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FIRST NAME


LAST NAME


LOCALITY


Dunbar, Pennsylvania

Mine Explosion

June 20, 1890

FIREDAMP'S VICTIMS.

An Explosion Causes a Great Calamity at Dunbar, Penn.

Over Thirty Miners Perish in a Burning Shaft


Thirty-one miners were killed by the explosion of gas in the coal mines at Hill Farm, owned by the Dunbar Furnace Company, a mile west of Dunbar, Penn., at 10:30 in the morning. The bodies of two of the unfortunates were taken out. The others, on the day after the accident, were still entombed in the mine, where a fierce fire was raging. Desperate efforts were made to clear the way and recover the bodies but without avail. A rescuing party of 100 men, headed by Mine Inspector KEIGHLY, spent the afternoon in the ill-fated pit.

There were fifty-seven miners in the pit when the explosion occurred. They were at work in the headings off to the right and left of the main entry, about 5000 feet from the mouth of the slope. Near the point at which the heading started in different directions an air hole had been drilled recently. This was a pinch hole. Gas and water had accumulated in it. A few minutes before the explosion occurred PATRICK KERWIN penetrated the air hole with his pick. A strong stream of water gushed out. KERWIN was horrified. He sounded the alarm. His assistant, PATRICK HAYES, started hurriedly for the main entrance. He had scarcely started when the foul gas was ignited from his lamp.

The explosion which followed was terrific. What little air there was in the place drifted to the heading to the right of the main entrance. The fire followed swiftly, and before the thirty-one men could be alarmed all hope of escape was shut off by the flames. The twenty-six men employed in the left heading were notified of the danger in time to save their lives, although their escape was thrilling and was accompanied by the wildest confusion.

At a point near where the explosion occurred the bodies of DANIEL SHOERAN, fire boss, and DAVID HAYES were found. They had evidently attempted to escape through the flames. Appended is a full list of the dead miners:
JOSEPH BRIGNER, married; RICHARD BRIGNER; MILT FORNEY, married; BARNEY MOSS; PETER EGAN, forty-four years old; ROBERT McGUILL; MARTIN CAVENER; JOHN COPE, married; ANDY COPE, son; PAT DEVLIN, married; JOHN DEHANNEY, married; JOHN JOY, married; JOHN DEHANNEY, boy; DAVID DAVIS, married; THOMAS DAVIS, son; PAT CAHILL, married; WILLIAM CAHILL, single; PAT COURTNEY, married; JOHN COURTNEY, (son); JACK MITCHELL, married; DAN SOUTH, married; JAMES SHEARN; DANNY SHEARN; DAVID HAYES (father); WILLIAM HAYES (son); JAMES McCLEARY, married; THOMAS McCLEARY, married; ELMER DEWEY; JOSEPH BIGLEY, 30, wife and two children; BARNEY MAUST, EMANUEL MAUST (brothers); PAT COURTNEY, 40, married; GEORGE COURTNEY (son), 17; and JOHN MITCHELL, 40, married.

The explosion was one of the most disastrous and deadly in the history of the coke region. In the Leisenring disaster in 1883 twenty-three men lost their lives. At Colonel J. M. Reed's works at Dunbar, Penn., two years earlier five men were killed, while at the Youngstown works a year later fourteen lives were lost. This latest calamity has unnerved the community, and the inhabitants are wild with excitement.
Thousands of people gathered at the mouth of the mines during the afternoon. Among them were the parents, wives, children and sweethearts of the unfortunates, and a strong guard of police was necessary to prevent many of them, mad with anguish, from tushing into the deadly hole. Wives, widowed by the calamity, stood about illy clad and sore footed, lulling to sleep their babes in arms. Mothers wrung their hands and cried aloud for their boys, while children from eight to fifteen years of age hurried about looking into the black faces of the escaped miners in the hope of finding their fathers of brothers.

These works furnish coke for the Dunbar Furnace Company, which owns them. George Parrish, of Wilkesbarre, is President of the company. Samuel Dickson and J. C. Bullitt, of Philadelphia, are among the heaviest stockholders. The company has been fairly successful. It has a capital stock of $700,000. Consideration of this amount is held in Uniontown.

The officers of the furnace company have been notified of the disaster, and the authorities have been instructed to do everything in their power to relieve the distress of those who have suffered by the calamity.

