The following transcription was submitted by Helen S. Durbin of Greene
Co., PA for inclusion at the Genealogy
in Washington Co., PA web site in October 1998.
Nov. 30, 1908 Washington Observer, page 1.
The Story of Loan Survivor of Disaster
Fred Elinger Awaked Amid Scenes of Carnage and Thinks First of Dinner Pail -
His Escape a Mystery.
Physcians Say He Cannot Live
Marianna, Nov. 29,--Despite the fact that one lone man escaped from the
terrible mine disaster at Marianna yesterday in which the lives of 125 men
were snuffed out in the twinkling of an eye the cause of the accident will
probably never be learned from his lips as the physcians in charge stated
this evening that the man could not live. The man's injuries are of such a
nature that his death, is expected at any time. Although this man whose name
is Fred Elinger, speaks broken English it was expected that he would be able
to give a detailed account of the affair.
After being brought to the surface Elinger said in his broken way: "I
was working at laying brick in one of the entries and the first thing I knew
a terrible explosion took place, which threw me some distance. My two
buddies were also tossed some distance away. I heard them for a while and
then all was quiet. I was overcome by the afterdamp and fell asleep. I do
not know how long I slept, but when I awoke I started at once for my dinner
pail. It could not be found and then I started to hunt for the air shaft as
I knew I had been working near it. I moped about in the mines for some time
and heard the rescuers at work nearby, I thought they were going back
without finding me and I at once yelled as best I could and then they came."
Thomas Carney exploring the mine heard the cries for aid and taking one
of the helmets containing oxygen he made his way through the debris and over
the bodies of the dead miners and found Elinger, who had his clothes
entirely blown off, and his hair singed off close to the scalp. His body was
completely filled with small pieces of coal. His eyes were also badly burned
and contained small particles of coal. It was at first thought he was
It was just at 8:55 p.m. that Carney brought Elinger to the surface.
Washington Observer, Monday Morning November 30, 1908
SIXTY-ONE BODIES HAVE BEEN TAKEN FROM ILL-FATED MINE
Worst Disaster in History of Mining in Washington County
Some Unseen Force at Work Wrecks What Was Considered the Finest Mine in the
World--Cause of Disaster Leaves Science and Invention to Wonder.
THE STORY OF THE AWFUL CATASTROPHE
Marianna, Nov. 29.--Shortly before 11 o'clock Saturday morning a terrific
explosion took place in the Marianna mines of the Pittsburg-Buffalo company
in which 130 men were working and all but one of this entire number were
killed outright. The shafts at No. 1 and No. 2 Rachel and Agnes, were badly
wrecked by the force of the explosion, one man was killed and others
seriously injured who were just starting down the shaft in the cage at No.
the explosion came without a moment's warning and with such force that
it could be heard for miles around. The steel derrick over the No. 2 shaft
was wrecked and the cage torn to pieces. The temporary derrick in
construction at the Rachel shaft was literally blown to atoms and scattered
in a thousand different pieces about the opening of the shaft.
Inspector Henry Louttit had just stepped from the cage of shaft No. 2,
when the explosion took place. He had been at Marianna for two days and had
inspected the mines every half hour on Friday and during the same intervals
Saturday morning up until the time of the explosion.
The mine is gaseous. All the mines in this end of Washington county are
in this condition. But Mr. Louttit said that there were no accumulations of
gas anywhere in the mine so far as he had been able to observe. Engineer and
General Superintendent A.C. Beeson had come to the surface just a few
minutes before Louttit. He had found the mine in perfect condition.
A Model Mine.
The Marianna collieries were supposed to be the model mines of this
country and the world. I fact they are. No mine was ever planned with
greater care and equipped with better facilities and improvements to avoid
accidents and those one in a thousand calamities which experience has taught
the practical experienced miner are liable to happen at any time. Underneath
the surface amid the workings and entries of this mine every convenience had
been arranged for the miners, every precaution taken and the experts of the
world had visited it and come away declaring that the mining problem had
been solved for the safety of the men.
Yet, Saturday morning some unseen force was at work which wrecked a mine
to the extent of hundreds of thousands of dollars, entombed 125 or more men
in its chambers of death and left science and invention to wonder at the
cause of it all.
The explosion came so suddenly that the superintendent and inspector
could scarcely realize what had happened. Men were set to work, however, at
once to get the fan in operation, again. It was necessary to give them air
at once if they were to be saved. The Agnes shaft which is the middle one
was being used as the main entry to the mine and the coal from the
operations as well as the men and supplies were all taken up and down this
shaft. The Rachel or No. 1 shaft is the larger and it is the purpose of the
company to make it the principal one for their operations and the No. 2 to
be used as the air shaft and the one for emergency purposes, for the
entrance and exit of the miners and for supplies.
But No. 2 was the main shaft when the explosion took place. It was put
out of commission at once and it was impossible for the men to get into it
from the surface. The work therefore was directed from shaft No. 1, which
after the explosion occurred was nothing more that a big hole in the ground.
The temporary derrick had been blown to pieces.
Shaft Out of Commission.
Men were put at work immediately to get this shaft in condition and the
task of removing the debris and of constructing sufficient framework to
operate the big bucket was soon on. Hundreds of men were called into service
and under the direction of the superintendent and the foremen about the mine
it was not long until the fan was in operation and the mine again supplied
with air and the shaft in condition for the men to begin operating the
bucket from the bottom of the shaft.
Superintendent Beeson with several of his men descended the steps almost
at once to see what condition the shaft. Fifty feet from the bottom it was
found to be caved in--but room enough was found for the operation of the
bucket but for nothing larger. This shaft is one of the largest in the
world. It was constructed at a cost of $64,000 and it will require many
thousands of dollars to place it in condition again.
When the superintendent and his men reached the bottom of the shaft it
was found that the mine was not on fire and that it would be possible to
reach the men as soon as the mine was made safe enough for exploration. Soon
after this John H. Jones, president of the Pittsburg-Buffalo company, D.G.
Jones, secretary, expert miners and other officials arrived on a special
train from Pittsburg via Monongahela. The president of the company went at
once to the mouth of shaft No. 1 and awaited the return of Superintendent
Beeson and his men from the foot of the shaft. Discarding his coat and his
other business attire, President Jones, with his overcoat, gum boots,
miner's cap and gloves soon descended the shaft accompanied by the
superintendent, Fire Boss Joseph Kennedy and others.
This man who knows mining as no other man in the Pittsburg district, who
knows his mines and who has faith in this great masterpiece appeared strong
and brave. He was. There was no faint heart in his bosom, no unsteady
nerves, no shaking footsteps. But he must have known ere he started down
this dark shaft to the great tunnel below that his men were not alive. When
he came back he looked sorrowful--for the situation was clear to him then.
The men were dead--they could not have possibly lived. His work was to begin
the rescue of their bodies just as quickly as it was possible to secure the
Many Flock to Scene.
Physcians and undertakers from all the nearby towns and the country-side
had been called to the mine. For hundreds of feet around the Rachel shaft
ropes were stretched for a radius of from 50 to 100 feet. Outside of these
ropes large crowds of people gathered--they were there as spectators to the
tragedy. They were there, some of them, because their friends and neighbors
were lost--they were there because they were interested or morbidly curious.
The news of the disaster spread rapidly and all afternoon and evening
the trains, specials and regulars, scores of automobiles and other
conveyances brought thousands of people to the scene of the disaster.
Several members of the state constabulary were pressed into service and
besides the company had a large force of police to keep the crowds back from
the ropes. But with the best efforts it was impossible to keep the way
cleared. Inside the ropes squads of men were working--working hard and fast.
Boilers of sandwiches and small tanks of coffee supplied the men with
nourishment as they worked to clear the entrances to the shaft and prepare
the scaffolding for the bodies to be laid on, when they were brought to the
It was at first decided to let a large platform down by means of a
pulley and tackle into the shaft to bring up the bodies but later it was
found more expedient to bring each one up separately. Stretchers and
blankets were piled about the shaft entrance and it was not until late in
the afternoon that the rescuing parties were sent down into the mine.
