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Marianna, Pennsylvania

Mine Explosion

November 28, 1908


Men Entombed in Mariana Shaft With Fans Stopped and Lives of All Thought to Be Sacrificed.

Special to The Courier

WASHINGTON, Pa., Nov. 28. -- Nearly two hundred men may perish in one of the worst disasters in Washington county's mining history which occurred this morning in the new Mariana shaft of the Pittsburg-Buffalo Company. One hundred and ninety men, at work at the time, are entombed and it is doubtful if any can be rescued alive. Among the dead is Mine Foreman HENRY THOMPSON. Mine Inspector HENRY LOUTTIT of the First Bituminous District, inspected the mine this morning and had just come out when the explosion let go.

The force of the explosion did great damage on the surface. The new tipple was almost totally wrecked while other buildings in the neighborhood were badly damaged. The ventilating fans were put out of commission with the first shock and since the accident the frenzied efforts of the rescuers have been devoted towards restoring ventilation in the hope of saving some of the entombed men. The boiler house, engines and machinery were so badly damaged that work along this line is badly handicapped.

At 1:55 this afternoon officials of the Pittsburg-Buffalo Company arrived on the scene and took charge of the work of rescue. Every mining official in that section is rushing to the scene to aid the officials of the company. Mine inspectors from Western Pennsylvania will hasten to the scene as quickly as possible to contribute expert aid of the rescuers.

The explosion of unknown origin, occurred at 10:55 o'clock this morning. The big timbers in the shaft were wrecked and the only means of ingress into the depths of the mine are through the air shafts or workings of other mines. As quickly as possible rescue parties were organized and attacked these various ways of forcing an entrance into the doomed pit in a effort to reach, if possible, any workers who might survive. It is probable that their progress may be blocked by vast piles of debris to reach the wrecked area ways and chambers where the men were at work.

Even if the entombed miners survived the effects of the explosion they are likely to succumb to the effects of the fatal black damp which follows such explosions.

Mine Inspector LOUTTIT stated at noon today that he did not believe any of the entombed miners could survive and those who were not instantly killed by the first explosion must certainly have succumbed to suffocation.

Inspector LOUTTIT, Mine Foreman THOMPSON and General Manager JOSEPH KERR made an inspection of the mine this morning and found everything all right. THOMPSON left the other two and started to descend the 450 feet to the lower levels of the mine. While descending the explosion occurred. The cage was blown high into the air, striking the machinery at the top of the shaft and piling wreckage about the mouth of the mine. THOMPSON was instantly killed. Only one shaft, No. 2, is in operation. At 1 o'clock, the fan was repaired and placed in operation, but after being without air for nearly two hours it is probably that all the miners are dead.

PITTSBURG, Nov. 28. -- JOHN H. JONES, president of the Pittsburg-Buffalo Company, stated at 12:45 that he had received a report of the explosion and said probably 200 men were entombed. It is not known whether the explosion was of gas or powder. The entire force of men was at work at the time.

Arrangements were immediately made for rushing a rescuing party, equipped with the latest applicances [sic] by special train to the scene.

The Daily Courier Connellsville, Pennsylvania 1908-11-28



Work Not Pushed This Morning as Rescuers Are Worn Out, But It Was Taken Up With Renewed Energy at Noon.


Special to The Courier.
WASHINGTON, Pa., Nov. 30.-- Up to 1 o'clock 103 bodies have been removed from the ill-fated Marianna mine of the Pittsburg-Buffalo Company, the scene of Saturday's awful disaster. Of the bodies brought out since midnight seven were Americans and have been identified. This makes 40 men whose names are known. It is expected that by night all of the victims will have been removed from the mine as excellent progress is being made by the rescuing parties.

But little work was done this morning as the volunteers were exhausted from their constant labors. They have been working continuously since the accident occurred and this morning many of them were unable to resume work. At noon all were refreshed after a brief rest and this afternoon will push their work with renewed vigor.

Those who have penetrated into the depths of the mine state but few obstructions have been met. There was practically no falls of coal to impede progress and all of the entries are now clear.

Estimates as to the number of dead continue to vary. The company officials maintain that the number will not exceed 130 but residents of the mining village, employes about the works and others declare that fully 200 men were at work when the explosion occurred and all perished.

Three galleries remain to be explored and upon what is found there depends the final count. The rescuers expect to explore those workings this afternoon. The bodies are being removed to a temporary morgue for identification but this work progresses more slowly than any other. All of the bodies are badly mangled and mutilated. In some cases only the torso was found, while heads and limbs were blows to atoms. In nearly every instance identification have been made from the checks found on the bodies of the victims.