The loss by the explosion cannot now be ascertained. It will be heavy, however, and the owners are fearful that the works will have to be abandoned.

At midnight the smoke and gas from the right shaft poured up the main exit, and after trials almost beyond human endurance the rescuing party gave up all hopes of ever recovering their comrades bodies from that entrance, and turned their attention to the Ferguson mine, one and a half miles away.

The men say that had they known the shaft was to be broken into they would never have entered the mine, as either water or gas would surely have followed, since in these regions gas always comes from the upper shale. The owners, however, and, in fact, some of the men themselves, say it was an accident pure and simple, that could not be avoided.

The Cranbury Press New Jersey 1890-06-20

       

MINERS SUFFOCATED

Terrible Fire Damp Explosion at Dunbar, Pa.

OVER THIRTY MEN ENTOMBED

Desperate Efforts in Progress to Recover the Bodies

The Mine on Fire and Consuming the Victims Two Bodies Only Rescued Awful Scenes at the Mouth of the Flaming Pit Parents and Relatives Mad With Anguish Names of Victims.

DUNBAR, Pa., June 17.
-- Thirty-one miners were killed by an explosion of gas in the coal mines at Hill Farm, owned by the Dunbar Furnace Company, and located one mile west of this place.

The explosion occurred at 10:30 a. m. The bodies of two of the unfortunates were taken out. The others are still entombed in the mine where a fierce fire is raging.
Desperate efforts are in progress to clear the way to recover the bodies, but so far without avail. A rescuing party of 100 men, headed by Mine Inspector KEIGLEY, of this district, spent some time in the pit, but had been able to rescue but two bodies.
The men, it was evident, had died from injuries sustained from the force of the explosion, but their bodies were badly burned. Their features are distorted and disfigured, and the corpses could only be recognized by the clothing.

Fifty-seven miners were at work about 5,000 feet from the mouth of the slope when the explosion occurred. Near the point at which the heading started an air hole had been drilled recently in which gas and water had accumulated.

A miner named PATRICK KERWIN penetrated this airhole, six inches in diameter, with his pick, whereupon a strong stream of water gushed out. KERWIN, alarmed, sounded the danger signal. His assistant, PATRICK HAYES, started hurriedly for the main entrance, and had scarcely moved, when the foul gas was ignited from his lamp. The explosion that followed was terrific.

What little air there was in the place drifted to the heading situated to the right of the main entrance. The fire followed swiftly and before the thirty-one men could be alarmed all hope of escape was shut off by the flames.

The twenty-six men employed in the left heading were notified of the danger in time to save their lives, although their escape was thrilling and was accompanied by the wildest confusion. It was at a point near where the explosion occurred that the two bodies of DANIEL SHEERAN, fire boss, and DAVID HAYES were were found. They had evidently attempted to escape through the flames.

Mad With Anguish
Thousands of people gathered at the mouth of the mines this morning. Among them were the parents, wives, children and sweethearts of the unfortunates, and a strong guard of police was necessary to prevent many of them, mad with anguish, from rushing into the deadly hole. Wives, widowed by the calamity, stood about illy clad and sore-footed, lulling to sleep their babes in arms. Mothers wrung their hands and cried aloud for their boys, while children from 8 to 15 years of age hurried about looking into the black faces of the escaped miners in the hope of finding their fathers or brothers.

Their suffering was pitiable, and while the authorities at the company were exerting all their energies to recover the bodies, the total absence of information regarding the fate of the missing men made their distress more severe, and moans and groans went up unconsciously from many of the pinched lids in the unhappy crowd.

List of the Victims.
Following is a full list of the missing miners:
BRIGNER, JOSEPH, married.
BRIGNER, RICHARD.
FERNEY, MILT, married.
MOSS, BARNEY.
EAGAN, PETER, forty-four years old.
McGUILL, ROBERT, single.
CAVANER, MARTIN.
COPE, JOHN, married.
COPE, ANDY, his son.
DEVILE, PAT, married.
DEBANNEY, JOHN, married.
DEBANNEY, JOHN, his son.
JOY, JOHN, married.
DAVIS, DAVID, married.
DAVIS, THOMAS, (son).
CAHILL, PAT, married.
CAHILL, WILLIAM, single.
COURTNEY, PAT, married.
COURTNEY, JOHN, his son.
SOUTH, DAN, married.
SHEARN, JAMES, single.
SHEARN, DANNY, single.
HAYS, DAVID.
HAYS, WILLIAM, his son.
McCLEARY, JAMES, married.
McCLEARY, THOMAS, married.
DEWEY, ELMER, single.
BIGLEY, JOSEPH, aged 30, leaves wife and two children.
MAUST, BARNEY.
MAUST, EMANUEL, brothers.
MITCHELL, JOHN, aged 40, married.

