Scofield, UT Mine Disaster, May 1900 - Terrible Calamity
Hugh Hunter, a brother of the dead man, was the next witness called by the Coroner, and testified as follows: He was at Winter Quarters at half past twelve o'clock on May 1, 1900, the day of the explosion. He did not go to the scene of the accident, but saw the body of his dead brother at about six o'clock in the evening of the same day. In his lifetime his brother was a strong able-bodied man.
The selection of one of the Hunter family, over which to hold an inquest, awakens new interest in this unfortunate family, bereft of all male members except two. Two brothers, John and David Hunter; one nephew, William Patterson Hunter; two brothers-in-law, Richard Stewart and Alex Wilson, Jr.; Robert Hunter, with his two sons James A. Hunter and James C. Hunter: one cousin, Adam Hunter, and his son. John Hunter; an uncle, Frank Strang, and his son, Frank Strang, Jr., the untimely end of whom would cause even the strongest hearted to shed tears of sympathy with the stricken families that are left.
As soon as the first bulletins were sent to Salt Lake, the officers were besieged with inquiries as to the number of dead, and asking if certain ones, friends or relatives of the ones asking, were numbered among the dead. It was impossible for the Company to give any answer, as the information that they had received up to that time was of a very meagre character, as those who were sending the bulletins were not aware of the number of the dead, no one on the outside even dreaming that the men in Number One were overcome by the deadly after-damp that crept steadily towards them. Men were found in all conditions, some seeming to realize their position, others being found with their tools still clutched in their nerveless grasp. John James, one of the County Commissioners, was found among the first, tightly clasped in the embrace of his son George, as though to shield him from the death that he knew was approaching. Those found in Number Four, where the force of the explosion was most felt. were more or less badly scorched, some of whom were not recognizable, while most of those in Number One, who were not caught under a fall, were all suffocated by the after-damp.
The mine, although damaged considerably, will be able to resume work as soon as all of those known to be in the mine are recovered. Great falls and caves in some of the entries will require a great amount of labor to clear up, but on the lower levels the work is mostly in replacing timbers and cleaning the dirt from the tracks, so that cars may be hauled into the deeper caves.
To give praise to any one person would do an amount of injustice to the hundreds of others who bore their part either assisting in the rescue, washing the dead, looking after the clerical part of the work, or in comforting the families of the deceased. Mr. Myers, an employee in the general offices of the Pleasant Valley Coal Company, came to the scene of horror and in a few minutes was dressed in overalls and jumper and working among the dead, assisting the undertakers in embalming, dressing those that were ready for their coffins, and in fact there was no place that he could not fill on his mission of mercy. In Salt Lake words cannot describe the scenes that took place. Every one was anxious to do their part, and the school children, becoming imbued with that sympathy that welds the Anglo-Saxon races together as of one family, hastened from house to house gathering flowers from all of the gardens in the city until almost three carloads were furnished at different times. We quote from the Herald of Salt Lake, the following: "One of the prettiest things that is being done to bring the sunshine back to the blighted homes in Scofield was the shipping of almost a carload of flowers yesterday to the mining-camp. The consignment went down with the regular train at 2:30, and occupied the whole of the baggage compartment and were spread out on the seats two and three feet high throughout the rest of the car. There were all varieties of floral offerings. The predominating kind were lilacs and they made a beautiful sight, stacked up in the car and tied into large-sized bouquets. Then there were small bunches of pansies and violets that looked all the more pretty on account of the contrast with the larger flowers. Mingled with these were cut flowers from the floral establishments laid in long boxes. Everything seemed to be there that might help to cheer those who have lived out in the hills, far away from the flowers and who are now experiencing the most dreadful calamity that has ever occured [sic] in the western country. This gift was not the donation of any one individual or clique of men or women. It was the gift of the city of Salt Lake. It was gotten up in such short time that its magnitude was most surprising. It was not until after nine o'clock yesterday morning that the idea was conceived by Mrs. E. L. Carpenter, who immediately telephoned to Superintendent Welby. The