Charlotte Neilan told those in attendance that silicosis also claimed Charles' life and the lives of Emma's brother, Johnson, and her two other sons: Cecil, 23, and Owen, 21.
"The death benefits the company offered were $800 for each son and $1,000 for her husband," she said. "If they had been black, it would have been $600 for a husband and $400 for a son."
George Neilan told the audience, "The World Health Organization said silicosis still causes thousands of deaths around the world every year, and 300 in the United States.
"In honoring these men today, we wish to see silicosis eliminated."
Shealyn Shafer made restoring the Whippoorwill Cemetery a school project. She is the daughter of Summersville Mayor Robert Shafer, who hosted Friday's event.
Shealyn Shafer, a president of the Future Business Leaders of America at Nicholas County High School, led members of her group in lighting 41 memorial candles at the Whippoorwill Cemetery on Friday afternoon.
The Rev. Ronald English, a black minister in Charleston for 20 years who once worked with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., said, "We can never forget what happened at Hawks Nest.
"Today, we are identifying the place [where 41 workers are buried], and we hallow the ground."
Three granddaughters of Emma and Charles Jones attended Friday's ceremonies: Tammy Jones Miles, Rita Jones Hanshaw and Anita Jones Cecil, along with their mother, Ruth Jones.
Together, they did a lot of research to document the names of the 41 black victims buried in the Whippoorwill Cemetery, as well as many other victims of the Hawks Nest tunnel project.
After the Hawks Nest tragedy, Anita Cecil said, Union Carbide officials tried to deflect attention from silicosis.
"Back then, they called it 'tunnelitis' or they tried to blame deaths on a worker's lifestyle," Cecil said. "Some company officials said workers had tuberculosis, in order to get around the idea they died from breathing dust."
The program for Friday's ceremony included a quote from a February 1936 U.S. congressional subcommittee report: "If by their suffering and death they will have made life safer in the future for men who go beneath the earth to work, if they will have been able to establish a new and greater regard for human life in industry, their suffering may not have been in vain."
Most of the tunnel workers came to work at Hawks Nest from other parts of the country. About 75 percent of them were black.
The workers whose graves were consecrated Friday could not be buried in Fayette County cemeteries with white people. At the time, Jim Crow laws were still in effect there.
The West Virginia Army National Guard also helped restore the Whippoorwill Cemetery and add new parking spaces.
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.