Coal operator Joseph Lawton Beury (August 15, 1842-June 3, 1903) was born in Schuykill County, Pennsylvania. He served as a Union captain during the Civil War though he was later known as ‘‘colonel’’ in the West Virginia coalfields. In 1873, he shipped the first coal from the New River Coalfield.
Beury learned mining in his father’s Pennsylvania anthracite mines, and brought the knowledge with him to the new southern West Virginia coal industry. He moved with his new wife to the New River about 1872, establishing the town of Quinnimont and opening the New River Coal Company mine. He was ready to ship coal when the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad arrived in September 1873. Beury left Quinnimont in 1876 to start the Fire Creek mines, also on New River, and later operated at Hawks Nest, Ansted, and other places. In 1884, he and others opened Mill Creek Coal & Coke, the first mine in the Flat Top area of the Pocahontas Coalfield. After 1880, he and his brothers began to buy up tracts of coal land, and he eventually became a major coal owner.
Colonel Joe Beury died at his town of Beury in the New River Gorge. A stone obelisk at Quinnimont commemorates his role as a coal industry pioneer.
This Article was written by Ken Sullivan
Last Revised on September 25, 2012