Since Sunday Marianna has been crowded with visitors. Wives, relatives and the morbidly curious have thronged the place and it is with difficulty that they are restrained. Saturday was free from the heartrending scenes that usually follow such disasters. There were no wives and children to crowd about the shaft with piteous cries for news of loved ones. Nearly all the miners boarded, not having moved to the works as yet. But early Sunday morning the first of the widows began to arrive. Pitiful scenes were enacted, more so because of the awful condition in which the bodies were found. Many of them may never be identified, their bodies having been mangled beyond recognition.

President JOHN H. JONES of the Pittsburg-Buffalo Company, has been on duty since the first and is among the tireless workers who are devoting their energies towards bringing the dead from the subterranean tomb. Sandwiches, coffee and other edibles have been provided for the rescue parties at work and the wives of the company officials are among the most tireless workers.

While safety lamps were supposed to be used exclusively in the mine it is said that within the past month miners have been known to take open lamps in the mine and work with them. This fact may shed some light on the cause of the explosion. The lamps used by parties going into the mine now are carefully inspected by the State mining officials.

Owing to the intense heat in the mine it is impossible for rescue parties to work long at a time. The searching parties are divided into shifts, working four hours at a time. The bodies are placed in buckets and hauled to the surface three at a time.

The Daily Courier Connellsville, Pennsylvania 1908-11-30



Miners Employed by Company Still Maintain List Will Grow to 200 Before End Is Reached.


When Explosion Occurred and More Than Regular Number of Men Were in Mine at Time of Explosion – Coroner's Inquest Thursday.

Special to The Courier.
WASHINGTON, Pa., Dec. 1.-- “The dead at Marianna may number 200.” That was the statement made by BURGESS MARSH of Washington at noon today upon his return from the scene of Saturday's awful disaster in the new mine of the Pittsburg-Buffalo Company.

BURGESS MARSH talked to a number of miners who were employed by the company and each and every one of them maintained that the number of victims would far exceed the estimate of the company.

“The explosion,” said BURGESS MARSH, “occurred just at the time of changing the shifts. As a consequence there were more than the usual number of miners in the depths. Some had just gone into the pit while others were ready to come out when the mine let go.”

Up to noon 136 bodies had been taken from the pit and of this number less than a hundred have either been claimed by friends or partially identified by means of their checks.

W. H. RODERICK, chief of the State Department of Mines, mad a hurried trip to Marianna yesterday, remaining but half an hour. He consulted with officials of the company and the State Mine Inspectors and on leaving told the latter to hold themselves in readiness to greet him some day later in the week when a thorough inspection of the pit will be conducted. Chief RODERICK will not go into the mine until after all the bodies have been removed.

President JOHN H. JONES of the Pittsburg-Buffalo Company, is confident that practically all the bodies have been recovered save possible one or two who may be buried beneath coal and broken timbers.

Coroner W. H. SIPE of Washington county announces he will hold the inquest into the deaths of the miners next Thursday afternoon. All the bodies have been viewed by the Coroner's jury.

C. W. McCOLLOUGH of the Manufacturer's Light & Heat Company dealed last night that there was any leak from his concern's well which passes through the coal. The casing was of such character as to preclude any possibility of leakage.

Federal experts have spent much time in the mine but so far their principal work has been to instruct the searchers in the use of the oxygen helmets. It is doubtful if they will conduct a very thorough examination until after all the bodies have been removed.

The work of recovering bodies is progressing more slowly today than at any time since the mine was first entered after the explosion. It has been necessary to erect many brattices before parties could penetrate into the extreme depths. The air in most of the mine is exceptionally good.

The last bodies recovered were in bad condition and matters have not been helped by the extremely mild weather that has prevailed. Some of the remains are in a bad state of decomposition.

The Daily Courier, Connellsville, Pennsylvania 1908-12-01



Victims of Saturday's Explosion Now Number 148; Belief Was That All Had Been Removed.


Had Already Turned One Body Over to Unscrupulous Undertaker Before Ghoulish Scheme Was Discovered by Coroner Sipe – Fire in Morgue.

United Press Telegram.
MARIANNA, Dec. 2.-- The victims of Saturday's mine explosion now number 148. At noon today researching parties came upon 12 more bodies which had been buried beneath a fall of slate. It was believed that all the victims had been removed from the mine when the total reached 136 but when the latest discovery was made, Coroner SIPE immediately made preparations to care for more bodies.

