Cincinnati Mine Explosion
MINE EXPLOSION ENTOMBS 250 MEN
Disaster Occurs in Cincinnati Mine at Courtney
at One O'clock Today – Six Reported to Have
Gotten Out Alive – One Dead Body Found.
RESCUE AND FIRST AID PARTIES RUSH TO SCENE.
At 1 o'clock today a terrific mine explosion
occurred at the Cincinnati mine of the
Monongahela River Coal company at Courtney.
Details are exceedingly meagre, as the mine is
not connected by telephone. It is known that 250
men were in the mine at the time and the latest
reports are that six have gotten out alive and
that one dead body has been found by rescuers.
The explosion occurred in the entry between
the pit mouth at Courtney and the Mingo shaft.
It is stated that the six men who came out alive
made their escape from the Mingo entry.
As soon as possible rescue parties entered
the mine from both entries at Courtney and at
Mingo. The one dead body found, it is stated,
was taken from the entry near the parting, where
the trips are collected.
Appeals for aid are being sent to all the
other mines in the section and rescue and first
aid parties are rushing to the scene of the
disaster. The explosion, so far as known, is
believed to be confined to only one section of
the mine. It is not learned what caused the
The Cincinnati mine is an old colliery and
has not been worked for many years. The Courtney
entry is on the river and the Mingo entry is at
Mingo church on the line of the Pittsburg and
Charleroi trolley line.
At the hour of going to press further details
could not be learned.
The Charleroi Mail Pennsylvania 1913-04-23
ILL-FATED MINE GIVES UP ITS DEAD.
NINETEEN BODIES ARE RECOVERED AT 4 O'CLOCK FROM
First Lot is Brought to Surface Early This
Morning to be Removed to Improvised Morgue at
Monongahela – Member of Rescue Party Meets Death
– Evidence Shows Victims to Have Perished From
Afterdamp – Many Stories Told.
EXPLANATION CAUSED BY GAS THE THEORY ADVANCED BY
By Floyd Chalfant.
The dark, damp, deadly interior of the
ill-fated, historic Cincinnati mine of the
Pittsburg Coal company at Courtney, where
Wednesday afternoon occurred one of the worst
mining disasters in history, this morning gave
up the first of its dead. Nineteen bodies were
brought out in the first consignment at 4
While these were removed in a box car to an
improvised morgue at Monongahela, rescuers who
had spent the night in the mines continued with
limbs awearied [sic] and minds benumbed from
lack of sleep their work of getting more of the
dead in shape to bring to the surface. Women
made windows by the awful horror and mothers who
had lost their only sons spent the night
watching the yawning cavity awaiting news of
their loved ones.
Rescue Man Dies.
GEORGE W. SCHLUEDELBERG, general manager of the
Pittsburg Coal company and other officials of
the company were early on the scene after the
explosion and they directed generally the work
of rescue. The first rescue party to enter the
mine from the Courtney end was a Marianna crew
in charge of W. J. HOLSING, which went in at 6
o'clock. One of the crew, a man named McCOLLIGAN
never came out alive. He and his two companions
KELLY and FERGUSON were overcome by the
afterdamp while at their work. When found they
were dragged to open air and KELLY and FERGUSON
were resuscitated after a long struggle by the
Mine In Bad Condition.
Rescue parties report the mine to be in very bad
condition. In many places near where the
explosion occurred the roof has fallen in and in
spots the main entry is almost entirely blocked
by the heaped up debris. This gives to the work
of rescue added difficulty.
Gas Possible Cause of Explosion.
Today the mystery surrounding the cause of the
explosion is as unsolved as it was late last
night. Mine officials refused to give out any
opinion, but some of the miners who had narrow
escapes did give opinions. It seems that there
was an old abandoned mine known as the “Garfield
workings” adjoining the Cincinnati. Concrete
walls had been built it is understood between
the two mines to keep the gas of the unused
workings from permeating into the Cincinnati
mine. By some it is believed that there was a
leak of gas and the gas was ignited by an open
lamp. Both open lamps and safety lights were
used in the mine.
Another miner who seemed to be familiar with
conditions said new entries had recently been
cut about two miles from the Cincinnati opening.
