February 4, 1891
An Engineer's Mistake Results in a Frightful
Two Score of Men Perish at Jeansville, Penn.
Eighteen men entombed in watery graves mark the
result of the most awful mine horror that has
ever occurred in Hazleton (Penn.) coal region.
Jeansville, the pretty little mining village of
J. C. Haydon & Co., two miles across the
mountains from that place, is the scene of the
At 10:50 o'clock on a recent morning two
miners, PATRICK COLT and CHARLES BOYLE, were at
work in a breast of the mine of J. C. Hayden &
Co., at Jeansville. They were drilling a hole
and struck a vast body of water. In a few
moments the entire slope was flooded, and
eighteen men had perished in the rush of the
There were twenty-five men at work in the
slope at the time of the accident. One of the
seven who escaped said that at first there was a
rumble like the sound of an approaching train.
In a moment there was a fierce blast of wind and
the lamps were extinguished. There was a cry;
“For God's sake run for your lives!”
WILLIAM BRESLIN, who escaped, said he cried
out to a companion named JAMES GRIFFITHS to run.
GRIFFITHS'S light went out, and that was the
last BRESLIN saw of him. BRESLIN tried to run
for the bottom of the slope, but made slow
progress in the dark. Then BOYLE and JOHN NOLINS
came running out of the gangway toward him.
NOLINS'S lamp was burning, and by its aid they
reached the bottom and then clambered up the
slope. The water came on with a rush, and in
less than five minutes the water had raised 624
feet to the mouth of the slope, the pitch of
which is eighty-three degrees.
JOHN WATKINS and JOHN MORGAN also escaped.
They heard the cries of BOYLE and COLT to fly,
and with great presence of mind they ran to an
old air course and bursting open a brattice
inside, made their escape. They dragged a
frightened Hun with them and saved his life
also. He was too frightened to make a move to
escape, and with great courage MORGAN and
WATKINS dragged him along at the risk of their
BOYLE and COLT, the two miners who tapped the
deadly flood, strangely enough were saved from
death. The water forced them along, and at last,
as they were being shoved past an air way, BOYLE
pulled COLT in and the two managed to escape.
The names of the drowned men are as follows:
BERNARD McCLOSKEY, single; PATRICK KELLEY,
single; JAMES WARD, wife and eight children in
Ireland; LAURENCE REED, wife and five children;
EDWARD GALLAGHER, wife and two children; SAMUEL
PORTER, single; JAMES GRIFFITHS, wife and one
child; HARRY HALL, wife and six small children;
ten Hungarians-- WARIL FRINKO, single; JOSEPH
MATUSCOWITZ, married; JOHN TOMASOSKI; THOMAS
JAKE; JOHN BURNS; JAMES BALACKI; MICHAEL MITH;
MIKE PALASHALT; and one Unknown.
The scene of the disaster was in the lower
life or working of J. C. Hayden & Co.'s No. 1
slope. The upper gangway was worked out five
years ago, and eighteen months ago the pumps
were taken out. The workings gradually filled up
with water. Many of the old miners knew of the
presence of the water and trouble had been
feared. None of the workmen had had any idea
that the lower workings were driven so close to
the water. As quick as the news of the disaster
reached the surface hundreds of people flocked
to the mine, but as there was nothing to see
they soon left, and the scene around the mine
was totally different from the heartrending
scenes usually witnessed on such occasions.
It will take at least a week to pump out the
water, the colliery owners say, but experienced
miners think that it will take a month. Pumps
are now taking 1500 gallons a minute from the
The accident is charged by some people to the
oversight of the mining engineers in not
notifying the workingmen of the proximity of
such a great body of water. J. C. Hayden & Co.
are very wealthy operators. The same company
operates mines at Mahanoy City, Penn.
The Cranbury Press New Jersey 1891-02-13
Submitted & transcribed by
Stu Beitler Thank you, Stu!
Jeansville Disaster occurred February 4, 1891,
and in some respects was
one of the remarkable ones in the history of
mining. In the mine operated by T.
C. Hayden, seventeen men were suddenly entombed
by the water, and all perished
except four, who in this darkness of horror
survived twenty days and were
finally rescued and recovered from the dreadful
experience. The mine is at
Jeansville, near the south line of the county
and south of Hazleton, a little
over two miles. The protecting wall of a gangway
gave way to the waters about 10
o'clock a.m. of that day, and, except the four,
all were drowned. These fled to
the slope, where, by getting on a rock near the
roof, they were out of reach of
the water, but completely cut off from the
outside world. The news of the
disaster was carried around the civilized world,
and after trying every possible
experiment and finding thirteen of the dead, in
the face of hardly a shadow of a
hope the pumping of the water went on for
eighteen days before further
explorations could be made. On the morning of
the twentieth day the party heard
voices, and upon calling were answered and the
names of the four given. It took
more than half a day to reach them and carry the
poor fellows to the slope,
where were physicians, nurses, and every
possible precaution to save the
sufferers. Twenty days without light, food or
water and hardly room to move
their bodies. Human endurance, it seems, has
nearly exhaustless fountains to
draw upon. The imagination can not even make an
effort to picture the sufferings
of these poor miners. Less than one more day and
all would have been dead.
History of Luzerne County Pennsylvania, H.
C. Bradsby, Editor, S. B. Nelson & Co.,
Publishers, 1893, page 320
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