Clay County, IN Boiler Explosion, Mar 1864
A very disastrous, fatal powder explosion befell the Philip Keller family, in Posey township, on the 10th day of March, 1864, at about the hour of 9 o'clock p. m. Of the several sons in the family one worked in the coal mines about Staunton. Then the miners bought their powder and kept it at their homes, taking to the mines with them each day's supply. Young Keller carried his in a flask. A day or two before the father had bought a keg at Terre Haute. At the hour named, the son opened the keg to fill his flask in readiness for the following morning. A brother was at the time seated close by reading by the light of a tallow-candle, who, at the request of the other brother, moved the candle so as to afford him the more light in pouring the powder into the flask. Just how the spark became disengaged from the candle which ignited the powder no one of the family group knew, but just then there was a terrific shock and noise, which, for the instant (as a thunder shower just then prevailed), some of the family thought to be a stroke of lightning and the accompanying thunder. The force of the explosion blew off and lifted up the top part of the house, which fell back with a crash, in part demolishing the building and its contents. George, the brother who was fatally burned, made his escape from the room before the top fell back and did not at the time realize the extent of his injuries. Another brother and two sisters were injuredâ€”burned and bruisedâ€”so that they were confined to their beds and under treatment for several weeks. George died the next day. The fire which followed the explosion was extinguished by the uninjured of the family and neighbors living near, who rushed to the scene of the disaster.
A history of Clay County, Indiana : closing of the first century's history of the county, and showing the growth of its people, institutions, industries and wealth, New York: Lewis Pub. Co., 1909, page 381