Cherry, IL Coal Mine Disaster, Nov 1909
Everywhere the village teemed with excitement.
When the first rescued men, JOSEPH and GIACOMA PIGATTI, appeared on the surface with their rescuers they were taken to sleeping cars in the village where nurses and physicians were in attendance to care for the men. Their progress from the mine shaft to the cars was blocked every foot of the way by hysterical men and screaming women so that the rescuers had literally to fight their way along.
Men and women fell on their knees on the ground and prayed aloud their thanksgiving for what they regarded as a direct manifestation of providence. Many is their frenzy threw themselves on the ground or clasped the foot of the rescuers and kissed them.
Women who recognized among the 21 men taken out their own kin would not be restrained but threw themselves on their necks and sobbed, refusing to tear themselves away when physicians attempted to point out that the rescued men must have food. Those women had stood for seven nights and days waiting for news of their loved ones and they would not be denied.
The first half hour after the living men appeared chaos reigned, and it was not until 2:30 p.m. that a semblance of order was restored. As fast as the survivors were brought to the surface they were hurried to the sleeping cars. The physicians carefully fed the men small quantities of soup aiming to restore their strength gradually.
A guard of troops was thrown about the cars and once inside the men were allowed to see none but the newspaper men and their relatives.
There the men began to unfold the stories of their experience in the underground tomb. Their stories showed that the evidence given at the coroner's inquest that the fire had started from a torch projecting, from a wall in the mule stables on the second level was correct. They told of finding fire in the mule stables at 3 o'clock last Saturday afternoon and under the guidance of WM. CLELLAND, a Scotchman, at throwing up a barricade to keep the fire, smoke and gases away from them. The passage of time was not marked by them, they said and most of them thought they had been imprisoned but a single day.