Baltimore No. 4 Mine Explosion
ENTOMBED IN THE MINE
Twenty-eight Men Buried Alive at Ashley
A BIG CAVE-IN BARS THEIR EXIT
Loyal Comrades Working Like Beavers to Save
Three of the Entombed Men Rescued
The Thrilling Story of a Miner Who Narrowly
WILKES-BARRE, PA. MAY 16—Twenty-eight men
are entombed in Baltimore shaft, No. 4, at
Ashley, and there is little hope of their
rescue. The mine is an old one, and the workings
are in a more or less a dilapidated condition.
This fact makes the work of rescue very
difficult. The imprisonment of the unfortunate
men is due to a big cave-in of the surface over
the mine which occurred yesterday. The cave-in
covers an area of one square mile, and is one of
the most disastrous that ever occurred in the
It Came Without Warning
The crash came without any warning whatever.
This is something unusual too, as generally
there is a quaking and quivering of the earth
before it settles. The first intimation of
danger is when two houses were seen to sink out
of sight. They went down about ten feet and were
totally wrecked. The dwellings were occupied by
Polanders. Two women and a little girl were
quite seriously injured. The noise made by the
house toppling over attracted a large crowd.
Thirty not Eight in the Mine
A number of men ran to the slope and attempted
to enter the mine, but they could not. The main
passage was blocked and there was no way of
reaching the men. The mine foreman said only
eight men were working in that portion which had
caved in, and that they had in all probability
made their escape by way of the gangway. The
fire boss reported that there were thirty men in
the mine, and not eight. The superintendent of
the Lehigh and Wilkes-Barre Coal Company was
telegraphed and he arrived promptly. A
conference of expert miners was then held and it
was first determined to make an attempt to enter
the slope. Twelve men were secured for the
hazardous task but they were unable to proceed
any distance through the mine. The cave-in had
wrecked all the inside workings, and in some
places the roof was down for hundreds of feet.
To clear this debris away would take weeks,
which would preclude all hope of getting the men
Three Men Rescued
It was then resolved to sink or bore holes in
the surface directly over some abandoned
workings, enter these workings, and then trace
to the place where the men were at work. This
whole distance is about 300 yards. At 8 o’clock
last evening the rescuers broke their way
through the surface and reached the abandoned
workings. Five men entered and traveled along
some distance. They heard groans. Stooping down
they found three men lying prostrate on the
ground. They picked them up and carried them to
the surface. When the rescuing party with the
three men came in sight a mighty cheer went up.
The men rescued were JOHN ALLEN, ROBERT ROBERTS
and ANTHONY FRAIL. They were badly
burned. ROBERTS is the least injured.
He says when the cave-in came the men all
threw down their tools and made for the main
gangways. They found that it was blocked with
debris. Some of the men then fainted and sunk to
the ground. Others got down on their knees and
prayed for deliverance. ROBERTS, FRAIL and ALLEN
clung together. They rummaged around the
abandoned workings all afternoon. When the
cave-in occurred there was a slight explosion in
one of the breasts which burned the three men.
ROBERTS says there are at least nineteen other
men in the mine and that they are scattered
everywhere. The air is bad, and unless other men
are reached within the next ten hours they must
perish. The rescuers are now scouring the
The Names of the Imprisoned Men
The names of the men imprisoned are: JOHN HANSON, MICHAEL
SCALLY, JOHN SCALLY, MICHAEL HENRY, CHARLES
JAMES, FRANK GALLAGHER, HARRY JONES, ELLIS
WILLIAMS, OWEN WILLIAMS, DANIEL SULLIVAN, THOMAS
WILLIAMS, JOHN PENNING, ANTHONY FRAIL, HARRY
PARLY [PARRY], OWEN PARRY, THOMAS CLAUSS, JOHN
JAMES, MICHAEL LINSKI, JOHN HALL, LUKE GILGALLON,
JAMES DAVIS and four Hungarians, the
name of two is GUSS.
SCENES OF HORRIBLE INTEREST
The scenes about the mine had a peculiarly
horrible interest. Round the gang of toiling men
who were sinking the shaft from the surface
there soon gathered a crowd of many hundred men,
women and children. In their eagerness they
would have passed right on among the workers,
and to keep them back, a rope was stretched
around the spot and a corps of men placed to
hold back the crowd.
Among that gathering were women whose
husbands and sons were entombed in the dark
mine, children whose parents had probably met
their deaths and young women whose sweethearts
were entombed. Hope was strong in the hearts of
all, for the men who had come out of the mine
said that there was little chance of the men in
the upper split having been caught under the
fall. They were there well and alive behind
those heaps of rocks and debris, if they could
only be reached in time. One great threat
bothered them—bad air—but the mine was not a
gassy one, and in the Baltimore vein especially
there was little gas.
