In 1932 the Delta Herald-Times" carried 'reports from 50 years ago' and its pages of 18 February 1882 reported
"McLaughlin. and Jones were producing very fine slate and it was thought they had struck what was known as the "old quarry vein". A week later:
"McLaughlin and Jones sold a quantity of roofing slate, also flagging for about 200 feet of walkway, to E. K. Bollinger, at Seitzland. Mr. Bollinger had used Peach Bottom slate on a number of buildings about 20 years before, and its splendid lasting qualities convinced him of its superiority as a roofing material." It also stated:
"McLaughlin and Jones had erected a new derrick at their quarry and were taking off more top." (NB This 'Jones' may not have been Robert)
Note 1: There are essentially two ways of getting at slate: tunnelling or taking off top (i.e. exposing the slate by removing all the rock, etc. above it). The latter method was common but, for example, one source stated that the Welsh immigrants favoured tunnelling; it could be less expensive, it provided shelter for the workers and it helped to reduce moisture loss after blocks had been removed.
"In 1884, Elizabeth McLaughlin, who appears to be one of the few female quarry operators in those parts, leased 10 acres from the dissolved Williams partnership. She and two partners formed the Eureka Peach Bottom Slate Mining Co. (Harford County Land Records ALJ 53:113; Eureka Peach Bottom Slate Mining Co. Account Book 1885-1890:1)."
[The National Register of Historic Places - Whiteford-Cardiff District 8-12]
However, in 1891, Robert and F. R. Williams purchased the lease of the Eureka and Susquehanna Slate Companies, the the Eureka having previously been owned by W. A. McLaughlin.
[Maryland, Its Resources, Industries and Institutions, Baltimore 1893]
The first mention of Robert in the pages of Y Drych appears to have been in the spring of 1881 [YD, 31 Mar. 1881], when
"R L Jones" is in a list of quarry owners in the West Bangor area. (
"J W Jones" also appears in that list but this was probably not Robert's brother - see
here for information).
All the owners in the list are reported to be hard working ex-employees who had aspired to get on but the price of slate was so low that their profit margins were small; the reporter suggested a system of control should be introduced to maintain higher prices. They also pointed out that a long, hot summer when there had been water shortages was followed by a severe winter which had led to flooding in some quarries; flooding was often a problem with which quarry owners had to contend. Nevertheless, the reporter sensed there was optimism that things would pick up and there was the cheering prospect of a local Eisteddfod.