United Four Quartet

The United Four Quartet was formed in Barrackville, Marion County, WV. They were a close gospel singing group who used their church background to sing songs about the UMWA. As with several other artists from the period, the group adapted the tunes of popular hymns and songs and added lyrics about the Union or mine labor to create their songs. Their members consisted of James Dooley, Gus Joiner, Willie Jones, and Nathan Alexander. Their Quartet was recorded by Gearge Korson in 1940 as part of his efforts to document the songs created by bituminous coal field miners in West Virginia. Among the songs created by the group include Bill Green Better Run On, I Can Tell the World What the Union Has Done, and I Don't Want to Go Down Yonder. 

James Oliver Dooley, Jr. was born on 04-22-1919 in Madisonville, Kentucky. He lived in Fairmont, Marion County between 1930 and 1950 with his father James W. Dooley, mother Kathrine “Kittie” Dooley, and 6 siblings. In 1937, his father died, leaving his mother Kittie as head of household in 1940. During this time, he worked as a laborer but had no job listed on his draft card. He married his wife Virginia Dooley sometime between 1940-1950. During this time, he became a timberman working in the coal industry. Dooley also served in the US Air Force during WWII, where he became a Seargent. He died on 05-19-2012 and is buried in Southern Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Union Grove, Racine County, Wisconsin. 

Willie Jones was born on 05-16-1910 in Birmingham, Alabama. In 1920, he lived with his mother Alice Jones and two siblings, Ethel and Edgar. In 1929 he married his wife, Salena Cook. He held residence in Fairmont, Marion County in 1940 with his wife and his son James Jones. During this time, he held a job as a miner at the Kopper Coal Company, which he listed on his draft card. The Kopper Coal Company Federal No.1 mine operated in nearby Grant Town between 1934 and 1947. A 1945 City Directory lists Willie Jones as living in Barrackville. In 1950 he lived in a different house in Fairmont with his son, daughter-in-law Mary Jones, and their two children. During this time, he worked as a buggy driver for local coal mines. He died on 10-08-1993. 

Gus Joiner was born on 06-27-1909 in Newborn, Alabama. He lived in Barrackville, Marion County with his mother Charity Joiner in 1940 at the age of 30. During this time, he held a job as a coal loader and worked for or was a member of the United Mine Workers of America Local #4346, the local branch of the UMWA in Barrackville. In 1975 he made a claim for Social Security, listing his mother as Charity Unk and father as Grant Joiner. He died on 02-25-2000 in Cleveland, Cuyahoga, Ohio. 

Nathan Alexander was born on 11-23-1923 in Ensley, Alabama. He lived in Fairmont, Marion County with his mother Ivory Alexander, father Ollie Alexander, brother Willie Alexander, and grandmother-in-law Mary Haward in 1940 at the age of 16. In 1942 he received his draft card for WWII and was married around 1946 to Dorothy L. Richardson. In 1945 he lived in Barrackville, and his occupation was in the US Marine Corps. In 1950 he lived in Fairmont with his wife, now Dorothy Alexander, at age 26. During this time, he held a job as a coal miner working 40 hours per week. He died on 12-19-2015. 

  • Written by Frank Fitch April 2024 



  • Marion County is in the Northern Coalfields.  



James Dooley 

Willie Jones 

Gus Joiner 

Nathan Alexander