Inspector Henry Louttit, President John N. Jones and General
Superintendent A.C. Beeson were constantly in consultation. It was decided
to have a complete inspection of the mine made before any efforts were taken
toward bringing out the bodies. All the workings were to be explored and
this was an easy matter as the mines are new and the diggings simply
represent the cutting of entries, the headings and the preparations that are
being made for the opening of the rooms for the excavation of coal.
When darkness began to gather the safety lamps and lanterns were brought
into use about the shaft--work was delayed and it was impossible to make
haste. The company linesmen threw lines from poles around the areaway to the
shaft opening and upon these miners; lamps were strung to throw light about
the place where the men were preparing for the rescuing of bodies.
Overcome By Fire Damp
Shortly after 7 o'clock, Joseph Kennedy was brought to the surface
overcome by the fire damp in the mine. He was one of the members of the
rescue party. He was found by Samuel Cox, another member of the party and
dragged 25 feet to the bottom of the shaft where he was hoisted to the
surface and soon resuscitated. This added to the excitement about the mine.
Government experts from Pittsburg were among the earliest to explore the
mines. They were fully equipped for this special work, and they with the
expert miners were the only ones permitted to go down, the mine. It was an
anxious throng which stood about the shaft and outside the ropes in the dim
moonlight all the evening waiting for some word from the mine.
Coroner Sipe arrived early in the evening and he at once selected a jury
and made arrangements to have an inquest over the bodies, when they should
be brought to the surface.
"No inquest will be held, however." said the coroner, "until we can get
at the cause of this disaster. It will be probed from the bottom. The cause
must be found out. There is something wrong. I will remain on the ground
until the last body is taken out and make investigations as to the condition
of things prior to the time the explosion took place."
As the rescue party went down their names were taken by a clerk, who
stood at the head of the shaft. Instructions were given that everybody be
marked and its location in the mine, where found, so as to make
identification as complete as possible and also to make it possible to work
on some theory later on by knowing the exact places in the mine where the
men met death.
THE WASHINGTON OBSERVER
It was reported about the mine today, that James Josinki, Vorinki
Salinki, and Antonio Orhasillna three men charged with the stabbing of a
foreigner at West Zollarsville on the night of Nov. 3 had met their doom in
the mine explosion yesterday. This report could not be confirmed however, as
the men's check numbers were not known. The three men were released from the
charge by the coroner's jury some time ago.
MINE INSPECTOR IS COMPLETELY AT SEA
(Nov. 30, 1908, page 1)
Henry W. Louttit Can Advance No Theory as to Cause of Marianna
Disaster--tells Experiences of the Black Saturday.
"I will not theorize on the cause of this explosion," said Henry
Louttit, mine inspector of this district, late Saturday evening, after he
had some few moments to think about the matter. "Perhaps after it is all
over and I can sit down and think--think clearly--I may be able to give some
theory to work on. I am absolutely dumbfounded. I had been inspection the
mine all day Friday, at intervals of every half hour. I started in to do the
same thing Saturday and had made several inspections of the mine. I found
some gas there--it is found in all these mines, but there were no
accumulations of gas. I had been all through the mine in the morning and had
not left the workings and came to the surface until the explosion took
"The mine was considered by experts to be the best in the world, it was
the best in the sense that it was supposed to be safe. That is the
fundamental thing about a mine--it's safety for the miners and the
Pittsburg-Buffalo company had this thing in view when its men constructed
this mine. I know that there is an abandoned gas well in the field of this
coal development. But the engineers know these gas fields and the limits of
the gas pools. No part of the mine was within 50 feet radius of the outside
limits of any gas pool.
"In fact I do not know what caused the explosion. But it was a terrific
one. It came with great force. I had just stepped off the cage and started
to make an inspection of the engines. I had intended to go up to the top of
the steel derrick and inspect it. Why I did not go there first instead of
the engines I do not know. Ten minutes later I would have been there and
you know what would have happened to me then. I certainly was fortunate both
coming and going. Had I even thought there was any danger in that mine do
you suppose I would have permitted Thompson and the other men to go on the
cage which brought me up to the surface and as it turned out, to safety."
November 30, 1908, pg. 1
Relief Fund for The Families of Marianna Victims.
The latest estimate in regard to the Marianna disaster places the number
of victims at 130. Of this number probably half are of English speaking
races. It is probably that a large percentage of the dead leave families and
other dependent on them. Some of these people need immediate relief.
The Observer Publishing company has started a relief fund and will
receive and properly account for any subscriptions. Following are the
contributors up to date:
Observer Publishing Co. ...........$25.00
Citizens Water Co. ..................... 25.00
The A. B. Caldwell Co. ............... 5.00
Reporter employes .................. 5.00
Observer employes .................. 5.00
Union Labor Journal .................. 1.00
Casino Theatre .................. 25.00
COURAGEOUS BOY AT HOISTING MACHINE
(Nov. 30, 1908, p. 1 Washington Observer)
With His Brother a Corpse in the Pit Below Edward Thomas Refused to Leave
His Post--Mother of Dead Man Frantic.
Marianna, Nov. 29.--For sticking to his post of duty without any sleep
while his brother lay a corpse in the bottom of the ill-fated shaft Edward
Thomas received the commendation of every miner about the works today. Young
Thomas is employed at the hoisting machine which has been in use in lowering
and raising the men to and from the depths of this pit. All day Saturday he
was found at his post and all that night and all day today Thomas was still
found with his hand on the wheel which lowered the cage and on whose
steadiness largely depended the lives of those in the bucket.
William Thomas, the brother now dead who was aged 19 years, had been
employed at the hoisting engine some weeks ago but owing to a slight
accident had given up the work. He had been without work and on Saturday
morning Mrs. Thomas persuaded her son to seek work at the mines again. He
did and secured work in the pit as motorman. He had been at his new work
less than a half day when his life was crushed out. Knowing that his
brother's life was snuffed out and expecting to see his dead body brought up
the cage every time it came to the surface young Thomas refused to give his
position to any person else.
Mrs. Thomas, who persuaded her son to go to the mines, was almost
distracted upon hearing the sad news and all of last night was kept under
the influence of ether.
Washington Observer (Nov. 30, 1908, p. 1)
SOMETHING ABOUT MARIANNA WORKS
The Most Complete and Up-to-Date Mine in the World--Damaged Shaft Will at
Once be Restored.
The coal works of the Pittsburg-Buffalo Company where occurred the
frightful gas explosion Saturday are recognized as being the most extensive
in the world. The plant is located at the new town of Marianna, about midway
between Zollarsville and Martin's Mills on Upper Ten Mile creek in West
In August, 1906, the work of putting down the shaft of the Rachel mine
was commenced and the following winter similar work was begun at the Agnes
mine, a short distance south-west of the former.
The Pittsburg vein of coal was reached at a depth of 460 feet, both
shafts being completed at nearly the same time. In July last a force of men
was put to work sinking a shaft at what is known as the Blanche mine, about
three-fourths of a mile south-west of the Agnes mine on the Shidler farm and
in a line with both the others.
The air and supply shaft, by means of which the Rachel and Agnes mines
are run, which was badly damaged in the explosion Saturday morning, was put
down soon after the one at the Rachel mine was finished, and recently
underground, connection was made between the two shafts. the firm of
Patterson and O'Neil, was the contractor on the two shafts, both of which
were damaged by the explosion.
Shafts to be Restored.
The company will begin in a short time to make repairs and it will
probably be but a short time until the mines are again in operation.
Connection will be made eventually with the Blanch mine.
An emergency shaft will be placed between the Rachel and Agnes mines,
work on it having been commenced last week.
By agreements made with the road supervisors of West Bethlehem township,
the road leading from a point on the former creek road a short distance
below the new coal works, was changed to the south side of Ten Mile creek,
the thoroughfare being cut in the steep hillside opposite the coal works a
considerable distance up the creek, the old road leading past the works
being vacated, although the company is keeping the thoroughfare open for its
own use. This road was built at a considerable expense, being constructed on
the Flinn style of road, making. It is recognized as a perfect road, and is
about 15 feet wide. The Pittsburg-Buffalo company, it is stated, did the
greater part of the work of grading and macadamizing this road.
At the present time the large power house on the hillside north of the
Agnes mine is nearing completion. The company has a force of laborers at
work on the building and in a few days the structure will be under roof.
