WV: The Monongah Coal Mine Disaster

Monongah Mine Disaster
Image Location: http://www.wvculture.org/history/thisdayinwvhistory/1206.html

Going through the thousands of the newspaper articles for this horrific event is heart wrenching. The articles that describe the women and children wailing from a distance is hard to think about.

In all, 362 perished in this mining disaster. Initial estimates were reported closer to 1,000. In addition to those who perished in the mines, there were at least a dozen rescuers who also lost their lives because of gas poisoning.

250 women found themselves widowed while over one thousand children found themselves fatherless. There were stories of four different children who had previously lost their mothers and who found themselves with no parents whatsoever. One story in particular of a little girl, no more than ten, who tended house and cared for her two brothers while her father worked in the mines – I would love to know their fate.

As I searched through articles, I found that three weeks later another mining disaster would occur at the Darr mine in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Calls for the safety of miners can be found throughout. There were other outcries for investigations regarding the young boys who were working illegally in the mines. Scarlet Fever would break out during the rescue attempts and hinder progress for a time.

Below, I will wrap up this blog at the end of December 1907. I have around four dozen newspaper clippings that chronicle that tragic December. They come from every corner of the United States. I hope to pick up a second blog that will cover the investigation into why the explosion occurred and the subsequent hearings. If you know of any good reference material I could utilize for dates and what to look for in the papers, please leave a comment. I would appreciate any and all suggestions.

Details according to Wiki:

The Monongah mining disaster of Monongah, West Virginia, occurred on December 6, 1907, and has been described as “the worst mining disaster in American History”. The explosion occurred in Fairmont Coal Company’s No. 6 and No. 8 mines.

On Friday, December 6, 1907, there were officially 367 men in the two mines, although the actual number was much higher as officially registered workers often took their children and other relatives into the mine to help. At 10:28 AM an explosion occurred that killed most of the men inside the mine instantly. The blast caused considerable damage to both the mine and the surface. The ventilation systems, necessary to keep fresh air supplied to the mine, were destroyed along with many railcars and other equipment. Inside the mine the timbers supporting the roof were blown down which caused further issues as the roof collapsed. An official cause of the explosion was not determined, but investigators at the time believed that an electrical spark or one of the miners’ open flame lamps ignited coal dust or methane gas

During the early days of coal mining, time was of the essence to bring people out alive. The first volunteer rescuers entered the two mines twenty-five minutes after the initial explosion. The biggest threats to rescuers are the various fumes, particularly “blackdamp”, a mix of carbon dioxide and nitrogen that contains no oxygen, and “whitedamp”, which is carbon monoxide. The lack of breathing apparatus at the time made venturing into these areas impossible. Rescuers could only stay in the mine for 15 minutes at a time. In a vain effort to protect themselves, some of the miners tried to cover their faces with jackets or other pieces of cloth. While this may filter out particulate matter, it would not protect the miners in an oxygen-free environment. The toxic fume problems were compounded by the infrastructural damage caused by the initial explosion: mines require large ventilation fans to prevent toxic gas buildup, and the explosion at Monongah had destroyed all of the ventilation equipment. The inability to clear the mine of gases transformed the rescue effort into a recovery effort. One Polish miner was rescued and four Italian miners escaped. The official death toll stood at 362, 171 of them Italian migrants.

As a result of the explosion, along with other disasters, the public began demanding additional oversight to help regulate the mines. In 1910 Congress created the United States Bureau of Mines, with the goal of investigating and inspecting mines to reduce explosions and to limit the waste of human and natural resources. In addition the Bureau of Mines set up field officers that would train mine crews, provide rescue services, and investigate disasters when they do occur.

In 2003, to commemorate the explosion, the Italian commune of San Giovanni in Fiore, from which many of the miners had emigrated, erected a memorial with the inscription Per non dimenticare minatori calabresi morti nel West Virginia (USA). Il sacrificio di quegli uomini forti tempri le nuove generazioni. Monongah, 6 dicembre 1907; San Giovanni in Fiore, 6 dicembre 2003 (“Lest we forget the Calabrian miners dead in West Virginia (USA). The sacrifice of those strong men shall bolster new generations. Monongah, December 6, 1907, San Giovanni in Fiore, December 6, 2003”)

In 2007, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the explosion, the Italian region of Molise presented a bell to the town of Monongah. Today the bell sits in the Monongah town square.

