Thursday, June 14, 2012
Dysart, Fife, Scotland, is a town of great antiquity. There were native people on the shore waiting to oppose the invasion of the Danes towards the close of the 9th century. It was once the principal trading post on the eastern coast. The chief trade is manufacturing and the business of the port is chiefly exportation of coal and iron. Coal was worked here very early in Scottish history and plays a vital role in the life of James Crystal.
James was born March 10, 1790 and was possibly bound to the mines by his father, David Crystal, a coal miner in Dysart.
The Scottish coal miners were legally and socially, the lowest of the low. They were made slaves by law in 1603 and they suffered the agonies of this enslavement for 200 years.
James was only nine years old when the miners were finally freed from bondage but parents often took arles money from their masters and bound their children to the mines as soon as they were born. Children four to six years old often worked in the mines. Boys, girls, and women used to work the narrow crevices, too small for men to enter. They carried coal up to the surface in baskets strapped to their heads so their hands would be free to climb the steep wooden ladders.
The need for miners was so acute that the law gave the coal masters the right to pick up vagrants and beggars and put them in to mines. If they tried to run away, they were brought back and forced to wear a collar about their necks and were chained to their work.
Vagrants were numerous because of the dissolution of the monasteries which had formerly provided homes and jobs for many men, such as the gatekeeper, the bagpiper, the drummer, the herdsman, the gardener, the baker, etc. A man could not change occupations because, once in the mines, a man could not leave without permission from his master. If he were caught leaving without permission, he could be brought back and made to work a year and a day. He could be punished with stripes or with ear branding. His children could be put into bondage and must remain until the boys were 24 and the girls were 18 years of age.
David Crystal and his wife, Isabella Thallon had ten children. James, the eldest, married Mary Archibald on October 12, 1810 in Dysart. Here they lived and became the parents of eleven children, 4 boys, and 6 girls and one child who cannot be clearly identified. Mary died November 15, 1836 when her youngest child was just 2 years old. James remarried on March 10, 1837 to Margaret Blythe. He died October 12, 1847 and is buried in Dysart.
Nine of the children grew to maturity and married in Dysart. Two members of the family joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints there. James and his wife, Janet Kidd, joined in 1842 and five years later, Andrew became a member. James didn’t live to come to Utah to join the saints for he was killed in an accident in the coal mines. However, two of his children, James and Mary did emigrate to America and came to Utah. Here they were met by Andrew Crystal and his wife Elizabeth Cousins, who had brought their whole family to this land.
Descendants of James Crystal and Mary Archibald have formed a family organization which holds its annual business meeting in February each year and their reunion of family members is held in the summer time. They are striving to foster fellowship among the members of the family, to preserve family history, and to do genealogical and temple work for their deceased ancestors.