Dominick Gelotte, Nanty Glo labor leader, burgess,
of the Peace
Nanty Glo seniors can remember the town's former Justice of the Peace, Dominick
Gelotte. Born in Calabria, Cosenza, Italy, in 1884 and migrating to the United
States in 1904, he worked in the coal mines for four years and soon became a labor
organizer for the United Mine Workers of America. He became a citizen in 1908.
Working with John Brophy, head of District 2 Miners Union, Mr. Gelotte was a member
of a small band of courageous individuals like John L. Lewis and Brophy, early
leaders of the labor movement. Less celebrated than the others, this Italian immigrant
once wrote a strongly worded correspondence in 1919 that read as follows:
"Brothers: You certainly realize the hard struggle now going on in Johnstown,
Pa. between the Cambria Steel and its employees, For sixty-nine years the workers
of the said City have been under the wings of this tyrannical corporation and
no workingman was free, but a secular slave of this Steel Corporation. For the
first time in the history of Johnstown the workers have taken a determined Position
to fight for their exclusive rights.
"As matter of historical
evidence at any time that the Proletarians demanded better compensation for their
work they met with opposition, and we know that the corporations have expended
millions of dollars to crush any labor movement but in spite of this fact the
sublime idea of the labor movement has made a priceless progress.... There never
was a limitation to their intolerable and treacherous method of attacking the
labor movement, but their hypocritical and detestable tactics has not changed
in the least.... So far their satanic and hypocritical action have not met with
any material success, but as the Cambria Steel gets very desperate we cannot tell
what they may do in the future...."
In 1920 he married his
wife, Ester, and they had two chidren, a daughter Inez, still living in Nanty
Glo, and a son, Dominick Jr. The family suffered a great loss with Dominick Jr.
passed away in 1954 at 15 years of age (Editor:
see earlier reports on this, here and here).
Gelotte became a Justice of the Peace in 1926 and had the distinction of serving
in this role until 1974, at the time serving the longest of any Justice of the
Peace in Pennsylvania. He was the Nanty Glo Burgess from 1945 to 1961, and also
served on the Nanty Glo Borough Council. He drove an old Model T Ford around town.
He was an ardent fisherman and hunter, and once raised a flock of 25 Leghorn hens.
Over a three-month period, he recorded his 25 hens as laying a monthly average
of 450 eggs.
Mr. Gelotte passed away at 90 years of age in
1974 and is buried at Nanty Glo's St. Mary's Cemetery.
Google search of "Dominick Gelotte" produces many references to his
activities as a coal and steel labor organizer.
A terrific explosion occured in a gunpowder factory,
and once all the mess had been cleared up, an inquiry was held.
One of the few survivors was pulled up to make a statement. "Okay Simpson," asked
the investigator, "you were near the scene - what happened?"
it was like this. Old Charley was in the mixing room, and I saw him take a cigarette
out of his pocket and light up."
"He was smoking in the mixing
room?" the investigator replied in stunned horror, "How long had he been with
"About 20 years, sir"
years in the company, then he goes and strikes a match in the mixing room. I'd
have thought it would have been the last thing he'd have done."