Number Seven Row History

The Big Muddy Coal and Iron Company sank Number 7 Mine in the southwest quarter of the southeast quarter of section 20 of Herrin Township, in 1902. This was three quarters of a mile east of Herrin. Ninth Street was the city limits then. Soon after the mine was sunk the company built a double row of houses on the half section line a quarter of a mile west of the mine. There were 24 houses in the row. They were tented to miners working in Number 7. The residents of Number 7 Row were considered inferior by the people of Herrin There was much drinking and fussing among them and the houses were not as modern or as clean as those in town. It is doubtful that they could be kept clean considering their location and condition.

One night three men quarreled in one house. One man hit another in the head with a hammer, and then proceeded to cut his head off with a cheese knife. The body was carried out and laid in the middle of the Missouri Pacific Railroad and the head lay outside the rails. Soon after the body was placed on the tracks, a locomotive came along with empty coal cars for the mine. The engineer saw the body and stopped the train before it was reached. No train had passed that way in 24 hours and the body was warm. The murderers were apprehended within the hour.

Number Seven Mine was closed in the summer of 1939 and the houses were vacated. One house on the north end of the row was the home of Mr. Victory. He had lived there for 35 years. He was old when the mine closed and was given the house rent free. The old man made his living hauling refuse from Herrin stores. Mr. Victory died and his bachelor son Beckem continued to haul the trash. He had worked with his father ever since the beginning. One of the additional benefits of the refuse business was the salvaging of materials. The price of paper dropped and junk dealers quit buying salvage paper. Hoping the price would come up, Beckem stored it in the empty houses. Soon all the houses were full of salvage paper. One night the southernmost house caught fire. There was a strong south wind and the row, including Beckem’s house were turned into ashes.

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(Ghost Towns of Southern Illinois, by Glenn J. Sneed, published 1977)