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Thomas in Tucker County, West Virginia — The American South (Appalachia)
 

The Melting Pot of Thomas

Thomas, West Virginia

 
 
The Melting Pot of Thomas Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, July 17, 2020
1. The Melting Pot of Thomas Marker
Inscription.  
Immigration and Ethnic Diversity
After the railroad and coal industries began operation, Thomas made a rapid transformation from isolated mountain town to small cosmopolitan city. The Davis Coal and Coke Company recruited workers from all over the world, and those workers in turn encouraged friends and family members to seek a better life in Thomas.

Rocco D. Benedetto was instrumental in bringing many Italian families to Thomas. Benedetto was born in Pratola Peligna, Italy in 1864 and immigrated to the United STates in 1892. Like many immigrant laborers, he had to leave his wife and family behind in Italy. He started in the coal mines, working his way up from laborer to yard boss to coke inspector. His wife was finally able to join him in America in 1900. With his savings, Benedetto built two brick buildings and began publishing La Sentinella del West Virginia, an Italian newspaper with a statewide circulation of 3500. He also undertook a steamship ticket brokerage venture and visited Italy to recruit workers for the Davis Coal and Coke Company arranging their travel to America.

It is estimated
The Melting Pot of Thomas Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, July 17, 2020
2. The Melting Pot of Thomas Marker
that as many as 18 nationalities were represented in Thomas including Italian, Russian, Lithuanian, Polish, Austrian, Irish and Swiss. The Davis Coal and Coke Company employed interpreters including Wladyslaw Dackiewicz from Poland, who spoke 8 languages. At its peak in the 1920s, Thomas had a population of over 2000 that included families such as DeCicco, DiBacco, DePollo, DiMaio, Dilettoso, Gennanonti, Grecco, Massi, Monda, Pinto, Quattro, Udovich, Gatto, Santangelo, Schilansky, Rubenstein, Geisberger and many others.

The balconies on the Benedetto Building (No. 4) and other structures, inviting storefronts and shared common areas reflect the vibrant European street life that the immigrants could not help but bring with them. Though a sense of pride in family heritage persists in Thomas to this day, the residents of this city have always embraced their identity as Americans, as evidenced in the annual Fourth of July celebrations. Parades and festivities for Independence Day have been held in THomas since at least 1908. This holiday is marked by the many family and class reunions which draw far flung former residents back for the celebration.
 
Erected by The City of Thomas, West Virginia.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Communications
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Industry & CommerceRailroads & StreetcarsSettlements & Settlers. In addition, it is included in the West Virginia, The City of Thomas series list.
 
Location. 39° 9.022′ N, 79° 29.893′ W. Marker is in Thomas, West Virginia, in Tucker County. Marker is on Appalachian Highway (West Virginia Route 32), on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 218 Appalachian Highway, Thomas WV 26292, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Connecting Thomas to the World (here, next to this marker); A Lesson in Resourcefulness (within shouting distance of this marker); Out On The Town (within shouting distance of this marker); Dwellings and Design (within shouting distance of this marker); Thomas, West Virginia Mine Disaster Memorial (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); A "Howling Wilderness" (about 400 feet away); A Window to the Past (about 500 feet away); The Story of a River / Life in a Coal Mining Town (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Thomas.
 
Additional keywords. European
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immigration
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on July 18, 2020. It was originally submitted on July 18, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 30 times since then and 3 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on July 18, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.
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Mar. 7, 2021