Helena, AL Coal Mine Explosion, Jan 1926

27 KNOWN DEAD, 26 SURVIVE IN NEW MINE BLAST.

CAUSE OF ACCIDENT YET UNDETERMINED; GRAVE STORIES TOLD.

Birmingham, Ala., Jan. 29. -- (AP) -- Twenty-seven miners, eleven white and 16 negroes, were killed in an explosion late today at the Mossboro mine of the Premier Coal company near Helena. Fifty-three were in the mine at the time of the blast, 25 of them escaping uninjured.

Birmingham, Ala., Jan. 29. -- (AP) -- Sixty-three miners were trapped late today in Mossboro mine of the Premier Coal company near Helena, and it is feared 38 of that number are dead. Twenty-five men have been brought out alive. The known dead numbers ten, that many bodies having been recovered.
Mine Is Located In An Isolated Section.
The mine is in an isolated spot, difficult of access and cut off from wire communication. A relief train was en route to the scene from Birmingham carrying doctors, nurses andmine rescue crews. No local experienced nurses are available.
Twelve men alive were brought out in one group to be followed by another squad of 13 workers, reports reaching here said.
The cause of the accident is undetermined. Mining men familiar with the physical aspect of the property said they believed a pocket of gas had in some manner accumulated and exploded. The men were entombed just at quitting time.
News of the disaster spread rapidly by means of the "communication of the hills," and within 30 minutes wives and children and other relatives were about the pit waiting and calling for loved ones. A biting cold wind added to the misery of those awaiting word from their relatives.
Grave Fears Felt For All Men In The Pit.
The mine is on property belonging to the Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railway Company and is leased to the Premier Coal company. It is almost a new mine with a 1,000 foot slope.
A telephone report from the neighborhood said that grave fears had been expressed that all men in the pit were dead.
A large number of the miners lived in Helena. The road from that town to the mining camp, narrow and ill kept, was crowded with automobiles, wagons and pedestrians, all rushing to Mossboro. Four crews of expert workers were on their way to the mine tonight, including a unit of the United States mine bureau.
Miners brought out alive told grave stories of a sudden roar, a flash of fire -- of men screaming and dying at their side. One man told of seeing his brother killed in the same entry in which he was working while others told of friends with whom they had worked and played for years being horribly burned and killed in the flash of flames.

Modesto News-Herald California 1926-01-30

Listing of Fatalities and Injured in the Helena Mine Explosion taken from The Shelby County Reporter -- 1926-02-04
White:
JAMES ADAMS; ROBERT BALL; PAT BURKE; WILLIAM CARRICK; GLENN DUNCAN; HENRY GOLD; W. J. HARRISON; M. J. HOLLOWAY; DOYLE LAMBERT; JOE MAYNER; HENRY OAKES.
Negroes:
W. M. ODUM; HASSEY HARRIS; WILL JOHNSON; HENRY PETERSON; ENOCH WOODWON; W. H. SEGRESS.
Those still in the mine, but who are believed to be dead are:
Colored:
AMBERSON GRIGLEY; MORE COILLINS; ELI TREADWELL; WILLIE TEMPLE; CLIFF GIBSON; WILLIE FITTS; PRIMUS HENDERSIB; RODGER WILLIAMS; SAM HAWKINS.
Those who escaped:
Whites:
J. D. LOWERY; J. B. LOWERY, a son EDGAR LOWERY; ZACH CHAPMAN; LONNIE CHAPMAN; LLOYD ROBERTSON; B. D. GOLD; GEORGE ZIMMERMAN.
Negroes:
WILL SIMMONS; JESS CHESTNUT; STANLEY MADDOX; WALTER PEARCE; ARCHIE JACKSON; PERCY PEARCE; SCOTT SAULDERS; FLETCHER ANDERSON; WILL LAMBERT; MILLARD GARNER; G. G. GARNER.

Comments

October 12, 1924

I was doing some family research and came across a family manuscript recently and it mentions my Great Uncle "Thera Edward Strain" worked for the Helena Coal Co they operated a very large mine near Straven on the Cahaba River. It states in the manuscript on October 12, 1924 there was a large gas explosion in the mine and Therea Strain was seriously injured. He was taken by train to the Baptist Hospital in Birmingham a distance of 20 miles as there was no hospital in Shelby County at that time. Thera as it states in family manuscript had second and third degree burns to his face, and body, and extremities, for seven days and he died at noon October 19, 1924. It also stated he is buried at Acton Cemetery which is inside Shelby County off highway 31. I cannot find no record of this except what was put into this family manuscript unless the date is wrong at the time of the accident it could by off for 1-3 years. This was my grandfather's brother son of William & Ardelee (Stone) Strain Shelby County Alabama. I also can find no record that he is buried at Acton Cemetery except what is in family manuscript. Does anyone have any information please let me know.

My email: joylittle123@hotmail.com