Danbury, CT Well Cave In, Dec 1882
five feet underground, within hearing of the voices of his family and friends, and yet hopelessly beyond their reach, stood fastened in a living grave waiting for the culmination of the horror in a frightful death. Alive to every sound, startled by every falling pebble, Mr. English passed through the hours of the day as he had through the night before----an eternity to one thus imprisoned. Nourishment and medicines were passed to him. At times his courage gave out and be asked that all efforts be given up and that he be left to his fate. But friends worked on, trying their best to get him out, and hoping every hour to accomplish it. On Saturday night there were several hundred people on the ground, and a large proportion of them remained till Sunday morning. Still, in spite of all that could be done, the sufferer was not released, and when the first dawn of the Sabbath broke it seemed as if rescue was well nigh out of the question. The same feeling, only intensified, was experienced by Mr. English, and he begged for a knife that with it he might end his misery. After daybreak of Sunday a project to tunnel by the side of the well was proposed, and to carry the same down below where the unfortunate man lay. The whole of Sunday was occupied in this work. When Mr. English heard of it hope was revived.
Up to Sunday afternoon---forty-eight hours after the caving in of the well---the sufferer had partaken of no solid food and had slept not more than ten minutes. At daylight the Danbury fire alarm had been sounded and the firemen detailed to duty at the scene. Services in St. Peter's Roman Catholic church and in other places of worship were omitted that the people might go to the well and assist. All through the day, and despite a dazzling rain, throngs of citizens wended their way to the place, and at one time there were a thousand persons present watching the work in the tunnel. During these hours Mr. English was cheered by frequent news of the progress made for his release. At 7 o'clock Sunday night the tunnel was far enough advanced to enable the head man to hear the voice of Mr. English. He cried to them, "Dig away, boys!" Every little while after that he was spoken to and replied. Tired as his helpers were they went at the work with fresh zeal, caring naught for fatigue as long as he was hopeful. It was wonderful that he was alive after fifty hours in that awful condition. At 10 o'clock it was with difficulty advanced. At one o'clock yesterday morning the tunnel had reached the original curb of the well.
At half-past one there was a slide inside just to the left of the prisoner. He was called to, but there was no response. Several times afterward he was spoken to but did not reply. A man descended into the well as far as he dared, but could see nothing of Mr. English. It being believed that he was dead, work was begun on top of the ground between the well and the pit in order to recover the body.
Shortly after five o'clock yesterday morning the men had reached within three feet of the unfortunate, and continued their operations till four o'clock in the afternoon, when it was discovered that he was still breathing.
Hope of saving the unfortunate man alive was dispelled by a second caving in and when the body was released life was extinct. The deceased leaves a wife and eleven children.
The New Haven Evening Register, New Haven, CT 12 Dec 1882