A labourer under contract to work for an employer for a specific amount of time is a bonded labourer also known as a Indentured Servant. Typically the employer provided little or no monetary pay, but was responsible for accommodation, food, other essentials, training and when applicable passage to a new country. Upon completion of the term of the contract the labourer sometimes received a lump sum payment such as a parcel of land and was free to farm or take up trade of his own. In other words indentured servants are very poor people obligated to forced labor for a fixed number of years, often in exchange for passage to the New World or other benefits. The term comes from the medieval English "indenture of retainer" a contract written in
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When mines opened in isolated regions they needed to provide housing and other necessities to their employees. Thus in more settled regions, the proportion of miners living in company towns was less than in areas that were less settled. In the early 1920's the United States Coal Commission found that in Southern Appalachia (West Virginia, Eastern Kentucky, Tennessee, Maryland, Virginia, and Alabama) and in the Rocky Mountains 65 to 80 percent of miners lived in company towns. In most of the Midwest only 10 to 20 percent of miners lived in company towns. In Ohio 25 percent lived in company towns, while in Pennsylvania 50 percent lived in company towns.
Property Rights in Company Towns
The leases for company houses that miners rented to a certain extent governed property rights in these company towns. These leases were also something like "tied" contracts in that miners rented their homes so long as they were employed by the company, or at least, had a good relationship with it. Leases generally allowed for a quick termination, usually five days, rather than longer notices. Many leases prevented non-employees from living in or trespassing on company housing. In some leases companies reserved the right of entry into the property and the right to make and enforce regulations on the roads leading into the property.
These rights were commonly enforced during strikes when strikers were evicted