Linton, IN Coal Mine Explosion Disaster, Jan 1931

Linton IND Scene of Mine Disaster.jpg

SEVEN ARE RESCUED IN LINTON MINE DISASTER AFTER BLAST KILLS 29.

"BLACK DAMP" HINDERS WORK OF RESCUE CREWS AT LITTLE BETTY COAL MINE IN GREENE COUNTY -- BODIES OF VICTIMS BADLY BURNED, MAKING IDENTIFICATION DIFFICULT -- MINER'S EXPERIENCE IN SULLIVAN BLAST IN 1925 SAVES COMPANIONS -- HAD BARRICADED THEMSELVES IN ENTRY OFF MAIN CORRIDORS -- CAUSE OF DISASTER BEING PROBED.

Linton, Ind., Jan. 29. -- (AP) -- The lives of twenty-nine miners were snuffed out in an explosion at the Little Betty coal mine near here late yesterday. With the rescue of two men last night and seven more this morning, all of the men in the mine had been accounted for.
Identification of the victims proceeded slowly this morning. Many of the bodies were so badly burned and disfigured a check of the dead made identification difficult. Soon after the blast, it was understood the accident had been caused by a spark igniting a quantity of blasting powder. Later reports, however, stated the explosive had been found intact and that the disaster was the result of a gas explosion.
The dreaded "black damp" quickly filled the passages of the mine and hampered the work of rescue crews.
The men who were rescued this morning had barricaded themselves in an entry off one of the main corridors.
Of the seven men rescued this morning JULE WELLINGTON suffered severe burns about the hands and face before he was able to crawl to safety. He was also in the Sullivan mine disaster in 1925 when fifty-one miners lost their lives.
The others brought out alive attributed their escape to WELLINGTON'S experience in the Sullivan explosion. WELLINGTON guided his companions to the entry where they walled themselves in. He helped erect the brattice despite his burns.
BEN SNYDER who was one of the lucky seven said he was afraid all of them were doomed. He had taken a piece of slate and had scratched on it the hour of the explosion (about 3 p. m.), doing this, he said, so that if they were not rescued there would be some record of how they died.
All of the bodies were taken to undertaking establishments this morning to be prepared for burial. No funeral arrangements had been made however.
ALBERT DALLEY, state mine inspector conducted an investigation of the explosion this morning. Its cause was undetermined.
Some reports stated that the explosion occurred when workers cut into an old vein of a nearby mine and that they struck a gas pocket which in some manner was ignited.

Linton, Ind., Jan. 29. -- (AP) -- The Little Betty mine, scene of yesterday's explosion, has been worked steadily for the last two years and its employes had escaped the misery of unemployment suffered by many because of closed mines.
On Feb. 20, 1925, the City mine at Sullivan, near here, was wrecked by an explosion similar to yesterday's accident. Fifty-one miners were killed. Only one man was brought out alive.

The Kokomo Tribune Indiana 1931-01-29

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INDIANA MINE BLAST TOLL IS 29.

LAST VICTIM IS BROT OUT EARLY TODAY.

IDENTIFICATION AND INVESTIGATION IN STATE'S THIRD MAJOR MINE DISASTER STARTS.

NINE RESCUED ALIVE.

SURVIVOR DESCRIBES ESCAPE FROM EXPLOSION WHICH KILLED MEN FOLLOWING HIM.

Linton, Ind., Jan. 29. -- An official death toll of 29 was announced today as the last of the charred bodies were taken from the little Betty mine, near here, scene of Indiana's third major mining disaster since 1925.
As the twenty-ninth body was brot to the surface, officials announced that they had accounted for all men who were in the mine when a deafening blast shook the entire countryside yesterday afternoon. The number of those rescued alive was announced as nine, three of whom suffered severe injuries.
The last of the injured to be rescued was LOUIE WELLINGTON, Sullivan, Ind., whose face and upper body were burned so badly that officials refrained from questioning him regarding his version of the explosion.
With all men accounted for, the official work was turned to positive identification of the dead and investigation of the cause of the blast. Several of the dead were burned so badly that identification was difficult.

Continued on Page 2.

Comments

Little Betty is my Grandmother

My sweet grandmother was born in 1918. She is currently 96 years old. Her father and mother were Joseph and Barbara Stephenson. She was the baby of 8 children. Her father was the Superintendent of the mines. Unfortunately he was killed in one of the explosions. She stills talks about it and how she loved him dearly and that he named the mine after her. She remembers quite a bit and has said the Lord has looked after her so well since his death. She said he would have candy in his shirt pocket and let her pick it out.She was able to go to IU to study. I love her and she has been an inspiration to me all my life.

My mother was named "Betty" in memory of the miners who died

My mother, Betty Jo Morrison Sell, was born in Linton on January 27, 1932. My mother died in 1994, but I heard a story just two years ago from an uncle who explained that my mother was named in memory of the miners who died in the Little Betty coal mine that week.

Roger E. Sell
Fishers, Indiana

DAVID LEE HOFEDITZ (Grandfather we never got to know)

Our Grandmother, Edna Keene Hofeditz, was turning 30 years old the year the Little Betty Coal Mine explosion took her husband, David Lee Hofeditz. Our Father, David Keith Hofeditz, was only 8 years old at this time. He says he remembers sitting on the curb of the street watching his Mother get into a car with several people and driving off.
Later his Grandfather, John Keene, Sullivan, Indiana, took him to the fire station where the bodies were being brought in for identification and there he saw his Father who was burned very badly. Our Father never understood why his Grandpa did this but I believe it was a crazy time and when these things happen, one doesn't always make rational decisions. Daddy always was afraid of being burnt. When he graduated from High School, he went to work at Inland Steel in Chicago where he was burnt very badly on his legs from hot steel. He carried horrible scars for the rest of his life. Although we never knew our Grandfather, he was lovingly talked about and it seems as tho everyone who knew him liked him. Our Grandmother's eyes would tear up when she talked about him many many years later. Thank God for her parents as they helped raise her two sons. I truly believe my Father, his brother (Uncle Don) and their parents are together in Heaven. We miss you and love you always.....

our grandfather(poppy)

DAVID LEE HOFEDITZ (not leo hoseditz), LEE as he was called, was one of the 29 men killed in the "little betty" coal mine explosion in linton, indiana. He was our Grandfather & husband to, edna keene hofeditz; father of our uncle, donald keene & our father, david keith. they were 10 & 8 years old when their father was taken but he was always remembered by them. our father's ashes were buried atop his father's grave in 1998, at his request, in the dugger cemetary. REST IN PEACE!!! your precious grandchildren: david matthew hofeditz, brenda lee hofeditz padilla, bonnie hofeditz kellams, donna kay hofeditz enzor, jane ann hofeditz hudson & andrew kelly hofeditz.

linton mine

my mother was living in linton at the time of this mine disaster. her uncle was one of the rescuers. she said she could remember the warning sounds i guess the sirens and sitting in a car all night. she was nine yrs old. Her maiden name was Zumpe and her mom's name was Lora Belle Anderson. this was also the place she learned there was no santa. her mother told her and my uncle because there was no money. grandad was in chicago trying to find work. after grandmother told them there was a knock on the door and it was the people from their church w/toys , food and clothes. my motherpassed away at 80 but she never forgot those months that they lived in Linton.