from Kanawha County.
While serving in the legislature, Nugent accepted the post of immigration commissioner for the state of West Virginia, a semi-public position created to attract foreign labor and financed by coal companies. Nugent resigned as president of District 17 and was forced out as president of the state Federation of Labor shortly after becoming immigration commissioner. In 1913, he was questioned by the U.S. Senate investigating committee about his alleged efforts to import strikebreakers to West Virginia during the Paint Creek-Cabin Creek Strike. Nugent left West Virginia in 1913 for Kentucky, where he became an official with the Consolidation Coal Company. He died in Letcher County, Kentucky, December 7, 1926.
This Article was written by Kenneth R. Bailey
Last Revised on October 21, 2010
U.S. Senate. Committee on Education & Labor. Conditions in the Paint Creek Coal Fields of West Virginia. 63rd Congress, first session, 3 vols. Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1913.
Harris, Evelyn K. & Frank J. Krebs. From Humble Beginnings: The West Virginia State Federation of Labor, 1903-1957. Charleston: West Virginia Labor History Pub. Fund, 1960.
U.S. Senate. West Virginia Coal Fields. Hearings before the Committee on Education & Labor. 67th Congress, first session, 2 vols. United States Government Printing Office. Washington.