Three large engines of 45 horse power each were installed in the plant at
the time the work was first commenced.
The building is about 120 feet long and 80 feet in width. It is being
built of brick, and when completed will be second to none in the country.
The company will utilize the power generated at this place for various
purposes, both at the works and the residences, which have been completed
and will be erected by the company for the use of the miners. The greater
number of the houses erected for the employes are of brick of a good
quality. The company made calculations on the total expense in advance both
by building of brick and of wood and found the former in the long run should
be less expensive.
Coal of Good Quality.
The coal, which is said to be of the best quality, is from six to seven
feet in thickness.
Last December coal was first mined at the works, when on the first, day
a large quality of the black, diamonds was shipped away, and since that time
the average daily output has been 300 tons.
This coal, which is at present worth several thousand dollars per acre,
was sold by the farmers owning the surface, at the insignificant price of
$20 an acre. One of the farmers stated yesterday that he thought it would be
impossible to ever mine the coal, hence, any price at all was better than
nothing. He also stated that he would be slower in disposing of the Freeport
vein of coal, which is from 10 to 12 feet in thickness. The
Pittsburg-Buffalo company purchased the surface of both the Fulton and
Shidler farms at about $150 an acre, after securing the coal from J.A. Ray,
who purchased at the start from the owners of the surface.
The dimensions of the Shafts of the Rachel and Agnes mines is each 36 x
24 feet and that of the Blanche mine a trifle smaller.
Washington Observer (Nov. 30, 1908, p. 1)
Of 125 Men In Depths of Marianna Mine, One Lives to Tell of Ordeal
Gruesome Scenes of Weary Night and Day As With Ceaseless Toil Bodies of
Victims Are Brought to the Surface--Friends and Relatives Await about Great
Fires For Some News of the Loved Ones Lying Cold At Pit's Bottom.
CORONER SIPE NAMES JURY AND WILL MAKE THOROUGHT INVESTIGATION
Marianna, Nov. 30, --2:30 a.m. Sixty-one bodies have been recovered from
the ill-fated collieries and the work of rescue is going steadily on. The
men are working in alternating shifts and rapid progress is being made.
Shortly after midnight Coroner Sipe stated that in his opinion the
majority of the dead would be recovered by Monday evening or Tuesday
morning. The burial of the identified dead will be started today.
the crowd of curious sightseers has dwindled. Gathered around the big
fires burning near, the shaft mouth are possibly 100 friends and relatives
of victims whose remains have not yet been brought to the surface, sad
hearted, heavy eyed watchers wearily waiting the time when their loved ones
shall be carried to the improvised morgue.
Mrs. W.J. Holsing, wife of the assistant general manager; Mrs. D.G.
Jones, wife of the general manager, and Mrs. Charles DeWald, sister of
Francis Forham, are on the ground tonight assisting the works and furnishing
food for the parties of rescuers as they come to the surface.
Marianna, Nov. 29--This was the most fearful Sunday the little mining town
of Marianna has ever seen in its brief existence. It was a day of gruesome
wearying work about the fatal hole when death had lifted its head in its
most horrid form the day before, the day which will always be known as Black
Saturday in the history of Marianna.
The finding of one man alive when it was thought that every man in the
mines was dead caused much excitement about the pit mouth and a renewed
effort was made to explore every part of the workings at once.
After some of the officials and miners had explored the workings of the
shaft within 40 feet of the bottom William Adams, Samuel Cox, J.E. Kennedy,
Richard Maize, E.F. Tolsed, Terry Risher, and William Underwood were among
the first to offer their services and go to the bottom of the shaft. Among
the others who followed into the bowels of the earth in a bucket lowered by
means of a hoisting engine later in the night were Robert Cole, Robert
Howard, Thomas Carney, George Jones, James Carroll, W.H. Kennedy, G.W.
Wilkinson, John Lowry, Walter Cullinford, A.M. Johnston, Harry S. McKalup,
C.F. McKay, J.M. Hopwood, John Riley, Patrick Dougan, Thomas Ferrell, Thomas
Snowball, James Minn.
Later during the night and morning volunteers were secured immediately
upon the call of John H. Jones or D.G. Jones, who were at the scene of the
disaster all the time directing the work of rescue. They often descended
into the mine with the workmen. Shortly after midnight William Lockhart,
superintendent of the Midland Mines of the Pittsburg coal company. Charles,
Dewalt, master mechanic of the Hazel mine near Canonsburg, and Francis
Fechan, president of the United Mine Workers of District No. 5, descended
and assisted in the work of rescue.
New recruits were sent into the mine as the first rescuers would come
to the surface. the mine was explored very carefully for fear of fire.
Knowing that every man who entered the mine took his life in his hand the
Messrs. Jones warned every recruit before he was called on to enter the
The reports from the men as they came to the surface throughout the
night and early morning were of the most gruesome character, although the
rescuers attempted to keep the awfulness of the catastrophe from the general
public and those who were waiting on the outside for some ray of hope from
the interior of the mine. Some of these anxious ones had sons, others
husbands, and some sweethearts in the workings. The work of the rescuers
seemed slow to those waiting on the outside, especially after one man had
been recovered alive after all hopes had been given up by the officials of
the mines every precaution was taken to prevent another explosion and brattice
work was erected along the entries as they were explored. The work wearied
on throughout the night. The spectacle of the persons who had friends in the
mines was a sad one. These anxious ones gathered about the huge wood fires
which had been built in all sections of the coal company's properties.
Scarcely a group was seen which did not contain some one who was watching
for the body of a friend to be brought from the pit in the large iron
The work kept steadily on until the break of day, when the first body
was brought to the surface. This was done at 6:15. Dr. T.R. Thomas, of
Johnetta works near Waychoff, and Dr. Floyd Cobb, company physician at the
Marianna works, had charge of the bodies as they were brought from the mine.
Nothing further was done toward bringing the bodies to the surface until
Among the mine superintendents who were assisting Lee Jones in District
No. 16; David Young of District No. 17; Mr. Maixe, of VanVoorhis; Mr.
McIntyre, of the Pittsburg and Westmoreland coal company; Mr. Holladay, of
Ellsworth; and various superintendents from the River combine company.
The first body recovered was that of Henry Thompson, a machinist, who
stepped upon the cage just as the explosion occurred and whose body was
hurled high into the air. Thompson was killed at the top of Shaft No. 2.
About 700 yards from where Thompson met his death was found a human head,
which one of the miners said was that of Charles McElrath. Nearby lay a
When the explosion occurred three men working on the temporary tipples
and scaffolding were injured. Their hurts while painful were not considered
serious. They were Russell Michener, S.W. Vance and Joseph Santella.
Coroner Sipe had charge of the bodies after they were taken to the
boiler house. After they were washed the bodies were removed to an
improvised morgue, where the friends were admitted in order to identify as
many as possible. Yesterday evening Coroner Sipe named the following men for
the jury which will hear the evidence and fix the blame. If there be any, as
to the cause of this terrible disaster: John McCuen, John Gayman, Charles
Theakston, Jesse Bigler, Henry Hathaway, and Joseph Morton, all of West
All these men were present today ready to do their duty. It is likely
that all the bodies will not be taken from the mine for at least two days
and that the coroner's inquest will not be held until some date later set by
the coroner. Debris covers a large number of the bodies and this has
hindered in the speedy removal of them.
It was reported today that the extreme inner workings of the mine were
on fire, but none of the officials would confirm the report. One of the mine
inspectors was the authority for the statement that some fire did exist in
the mine, but it was not of an alarming nature. He also said that the
rescuers did not care to take a chance of going beyond this line.
Monday, November 30, 1908
WAS REMARKABLE IN MANY RESPECTS
A Few Moments After Catastrophe the Situation Was Known and Suspense Was
Over--Absence of Women and Children.
Marianna, Nov. 29, --The Marianna disaster was most remarkable not only
because the experts are unable to determine its cause, but because of the
fact that within a very few minutes after the catastrophe the situation was
known and the suspense was over. Within a few hours at the very least the
officials were certain that while one did seemingly miraculously escape
death in the mine, the end must have come to the men within a very few
minutes after the explosion, if not instantly.