These new entrys[sic] opened up gas pockets he
believes and he stated that danger boards had
been put up. “It was carelessness, that was
all,” he affirmed. “Somebody went beyond the
line and the explosion occurred.”
Checkweighman Tabs Missing.
AUGUST BELGIE was the checkweighman. He told his
story to a group of newspaper men and women.
“There were about 215 in the mine,” he said. He
accounted for 168 as follows:
Leaders 119; miners 27; motormen 3; snappers
2; day men or track layers, 18. However word
came from Monongahela this morning that there
were 179 men actually in the mine at the time of
the explosion. This statement tallies well with
that of A. B. BROWN the assistant mine foreman.
Fifty-seven were accounted for at the Mingo
entrance of the mine and 30 at the other side
making a total of 87 that are said to have come
out. Much is rumor so that until every man is
checked up it will be impossible to determine
the mortality list.
Men Victims of Afterdamp.
Evidence found by the rescuers indicates that
nearly all of the dead were victims of
afterdamp. Those who escaped were far away so
that they could reach safety before being
overcome. At 4:30 JOE BILNES a Lithuanian groped
gasping from the Mingo entrance and dropped
prostrate. After being revived he told that he
was at the 16th entry when the explosion
occurred. He detected the afterdamp and was
hardly able to reach the pit mouth. At Mingo
there is a very steep slope to the main entry.
The Mingo entry is used for convenience by men
going to work and for taking in mules. No bodies
were brought out there owing to the grade of the
Coroner Heffran went to the Scene.
Sorner [sic] HEFFRAN went to the scene of the
disaster with Mail representatives in the
afternoon. He stopped at Mingo long enough to
learn a little of the explosion and then hurried
by automobile to the mine mouth below Courtney
where he took a hand in rescue work. A rescue
car from Pittsburg was brought out late in the
evening from the United States Bureau of Mines
in charge of T. S. RICE, chief engineer and J.
W. PAUL, in charge of the rescue work. This crew
which included “JOE” MASON, formerly of
Charleroi, virtually assumed charge of the
rescue work during the night.
Mine Inspectors Hard at Work.
Mine Inspector ALEXANDER McCANCH of the first
district arrived with a company of experienced
mining men at about 6 o'clock. Mine foremen from
numerous mines along the river were early on the
scene and were the first ones to enter after the
explosion. Mine Inspector F. W. CUNNINGHAM of
Charleroi was at the mine all night.
The Monessen detachment of State troopers,
Sergeant STOUT, and Privates AMES and DENT were
summoned. STOUT remained at the Mingo opening
and AMES and DENT went to the Courtney opening
where they were assisted by railroad detectives
and by Pittsburg Coal company policemen in
keeping people from crowding dangerously near
Dilly Rider Has Important Story.
Vague rumors flew last night that the reports of
the fire boss had been locked up in the safe by
the company officials as soon as they could be
gotten hold of. An effort was made to keep the
miners from talking of the explosion late in the
evening. One man that will have an important
story to tell to the coroner's jury is GORY
STOKES, the dilly rider. STOKES had just entered
the pit mouth when the force of the explosion
hurled him and the cars back. His cap was
knocked into the car back of where he stood. He
judged it but a small explosion and continued
in. At a point of 8,000 feet his nostrils began
to sting. Glancing down he saw a man lying face
downward, his clothes burning. He hurried out.
On the way he saw the body of his companion,
EMILE LEROY. STOKES assisted later in the first
One man took sick in the mine at about 11
o'clock in the morning and started home. He was
well on his way out when the explosion occurred
but became confused and it was 5 o'clock before
he staggered out the Mingo opening.
Cincinnati a Large Mine.
The Cincinnati mine is about four miles in
length. Its main entrance is at Courtney, on the
Pittsburg, Virginia and Charleston Railroad, a
short distance from Houston Run and there is
another entrance at Mingo Junction. The mine is
on of the largest along the river. Ordinarily it
employs about 300 men. Yesterday a little more
than half the full force were at work. The
explosion occurred deep in the mine. Its force
was but slightly felt in Courtney.
Charleroi Man Reported Missing.
