Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Fayette Miners Lose Lives In Fairmont Explosion

April 26, 1926
Four former Kaymoor and Ansted miners were among the victims of theEverettesville mine explosion near Fairmont Saturday.
The list of theentombed miners for whose safety hope has been abandoned contains the namesof James Pennington, aged 57, and Earl Erskine and his two sons, Cecil andWilliam. Others who were employed at the mine, but whose names are not givenin the casualty list are E.G. Pennington and Claude Hitchcock. Definite newsof their safety has not been received by relatives at Kaymoor.
All the menwere related. the Erskines went from Ansted about a year ago and Penningtonand Hitchcock worked at Kaymoor.More than 70 men were still entombed Tuesday night. the fire has held backrescue work and a portion of the mine has been sealed.
The known deadnumbers 24. Only a few bodies have been recovered.There were 98 miners at work in the Everettsville mine, 12 miles fromFarimont, when the explosion occurred at 3:30 Saturday evening. Ten men cameout of the mine unhurt after the explosion. Five dead and 7 injured werefound within a few minutes. Two men on the tipple outside were killed.The mine took fire following the explosion and rescue workers were unable toresearch but half the workings which extend for 7500 feet. Part of the minehad been rock dusted. It was known as a gaseous dangerous mine.Earl Hitchcock, son of M.L. Hitchcock, of Gatewood worked for a while in themine but returned home only a few weeks ago fearing there would be a bigexplosion someday. The mine is 2 miles off the main highway and hard toreach on account of mud roads.
The names of these men who are known to have been in the mine at the time ofthe explosion number 98 and are as follows:Irving Mallory, Will Hunter, Bill Murock, Bowland, Burton, Nick Pertnobuh,Ed. Alston, Wm. Burks, John Batacha, Brooks Williams, roscoe Hooper, BernardTippin, William Reese, Jim Taylor, E.J. Blackman, Bart Lamb, Frank Goodwin,Frank Ware, Ralph Wright, Porter Ziman, Richard Smith, A.D. Burrell, C.Campbell, Sam Little, Robert Petus, Tom Weatherby, Paul Fletcher, HarryWilliams, Frank Burgess, Moses Hodges, Aaron Barns, Tony Compsanelli, HenryBrown, J.T. Pyles, Troy Jackson, J.M. Pennington, E.C. Coleman, Ed. Brooks,Byron Shoaf, Earl Erskine, Wade Wilson, Wildam Erskine, Harry Cohen, ThomasShort, Lank Davenport, E.E. Smith, Andy Podolink, Ben Blackman, Jr., JoeSeles, Sam Reynolds, Castro Nicholas, Lank Davenport John Parker, J.D.Toothman.Clayton Carter, G.W. Anderson, Charles Drake, Pat Breneman Jr., GeorgeMorrision, Charles Townsend, Rufus Fields, Martin Stone, Frank Pole_, Wilson____, (one other name), W. Varner, Frank Schaffer, Dezil Morrison, C.B.McCarty, John hill, Harvey McKay, frank Maza, H.S. Sanders, Cecil Erskine,Pete Rocovich, Jr., Carl Queen, Oscar Maxwell, Fred Laura, Roy Davis, T.E.Sullivan, Wilber Underwood, John Smith, Richard Jones, Sam Flennigan,Lawrence Nairne, G.A. Willard, W.D. Buzzard, J.B. Murphy, Jesse Street, MateoAlonzo.>From the time the explosion occurred helmeted rescue crews pushed their wayforward. They found the danger mark at 500 feet from the mouth.
There thegood air gave way to gas and smoke. Still they advanced and succeeded inreaching a point some 2000 feet in, about half way to the place where it wasbelieved the 76 trapped men were working. There they found the mine wasafire and they were forced to retreat.Only two of the dead were identified. They were Harold Davis and VirgilStraight.Most of the bodies discovered were burned and mangled, showing the greatforce of the explosion. these victims, working within 500 feet of the entry,were caught in the sheet of flame that swept to the surface. It was notknown if the explosion traveled back into the mine. Experts said if theblast went in both directions it surely wiped out all the men in the rear.Two sections of the mine were known to be slightly gaseous, but as a whole,the workings were reported safe. The miners used closed safety lamps and thetunnels and working rooms were thoroughly rock-dusted to prevented a spreadof an explosion. The fact that the blast di spread caused officials tobelieve that it was a gas and not a coal dust explosion.Erkines Wrote Note As Death Crept Upon ThemThe tragic story of the plucky fight for life of two Fayette county minerscaught in the fatal explosion of the Everettsville mine has been revealed bypathetic notes found this week when the bodies were recovered. The entombedmen were Wm. Erskine and his son Cecil, who with a fellow miner had attempteda barricade against the after damp.On a bit of paper, and in writing which silently told the story of hte everincreasing deadliness of the afterdamp slowly filtering through the hastybarricades the men had erected, were found three separate notes, two of whichwere signed "H. Russell.
"The first one was brief and no greater story of self-salvation has ever beentold than that embodied in the words:
"At peace with God. H. Russell

Then to his wife this Scotchsman wrote: "Dear Mary:Tell father I was saved. H. Russell

And finally in lines growing fainter and more irregular: "Also theErskines. We do not feel and pain. Try to stay in the U.S.A. Love to thekids.

"This last message was unsigned but must have been written just before the menslowly lost consciousness and died slowly and peacefully.
The true story of the fight of the men to stay the deadly after damp willnever be told, but mining experts to whom the signs in a mine tell a story,believe that the three died without suffering and within an hour after thegreat blast rocked the mine.It was explained that the amount of work done would indicate that from 30 to40 minutes likely was spent by the men in the effort to protect themselvesfrom the gas, as all three had learned through years in the mine and fromsafety classes they all attended.Down in the "seventh north" heading the men started to work, using canvas andboards to attempt to make a temporary brattice or barricade to keep the gasout. But the foul air came upon them before they could get the workcompleted and they moved back towards the rear of the mine about 100 feet,only to have the same thing happen again. The third stopping was nevercompleted.The writing on the first note was in a clear firm hand, the second showedthat in all probability its author had inhaled some of the deadly carbonmonoxide, which travels after an explosion with a speed of hundreds of feet aminute. The last note was barely discernible.