Another remarkable feature in connection with the situation after the
explosion was the absence of those harrowing and pathetic scenes which are
usually enacted by the loved ones of those who are buried in t the mines.
The crowd about the shaft was extremely quiet. When The Observer force of
correspondents arrived on the ground a few hours after the explosion the men
about the shaft were quietly at work doing everything that could be done.
The crowd about was orderly and quiet.
There were no weeping women, no frantic wives and children crowding the
ropes to see or to interfere with the work. The fact of the matter is that
most, if not all, of the wives and families of those working in the Marianna
mines do not reside here. One woman did make a scene, but only one--she
acted as if she was crazy. She said she had a husband and two sons down
there. No wonder she was crazy. She was a foreigner, but she had a
heart--and she loved her family--and it is the experience of those who have
been at mine disasters that the families of the foreigners feel even more
keenly and poignantly the loss which comes to them in a calamity of this
kind. Away from their native land, unable to speak the language of the
country of their adoption their families are often dearer and nearer to them
than those of our Americans.
In these Marianna mines were some of the best miners that the
Pittsburg-Buffalo company had. They were brought there from Canonsburg,
Monongahela, Catsburg and other points. Half of them at least were
Americans. they left their wives and families behind--those of them who were
Into these mines had gone the pick and flower of the Pittsburg-Buffalo
company miners. here was the model mine. here it was that the best work was
to be executed in the preparation for the mining of millions of tons of coal
in the years of the future. The work which is being done there is
preparatory work. There are no chambers where the coal has been taken out,
no intricate rooms--the work done show simply the great paths which work the
course of the mine for its future operations--and in this work the best were
chosen to perform it.
Thus the company not only loses the services of its fine body of miners,
chosen from the most expert and experienced, but the world at
large--civilization--loses citizens who knew their duty and were performing
it not only for the money they received, but because they were interested in
a duty which they also believed was to the interests of the miners of the
LIST OF THE DEAD (Pg. 1, Nov. 30, 1908 The Observer)
The list of the dead up-to-date as gathered from the partial
identification of the bodies brought to the surface is as follows:
(1) John Ivill, Married Nov. 4, 1908, aged 23 years; resided in
Monongahela, employed as assistant machine boss. Death resulted from
suffocation. Cousin of John H. Jones.
(2) Mike Slovinsho, Italian body badly mutilated. Identified by check
number on company books. Lived at Marianna.
(3) Unidentified foreigner, leg torn off, head blown to atoms, body
burned, and clothes torn off.
(4) Owen Borns, American, burned about head and face, left arm broken.
Identified by check No. 896.
(5) Unidentified foreigner, head crushed.
(6) Unidentified body, literally torn to pieces, nothing but portion of
(8) Unidentified foreigner, no check number. Hands burned. Death
resulted from suffocation.
(9) Milt Eckenrode, foreigner, aged about 35 years. Identified by tattoo
name on arm and also by check number.
(10) Foreigner, known as "Donegal," resided at Galiagher boarding house.
Death resulted from fractured skull.
(11) Doninick Qualiero, Italian, identified by tattooed name under arm,
and also check No. 215.
(12) Unidentified foreigner, portion of trunk left, one leg, and a
portion of head. All clothing torn from body.
(13) Charles Tahaney, foreigner, skull crushed, leg broken. Identified
by receipt in purse.
(14) Mike Lapine, face burned, death due to suffocation. Identified from
(15) Frank Tebery, foreigner, leg broken, head crushed, upper portion of
body burned. Identified by check number.
(16) Unidentified body, with both legs broken, and badly burned.
(17) Unidentified body, disemboweled, left leg torn off, arm broken, top
of head blown off.
(18) Unidentified, both legs broken. Death due to suffocation.
(19) Unidentified, disemboweled, head blown off, one foot gone.
(20) John Tedroff, miner identified with check number.
(21) Unidentified body, badly burned.
(22) Unidentified American, crushed about the head; check number 19.
(23) James Henderson, mine foreman, survived by wife and several
children, resided at Ellsworth; head blown off.
(24) Frank Egon, aged 30, suffocated.
(25) George Ackers, negro, aged 30 years; leaves wife, formerly Miss
Bennett of Centerville, death due to suffocation.
(26) Unidentified foreigner, disemboweled, leg broken, check number 179.
(27) John Joedsky, skull crushed; identified by check number.
(28) John Donesty, leg broken, death due to suffocation; identified by
(34) Alec Toorse, identified by check.
(36) Richard Ciatt, identified by check number. Wore diamond ring and
(39) Sam Samtum.
(42) George Lannoss, head blown off. Identified by paper in pocket.
(44) Pat Donlin, identified to friends.
(45) Bunerain Asrey, identified by check.
(46) Henry Thompson, aged 48, married; leaves wife and 8 children; lived
(49) Alex Bosewitch, foreigner, identified by friend.
In addition to these there have been brought up 12 unidentified bodies.
Nov 30, 1908 The Washington Observer, Washington, Washington County, Pa.
Some Known to Have Been In Ill-Fated Mine.
Marianna, Nov. 29,--Among others whose bodies are known to be in the
ill-fated mine and whose friends were on the ground all day awaiting some
word of their condition are:
Senior Lee, of West Monongahela, who has a wife and nine children.
Clarence Williams, of Monongahela, leader of the high school band and a
great church and Y.M.C.A. worker. Aged 26 years.
Edward Freyoenet, who resided in West Monongahela, had a wife and three
John and Seward Bennington, of Monongahela.
Allen Bolilock, boss driver, aged 26 years, married and leaves a wife
and a babe one day old. Resided at Marianna.
Ted and Harry Miller, sons of John Miller, aged 16 and 19 years
respectively. Resided at Marianna.
John Holmes, aged 22 motorman.
James Rule and two sons.
Trevor Williams, aged 25, married and leaves babe four days old.
Washington Is Deeply Touched By Catastrophe
The news of the awful disaster at Marianna Saturday was received with
sincere sorrow on the part of the people of Washington. the news of the
catastrophe was so appalling and the loss of life so great that it shocked
every one who heard of it. The news quickly spread around town and The
Observer's telephone was kept busy answering calls for the latest news. It
had a sobering effect upon the people and expressions of sympathy for the
dead and bereaved were heard on all sides. the disaster was the chief
subject of conversation on the streets and in the homes of Washington.
Yesterday in the local churches many of the pastors referred to the
disaster in their sermons and all of them offered most fervent prayers for
the breaved relatives of those who lost their lives. Many of the prayers
were touching in the extreme.
Monongahela to Raise Fund for Mine Sufferers
Monongahela, Nov. 29.--Monongahela will do its full share toward
swelling the Marianna relief fund to be given for the families of the mine
victims of Saturday.
A committee composed of Frank Colvin, Frank Wickerham and Fred F.
Cooper, has been appointed to receive and solicit funds and subscriptions
for the stricken residents of Marianna.
It is expected that funds raised in Monongahela will do justice to a
mining community where the full horror of a situation such as that which
faces Marianna's population is realized.
November 30, 1908
Narrow Escape of Superintendent
Alexander C. Beeson Had Come Out of Mine But a Few Moments Before the
One of the men who had a very narrow escape from death was Alexander C.
Beeson, engineer and general superintendent of the Marianna mines. He had
come up just a few minutes before Inspector Loutitt. Ordinarily he would
have been down in the mine as it is his custom to remain there during the
morning. "I had a narrow escape," said Mr. Beeson, late in the afternoon,
when he had a few moments to talk, after having spent the entire afternoon
in the mine and in making plans for the rescue of the men.
"It was just 10:15 when I stopped to inquire from one of the bosses of
the mine what time of day it was. I had been making an inspection of the
mine and had intended going further. It struck me that it was pay day and
that it would be a busy afternoon for the office force and as I had some
correspondence to do, I decided to go up and attend to it before the
afternoon. I took the cage which preceded the one taken by Inspector Henry
Loutitt. I had not been up more than five or ten minutes when I heard the
explosion and I knew that something terrible had happened down that mine."