Testimony regarding the disaster can be found here: http://www.wvculture.org/history/disasters/monongah02.html

Various newspaper articles from around the country:

The Pittsburgh Press
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
06 Dec 1907, Fri  •  Page 1
The Pittsburgh Press
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
06 Dec 1907, Fri  •  Page 1
The Fairmont West Virginian
Fairmont, West Virginia
06 Dec 1907, Fri  •  Page 1
The Daily Telegram
Clarksburg, West Virginia
06 Dec 1907, Fri  •  Page 1
Quad-City Times
Davenport, Iowa
06 Dec 1907, Fri  •  Page 1
Pittsburgh Daily Post
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
07 Dec 1907, Sat  •  Page 2
Harrisburg Daily Independent
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
07 Dec 1907, Sat  •  Page 1
The Daily Telegram
Clarksburg, West Virginia
08 Dec 1907, Sun  •  Page 1
The Times Recorder
Zanesville, Ohio
08 Dec 1907, Sun  •  Page 1
The Billings Gazette
Billings, Montana
08 Dec 1907, Sun  •  Page 5
Buffalo Morning Express and Illustrated Buffalo Express
Buffalo, New York
08 Dec 1907, Sun  •  Page 15
The Washington Times
Washington, District of Columbia
09 Dec 1907, Mon  •  Page 5
The Buffalo Enquirer
Buffalo, New York
09 Dec 1907, Mon  •  Page 4
The Fairmont West Virginian
Fairmont, West Virginia
10 Dec 1907, Tue  •  Page 6
The Scranton Truth
Scranton, Pennsylvania
10 Dec 1907, Tue  •  Page 1
Lincoln Journal Star
Lincoln, Nebraska
10 Dec 1907, Tue  •  Page 1
Democrat and Chronicle
Rochester, New York
10 Dec 1907, Tue  •  Page 1
Harrisburg Daily Independent
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
10 Dec 1907, Tue  •  Page 1
The Kearney Daily Hub
Kearney, Nebraska
11 Dec 1907, Wed  •  Page 1
The Windsor Star
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
11 Dec 1907, Wed  •  Page 6
The Republic
Columbus, Indiana
11 Dec 1907, Wed  •  Page 2
Spokane Chronicle
Spokane, Washington
11 Dec 1907, Wed  •  Page 3
The Fort Payne Journal
Fort Payne, Alabama
11 Dec 1907, Wed  •  Page 2
El Paso Herald
El Paso, Texas
12 Dec 1907, Thu  •  Page 1
The Pittsburgh Press
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
13 Dec 1907, Fri  •  Page 17
The New York Times
New York, New York
13 Dec 1907, Fri  •  Page 18
Star Tribune
Minneapolis, Minnesota
14 Dec 1907, Sat  •  Page 18
The Pittsburgh Press
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
15 Dec 1907, Sun  •  Page 1
The Times
Shreveport, Louisiana
15 Dec 1907, Sun  •  Page 16
Detroit Free Press
Detroit, Michigan
15 Dec 1907, Sun  •  Page 4
Pittsburgh Daily Post
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
15 Dec 1907, Sun  •  Page 33
The Baltimore Sun
Baltimore, Maryland
16 Dec 1907, Mon  •  Page 11
The Dayton Herald
Dayton, Ohio
18 Dec 1907, Wed  •  Page 1
Punxsutawney News
Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania
18 Dec 1907, Wed  •  Page 2
The Tampa Tribune
Tampa, Florida
18 Dec 1907, Wed  •  Page 1
New Ulm Review
New Ulm, Minnesota
18 Dec 1907, Wed  •  Page 3
Intelligencer Journal
Lancaster, Pennsylvania
18 Dec 1907, Wed  •  Page 8
Pittsburgh Daily Post
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
18 Dec 1907, Wed  •  Page 9
The Fairmont West Virginian
Fairmont, West Virginia
19 Dec 1907, Thu  •  Page 2
Latrobe Bulletin
Latrobe, Pennsylvania
19 Dec 1907, Thu  •  Page 1
The Clarksburg Telegram
Clarksburg, West Virginia
19 Dec 1907, Thu  •  Page 1

The Plattsmouth Journal
Plattsmouth, Nebraska
19 Dec 1907, Thu  •  Page 4
Richmond, Indiana
20 Dec 1907, Fri  •  Page 1
El Paso Herald
El Paso, Texas
21 Dec 1907, Sat  •  Page 1
The Fairmont West Virginian
Fairmont, West Virginia
23 Dec 1907, Mon  •  Page 1
The Fairmont West Virginian
Fairmont, West Virginia
31 Dec 1907, Tue  •  Page 1

Mining Disaster Stats:

