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Van Lear was a sparsely populated farm community at the dawn of the 20th century. Known originally as Millerís Creek, its pastoral nature was soon lost as it transformed into a thriving municipality. John C. C. Mayo, a young schoolmaster, was the force behind this development. With his geologic knowledge and his forward-looking business savvy, he foresaw the economic power of the veins of bituminous coal that lay undisturbed in much of Eastern Kentucky. Mayo and a small nucleus of businessmen acquired vast tracts of land and mineral rights. In the case of Millerís Creek, these holdings were sold to a corporate behemoth, the Consolidation Coal Company (Consol). Mayo became one of Kentuckyís wealthiest citizens, and Millerís Creek became Van Lear.
Author Bio: Author Danny K. Blevins is the president of the Van Lear Historical Society, Inc., and the Coal Minersí Museum. He received an award of distinction from the Kentucky Historical Society and the Leadership in Local History Award from the American Association for State and Local History in 2006. Blevins holds a technical diploma in electronic communications from Mayo State Vocational-Technical School, a bachelorís degree in social sciences from Morehead State University, and a masterís degree in education from Union College. He is currently a teacher in the Johnson County school system and resides in Van Lear with his wife and three children.
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