Scofield, UT Mine Disaster, May 1900 - Terrible Calamity
Superintendent quickly acquiesced in the proposition and made its execution possible by offering a special bar for the flowers. Mrs. Carpenter, in company with Mrs. Robertson, Mrs. Harkness, Mrs. Ferguson, and other women started to work to carry out the idea. A notice requesting all those wishing to contribute flowers was posted with the Herald bulletins, and communication was established with the public schools. The principals of most of the schools announced to their scholars what was asked of them, and long before the time for the train to leave the flowers began to come in. They were brought by all kinds of people. Little tots came with big bunches of lilacs that almost smothered them and asked in lisping voices where they were to be taken. Aged women came with loads of floral offerings that almost bore their feeble bodies down, and with tears in their eyes deposited them in the car and walked slowly away. Business men who could not get away from their daily round of duty did not forget the darkened homes in the mountains, and sent cut flowers from the floral establishments with messengers. Even up to the last moment for the train to wait they kept coming and placing their offerings with the others. The train that went down was an especially large one, comprising nine coaches. Many of Salt Lakes prominent citizens were on it, willing to do all in their power to alleviate the sufferings of the afflicted. Among these were a number of women in Superintendent Welby's private car "B," who accompanied the flowers down and who were to see to their distribution and to attempt to cheer the poor widows and mothers who suffered by the disaster. In the car were Mrs. E. L. Carpenter, Mrs. George Y. Wallace, Mrs. Ferguson, Mrs. Egbert Roberts, Miss Louise Nelden, Mr. W. A. Nelden, John J. Judson, and Victor Morris, the florist. The train bearing the car of flowers from Colton to Scofield was run as a special bat did not succeed in getting to Scofield until evening, when it was too late for the distribution of the flowers. The Herald's relief car, with the lilacs and cut flowers, was switched into a sidetrack near the cemetery early in the morning. The car was next to the roadway over which the long train of wagons passed as they bore the bodies to their last resting place. The doors of the car were thrown open, and as each wagon came by, it halted while Captain Barrett and his aids, Charles Schoope and Marc Trent, buried the coffins under lilacs and handed each driver a bunch of cut flowers for the widows and children who accompanied the coffins. At the forward end of the car, the boys in charge were almost overwhelmed by requests for flowers. Work as fast as they could. the mournful little groups of women and children, in significant black, were still there awaiting their turn for the blossoms. If the donors of the flowers and the people who helped collect them could have seen the gratitude and appreciation of Scofield they would have been repaid an hundred fold for their work. The procession of the dead passing the car seemed almost endless. From the rear vestibule, one commanded a view of the canyon and valley down which the wagons came, and the heart-breaking tragedy of the place was borne in on the distributors with each succeeding wagon until the iteration of grief became almost unbearable. One could understand why these people who have heard the sobs of the bereft and the cries of distress for days, have reached the point where emotion makes no response in outward expression. It was as though the constant strain on the heartstrings had left them incapable of vibrating to touch either joy or sorrow. One of the first groups to pass was in a carriage. Three women in weeds, four little children in black, two men whose drawn faces and weary eyes told their own story. Next came the wagon with the inevitable coffin. On the seat with the driver was a mother and son—the man's arms around the mother, who sat limp with her eyes closed, preserving consciousness with evident effort. The little ones came in for special care and tenderness from Captain Barrett. They stood around in the car doors in groups, some of them too shy to ask for the flowers; but there was no need of words, their eyes made their own plea. As fast as he could find time during the long procession, the Captain would step down from the car, lift a tot up into the car to fill their arms with lilacs and her hands with pansies, lilies and violets. Just before noon came a plea from the Finns. Their spokesman came aboard the car and said they had sixty-one dead, none of whom had a friend in the country, aside from the people of their nationality. He asked as a favor that flowers be reserved for them until their train came down the canyon. There was an abundance for all, and the man's face lighted with evident pleasure when he was assured that all the coffins would be decorated and the' graves covered with flowers. The distribution alone took nearly all the time from nine o'clock in the morning until the heavy rain late in the afternoon stopped the melancholy procession. In addition to the flowers of the school children the car contained innumerable boxes from other sources. Several were from the ladies of Sugar and Forest Dale. The Bamberger Coal Company, with usual thoughtfulness all through the disaster, sent a contribution of cut flowers. One contribution bore this message: 'With deep sympathy from Mrs. Annie Trap, who had a dear brother killed in South Wales (Auburn colliery disaster in June, 1894,) to some distressed widow, mother or sister.' Mrs. Trap's flowers were given to the first widow that came to the car."