This morning it was rumored here that a
Charleroi young man, THOMAS DONNELLY was caught
in the mine. His name is given as among the
missing and his home as Finleyville. LAWRENCE
DONNELLY his brother worked at the mine, but had
an outside position so that it is not believed
that he was caught.
CARTEN ONE OF FIRST FROM MINE
Cincinnati Miner Tells Story of His Escape From
MANY FOLLOWED HIM
By E. C. Niver.
One of the men warned by Assistant Mine
Foreman BROWN in the Cincinnati Mine explosion
yesterday, and who with 25 other men made a most
thrilling escape, was ROBERT CARTEN a track
layer. To a Mail representative he detailed the
particulars of his escape, through an abandoned
heading, which had caved in and almost blocked
the passage at times.
“I had eaten my lunch, starting at 12
o'clock,” said CARTEN, “which took me, I suppose
20 minutes. I started back to work and had
driven but two spikes, when I heard the
explosion. The sound was not so loud, but the
concussion fairly stunned me, and it was a few
minutes before I could hear anything. Then I
asked one of the men near me what was the
matter, and while we were talking Assistant
Foreman BROWN, who had come forward, called out:
“Is that you Bob?” I replied yes, and he said,
“Get out of here as quick as you can.”
“I had a safety lamp, and by that time about
25 other men flocked around. I had worked in the
mine for nine years, and was thoroughly familiar
with the workings. As I knew the mine and had
the safety, the other open lamps having been
blown out by the explosion, I took the lead and
the men followed me. I found out that we could
not get through on the direct motor roads on
account of the fumes and I knew of an abandoned
entry – No. 15, which would let us out of [sic]
we could get through. I found this entry blocked
all but an opening not more than 18 inches high.
I called to the others to follow, and crawled in
the opening on my stomach, telling the others to
follow as long as I proceeded and holding my
lamp, as much as possible for the others to
“At times the opening narrowed down so that I
could just hold my safety lamp perpendicular. I
kept on, as I could feel all coming in. As long
as that condition existed, I knew it was safe to
proceed. When I finally emerged to No. 4 motor
road I knew we were all right and could get out.
A colored man was the only one who had kept
close to me, and the others were not in sight. I
called to them and waited for about 15 minutes,
but not hearing of them, or knowing whether or
not they might have become panic stricken and
turned back, the coolred [sic] man – JAMES
LANRUN – and I made our way out of the Mingo
“After awhile the others of our party came
straggling out, all of them having gotten
through in safety.”
IDENTIFICATION MADE OF SEVERAL BODIES; 13
MORE TAKEN FROM MINE
Second Trip Carrying Bodies From Cincinnati Mine
Mouth to Monongahela to be Made This Afternoon
Some Time – Coroner Heffran Empanels Jury From
Monongahela Men to Hold Inquest.
LEM BRIGGS, FORMER CHARLEROI MAN GIVEN AS AMONG
By Floyd Chalfant.
Some victims of the Cincinnati mine horror were
identified at the BEBOUT and YOHE morgue at
Monongahela shortly afternoon today. Thirteen
bodies were removed to the mouth of the mine at
Courtney this morning and will be brought to
Monongahela some time this afternoon to be
prepared by undertakers for identification.
THE IDENTIFIED DEAD.
ROBERT ANDERSON, aged 38 of Courtney, fire boss,
leaves widow and four children.
WILLIAM R. McCOLLIGAN, aged 33 of Jacobs Creek,
member of rescue corps, leaves widow and two
STEPHEN LONG, aged 31, of Courtney, cutter,
HENRY WOOD, aged 19, of Bentleyville, nephew of
BURGESS JOHNSON, single.
WALTER CONNELLY, aged 24, of Findleyville,
EMILE LEROY, aged 24 of Courtney, leaves widow
and four children.
CHARLES BOWEN, aged 36, of East Millsboro, leavs
WILLIAM WARNER, aged 45 of Courtney.
WALKER WILKINS, of Gastonville, colored.
LEWIS CLATER, of Courtney, colored.
JOHN CLEMENT, of Finleyville, LEWIS VINOVETSKI,
CHARLES SAGER, PETER VENOSKI and JOHN
KERSERVONIS, foreign miners of Cincinnati.
Charleroi Man Missing.
