Benjamin Williams

A Day in the Life of Furnace Worker Benjamin G. Williams in 1842

History of Benjamin G. Williams (born March 2, 1821 in Henbant-Liedrod Parish, Cardiganshire, South Wales). His sister, Mary, was born 10 years later and she died of croup at the age of nine months.

Many furnaces did we visit during that day, but we reached Center Furnace before night. Being hungry and weary, having been two days and a night without a morsel to eat. We went into the bridge house and began to chat with some who were loading at the furnace. I drew away at length and slept. At that moment, an acquaintance of Bill’s came and took him to his home, they failed to find me, so Bill said.

Next day, being unable to locate Bill, I resolved to travel on minus his company, he would not beg, and having left me in the lurch the night before. I made for Mount Vernon Furnace, 3 1/2 miles from Center, and got there by 9:00. I saw the manager, John Campbell. The boss asked me if I were in good health and where I had been. Of course he knew me, because I had worked there the year before.
I told him that I was wanting for work for which I would receive wages (not credits). I had searched for such work, but had failed. When he heard that I had been without food for two days and two nights, but for a thin ear of corn, he took me to a boarding house and bade them to feed me. After eating, I got up and tried to make for the office. The first thing I knew after this was my hearing the 12:00 whistle. Opposite me stood John Campbell and George Steece, the founder. I was lying on a bed in a shanty. Here the laborers who had no families slept. This house stood in the front of the office, and probably the manager saw me try to walk after eating, noticed how I swooned away, ordered to put me to bed, and set someone to watch over me. He guessed the food would pres on me after being so long without any. When I came to myself, the manager told me to rest for that day and that he would find me an easy job. On the morrow, he put me to help an aged person to set ore on the furnace bank. I worked there for five months, earning 80.00 and taking it all out in trade. This was at the close of 1842 and the beginning of 1843.

Excerpt from: Jackson County, Ohio: History and Families, 175th Anniversary, 1816-1991, Volume 1