A SURVIVOR’S STORY
Standing round the place where the men were at
work digging in the hillside were dozens of men
ready to respond to any call for volunteers to
relieve the men at work. Among them were FRANK HENRY,
a young man of about 19 years, son of MICHAEL HENRY, who is among the entombed. From several
scratches and cuts on his face and head blood
had trickled, and some had fallen on his
clothes. He was in the mine when the cave-in
occurred, and he tells a thrilling story of his
“I knew nothing about any trouble”, he said,
“till all of a sudden there was a great rush of
air and my light was blown out. Right after that
I heard some one calling out further on the
gangway that the lower split was caving. I then
hitched the mules and tried to get them along,
but they would not move in the dark. Then I
started off myself up the gangway. Pretty soon
there was another crash somewhere back in the
working and another big rush of air came along.
In a minute or two I reached the main gangway.
Then I heard the roof chipping and cracking.
There were some other men running along the
gangway, but all the lights were out and I could
see nothing. The gangway was full of dust and in
a minute chips of coal and rock began falling
from the roof.
THE RUSH FOR LIFE
“Another crash came, and the rush of air nearly
threw me off my feet. Heavy chunks were falling
all around and I expected every minute the whole
roof would come down. I heard several men
calling out as if in pain, and all at once I
stumbled over one man and fell. I asked who it
was, but he was groaning.
“I didn’t wait, but ran on. I got to the foot
of the slope with a big crowd of men. There were
some lights there and we scrambled up the slope
as fast as we could. Just as we reached the
mouth a big blast of air came up, throwing most
of us down and binding us with dust and dirt. I
got out to the surface half dead. My father was
working with a group of men as a track layer on
the top lift.”
ARE THEY STILL ALIVE?
The supposition is that the men are still alive.
They were working in the upper lift of the
Baltime [sic - Baltimore] vein. This vein was
not disturbed. When the crash came, the men no
doubt, made an attempt to get out of the main
gangway, only to find the passage blocked. They
then retraced their steps for the purpose of
taking the manway. This too was cut off. They
had nothing to do then but to sit down and await
a rescuing party. It is believed that there is
sufficient air to keep the men alive, and if
they get a hold of a mule they can exist for a
week or more. Fifteen years ago a similar
accident happened in the Sugar Notch mine and
six men lived on mule meat for ten days.
The Trenton Times, Trenton, NJ 16 May 1890
Trish. Thank you, Trish!
The official list of
those imprisoned is as follows:
ELLIS D. WILLIAMS,
aged sixty, married, six children: resides at
HARRY P. ARRY, aged fifty, married,
five children, resides at Newport township.
OWEN PARRY, his son, aged seventeen
MICHAEL HENRY, aged forty-two, two
sons; residence, Ashley.
THOMAS C. DAVIS, aged sixty, married,
eight children; residence, Ashley.
JOHN SCALLY, aged twenty, the support
of a widowed mother; residence Ashley.
MICHAEL SCALLY, brother of JOHN, age
twenty-seven, residence, Ashley.
DANIEL SULLIVAN, aged forty-five,
married, seven children, one an invalid:
resides in Wilkes-Barre.
JOHN HANSON, aged twenty-five,
single; residence, Moffets Patch.
JOHN ALLEN, assistant mine boss, aged
thirty-five, married, three children, residence
Ashley; taken out seriously burned.
ROBERT W. ROBERTS, aged thirty-seven,
married, no children; resides in Ashley,
brought to the surface at 9 P.M. fatally burned.
HARRY JONES, laborer of former, aged
thirty-five, married, three children; residence
ROBERT PRICHARD, aged thirty,
married, one child; residence at Hanover.
ANTHONY FROYNE, married, one child;
residence at Ashley Plane (rescued at
seven o’clock badly burned.
JOHN JAMES, aged thirty-two, married,
two children; family in Wales, resides in
JOHN WILLIAMS, aged thirty-five,
married, six children; resides in Newton.
JONATHAN WILLIAMS, aged thirty,
married, two children; resides in Newton.
RICHARD JONES, aged thirty, married,
two children; resides in Newton.
W. EDWARDS, aged twenty-eight,
married, two children; resides in Wilkes-Barre
THOMAS J. WILLIAMS, aged thirty,
married, one child; resides in Ashley.
THOMAS CLAUSS, aged thirty-five,
married, no children; resides in Newton.
OWEN WILLIAMS, aged forty-nine,
married, one adopted child; residence in
JOHN HEMPSEY, aged forty-two, single;
resides at Moffett’s Patch.
FRANK GALLAGHER, aged twenty-nine,
Two Hungarians named
Decatur Daily Republican, Decatur, IL 16
Trish. Thank you, Trish!
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