In 1868, Samuel Heagy and Albert Stoddard formed the Hampton Coal Mining Company and began pulling coal from the bluffs around Hampton (Illinois). The coal, soft in texture, was deposited in discontinuous pockets, making it time-consuming and expensive to mine. The influx of miners led to the founding of the the village of Happy Hollow around 1870. It was not a place of great aesthetic beauty: the mining companies tore up the land in search of coal and built wood homes that were never painted and never expected to last more than a few years. At its peak, Happy Hollow was home for 1,000 miners, most of whom were of English, Irish, or Welsh descent; they worked hard, fought plenty, and lived squarely in the midst of poverty. Conflict with management led to a long strike in 1880 that eventually ended in a riot. When the mines closed in the 1880s, residents went elsewhere and traces of the former town faded away. The former village site is now part of East Moline.

© Dean Klinkenberg, 2009