The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

Visit us on FaceBookGenerations of Memories
from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Ma Savage, Good Samaritan of Mingo County

By LaVonda S. Harris © 1987

Issue: March, 1987

Mable "Ma" Smart Savage, was born 1881 in Huntsville, Missouri. She and her family moved to Ironton, Ohio and there at the age of sixteen, Mable met and married the twenty three year old, Greenville Savage, February 10, 1897.

Together, Mable and Greenville traveled down the banks of the Big Sandy and Tug Fork River to settle in the small town of Matewan, Mingo County, West Virginia.

Greenville, found work in the Red Jacket Coal Mines and in a dark, dusty hollow on the outskirts of Matewan, Mable made their home. There, they produced ten children, two of the ten died at an early age, but Mable found strength in her little mountain church and went on to raise the remaining children.

Later, two of the older children followed in their fathers footsteps and became miners at the Red Jacket Mines. Then, in January, 1928 the sound of sirens filled the sleepy little town, everyone knew the awesome sound, it meant there was a cave in, in one of the mines. A few hours later, Mable learned she had lost two more of her children.

Two years later Greenville met with the same fate as his sons and was killed in the Red Jacket Mines.

Once again Mable found comfort in the church and went on to become a great service to her community. She became know as "Ma" Savage, she shared what ever food or money she had with her neighbors and came to the aid of anyone in need. "Ma" wore an apron to church and filled the apron pockets with candy and gum to be passed out among the children.

"Ma" died in 1969 at the age of eighty-six, but even today in the coal mining town of Matewan, West Virginia, if one should ask of "Ma" Savage, you are sure to hear, yes, she is gone but certainly never forgotten.