Dawes Shaft was the first opened by the St. Louis and Big Muddy Coal Company and was named for its president, Ephraim C. Dawes of Cincinnati. The mine was in the northwest corner of section 35, Blairsville Township and was placed in operation soon after the company was organized in 1889. Samuel T. Brush was general manager of the company until Major Dawes died in 1895, when reorganization took place, and the mine became known as the Captain Brush mine. The village of Dewmaine was built to house the miners. Madison Coal Corporation bought the property in 1906 and the mine became known as Madison 8. Its coal of the number six seam is now worked out.
Ephraim C. Dawes first became interested in Williamson County when his construction company was awarded the contract to build the Carbondale and Shawneetown Railroad on July 24, 1871. Samuel Dunaway of Bainbridge was president of the railroad company, incorporated by the legislature in 1867. The main line had thirteen miles of track in the county, with stations at Fredonia, Carterville, Crainville, Bainbridge and Marion. The county subscribed $100,000 toward its construction, less than one-fifth of the total cost. The last rail was laid at Marion January 15, 1872, although trains had been running some time. Walter P. Hanchett was agent for Dawes and company in this railroad construction.
Major Dawes became interested in the coal field this railroad opened to world markets, and invested extensively in coal lands. He was an uncle of Charles Gates and Rufus Dawes of Chicago. His rank as major came from Civil War service, when he was critically wounded at the battle of Atlanta.
(Extracted from Pioneer Folks and Places, Barbara Barr Hubbs, 1939, on sale at the Williamson County Museum)