Among those reported missing is LEMUEL BRIGGS,
formerly of Charleroi, the son-in-law of MR. And
MRS. HARVEY OSBORNE, of Fifth street. BRIGGS,
who is 32 years old was employed as a track-man
in the mine. Little is to be learned of him, but
it is not expected that he can be alive. MR.
OSBORNE went to the mine opening this morning.
BRIGGS leaves a widow and two children. The
family moved to Venetia about a year ago and
intended to move back to Charleroi after the
mine here was started. BRIGGS was formerly
employed at the Charleroi mine.
Another Charleroi man that was lost is THOMAS
DONNELLY, it was learned this afternoon. His
body has not been found unless it is in the
latest number brought to the surface. DONNELLY,
according to certain of those who escaped was on
his way out with about 18 others, when he fell.
The men had to crawl and could not have nay
lights burning, so they did not know until they
reached the opening of the mine that CONNELLY
McCOLLIGAN'S Body Claimed.
The body of WILLIAM R. McCOLLIGAN was claimed at
about noon by his brother from Jacobs Creek.
McCOLLIGAN was killed while working with a
It was reported about the mouth of the mine
today that 85 or 90 more were thought to be
inside the mine yet to be recovered. It is not
thought that they can be reached until 3 o'clock
Coroner Empanels Jury.
Coroner JAMES T. HEFFRAN was interviewed at the
Bebout morgue at Monongahela this afternoon. He
said that a jury had been empanelled but he
could give no definite idea of the probably time
of the inquest that will follow. The jury which
consists of well known Monongahela men has been
engaged this morning in viewing the bodies of
the dead and watching the process of
identification. It has not made a visit to the
Coroner HEFFRAN'S jury drawn consists of C.
H. LANDEFELD, ISSAC YOHE, B. F. ALLEN, W. F.
ALTEN, T. J. ECKBRETH and J. D. HOON.
Mine Roof Falling.
Word from J. B. LAIDLEY of the saw and planing
mill of the Pittsburg Coal company at
Monongahela this morning and gave out the
information that the work of rescue was being
seriously interferred with by falling roof. This
added difficulty also presents considerable
danger to the rescue crews. There is a
possibility that some of the bodies may never be
Watch Dog Waits For Master To Come From Mine
A story as told of the faithfulness of a dog of
EMILE LEROY, one killed at the Cincinnati mine.
He was the first man reported dead. LEROY had a
little dog that was accustomed to come to the
mine every night to meet his master. Late in the
afternoon the dog trotted, wagging his tail, to
meet his master at the Courtney entrance.
Through the late afternoon and into the night he
sat and waited. From time to time he arose,
whining and ventured as far into the mouth of
the mine as he dared. Late at night the dog was
seen sitting dolefully on the railroad track,
Cincinnati Mine One Of The Oldest
The Cincinnati mine where the horrible disaster
occurred Wednesday was the oldest mine on the
Monongahela river. It has been in operation for
The mine has been known as a gaseous mine.
This is not its first explosion. Thirty-one
years ago a terrific explosion occurred and the
story is related that mine cars were blown half
way across the river. There are three recognized
openings to the mine at Courtney, Mingo and at
Finleyville. The mine is known to all miners of
the section and is famous for the many twists
and turns in its workings.
JOHN N. JENKINS of Charleroi knows the mine
thoroughly. He was employed there as a miner 50
The Charleroi Mail Pennsylvania 1913-04-24
LATEST MINE DEATH ESTIMATE IS 125; THIRTY
BODIES ARE REMOVED TO MORGUE
Second Box Car Load Taken From Courtney to
Monongahela This Morning Shortly After 7 O'clock
– Many in Bad Shape From Bruises – WILLIAM
McNEIL, Assistant Mine Superintendent Among
DISTRICT ATTORNEY MILLER VISITS SCENE OF
EXPLOSION THIS MORNING.
By Floyd Chalfant.
Forty-eight victims by actual count of the
coroner's jury have been taken out of the
ill-fated Cincinnati mine of the Pittsburg Coal
company at Courtney, and according to the latest
estimate made at noon today there are still
inside 77 men. This brings the estimated total
dead up to 125. Thirty of those who died in the
explosion of Wednesday were taken to the Bebout
and Yohe morgue at Monongahela this morning
shortly after 7 o'clock.