With the finding of these bodies in the mine after it was believed all the victims had been removed gives rise to rumors that the remains of other miners may yet be unearthed.

WASHINGTON, Pa., Dec. 2.-- A clever but ghastly scheme to defraud the Pittsburg-Buffalo Coal Company was discovered yesterday afternoon when it became known that an Italian interpreter was attempting to dispose of bodies of the Marianna victims to undertakers not recognized by the company. As far as can be learned only one body, that of ARTHUR HAGAN, was disposed of and as yet it has not been located.

HAGAN'S body was identified at the wash house and tagged. It was sent to the morgue but when relatives came to take it away the tag was found upon another man.

It developed that the Italian interpreter had sold the body to an undertaker who had taken it away. Coroner SIPE immediately ordered the arrest of the man but he disappeared.

The scheme to defraud the company was made possible by the generous attitude of the company towards the burial of the mine victims. Coffins worth $65 are provided, but those desiring a more expensive funeral are permitted to conduct it and send the bill to the company for payment. Unscrupulous undertakers conceived the idea of smuggling the bodies from the morgue, burying them and putting in a big bill for services. The interpreter was demanding from $2 to $10 per corpse, but only made one delivery.

Acting under the orders of President JOHN H. JONES all of the victims are being given more than a decent burial. The coffins are all of cloth and make a neat appearance. None of the bodies will be interred on the mine property but will be removed to nearby residences. Cokeburg, Zollarsville and other points will see most of the victims laid to rest.

Great commotion was caused in the morgue yesterday afternoon when a fire was discovered in one corner of the unfinished building. A lighted cigar thrown into a pile of shavings caused the fire to ignite and it was not discovered until the blaze had gained considerable headway. There was a frantic rush for exit on the part of friends and relatives attempting to identify the bodies. Coroner SIPE and his men soon quenched the blaze and quiet was restored.

Up to a late hour last night 133 bodies had been taken out of the mine and of this number about 80 have been identified. Fifty-six bodies have been taken from the morgue for burial. It is not believed that more than eight or 10 bodies remain in the mine and these are buried beneath debris. They will be brought out as quickly as possible.

A number of the unidentified dead will be buried tomorrow, most of them in the Italian cemetery at Cokeburg.

Work was started this morning on another shaft which will be sunk 450 feet. This new shaft is located about 100 feet from the point of the explosion and is near the Rachael shaft. When completed this will make three shafts leading down into the mine.

The Daily Courier Connellsville, Pennsylvania 1908-12-02

Submitted & transcribed by Stu Beitler  Thank you, Stu!



John Ivill, Married Nov. 4, 1908, aged 23 years; resided in
Monongahela, employed as assistant machine boss. Death resulted from
suffocation. Cousin of John H. Jones.
Mike Slovinsho, Italian body badly mutilated. Identified by check
number on company books. Lived at Marianna.
Owen Borns, American, burned about head and face, left arm broken.
Milt Eckenrode, foreigner, aged about 35 years. Identified by tattoo name on arm and also by check number.
Doninick Qualiero, Italian, identified by tattooed name under arm,
and also check No. 215.
Charles Tahaney, foreigner, skull crushed, leg broken.
Mike Lapine, face burned, death due to suffocation.
Frank Tebery, foreigner, leg broken, head crushed, upper portion of
body burned.
John Tedroff, miner identified with check number.
James Henderson, mine foreman, survived by wife and several
children, resided at Ellsworth; head blown off.
Frank Egon, aged 30, suffocated.
George Ackers, negro, aged 30 years; leaves wife, formerly Miss
Bennett of Centerville, death due to suffocation.
John Joedsky, skull crushed; identified by check number.
John Donesty, leg broken, death due to suffocation; identified by
Alec Toorse, identified by check.
Richard Ciatt, identified by check number. Wore diamond ring and
gold ring.
Sam Samtum.
George Lannoss, head blown off. Identified by paper in pocket.
Pat Donlin, identified to friends.
Bunerain Asrey, identified by check.
Henry Thompson, aged 48, married; leaves wife and 8 children; lived in Marianna.
Alex Bosewitch, foreigner, identified by friend.

