Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Coal Mine Explosion - 1910

The following articles concern a coal mine explosion in 1910 in Muhlenberg County that killed many miners, including four men with connections to Ohio County.

Hartford Republican – February 4, 1910

Horrible Disaster

Many Miners Killed By Gas Explosion

Browder, Muhlenberg County, Scene of Another Tragedy of Life

Rockport, Ky  - Feb 2: (Special to Republican) - The little town of Browder, in Muhlenberg county today presents a scene of ruin and desolation as the result of yesterdays mine disaster which cost many miners their lives. Bodies of forty victims have already been recovered and there bodies are lying in an improvised morgue awaiting identification. That there is still a large number of miners entombed in the fiery furnace there is no doubt. It is estimated that there were seventy-five men at work in the ill fated mines when the horrible disaster occurred. Already forty bodies have been recovered and rescuers arc at work endeavoring to reach the entombed men, none of whom can possibly be alive. The explosion which cost the miners their lives occurred at Browder Mines yesterday afternoon. The news of the disaster spread like wild fire and soon the entire  population were congregated at the mouth of the mines awaiting news of their loved ones. The agonized cries of gray haired mothers intermingled with the heart rendering screams of wives and the wails of orphans were pitiful indeed. Strong men wept like babies at the thought of the horrible fate of their less fortunate friends. The shock of the explosion shook the entire county for miles around. Finally an engineer was lowered into the mines and the crowd awaited above in breathless suspense.  What had been the fate of the entombed miners? Would they be alive or dead? These thoughts passed through the crowd with lighting like rapidity. They were not to be long in suspense, the signal for the raising of the cage sounded and the crowd began to press forward. The cage was piled up with blackened and charred bodies of men who had entered the mines that morning never to return alive. The scene was a pitiful one and the greatest excitement prevailed. The loved ones pressed forward to claim their dead and their bodies were soon removed and placed in the improvised morgue.  A large rescuing party was organized and worked all night long in their efforts to reach the bodies of the dead and to rescue the living if there were any. The work of rescue was slow and difficult on account of the gas and foul air and the men were forced to leave the mines time and again. Today the rescue party is still at work, but unable to remain in the mines only a short while at a time. It is thought that the majority of the bodies will be recovered by tonight. The cause of the explosion seems to be a mystery and no one seems to know what was responsible for it. Hemmed in 1ike rats in a trap the miners met an awful death. The burning gas swept the mines from one end to the other reaping a rich harvest of victims. Coffins for the dead miners are being rushed to the scene and preparations for the funerals are being made. Rescuers are hard at work and it is thought the fate of the miners will be ascertained by tonight. Browder is a small mining town located on the L & N Railroad near Drakesboro.

            One white man, John Richardson, and four colored men, Silas Sprall (sic), Columbus Sprall (sic), Henry Mason and Will Berry were former residents of Ohio county.

Hartford Herald – February 9, 1910


One of the Worst in the History of Disasters


Terrible Affair at Drakesboro in Muhlenberg County - The Dead and Injured

            Drakesboro, Ky Feb 2 - Thirty-four dead and one man, Foreman Pete Kelly, missing is the final count of deaths as the result of the explosion at the Browder mine yesterday.

            Crepe is on every other door of the straggling Main street of Browder. There were many funerals today. Coffins were carried in all sorts of vehicles and it was impossible to hold the funeral services in several cases. There is no move yet toward an inquest.

            There is no new light on the cause of the disaster.

            It has been definitely established that fifty-five men were in the wing of the mine when the explosion occurred. Of the twenty brought out alive scarcely one escaped unhurt. Two of the injured may die.

            Drakesboro, Ky Feb 2- Thirty-two known dead, two missing and half a dozen injured, one of whom may die completes the list of casualties in the explosion at the mine of the Elk Valley Coal Company, at Browder, near this place yesterday about noon.

            The bodies of the victims were so mutilated that recognition was difficult and it was some hours before the identity of all of them was established.