Superintendent Beeson was everywhere during the afternoon and night. He
was the first to descend the shaft. On one of his trips he took a chill but
kept on the job and directed the work of the rescue during the night and the
Beeson has been the engineer for the Pittsburg-Buffalo company for
several years. He is a graduate of W. & J. college, class of '97. His wife
was Miss Harriett Reed, daughter of C.M. Reed, and she stood during most of
the afternoon with the throng of people outside the ropes anxiously waiting
for the news from the mine.
MONONGAHELA'S DEAD ARE HOME
Preparations Made for Burial of Marianna Mine Victims Who Resided in
Monongahela--Were Well Known Men.
Monongahela, Nov. 29--When Monongahela's dead from the Marianna mine
disaster Saturday, were brought home for burial the town was given an even
fuller realization of the disaster. Preparations are being made for the
funeral services over the remains of Henry Thompson who was blown into
eternity as he descended into the Rachel shaft in the cage. The funeral will
be held tomorrow afternoon at 3:30 o'clock from the home of his daughter,
Mrs. Andrew Ross, of Carson street.
When news of the horror reached Monongahela it was at first supposed
that Ray and Emmett Forsythe, brothers and son-in-law of Henry Thompson,
were among its victims. Both had gone into the fated mine that morning but
just before the explosion shook the earth, they had returned to the surface
to secure tools and had not again entered the workings.
Henry Thompson was a well known and respected resident of Monongahela
and had the friendship resident of Monongahela and had the friendship of
hundreds in this town. he was aged 51 years and had since his early youth
followed mining as an occupation. Few mines are along this section of the
Monongahela valley that he had not entered while following his occupation.
He was a member of the city council from the First ward during 1903-09.
His wife and seven children survive as follows: Mrs. Ray Forsythe, Mrs.
Emmett Fosythe, Mrs. Frank Pettitt, Mrs. Andrew Ross, Mary, Ruth and Harry,
all of Monongahela. He was an attendant at the Methodist Episcopal church.
The widow and children are grief stricken.
The body of John Ivil, a nephew of President John H. Jones, of the
Pittsburg-Buffalo company, was brought to the home of the young man's
parents on Park avenue. The funeral will take place Tuesday and the
interment will be made in the Greenmount cemetery. John Ivil was aged 23
Word has been received that Clarence Williams, aged 30 years, of
Monongahela, is among the dead. He was an engineer in the mine and was on
the shift that entered the mine to meet death Saturday forenoon. He had
joined the engineer corps at the Marianna mine but six weeks ago. Williams
was aged 30 years. He was a very popular young man and a sincere and
energetic church worker, being a member of the Christian church of
Monongahela. He is survived by his parents and two brothers all of whom
reside in Monongahela. Although identification is practically impossible it
is stated his body is among those brought to the surface.
The foreigner who was brought to the Memorial hospital suffering with
injuries sustained while at work near the entrance to the mine when the
explosion occurred, died today and his body was claimed by his brother who
took the remains to his own home for burial.
Two brothers who were injured while on the surface and are at the
hospital here are believed to have a chance to recover. One has a fractured
thigh and the other is severely injured.
December 1, 1908
Man Who Has Seen Mine Disasters Warns Operators Against Deadly Dust
In Letter to The Observer Fred Lennon of Washington Tells of His
Observations and Experiences in Other Coal Fields--Graphically Describes
Every Day Scene in Workings.
Concerning the frightful disaster at Marianna on Saturday, Fred Lennon,
8, Walker's Row, Washington, writes The Observer in an interesting and
enlightening manner of the ever present danger of dust in the coal mines of
the land. Mr. Lennon has had the advantage of both experience and
observation in mine disasters and their causes and what he says is worthy of
serious consideration. His letter follows:
To the Editor, of The Observer, Sir:
An editorial in The Washington Observer for Monday, November 20,
commenting on the frightful disaster at the Marianna mines gently yet firmly
invites further comment on those horrible catastrophes that burst like
thunderbolts from the heavens proclaiming to all mankind that there is
something fearfully or criminally wrong with the operations of the dangerous
occupation of mining coal in this county.
Every such disaster has its cause, and only too often in the hurry and
flurry to get coal out of the mine is the cause left to ripen into greater
danger by the willful negligence or greed on the part of the management of
I have noticed those same dangerous causes left to accumulate their
awful power for weeks at a time, before being attended to, or having
anything done to minimize their indescribable danger.
Remember! They were ultimately attended to--which proves that the danger
we speak of was there. I have also seen this same dangerous cause when
aggravated by a lesser cause proclaim its ghastly and hellborne power by
blowing to eternity the lives of 114 miners--not leaving a living soul in
its death dealing madness.
Again on another of those fearful occurrences I have seen those
removable causes left untouched by those responsible for their removal until
the who country was again shocked by the frightful bulletins that "Seventy
miners had lost their lives in a fearful mine explosion."
Listen! You go and get a job at the mines in this county--you are not
asked the question, "Are you an experienced miner?" You get a safety lamp!
That suggests to the thoughtful, experienced miner, that there is danger in
these mines! You go down in the same cage with other miners with open
lights, and then you see when you get down there the electric motors
knocking blue flames from the wires. You are treading along in thoughtful
mood to your working place! There is something soft under your feet. It is
not mud, because if you happen to give it the slightest kick with your foot
it rises in a whirl like a speechless spectre, and wonders at your
carelessness. The swift current of air carries it off and it disappears like
a spirit demon! Before branching off to one of the more secluded entries
where one works with safety lamp you stop to investigate this soft feeling
danger. It does not take you long. the mule drivers come dashing past you
with great torchlike lights on their caps and whipping their mules into a
trot in order to hurry to the working places to get the loaded cars of coal.
There is a cloud as they pass, and you feel it in your throat, and you are
then thoroughly convinced that there is a dangerous accumulation of dust.
The two explosions referred to in this article happened in Alabama and
the writer helped to get the bodies from both mines. The cause attributed to
these disasters was (in the care of the Virginia mines disaster in which 114
miners lost their lives,) a heavy windy shot igniting the dust that was left
to accumulate in the mine. When this mine resumed operations after the
explosion the company put on shot firers and kept the dust down by
sprinkling all entries and rooms where it was necessary. The mine is now
considered safe. The explosion which occurred at Yolande, in Alabama, last
December, was due to an excessive accumulation of dust with a slight body of
gas as the initial cause.
The chain machines used in the mines in this county, and which have
taken the place of the "puncher," are great dust makers. The coal itself
makes lots of dust; a fact which is easily discovered by looking on the
ground around where the tipples are built, and where coal is dumped into the
The fact that in the Marianna disaster, the mine inspector found no
reason for a great explosion from gas and the gas well in question
surrounded by a 50-foot strata of coal--naturally leads one on the dust
theory--if we may call it a theory. Correspondents write that the dust was
blown for a great distance from the scene of the disaster and lay there an
"inch" deep. The dust in the mines in this county will have to be watched
and the mines kept clear of it before it can be considered safe for miners
to work in mines generating explosive gas.
A great number of English speaking miners deplore the lamentable fact
that the indiscriminate hiring of foreigners in the mines of this state
where explosive gases generate has a tendency (owing to their carelessness
and lack of knowledge of the dangers with which they are surrounded), to
jeopardize the lives of all the rest of the miners in the mine. I have
noticed that they deliberately violate rules asked to be observed by the
Small quantities of gas reported as generating in the mines at Marianna
could never have caused that terrific explosion which robbed the poor wives
and children of their lived ones and carried so much gloom into the hearts
of thousands of sympathizers, and wrecked the great efforts of toil and
study spent to make the Marianna mines the best equipped in the world.
It is to be hoped that in the prosecution of coal mining in this county,
stricter vigilance will be the watchword and that every thoughtful
experienced miner will make himself an inspector and report to the officials
when he sees danger ahead.
December 1, 1908, pg. 1
Fourth of His Family to Meet A Violent Death
West Newton, Pa., Nov. 30,--Henry D. Thompson, master machinist, at the
ill-fated Marianna mine, who is numbered among the dead, was the last of
four brothers who lost their lives by violence. The Thompson family resided
at Shaner Station, near here, the father and mother being dead. The father
had been a min foreman at one time and his sons followed in the footsteps of
their father. Henry, David, Alexander and Guy, the four brothers, were men
of gigantic strength and stature and showed a fondness for work in mines.