Middletown Daily Press New York 1890-06-17

       

A MINE HORROR

THIRTY-ONE MINERS OR MORE MEET A TERRIBLE FATE.

The Explosion One of the Most Disastrous Ever Recorded in the Coke Region's History.

DUNBAR, PA., June 16
This morning at 11:10 a sullen shivering roar shook the lowly miners' dwellings on the Hill farm, in Fayette county, near this place, and hundreds of affrighted persons, who knew the sound too well, feared another mine disaster and they were reassured far too well. In a moment the fearful news had spread that the Hill farm mines, owned by Philadelphia parties, had exploded. The low browed hill from which the slope entered from mouth to pit and the score of miners' houses lining the fatal hills shook for a moment an then poured out their frenzied inmates by the hundreds. A rush was made to the mouth of the pit, but ingress was impossible, as smoke in dense volumes was issuing forth. Fifty-two miners went to work this morning and were in the slope when the explosion occurred. Of these fifty-two twenty were in the right heading. Those in the left heading got out all right. The retreat of the others was cut off and not one escaped.

There names were:
JOSEPH BRIGNER, married; RICHARD BRIGMER; MILT FRANEY, married; BARNEY MAUST; EMAUNEL MAUST; PAT COURTNEY, aged 40 years, married; GEORGE COURTNEY, son, aged 17 years; J. W. MITCHELL, aged 40 years, married; JOSEPH BIGLEY, aged 30 years, wife and two children; PETER EAGAN, aged 44 years, married; ROBERT McGILL, single; MARTIN CAVENER, JNO. COPE, married; ANDREW COPE, son; PATRICK DEVLIN, married; JOHN DELANEY, married; JOHN JOY, married; JOHN DEVANNEY; DAVID DAVIS, married; THOMAS DAVIS, son; PATRICK CAHILL, married; WM. CAHILL; PATRICK COURTNEY, married; JOHN COURTNEY, son; JACK MITCHELL, married; DAN SMITH, married; DANIEL SHEARN, single; WM. HAYES, aged 19 years; JAMES McCLEARY, married; THOMAS McCLEARY, married; ELMER DENNEY, single; PETER McGOUGH, single.

At 7 this morning the gang turned in at the mines, the smaller gang drifting off to the left while the larger, some 35 in number, drifted to the right and descended some 800 feet from the surface, and but a mile from the opening. These two drifts are connected, but the connection is from the main stem some half mile from the entrance. The mine, it seems, had been somewhat troubled with water and air, and an open air shaft had been drilled from the surface to the juncture of the right and left shaft, where the water seemed to be most abundant. As the miners branched off from this point they knew that an air hole had been drilled there, that had not yet been broken into the mine, but they did not know that the shaft was broken into to-day. This shaft, by the way, being a six-inch pole, a miner named KERWIN, had left in the right drift near where that branch joined the main exit and in the course of his labors broke into the perpendicular shaft. The moment this was broken into, a flood of water gushed out, and KERWIN and a man named LANDY standing by yelled out for some one to save the men in the right drift, as the water poured down the hill in a stream, and he feared they would drown. Young DAVID HAYS, who had seen the affair, leaped forward at the call, and turned down the left drift in a deluge of water to warn his endangered comrades below. Just as he passed the air shaft that had been broken into, the rush of the waters had changed to the ugly roar of a flood, which blanched the cheeks of the men who stood behind and toward the light. The flow of water had changed to a deadly volume of fire damp, and as young HAYS swung by the shaft a flash of blazing light shot through the shaft from end to end, it seemed. The daring youth carried an open, burning miner's lamp in his hat, and he had hardly taken a step beyond the roaring shaft when the spark ignited a reservoir of the deadly fire damp that had already accumulated, and he sand a corpse 10 feet toward the men whom he had certainly doomed. In an instant an unquenchible [sic] fire sprang up in the mine foot vein, buts between the main entrance and on the right drift, forever shutting the 32 men imprisoned there. The mines are owned by the Dunbar Furnace Company, and the owners are Eastern men and employ about 150 men. The disaster is the worst even known in the Connelsville region, the nearest approach being the Leisenring explosion seven years ago, when 28 were killed.
The rescuers are still at work and will continue throughout the night. A large crowd still surrounds the mouth of the pit, but all hopes of reaching the entombed men before morning have been abandoned. The damage to the mine cannot now be estimated but the owners fear the slope is lost. The Hill Farm mines was one of the most valuable in this section of the region. If the fears of the furnace people are realized the loss will reach far into the thousands.