Coroner JAMES T. HEFFRAN accompanied by
District Attorney RICHARD G. MILLER and
Assistant District Attorney T. H. W. FERGUS left
Monongahela this morning at 10:30 o'clock in an
automobile for the mine. The Washington county
officials state they are going to inquire
carefully into the disaster. Coroner HEFFRAN
said at 2:30 today the probabilities are all
bodies will be taken tonight from the mine.
There have been 17 identifications made up until
about 2 o'clock. A corps of embalmers was set to
work early this morning after the arrival of the
30 bodies from the mine to get them in shape for
identification. Nearly all of the latest bodies
recovered bear marks of injury. Many of them had
to be removed from among debris which
accumulated in the main entry after the
Among the worst mutilated of the bodies
removed to the Monongahela morgue this morning
is WILLIAM McNEIL of Granville, who was an
assistant mine superintendent. His body is in
bad shape. McNEIL was warned by certain of his
friends to say [sic] away from the Cincinnati
mine, it is stated, when he accepted the
position the first of April. He laughed at their
fears. McNEIL was 35 years old and leaves a
widow and two children at Granville.
Scenes at Morgue.
Scenes at the Morgue at Monongahela beggar
description. There remains just one body to be
identified. This is an American. Running halfway
the length of the large Bebout and Yohe store of
Main street there have been erected long sloping
platforms. Black caskets furnished by the
company containing the corps [sic] are placed
thereon as they are prepared. Though
identification has been made of all but the one
man, there still remains three bodies to be
This afternoon at about 3 o'clock the 30
bodies over which embalmers were tirelessly
working in the carriage barn of Bebout and Yohe
this morning will be removed to the
identification room. Then the process of
identification will start. Some of the names of
victims are known before hand. Thursday probably
five thousand people, friends of the dead and
curiosity seekers, visited the morgue. When the
morgue is opened this afternoon the scene will
be repeated. The arrangement is that when
identification is completed bodies may be
claimed at once.
In the carriage barn where the embalmers were
at work stalls were arranged. There was a string
of bodies the length of the barn. Decomposition
had started on some of the bodies and the odor
was not the sweetest. That gives some idea of
the increasing difficulty of rescue work inside
the mine, where it is declared the odor of
decomposition is particularly noticeable.
Coroner's Jury to Visit Mine.
HARRY LANDEFELD, foreman of the coroner's jury
was interviewed, “What can you say about the
probabilities of an inquest soon?” he was asked.
“I can't say. It is the intention of the jury
to visit the mine this afternoon. Just as soon
as the rescue crews are satisfied that all
bodies are taken out that it is possible to
secure, then arrangements will be made for an
inquest. I should imagine that next week the
coroner's jury will do something. As individuals
I believe about all of the members of the jury
have visited the mine. We are going to inquire
very carefully into the situation.” Such was the
reply of MR. LANDEFELD. The members of the
coroner's jury were at the morgue this morning
as they had been Thursday.
The Charleroi Mail Pennsylvania 1913-04-25
FORTY-FOUR BODIES REMOVED FROM THE
CINCINNATI MINE; MANY ARE IDENTIFIED.
Total Number Dead From Awful Disaster Stated to
be 92 – Rumored That There are From Three to
Five Yet to Come to Morgue – Three Companies of
Experts Will Make Inspection Before Coroner's
Inquest is Held.
TWO MEN FOUND ALIVE INSIDE WORKINGS; TAKEN TO
By Floyd Chalfant.
By the removal of 44 bodies from the interior of
the Cincinnati mine this morning the rescue
corps practically ended their labors. All these
bodies were transferred to the Bebout and Yohe
morgue at about 7 o'clock and as rapidly as
possible prepared for identification.
Nearly 70 identifications had been made, all
told, up until about 2 o'clock this afternoon.
The total number dead was authentically given at
the morgue as 92. Later a report was circulated
that three and then that five bodies had been
found in the workings and would be brought to
Two Men Found Alive.