David Thompson was suffocated in the Guffey mine along with another
miner about 15 years ago near West Newton. He and a companion were found
lying dead in an entry, having been suffocated. Alexander Thompson was
killed about 10 years ago in a mine at Monongahela, Pa.
Guy Thompson was employed at a sawmill attached to the Klondike mine
near Uniontown. He was caught in machinery while at work about three years
ago. One arm was torn from his body and, after walking a short distance
carrying the severed member, he fell dead.
The last brother to succumb was Henry D. Thompson, who was blown out of
the cage on Saturday morning, when the terrible explosion took place at the
Marianna mine. Four sisters survive the brothers.
Will Look After Families Of Dead Italian Miners.
Monongahela, Nov. 3o,--Father Vincent Massell, of the St. Anthony church
will have charge of the Italian miners killed in the explosion at the
Marianna collieries. Father Massell will go to Marianna and take charge of
the Italian families bereft by the explosion, until further arrangement can
He went to the mine as soon as the explosion was made known but was
compelled to return to Monongahela over Sunday to conduct the services of
December 1, 1908, pg. 1.
Canonsburg Man Gives Life For Love of Maiden
Marianna, Nov. 30.--Charles Mucklerat, of Canonsburg, sacrificed his
life for the love of a Marianna maiden. Four weeks ago Mucklerat, who is 20
years old, visited his home. His parents tried to persuade him to remain.
However, the girl he loved resides here, and he came back to the mines. He
is numbered among the dead in Saturday's explosion.
John and Harry Bennington, 40 and 17 years old, respectively, had
returned to the mines only last week, after being idle for six months. Both
Where Explosion Was Most Violent
Condition of Bodies Shows That Force Was Greatest at Entry between Two
Shafts--Identification of the Dead.
Marianna, Nov. 30,--Among the bodies identified today were Senior Lee,
Andy Ponn, John Gezzuni, Joe Matteson, Tim Rule, John Matoski, Phil Drenier,
Mike Vale, Andy O'Ravich, Joe Holmes, August Silvestur, Thomas McDine. The
latter was identified by a signet ring which he wore on his little finger.
All of the other men were unidentified when taken to the morgue. Some of
them had check number and will be identified by this means. Others were
identified by friends at the morgue.
The condition of the bodies removed from the mines this evening that the
force of the explosion was felt more in the entry between the two shafts
that at any other part of the mine. Most of the dead brought to the surface
this evening were taken from the summit of the mine located west of the two
openings. Not a single man was brought from the depths who was not badly
Most of the men removed from this section of the mine this evening had
all of their clothes intact and were not mutilated beyond the burning about
the head and shoulders. One body was found in the mine on Sunday morning
which had been burning. The flesh was slowly cooking.
Fifteen-Year-Old Girl Loses Both Husband and Father
Marianna, Nov. 30,--A widow and an orphan at the age of 15 years, Pearl
Austin, formerly Miss Pearl Beadling, of near Rices Landing has been one of
the anxious waiters at the pit's mouth since the accident on Saturday.
Her husband and father are both in the mine and as yet have not been
identified. Miss Beadling and Mr. Austin were married last October. She is
almost distracted as the result of her grief.
BURIAL OF MINE VITIMS.
President Jones Says Company Will Provide Ground.
Marianna, Nov. 30,--"We haven't considered the burial features," said
President John H. Jones, of the Pittsburg-Buffalo company today. "We will do
anything the relatives or friends of the victims designate. There are, I
understand, one or two Catholic cemeteries near here large enough to hold
the men of that creed. Possibly half of the dead men were foreigners and
supposedly of the Catholic faith.
"However, if any wish we will gladly furnish land for a cemetery. We
will do anything in our power for any and all."
December 1, 1908, pg. 1
121 BODIES HAVE BEE BROUGHT UP FROM MARIANNA WORKINGS; INQUEST TO BE HELD
At Least Six More Victims in Mine's Depths, But It Is Thought the Rescue
Work Will Be Completed Today.
SOLE SURVIVOR HAS CHANCE FOR RECOVERY
Wife and Family Now on Ocean Coming to America--Chief Mine Inspector
Will Make Thorough Investigation Today.
Marianna, Dec 1--12:05 a.m.--At this hour this morning 121 bodies have
been removed from the ill fated shafts of the Pittsburg-Buffalo company.
At midnight the works were shut down and no more bodies will be removed
until daylight when the shifts will enter the mine to complete their work in
removing the bodies.
It is believed by the officials that the mines will give up at least six
more victims. When the mines were closed this morning all of the available
bodies had been brought out and those left are the stragglers, probably
covered by debris, John H. Jones stated at midnight that he was positive
that the rescue work would be completed today, including what bodies are
covered by the falling timbers and debris. The rescue work was stopped in
order that the men who had been working faithfully for upwards of 48 hours
might get some rest.
Marianna, Nov. 30.--The inquest into the cause of the terrible disaster
which snuffed out the lives of the 121 men now removed from the bowels of
the earth will be held at Monongahela on Thursday, December 10, at 1 o'clock
p.m. Coroner Sipe stated this evening that every detail would be gone over
and nothing would be left undone to locate if possible the cause of the
Late this afternoon J. E. Roderick, chief state mine inspector of
Harrisburg, arrived on the scene in a special train. He called together the
mine inspectors of the various districts of this county who were on the
ground and after a short conversation left the works. He will return
tomorrow and with the mine inspectors, Young, Black and Louttit will go into
the mine and make a thorough inspection.
The directions in which the timbers were blown will be taken into
consideration in order that they might find out just where the explosion
occurred. The locations of the bodies were marked in hopes that this might
aid in locating the place of the explosion. The inspectors have issued
orders for nothing to be touched in the mines until after their inspection.
It is believed by the inspectors that the seat of the explosion was near the
main shaft or that of the Rachelmine. It is said that the smoke issued from
this opening first.
In speaking of the manner in which the rescue work was carried on with
the Jones men in charge State Inspector Roderick stated that it was the best
system he had seen anywhere in the state on similar occasions. All of the
Jones men have stayed with the work since the accident with the exception of
a few hours early this morning when they took a short rest.
Not a trace of the effects of liquor has been seen at the mines since
the accident on Saturday. Hot coffee has been kept on hand at all times and
the men have been given plenty of this but no strong drink. All persons
visibly affected were sent from the grounds, but only two of these were
seen. One man was arrested at the morgue this evening for being drunk.
Perfect order has been kept about the mines at all times.
The morgue was the principal point of attraction today as many of the
wives, sweethearts and those who had brothers, fathers, and friends in the
mines flocked there to identify the dead. The morgue was closed last night
at 9 o'clock and opened at 9 o'clock this morning. The harrowing scenes
which are usually enacted at the shaft on similar occasions were not in
evidence at this catastrophe owing to the fact that the mining town is new
and many of the men who were employed in the shafts resided at other places
and had not brought their families here yet. Many of these people arrived
When the morgue closed this evening about 25 bodies had been removed. A
large number of the others who were unknown when they were brought from the
mines were identified today, but were not removed owing to the requirements
of the coroner. A large corps of undertakers were present and the bodies
were present and the bodies were given excellent attention. Many of the
undertakers were Coroner Sipe's deputies from various sections of the
county. Two of his deputies were present today and assisted with the work
when the bodies were brought from the mines. Mr Sipe remained at his post
for a period of 58 hours without any sleep.
Fred Ellinger, the only man who escaped from the mine alive and who was
in a serious condition at the Monongahela hospital last evening, is much
better today. Dr. F. Floyd Cobb, the attending physician stated this evening
that the man would recover entirely unless some unknown complications set
in. Elinger's wife and four children were sent for some time ago and only
the day before the accident set sail for America. They are now on the ocean
and will not learn of the good fortune of the husband and father until they
reach the shores of the United States.