The Warren Ledger Pennsylvania 1890-06-20

       

DOOM AT DUNBAR.

A Furious Fire Raging in the Hill Farm Mine.

A More Terrible Disaster Threatened The Pits Are Filled with a Deadly Gas and the Stroke of a Miner's Pick Would Explode It with Awful Effect.

DUNBAR, Pa., June 28.
-- There is no longer any hope. Faith in the rescuers has been abandoned. A furious fire has sealed their fate and if their dead bodies escape the hungry flames the pilfering rats that infest the mines will have gnawed them beyond recognition. Death never came to men in a more revolting form and affliction never fell heavier on the bereaved.

This has been an awful, yet even a greater disaster threatens. A fire, fierce as a whirlwind, is raging for 2,000 feet down into the yawning mouth of the Hill Farm mine.

Pregnant with Death.
Deadly gas has generated back of the burning and the ponderous hill into which the Hill Farm, the Ferguson and the Mahoning pits are driven is now a mighty magazine, fairly pregnant with death. The lightest stroke of a miner's would explode it and the effect of such an explosion would be awful to contemplate.

The rescuing party has been withdrawn from the face of the Mahoning pit. A strong guard has been placed at the mouth of the Ferguson mines to keep out the impatient, restless miners, who would rescue the unfortunates on their own account. The flames at the Hill Farm mines are hot enough to drive away invaders.

The Flames Burst Out.
Fire broke from the mouth of the Hill Farm pit shortly after 9 p. m. It followed promptly after the drill entered the burning mine. For two hours before the flames burst out huge billows of smoke, black, dense and deadly, rolled over each other into the air and drifted upward, forming a ponderous monument of mourning to the dead inside. A rumbling, rushing sound, like a swiftly moving train through a tunnel, succeeded the flames.

Secretary WALBORO, Superintendent WATACHORN and the United Press reporter were at the pit at the outbreak. To the experts the smoke indicated approaching fire and for a half hour before its arrival could be heard. Before the fire reached the mouth of the pit it could be seen licking up the timber in the mine, and the steady stream of water which rippled down the slope seemed only to inspire and encourage to wilder efforts the angry fiends.

The Heavens Seemed Aflame.
It was indeed an awful sight, and when, with a brilliant flash, the great column of smoke was ignited, the heavens seemed aflame. Fantastic features of fire darted hither and thither, chasing each other to the clouds and burning a huge hole through the gloom of night. The surrounding country was lighted up, guiding the excited, nervous crowds to the scene.

Those who had been watching at the Mahoning mine hurried over the hill to the fire. The people of Dunbar who could see the reddened heavens from the village rushed about in confusion fearful that another calamity had occurred.

The families of the entombed miners who have waited and watched until their grief had become dead, were aroused and their suffering and distress came to them anew. Neighbors gathered into each stricken home and while they comforted the living they prayed for the dead, and while they watched the fire they seemed mentally to bury their loved ones.

Heading in the Mine.

The heading in the Hill Farm mine was not accompanied with accident. JAMES BARNHILL, a miner, guided the drill and when he touched the objective point he secured a green bag full of air and then the rescuing party were ordered out of the pit. Inspectors KEIGHLY, BLICK and EVANS then examined the face of the mine, after which they left the place to consult. They decided that any attempt to break through the dividing wall might be accompanied by accident. WATCHORN, WISE and other miners are present at the conference.

The suspension of work just when the unfortunate miners are almost within reach has been a great disappointment here, and has still further enraged the people. The false report sent out daily by the mine inspector had led them to hope against themselves, and when the fire broke out the feeling was intensely bitter against those who were responsible for the delay.

The News Frederick Maryland 1890-06-28

Submitted & transcribed by Stu Beitler  Thank you, Stu!

       

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