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George Loxton and
Leona Christensen Loxton

Our Treasured Heritage-
A History of Coalhurst and District
Pages 407-410
by Nelda Caroline Bullock

George Loxton was born March 19, 1885, in Priddy, Somerset, England. He and his brother John (Jack) Loxton born August 21, 1872 in Priddy, learned the coal mining trade in the Rhoudde Valley, Wales, George went into the mines at the age of twelve years.

In March 1902, George and John, who was married to Annie Rosena Mumford Dudden, born April 1, 1875 at Rodney Stoke, Somerset, alone, with their children, Ernest John, June 21, 1894 and Lorenzo (Mick) October 18, 1900, left Ton Pentre, Glamorgan, Wales and came to Southern Alberta.

George and John worked at various types of jobs, but mostly in the coal mines in the Crowsnest Pass. They survived many disasters, such as the Fernie Fire 1908, and the Hillcrest Mine Explosion. George returned to Stirling, but stayed only two months. He returned to the mines because he felt that it was the only place a man could earn good money. He worked as Fireboss in Commerce through part of W.W.I. George left Commerce because he felt it was dangerous as safety lamps were not being used. He went to Coalhurst where he was fireboss for nine years. He took particular pride in the dry, well lighted bottom of the Coalhurst mine six hundred feet below the surface.

On September 1, 1916, George married Leona Christensen, born December 12, 1894, Elsinore, Utah, but lived in Stirling. After the wedding they rode from Stirling to Coalhurst on the engine of a train. Then they had a large "surprise" reception, waiting for them. The people of Coalhurst had gathered with horns, bells and all manner of noise makers, to meet the newly wed couple. The only bells that failed to ring were the ones that had been tied too tightly to the couples bed springs.

"Father enjoyed telling the story of his train ride to Stirling to get married. The engineer took him to one side and gave him some "fatherly" advice about staying away from the "Mormon" girls in Stirling. On their return trip to Coalhurst, the engineer found mother to be a sweet, gentle and clean girl whom he took an instant liking too. When he found out that she was a Mormon, his opinion changed and he congratulated father on his choice of bride".

George and Leona lived in one of the company houses that was close to the mine. Mother told of having a water barrel outside the door and water was delivered every few days to them. All the houses looked alike. Often visitors to Coalhurst walked into the wrong one. A little girl came to our house, and sat in a rocker and sang for almost an hour before she realized that she was in the wrong house and mother was a stranger. The child went into hysterics and mother had to knock on several doors until she found the girl's aunt.

George and Leona's first child, a son, George Le Roy was born October 8, 1917, before the hospital was built. Two more children a daughter and son were born to this union.

Father told of the time when the second son was born. Mother became a bit depressed and the Doctor prescribed an alcoholic medicine for her. She was inebriated when he went to see her. He never let her forget this incident.

They experienced many happy times in Coalhurst and gained many life-long friends, such as the Irwins, and the Fergusons, George enjoyed taking VIP'S, and also school classes down the mine where he showed them around and explained the mine workings to them. His wife often accompanied him on these excursions, although she never shared his interest in mining.

One of my memories of Coalhurst is of the time mother and I went to visit Mrs. Irwin who still lived there. I would sit on the door step and watch the coal carts running across the top of the slag heap- It appeared that a man would hit the carts making them tip their

loads at the end of the track. It was not until I was older that I understood how this operation worked. To this day, when I see the "Coal Heaps" I imagine I can see the tiny carts running along the top, waiting to be tripped.

For many years we children were entertained with stories about the life of our parents in Coalhurst. How well I remember father telling of his experiences in the mines, and especially about the mine explosions. Mother told of listening for the mine whistle that blew in the time of disaster. She used to set the table with plates upside down to keep the coal dust off them until the food was served. Her washing was always gray, because of the black dust, and her mother kept reminding her of the importance of keeping the baby's diapers white. Father would laugh each time he told the story of the young fellow miner who hid in the outside toilet when his girlfriend's husband came home. Some men of the community tipped the toilet over, door-side down.

After one bad explosion, George was completely covered with coal, except for one arm. He blacked out and never knew how he got out, but remembered sitting in the washroom covered with blood. He had coal particles imbedded all over his body, except his arm, until his death.

George studied first aid and in 1918 he was awarded a gold medal for first aid proficiency from the Mining Institute of Canada. He used his training many times when he was called upon to tend the men who received injuries while working in the mine. His family still have the medal.

Leona didn't like his work due to the dangers involved, so in 1922, when most of the mines closed down because the demand for coal was low and they were going through a short depression, George moved his family to Calgary. His brother John moved to Vancouver.

In 1924, George moved to Magrath with his family, which now included two more children, a son and a daughter.

George farmed in Magrath and only returned to mining during the Second World War for three winters, when he worked in a small mine on the bank of a river, north of Magrath.

Leona passed away after a long illness, July 24, 1971, and is buried in Magrath. George retired to Lethbridge and lived there until 1979, then he moved to Magrath. He passed away, December 19, 1980, in his ninety-sixth year. He is buried beside his wife.

Five days after his funeral, his son, George LeRoy passed away in London, Ontario. He, too, is buried in the family plot, Magrath.

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Copyright 2000
Mary Tollestrup