Stonega’s union problems at the Glenbrook mine failed to evaporate when Lewis removed the Deaton cousins to the Midwest. Lewis had never enjoyed the absolute power in the UMW that the world (not to mention young coal executives like Ted Leisenring) believed he possessed. Now that Lewis was in his mid-seventies, his health was failing—he suffered a heart attack in 1956—and the troops below him were jockeying for position in anticipation of his retirement. Within a few years Jack Deaton himself returned to the UMW’s District 19, which covered Kentucky and Tennessee. Here, in a district that was poised to play a pivotal role in the coming post-Lewis power struggle, Deaton hooked up with the district’s secretarytreasurer and (because he controlled the district’s funds) de facto boss, Albert E. Pass—a stocky, cold-eyed little man with close ties to Tony Boyle, Lewis’s right-hand man in Washington.
Ted Leisenring never met Pass but knew him by reputation. Within the UMW Pass was widely referred to as “Little Hitler. ” He was said to have instigated and funded the “Jones boys, ” a gang of some hundred miners who terrorized coal operators in eastern Kentucky and Tennessee. When operators refused to sign union contracts, the Jones boys dynamited and burned their tipples, forced their drivers to dump their coal in the middle of the road, and in one case buried a Tennessee operator named John Van Huss alive in a ditch. Pass was hated and feared by operators and union officials alike—including District 19’s mildmannered figurehead president, a lawyer named William Turnblazer, the son of the William Turnblazer who had organized Harlan County for the UMW in the 1920s and ‘30s. “That son of a bitch Pass would cut