46 Unidentified men, mostly foreigners

Missing, presumed dead

Senior Lee, of West Monongahela, who has a wife and nine children.
Clarence Williams, of Monongahela, leader of the high school band and a
great church and Y.M.C.A. worker. Aged 26 years.
Edward Freyoenet, who resided in West Monongahela, had a wife and three
John and Seward Bennington, of Monongahela.
Allen Bolilock, boss driver, aged 26 years, married and leaves a wife
and a babe one day old. Resided at Marianna.
Ted and Harry Miller, sons of John Miller, aged 16 and 19 years
respectively. Resided at Marianna.
John Holmes, aged 22 motorman.
James Rule and two sons.
Trevor Williams, aged 25, married and leaves babe four days old.

The Washington Observer, Washington, PA 30 Nov 1908


Fred Ellinger, the only man who escaped from the mine alive and who was in a serious condition at the Monongahela hospital last evening, is much better today...

The ninety-first body today had a horse tattooed under one arm. The neck was broken. The corpse has not been identified but the tattoo mark is expected to enable identification to be made. No. 92 was Timothy Rule, an American, whose head, both arms and both legs were blown off.

Coroner W. H. Sipe met with a painful shock while superintending the reception of the bodies from the mine. Late last night when a mutilated corpse was laid on the boiler house floor the coroner was surprised to find that it was the remains of Milt Eckenroad, an old schoolmate and a lifelong friend.

The Washington Observer, Washington, PA 1 Dec 1908


Following is the official list of the bodies which have been identified and removed from the morgue as given out late this evening by the officials in charge:

John J. Ivill, aged 23; Owen Burns, aged 23; William Hopkins, aged 38; Charles Tehaney, aged 40; John Beadling, aged 52; Alex. Smith, aged 35; Robert Spence, aged 25; William Spence, aged 29; Jake Sizmiki; Walter Eckenroad, aged 33; Samuel Sifton, aged 53; Joshua Madison, aged 38; John Federal; George Tamalin; Charles France, aged 60; George Reno; Ira Lanndean; Richard Piatt, aged 53; William Platt, aged 26; Francis Ferguson, aged 40; John Zoskelicki, aged 27; Morris Rodier, aged 36; Joe Holmes, aged 26; Mike Novenski, aged 42; Peter Arnold, aged 27; Mike Vale, aged 22; John Melozoski, aged 44; Martin Stowaiga, aged 36; George Aikens, aged 39; Senior Lee, aged 45; Joe Folia, aged 33; Augustus Silvestus, aged 20; Thomas McDine, aged 24; Albert Smarta; John Zallnickik, aged 30; Steven Bernardney, aged 31; John Evans, aged 45; Robert Crawford, aged 40; Charles Austin, Jr., aged 21; Allen Burlock, aged 27; Mike Evanns, aged 23; Alex. Behanna, aged 30; William Thomas, aged 23; Mike Morris, aged 28; Mike Stevens, aged 22; John Epinnichec, aged 21; Mike Stantobick, aged 25; Joe Sarkichika, aged 25; Phil Trsaska, aged 24; Valentine Plasteuak, aged 27; Harry Miller, aged 16; Alfred Mackin, aged 18; Arthur Beeves, aged 33; John Jacogika, aged 33.

Among the other bodies identified and which were not removed from the morgue this evening are:

Peter Hagas, Alex Borish, Charles Durblin, John Grina, Philip Bruno, William Drenier, John Matoske, Tim Rule, James Henderson, Domenick Quagliero, Frank Teberry, Frank Egon, Mike Lapine, Patrick Donlin, Buezanna Afrey, Alex. Bosiwich, Eigant Uszana, George Keeker, Peter Reinoelty, Joe Greisinger, Frank Ledoff, Steven Selakovic.

The bodies of the two men who were killed on the outside of the works, Henry Thompson and James Joaaf, were taken to Monongahela the day of the explosion and have been interred.

The Washington Observer, Washington, PA 2 Dec 1908



Marianna, Dec. 6,--The ill-fated marianna mine continues to give up its dead. Since Saturday morning five bodies have been taken from the mine and it is stated on the authority of the engineer in charge of the work, that there are still seven bodies in the workings...

The first of the four bodies brought to the surface last night was identified as that of James J. Roule. He was a resident of Monongahela, was single and about 18 years of age. Through an oversight this body was taken to Monongahela before being viewed by the coroner's jury. It is probable that it will be brought back before burial.

The second body was that of Andy Kubacki. He was married and lived at East Marianna. He leaves a wife and five children.

The Washington Observer, Washington, PA 7 Dec 1908


CHARLES CRALL, an American of Monongahela ..... lost an eye in the Marianna disaster ....

The Charleroi Mail Pennsylvania 1913-04-26


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