That’s my grandfather, Paris Mitchem, with my grandmother on their 50th wedding anniversary. He was a McDowell County coal miner.

Born in 1902 and passed in March 1979, these are the documents he left behind.

He registered for the Selective Service on February 16, 1942, during the third registration of the World War II draft. He turned 40 years old the following month.

Selective Services 1942

Not only did Paris register for selective service, he also performed his civic duty by registering to vote on July 17, 194x.

Voter Registration 194?

He was a member of the UMWA, Local Union Number 6028 of Pageton, West Virginia.

3.1.52 UMWA Card

His paycheck stub from Page Coal & Coke dated September 15, 1954. He earned $2.305 per hour.


Here’s an agreement between Paris and Page Coal and Coke Company for the purchase of a Majestic Range and hot plate totaling $246.33.

Company Store

On August 30, 1947, he was appointed as a Forest Protector by the State of West Virginia Conservation Commission. My dad said it was like being an early game warden; he could make arrests for not having a hunting license, etc.

Forest Protector 1947

This is his UMWA Welfare and Retirement form. It shows who’s eligible for benefits in his household in 1951.


Before he passed, he copied down the words of one of his favorite songs, “Peace in the Valley”.

Peace in the Valley

Do you have any of these from your family? Tell us in the comments!

MORE: 18 Photos That Show Life in West Virginia Coal Camps in the 40’s