Cherry, IL Coal Mine Disaster, Nov 1909
Rescuers Burned Alive.
Volunteers were called for to attempt to rescue the entombed men.
ART LEWIS, of Ladd, Ill., was the first to respond and within a minute eleven other men stood at his side. They were JAMES Y. EARLEY, Spring Valley; ALEXANDER STRANGBERG, Spring Valley; JAMES JAMIESON, Cherry, miner; HARRY STEWART, Cherry, miner; ROBERT CLARK, Cherry, miner, and DONNELLY, mine foreman.
They got into the cage and it was shot down into the mine. The men above waited for a few minutes -- long enough to hear from the party -- and when no signal was received the cage was drawn up again. The twelve rescuers were all there -- dead. Their faces were burned almost beyond recognition and the trunks were still smoking hot when the cage reached the surface.
Later tonight reports from Cherry declare hope of taking any of the imprisoned miners out alive have been abandoned and the mine has been sealed up. It is not believed possible any of the entombed men can have escaped for according to the survivors the flames reached to the innermost recesses.
The mine is the property of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul railroad.
Is A Small Town.
The town of Cherry is small and has a population of about 3,000 nearly all of them Austrians, Italians and Lithuians employed in the mine.
When the news of the disaster spread there this afternoon there was a wild rush from the little cottages to the mouth of the mine, where wives, mothers and children of the victims waited for the news of men buried under the earth. Each time the cage came up with survivors the women and children rushed to the shaft and almost overwhelmed the occupants in their eagerness to identify them.
The superintendent of the mine organized the miners from other shafts to preserve order, but it was with difficulty that many of the frantic women whose husbands or sons did not come up with the other survivors were kept from hurling themselves down the shaft.
Finally when the cage came up the last time and it was realized that the time for saving the entombed men was past, the men, women and children standing about the shaft fell on their knees and prayed aloud in various tongues that heaven would visit its mercy on their doomed relatives and friends.