The opinion seems to be growing that the disaster in the Marianna mine
Saturday morning was caused by the explosion of a vein of natural gas in the
Pittsburg vein of coal. Superintendent A.D. Kightlinger, of the Beallsville
field of the Manufacturers Light and Heat company, who is on the ground,
informed your correspondent this afternoon that about one year ago his
company drilled a well on the Johns farm near Shaft No. 3, (Blanche). In the
Pittsburg vein of coal they encountered natural gas with such pressure that
a stream of water was thrown out of the hole for a week. Superintendent
Kightlinger remarked a few days ago to Pittsburg-Buffalo officials that is
such a gas pocket were encountered in the coal in the mine workings that all
the miners would be blown into eternity. Gas men here express the opinion
that such a pocket was uncovered on Saturday and that an explosion resulted.
The theory that gas from the Fulton well seeped through the coal and was ign-
ited has been abandoned. This well is cased with 10-inch casing for 20 feet
below the coal vein. A casing 6 5/8 inches in diameter extends then to 1,100
feet below the coal, while a 1 inch casing extends to the bottom of the
well. The top of the well is un-injured indicating that no explosion from
this source occurred.
A coal test hole was drilled some time ago on the Mose Smith farm near
here and since Mr. Smith has been supplying his home with fuel from the
well. The same conditions existed on the J.H. Shidler farm some time ago.
The ninety-first body today had a horse tattooed under one arm. The neck
was broken. The corpse has not been identified but the tattoo mark is
expected to enable identification to be made. No. 92 was Timothy Rule, an
American, whose head, both arms and both legs were blown off.
Coroner W.H. Sipe met with a painful shock while superintending the
reception of the bodies from the mine. Late last night when a mutilated
corpse was laid on the boiler house floor the coroner was surprised to find
that it was the remains of Milt Eckenroad, an old schoolmate and a lifelong
The coroner also had another experience which he does not relish. When
he came to Marianna he had with him $102, of which amount $100 was in two
$50 bills. When he took charge of the morgue he placed the money in an
inside overcoat pocket and hung the garment in the boiler house not 10 feet
from where he was at work. This morning he found the inside pocket of the
overcoat turned inside out and the money missing. He had inadvertently
pulled the money out in the presence of several persons on Saturday evening
and one of these is supposed to have been the thief.
The Washington Observer Monday, November 30, 1908.
The Mine Disaster.
In its issue of November 17 The Observer chronicled the particulars of
an accident at the Ellsworth mine by which six men were swept into eternity
in the twinkling of an eye.
Today it tells of the greatest disaster in the history of the county and
one of the most remarkable in the history of coal mining.
Remarkable because it occurred in a new mine planned by the best
engineering skill on scientific principles and equipped with the most modern
appliances to avoid just such a calamity as occurred.
A two day inspection by a trained official of 20 years experience had
discovered nothing to cause apprehension and mining experts are puzzled to
account for the terrific explosion which blotted out not less than 125
It is for these reasons that we speak of this disaster as remarkable.
Its occurrence but emphasizes the danger of the business of mining soft
gas coal, particularly where it is necessary to shaft for it and that must
be done in the greater part of Washington and Greene counties.
Two thoughts come to us as we consider this awful calamity: how can
similar disasters be guarded against in the future and what is the duty of
the community to those who are dependent on the men who lost their lives?
First we must have laws providing for the most complete and scientific
study and investigation of the causes of these explosions, we must have the
most rigid inspection and thorough enforcement of every statute designed to
protect life and lastly we must punish with certainty and severity every
one, employer or employee, who violates the mining laws.
Familiarity breeds contempt and some men who are in the constant
presence of death are sometimes willing to take chances.
Sooner or later the man who takes chances meets with trouble.
And about providing for those who depended on the men whos lives were
We read in the accounts of this dreadful disaster of one woman, a widow,
who hurried to the mine from Monongahela because three of her sons were
employed there: of another poor woman who on reaching the mine and finding
that her husband and two sons were entombed became violently insane and had
to be held to prevent her doing hurt to her own body; and further that the
foreman who was hurled from the shaft to instant death left a wife and eight
These men gave their lives for humanity while doing a part of the
world's necessary work.
Those dependent upon them should be taken care of just as the widows and
children of the old soldiers are provided for by a grateful nation.
This can be done without imposing a burden on the community.
A tax of one cent per ton on the coal produced in Pennsylvania will
raise $1,000,000 annually.
That would be less than four cents upon each hundred bushels which is as
much as an average family will use in a year.
The tax will fall uniformly upon the consumers widely scattered
through-out the country.
It would not be a burden to anyone.
But the objection is made that it would be socialistic in its tendency.
If that be true then we believe that more people have sympathy with some
of the socialistic doctrines that is commonly thought.
Washington county has more coal of the Pittsburg vein under its soil
that any other county in the union possesses.
Ninety-seven per cent of its area is underlain by this best of all
It is to be the scene and the centre of the most extensive coal
operations the world has ever seen.
The development is really only beginning.
This is the time to study the matter and decide what the duty of the
community is toward the unfortunate men injured in the mines and the
dependent ones left by those who lose their lives in such appalling
disasters as that which occurred at Marianna on Saturday.
November 30, 1908 The Washington Observer
Mine Disasters In Bituminous Field
Mine disasters in the great bituminous coal section of Western
Pennsylvania have been of alarming frequency and this immediate district has
been particularly afflicted in this respect.
Following is a record of the most notable disasters of recent years:
Johnston, July 11, 1902................112 killed
Braznell mine, near Brownsville, December 24, 1899 ... 20 killed.
Port Royal, Pa. 1900 .............. 21 killed.
Hill Farm Mine, Dunbar, Pa. November 21, 1903..12 killed.
Harwick, Pa., January 28, 1904....189 killed.
Naomi Mine, Bellevernon, Pa. December 1, 1907 ...34 killed.
Mongah Mine, Fairmont, W.Va. December 7, 1907...350 killed.
Darr Mine, Darr, Pa., December 19, 1907 ...200 killed.
Marianna Mine, Marianna, Pa. November 28, 1908...125 killed.
December 2, 1908
WORK OF RESCUE AT STRICKEN MARIANNA PRACTICALLY FINISHED
List of the Dead Now Numbers 137; More May Be Found.
Marianna, Dec. 1, --The death list of the Marianna disaster numbers 137,
two of which number, were killed on the surface while 135 men met their
death at the bottom of the shafts 456 feet below the surface. It is now
believed that not more than ten bodies will yet be found in the mines when
the falls have been removed and the water pumped out.
It was thought last night that the list would not be increased when 124
had been removed but this morning 11 more bodies were discovered. The number
is now 10 above the estimate made by the company officials. The search has
not been discontinued. Some of the falls were explored today and some few
bodies found. The mine is in much better condition that the officials
expected to find it and it is not likely that many bodies will be found
under the falls. However, it is expected that bodies will be removed from
this charnel house occasionally for the next week.
J.E. Roderick, the chief state mine inspector, of Harrisburg, was on the
ground again today and directed that nothing in the mine be disturbed until
after the inspection is made. This inspection will not be made, however,
until next week.
The body of William Hopkins, who was employed as fire boss at Marianna,
was shipped last night to Houtzdale, where the interment will be made.
The body of John Ivill, Jr., was shipped this morning to Greenoak, where
the funeral took place today.
The funeral of Mike Wickovick, who died at the hospital Saturday
afternoon, from injuries received at Marianna, took place this afternoon.
the interment was made at St. Mary's cemetery.
THE WASHINGTON OBSERVER
Bodies of Victims Are Being Removed By the Relatives
Marianna, Dec. 1.--At a late hour this evening 56 bodies which were
identified had been removed from the morgue by friends and relatives of the
dead men. Several more bodies have been identified but have not been claimed
by relatives while several others have been identified by relatives who will
have the bodies removed tomorrow.
All of the bodies have been embalmed and are in good condition with few
exceptions. It was at first thought that a burying ground would be opened on
the property of the Pittsburg-Buffalo company and those bodies which were
not identified interred there. This was later given up and the relatives are
now taking the bodies to whatever cemetery they wish and the
Pittsburg-Buffalo company is paying all expenses. The men will all be given
a decent burial, much beyond the burial usually given the unidentified
miners on such an occasion.
The Pittsburg-Buffalo company purchased caskets at wholesale for $65
each. If the friends are not satisfied with this casket they are given the
opportunity to have it changed for a better one and the company will pay the
difference in price. The company also directed the friends and relatives to
purchase lots in any cemetery and have the bill sent to the company. So far
all the relatives and friends have been satisfied with the caskets and none
has asked for more expensive ones.
