Sunnyside History

Sunnyside, the mine in section 25 of Blairsville Township, was the second in the Herrin field. Operations were begun in September 1899 by the Sunnyside Coal Company, in which Thomas G. Warden was partner. Six years later, he bought out the others and reorganized the ownership as the T. G. Warden Coal Company.

One morning in November 1899 Mr. and Mrs. John Goalby and their five children got off Billy Bryan’s train at Sunnyside junction in the midst of a corn field. A frame house had been built for them to live in, but the mine buildings were still blueprints. Their house in the woods was the only new one west of Park Avenue. Herrin was a cluster of small buildings around the railroad station.

Coal was struck by the night shift November 29, 1899. The mine buildings were put up that winter. Sunnyside worked with many a record breaking day for the time, 2,600 tons, 2,700 tons. Jack Goalby became superintendent, Albert Gurney and John Gould master mechanic, W. H. (“Sunnyside”) Brown the chief clerk, J. M. Bailie the washer boss, and Captain J. W. Toler the farm boss. Though the company owned 1,360 acres of land, not enough feed could be raised for their twenty two mules. The land deserved its nickname, Buckhorn.

T. G. Warden was proud of his mine, and especially of his washer, one of the first in southern Illinois. He owned the first washer in the county, operated at Dewmaine where he bought screenings from Samuel T. Brush.

The west limits of Herrin were extended into Blairsville Township to include the miners’ homes around Sunnyside. Mr. Warden gave the land for Sunnyside School, district 30, to replace the old Brownville School.

Then one Sunday morning, April 21, 1921 the washer and tipple burned. A fire in a stove caught miners’ clothing hung to dry, the oil soaked floor began to blaze, and Sunnyside mine went up in smoke. Mr. Warden lost interest in the mine and in 1922 he sold it to J. M.McIlvaine of Chicago who was then operating the Bobby Dick mine. Mr. McIlvaine ran the mine for two years, then sold to the Burton Coal Company. These efforts to rebuild and work the coal have never matched the grand old days. Sunnyside was closed down in 1925.

Back to the top

(Extracted from Pioneer Folks and Places, Barbara Barr Hubbs, 1939 which is on sale at the Williamson County Museum)