JUDGE MATT ALLEN, white, Judge of Drakesboro, 40 years old, marred, wife and six children survive.
RAY BENNETT, white, married, 28 years old
PETE KELLY, assistant foreman, married, 30 years old
MATT LLOYD, married, white, 27 years old
MACK ENGLING, white, married, 35 years old
J. A. RICHARDSON, white, married, 50 years old (Ohio County)
ESTILL CORNETT, white, single, 23 years old
ALEX WILLIAMS,  married, 25 years old
BEN LESLIE, white, married 26 years old
WILL W. WHITTAKKR, white, married, 32 years old
J. R. THOMAS, white, married, 35 years old
JIM WILLIAMS, white, married, 29 yearn old
DUDLEY EMPSON, white, married, 56 years old
WILL RENO, colored  (Ohio County)
RAL MARTIN, colored
COLUMBUS SPROLE, colored (Ohio County)
ALEX SWEAT, colored (Ohio County)
ALEX HUGHES, colored
OBI JONES, colored
JOHN DUFFY, colored
TERRY  CASR, colored
HENRY MASON, colored
BUD SMITH colored
WILL BERRY, colored
LEVY DUVALL, colored
SAM BARD, colored


SAM OATES, colored, bruised about the face by being hurled against a rib
JESSE JERNIGAN, white, married, skull fractured. Removed to his home in Drakesboro. Probably fatally injured.
JAMES LEMONS, white, badly burned, recovery doubtful. Taken to his home in Browder.
HERSHEL SCHOFIELD, white, badly burned, one leg broken, condition dangerous.
JOE JAMES, colored, slight injuries.
HARRIS BORAH, bruised and burned, will recover.
FLOYD AVERY, colored, burned and bruised, will recover.

            The verdict of the coroner’s jury, composed of J. D. Trice,  J. R. Buckhannon, G. R. McLane, J. L. Ledbetter, Don Key, T. J. T. Smith of Drakesboro and Browder, was as follows:  “We the Jury, find that the men came to their death by an explosion in the Browder mine, Muhlenberg county, Ky. Cause of explosion unknown.”

            The report of the inspection by the State authorities was given out tonight as follows: “We, Prof. C. J. Norwood, State Inspector of Mines, H. C. Jones, assistant and Tom Long, assistant inspectors, after making a thorough examination and comparing notes, have reached the conclusion that the explosion was caused by the setting off of a keg of powder. We found and have the exploded keg.”


In Wickliffe Coal Mine, Wherein 34 Men Met Death in a Terrible Explosion

            Drakcsboro, Ky Feb 2 – Thirty-four men lost their lives in a terrible explosion which occurred in an unused section of the Wickliffe mine, at Browder. Thirty-two of the bodies most of them terribly mangled and blackened, have been brought to the surface and are being buried today.

            When the explosion occurred, the concussion of which was a warning to those in other sections of the works, there were nearly a hundred men in the mine. The signal to hoist the cage was given and the frantic miners began pouring out.

            It was sometime before the work of rescue began, but when a party went down it was found that the dead and injured could be reached. The work of rescue continued throughout last night but it was necessary to abandon it for a time this morning on account of foul air. The air fans were started and cleared the mines sufficiently in an hour.

            The body of Peter Kelly, mine boss, and that of a negro had not been found at 3 o’clock this afternoon.

            Doubt is expressed as to the real cause of the explosion. Some bc1ieve that a large quantity of blasting powder was set off, while others say it was gas or dust. The bodies brought out with the exception of Kelly and the negro are believed to complete the list of dead. Several of these injured are in a serious condition.

SMALLHOUS. The remains of Arthur Richardson, who was killed Tuesday by an explosion in the mine near Drakesboro, were interred in “Aunt Nellie’s” burying grounds near Equality Wednesday afternoon.

Additional info:

James Arthur Richardson, b. Nov 1857, resided or born in Ohio County, married to Ida Davis, 2 children

Columbus M. Sprole, b. Feb 1878, resided or born in Ohio County, married to Francis Sanders, 1 child

John Alexander Sweat, b. Oct 1868, resided or born in Ohio County, Widower, Alberta (Verda) Gentry, 4 children

William Reno, resided or born in Ohio County, married to Josie Maddox, 2 children

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