Tomorrow a car load of bodies which have been identified will be taken
to Cokeburg, where the interment will be made. At that place there is an
Italian cemetery and today many graves were dug there. Other bodies have
been taken to Washington, Canonsburg, Monongahela, or to the former homes of
Following is the official list of the bodies which have been identified
and removed from the morgue as given out late this evening by the officials
John J. Ivill, aged 23; Owen Burns, aged 23; William Hopkins, aged 38;
Charles Tehaney, aged 40; John Beadling, aged 52; Alex. Smith, aged 35;
Robert Spence, aged 25; William Spence, aged 29; Jake Sizmiki; Walter
Eckenroad, aged 33; Samuel Sifton, aged 53; Joshua Madison, aged 38; John
Federal; George Tamalin; Charles France, aged 60; George Reno; Ira Lanndean;
Richard Piatt, aged 53; William Platt, aged 26; Francis Ferguson, aged 40;
John Zoskelicki, aged 27; Morris Rodier, aged 36; Joe Holmes, aged 26; Mike
Novenski, aged 42; Peter Arnold, aged 27; Mike Vale, aged 22; John
Melozoski, aged 44; Martin Stowaiga, aged 36; George Aikens, aged 39; Senior
Lee, aged 45; Joe Folia, aged 33; Augustus Silvestus, aged 20; Thomas
McDine, aged 24; Albert Smarta; john Zallnickik, aged 30; Steven Bernardney,
aged 31; John Evans, aged 45; Robert Crawford, aged 40; Charles Austin, Jr.,
aged 21; Allen Burlock, aged 27; Mike Evanns, aged 23; Alex. Behanna, aged
30; William Thomas, aged 23; Mike Morris, aged 28; Mike Stevens, aged 22;
John Epinnichec, aged 21; Mike Stantobick, aged 25; Joe Sarkichika, aged 25;
Phil Trsaska, aged 24; Valentine Plasteuak, aged 27; Harry Miller, aged 16;
Alfred Mackin, aged 18; Arthur Beeves, aged 33; John Jacogika, aged 33.
Among the other bodies identifed and which were not removed from the
morgue this evening are:
Peter Hagas, Alex Borish, Charles Durblin, John Grina, Philip Bruno,
William Drenier, John Matoske, Tim Rule, James Henderson, Domenick
Quagliero, Frank Teberry, Frank Egon, Mike Lapine, Patrick Donlin, Buezanna
Afrey, Alex. Bosiwich, Eigant Uszana, George Keeker, Peter Reinoelty, Joe
Greisinger, Frank Ledoff, Steven Selakovic.
The bodies of the two men who were killed on the outside of the works,
Henry Thompson and James Joaaf, were taken to monongahela the day of the
esplosion and have been interred. Up to the present time upwards os 100
bodies have been identified.
December 7, 1908
ILL-FATED MARIANNA MINE GIVES UP FIVE MORE BODIES
The Remains of Seven Other Victims of Awful Disaster Found Under Heap of
Debris in Depths of Workings.
DEATH LIST IS NOW OVER 150
Work of Cleaning Out Shafts Pushed With All Possible haste Probable that
Mine Will Resume First of Year.
Marianna, Dec. 6,--The ill-fated marianna mine continues to give up its
dead. Since Saturday morning five bodies have been taken from the mine and
it is stated on the authority of the engineer in charge of the work, that
there are still seven bodies in the workings.
The first of the five bodies brought to the surface Saturday was that of
an Italian. It has not yet been identified. This body was brought to the
surface Saturday morning. The bodies of the other four victims were brought
out during last night. They were taken to the morgue this morning. The
finding of these five bodies raises the total number of fatalities to 144
and if there are seven more bodies in the mine the total list of dead will
The first of the four bodies brought to the surface last night was
identifed as that of James J. Roule. He was a resident of Monongahela, was
single and about 18 years of age. Through an oversight this body was taken
to Monongahela before being viewed by the coroner's jury. It is probable
that it will be brought back before burial.
The second body was that of Andy Kubacki. He was married and lived at
East Marianna. He leaves a wife and five children.
The fourth body taken out last night has not yet been identified.
The five bodies last taken out were found near the foot of Agnes shaft
No. 2. They were so completely covered with debris that they could not be
seen. They were found while the work of clearing out the passageway was in
progress. It is stated that the seven bodies will be brought up to the
surface tomorrow morning.
The bodies of 12 of the unidentified victims were interred in the
Scenery Hill cemetery, yesterday. Arrangements have been made for the
interment of 21 more of the bodies tomorrow.
The work of clearing out the shafts and getting the mine in readiness
for the resumption of work, goes on as rapidly as possible under the
circumstances. It is nor thought likely that the mine will be ready for
operation before the first of the coming year.
A Curtain of Mystery Is Drawn Over Affairs at the Stricken Marianna Mine.
The Coroner and the Company Officials Decline to Give Out Any Statements.
But It is Generally Thought That There Are From 15 to 18 Bodies Still in the
Depths of Shafts.
RUMORED THAT REMAINS OF FIVE WERE QUIETLY REMOVED BEFORE DAYLIGHT
Marianna, Dec. 7, While no additional bodies were brought to the morgue
here today, the general belief prevails here that the remains of at least 15
to 18 victims are still in the workings.
It is rumored, however, that five bodies were brought out of the mine
before daylight this morning, though no trace of the mean can be found
around the workings.
An air of mystery seems to pervade the region round about the ill-fated
Rachel and Agnes shafts. No longer is information volunteered as to
conditions in the mine on the part of the workmen in charge. Coroner W.H.
Sipe is no longer communicative and it is really difficult to learn anything
about what is being done.
Some days ago officials of the company gave out the death list as 138.
It has gradually grown since that time until now it is practically certain
that the list will overreach 150 and perhaps greatly exceed that number.
Undertaker Barr, who has been on the scene since the day of the
explosion stated today that he had not the least doubt that there were 15 to
18 bodies still in the shaft.
Since the body of James Roule was taken out and was permitted to be
removed before it was viewed by the coroner's jury the suspicion has arisen
that possibly other bodies have been thus quietly taken away.
Canonsburg, Dec. 7,--The bodies of two more of the Marianna mine
explosion victims were brought to Canonsburg at noon today for interment.
These were the bodies of Albert Vuek, white aged 35, and Andy Kubacki, also
white, aged 40. Both were Slava, and their remains were discovered in the
ill-fated mine Saturday night. they were identified without difficulty.
The remains upon their arrival here were taken to the undertaking rooms
of W.H. McNary, and later where removed to the Polish-Catholic church in
East College street, where funeral services were conducted by Paul Urban,
pastor of the church. The interment was made in the Polish-Slavish cemetery
in Alexander place. Both men had worked at Meadowlands before going to
Marianna a few weeks ago.
Eva Wnek Steffanik
Mrs Eva Wnek Stefanik, 84, of Marianna, died Thursday, January 24, 1963,
in Washington Hospital.
She was born in Poland Dec. 24, 1878 and came to the United States in
1902. Since 1907, she lived in Marianna, except for the past year, when she
lived with a daughter at Cokeburg. She was a member of the National Slovak
Society No. 631.
She was twice married. Her first husband, Albert Wnek, was killed in the
Marianna mine explosion in 1908, and her second husband, Joseph Stefanik,
died in 1949.
Surviving are one son, John A. Wnek, Benwood, W.Va.; three daughters,
Mrs. Marie Ellis, California State; Mrs. Pauline Semenic, Cleveland, Ohio,
and Mrs Stella Sabolsky, Marianna; 19 grandchildren, 43 great-grandchildren,
three step sons and four step-daughters. A daughter, Thelma Silvers, died in
STEFANIK--Friends of Mrs. Eva Wnek Stefanik, Marianna, who died Thursday,
Jan. 24, 1963, will be received at the John H. Shrontz Funeral Home,
Marianna. A prayer service will be held there Monday, Jan. 28, at 8:30 a.m.
followed by requiem mass at 9 a.m. at St. Mary and Ann R.C. Church, in
charge of Rev. A.J. Milcic. Burial in Horn Cemetery.