Union, PA Shop At Rock Quarry Explosion, May 1930

DYNAMITE BLAST CLAIMS 6 LIVES AT ROCK QUARRY.

TWO WORKMEN, 4 CHILDREN KILLED WHEN SIX BOXES OF EXPLOSIVE LETS GO IN SHOP.

ONE STORY SHED BLOWN TO SPLINTERS BY FORCE.

TWO MEN WALKING FROM SCENE KNOCKED DOWN BUT ESCAPE INJURY.

Union, May 17. -- (AP) -- A dynamite explosion at a road construction job on the Seneca Trail today took a toll of six lives.
Two workmen and four children were killed when six boxes of explosives let go with a terrific force in a blacksmith shop at a rock-quarry operated by A. B. Terry of Roanoke, Va., sub-contractor of a road improvement project a mile and a half from here.
The victims were:
OSCAR JOHNSON, 36, Gap Mills.
PAUL SHIRES, 28, Union.
FRANK WELKIE, JR., 12, son of FRANK WELKIE, Salt Sulphur Springs.
Three children of Mrs. Della Wiseman; JAMES, 13; RICHARD, 11; and JOE, 8.
The blacksmith shop, a temporary shed of one story, built for the construction job, was blown to splinters and cast about the countryside. JOHNSON and SHIRES were in the building at the time and their bodies were blown to bits. The four children, who were playing nearby, were badly mangled. The WELKIE boy, water boy for the road workmen, lived for half an hour before he succumbed to his injuries. The home of Mrs. Wiseman, a widow, is located near the quarry.
Two other workmen had just left the blacksmith shed and were 50 feet away when the explosion occurred. They were knocked to the ground by its force but escaped injury.
A coroner's jury returned a verdict that the victims came to their death by an explosion from an unknown cause. What caused the blast was undetermined as the only two men inside the shed met death and the building itself was demolished.
The shed was divided into two sections, the front housing the blacksmith shop with the explosive stored in the rear. SHIRES was believed to have been preparing the dynamite for a blast later in the day while JOHNSON, the blacksmith, was in the front part of the shed.

Charleston Gazette West Virginia 1930-05-18

Comments

names listed incorrectly

The oldest child who died at the incident was Frank Weikle, not Welkie, and he was a first cousin to the Wiseman boys, who were my great uncles. The boy who survived long enough to tell what happened was not Frank but Joe Wiseman. The manager, Shires, was loading dynamite in the FRONT office (should have been loading it in the REAR office) and Johnson stopped by with a lit cigarette and the manager told him to put out the cigarette. As he flicked it away, the sensitive atmosphere in the room exploded. My great grandmother got there just before Joe died. She heard the explosion from her home 1/4 mile away. My grandmother and then 6 month old mother arrived shortly thereafter. This information came from my great grandmother, Della W. Wiseman, my grandmother and great aunt, the former and latter of whom heard the explosion.
I was able to share the reported cause of the explosion with some Weikles a few years ago. Evidently they had never learned what I have just written.
Grandma Wiseman subsequently sued the State of West Virginia for essentially wrongful death(s) and was awarded $250-just enough to pay for the funeral for the boys, who were buried beside their dad, Mathew Thompson Wiseman at River View Cemetery in Ronceverte.