CHARLES CRALL, an American of Monongahela and
PHILLIP LEGLER of Elkhorn were found alive by
the rescue crew of state mine inspectors at
about 11 o'clock in the mine Friday night. Both
were weak. CRALL however, was jovial. He
remarked that he was saving a crust of bread for
his Sunday dinner. LEGLER was so far gone that
he hardly cared to try to talk.
CRALL, who had lost an eye in the the [sic]
Marianna disaster of some years ago, insisted
that he could walk to the mine opening, and to
prove it did walk part way. LEGLER was taken out
on a dilly. The men discovered were lying on the
floor, one with a block of wood under his head
and the other with a piece of cloth. CRALL told
a vivid narrative about the 52 hours of waiting
they had spent in the mine. They had kept
together, and had tried to keep THOMAS DONNELLY
formerly of Charleroi with them. DONNELLY was
overcome. CRALL and LEGLER removed his clothing
and tried to resusciate [sic] him, without avail.
They had to leave him. CRALL said that they
heard the explosion and realized what had
happened, but could not escape. He says he
almost went insane. Sulphur water was all they
had to drink and their first question was for
water. LEGLER and CRALL had divided what food
they had between them.
Identification Scenes Horrible.
Some of the bodies at the morgue show badly cut
features. Faces are blackened. The majority
brought to the morgue today were foreigners. A
constant stream of humanity passed by the
caskets. Women made widows by the catastrophe,
anxious to recover the bodies of their husbands,
hastened down the line, viewing critically the
faces of the corpses. Agonized moarns [sic] were
to be heard continually as features were
recognized. One woman of foreign nativity, young
and beautiful, gazed for a moment at the
darkened face of one of the victims, Suddenly
she half swooned into the arms of an attendant,
moaning. It was her husband.
Through a card index system the bodies were
tabbed as they were identified. Caskets were
being carried out almost continually. Those in
charge of tabbing the bodies have been nearly
distracted by the work for the simple reason
that identification is made usually be either a
widow, a sister of a brother, who,
grief-stricken, is unable to tell a connected
story or even answer questions.
Quiet About the Mine.
Everything is quiet about the mine, the center
of interest having been transferred to
Monongahela. Even the railroad officers and the
State police left the mine this morning. They
had been on duty continually since last
Wednesday afternoon. At 9:30 o'clock this
morning everybody was out of the mine. At that
time a dilly was started in drawing a load of
lumber. This lumber will be used in brattice
Experts to Inspect Mine.
Coroner JAMES T. HEFFRAN is the man generally in
charge of the morgue at the present time, and
will be the man who will conduct the all
important investigation. Three companies of
experts will enter the mine before the coroner's
inquest is held. One of these will be a company
of State mine inspectors, another will be
Coroner HEFFRAN, District Attorney RICHARD G.
MILLER and President VAN BITTNER, president of
the Pittsburg District U. M. W. A. and one or
two others to be selected later, and the third
crew a company of experienced mining men. In
addition most likely the coal company will have
a crew of experts enter the mine, in order that
they may be prepared for whatever appears at the
Foreign Consuls Busy.
Cher. GUIDO DI VINCENZO, the Italian consul, who
is located at Philadelphia and a MR. OBECK the
Austrian consul, who has his office at Pittsburg
were both at the morgue this morning, looking
after the interests of their people. They will
remain as long as they are needed.
Mules Found Alive
Five mules, including one of the famous old
workers in the mine “Colonel” were brought this
morning from the mine, alive. How they had lived
can only be surmised. Two of them were found in
a room by themselves, and towards the entry were
found bodies of some men the evidence showing
that the mules had kicked them out of the room.
The other three mules were found together. A
story is told that one of the mules was crazy.
Father Identified Donnelly
THOMAS DONNELLY, formerly of Charleroi was
identified by his father, JAMES DONNELLY of
Charleroi, and his body claimed. DONNELLY is a
well known young man.
Monongahela Raises Fund.
A number of fraternal orders of Monongahela have
made contributions to the relief fund being
raised there for the benefit of the widows and
orphans of the Cincinnati victims. Tomorrow it
is expected that the churches will make
The Charleroi Mail Pennsylvania 1913-04-26
Articles submitted & transcribed by Stu
Beitler Thank you,
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