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Alex and Mary Veres

Our Treasured Heritage
A History of Coalhurst and District
Pages 553-554
by Esther Starkey

Alex Veres left his native Hungary in 1924, leaving his family to join him after he had established a home for them in Canada. He settled in Saskatchewan for a while, working as a farm laborer. With the aid of a kind farmer, he struggled with the new language. Apparently the whole family joined forces to help him. Here he learned that there were coal mines in Alberta that would afford him work for all seasons. Thus, he made his way to Coalhurst in 1925.

In July, 1926 my mother and I joined him in Coalhurst. My mother set about creating a home for us, in a land that was so different from the one she had left. Not only were customs different, but she was among a mixture of many nationalities.

As their family increased in size, they bought a home and dreamed of someday being able to own a farm. However, this did not prove to be possible, as the depression made it difficult to support a large family, and to save money for such an investment. They stressed work and education to all their children. They felt this was the only way to progress and success in their new homeland.

After the mine explosion in 1935, most of the residents of the company owned houses moved to other areas. Alex saw his opportunity to own some land, as the homes were sold and moved to other locations. He purchased the land which included the huge slag pile - a Coalhurst landmark-. He laboriously filled the cellar holes, levelled off the land, and prepared it for planting grain. This did not prove to be very worthwhile, and so he turned it into grazing land. He tried small scale farming. He continued living in Coalhurst, and working at Shaughnessy and No. 8 mine. until he retired.

During the depression he and Marv raised practically all their own food in such abundance. then were able to give away their surplus. I remember canning vegetables, curing meats and sausages. and having a cellar filled with supplies for the winter. He created his own root cellar, and here they stored their potatoes and other root vegetables. They were capable of surviving and feeding their growing family during these lean years.

I have vivid recollections of the coal mine explosion in December 1935. For the first time in my life, I came home to an empty house. My mother had gathered her little ones, and had joined other families awaiting news of the conditions in the mine. We did not learn until early morning that many families were left fatherless. I remember my parents being impressed by the support and contributions that came to our small village to assist these unfortunate families.

I remember the shaft being closed, and gradually the structures were removed, and after a few years most of the traces of the mine were gone. I remember our small community hospital, where Dr. W. W. Inkrote and his wife took care of our community.

Our family consisted of eight children; four boys and four girls. Margaret (now deceased), worked in Calgary prior to her marriage. Joe (now deceased) managed Canadian Freightways in Lethbridge.

Mrs. Mary Veres died in 1968, and Alex passed away in 1977.

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Copyright 2000
Mary Tollestrup