  • Monongah, West Virginia, 1907 (362 killed)
  • Dawson, New Mexico, 1913 (263 killed)
  • Cherry, Illinois, 1909 (259 killed)
  • Jacobs Creek, Pennsylvania, 1907 (239 killed)
  • Fraterville, Tennessee, 1902 (216 killed)
  • Scofield, Utah, 1900 (200 killed)
  • Mather, Pennsylvania, 1928 (195 killed)
  • Eccles, West Virginia, 1914 (180+ killed)
  • Cheswick, Pennsylvania, 1904 (179 killed)
  • Castle Gate, Utah, 1924 (171 killed)
  • Hanna, Wyoming, 1903 (169 killed)
  • Marianna, Pennsylvania, 1908 (154 killed)
  • Frontier Mine disaster, Kemmerer, Wyoming, 1923 (138 killed)
  • Banner Mine disaster, Littleton, Alabama, 1911 (128 killed)
  • Saunders, West Virginia, 1972 (125 killed)
  • Dawson, New Mexico, 1923 (123 killed)
  • Hastings, Colorado, 1917 (121 killed)
  • West Frankfort, Illinois, 1951 (119 killed)
  • Benwood, West Virginia, 1924 (119 killed)
  • Layland Mine disaster, Layland, West Virginia, 1915 (115 killed)
  • Johnstown, Pennsylvania, 1902 (112 killed)
  • Hueytown, Alabama, 1905 (112 killed)
  • Pocahontas, Virginia, 1884 (112 killed)
  • Centralia, Illinois, 1947 (111 killed)
  • Plymouth, Pennsylvania, 1869 (110 killed)
  • Everettville, West Virginia, 1927 (109 killed)
  • Mammoth Mine disaster, Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania, 1891 (109 killed)
  • Krebs Mine disaster, Krebs, Oklahoma, 1892 (100 killed)

List of Miners Killed at Monongah as written in the Annual Report of the Department of Mines, West Virginia 1908

No. 6 Mine

Henry Burke
Fay Cooper
Fred Cooper
G. L. Davis
Thos. Donlin
Thos. Duffy
Harry Evans
Wm. Evans
John Fluharty
Floyd Ford
Jno. Harriman
Lonnie Hinerman
L. D. La[y]ne
Sam R. Kelly
Timothy Lydon
Henry Martin
Albert Miller
J. W. Miller
Frank Moon
James Moon
A. H. Morris
Cecil Morris
Homer Pyles
Fred Rogers
Frank Shroyer
Scott Sloan
Will Staley
Harold Trader
Wm. R. Walls
A. J. Watkins
Milroy Watkins
Geo. Wiley

Geo. Boshoff
Frank Davis
Felix Gasco
Ignat Goff
Frank Krall
Ignots Lapinsky
Jno. Regulski
Petro Rossia
Frank Sawyer
Frank Shantah
Thos. Susnofsky
Mike Wassale

Gass Levant
Nick Scotta
Nick Susta
Andy Tereza
Nick Tereza

Joe Bagola
Andy Berrough
Geo. Berrough
Mike Belo
Mike Bonotsky
Martin Bosner
Jno. Cresko
Mike Danko
Jno. Danko
Mike Durkuta
Jno. Dursc
Thos. Duvall
Mike Egar
Steve Feet
Lobe Feretts
Joe Foltin
Paul Frank
Albert George
Jno. Gomerchec
Wogtech Hamock
Mike Hanish
Jno. Hiner
Martin Honick
Paul Honick
Jno. Hornock
Steve Ignatchic
Mike Kerest
Joe Kovatch
Jno. Kristofitz
Jno. Martin
Mike Oshwie
Geo. Polonchec
Paul Provitsky
Jno. Sari
Geo. Sari
Mike Sari
Steve Sari
Mike Sebic
Thos. Seyche
Andy Stie, Sr.
Andy Stie, Jr.
Geo. Strafera
Mike Wattah
Geo. Yourchec
Geo. Yourchec, Jr.
Mike Zucco

Carl Abatta
Frank Abatta
Joe Abatta
Frank Abruzino
Joe Alexander
Angello Bagunoli
Frank Basile
John Basile
Sam Basile
Salvare Basilla
Joe Belcaster
Sam Belcaster
Pasq Beton
Tony Beton
John Bonasa
Adolph Brand
Don Cemino
Frank Connie
John Connie
Rolph Couch
Joe Covelli
Victor Davia
Nick Deplacito
Lunard Dewett
Loui Faluke
Joe Ferara
Tony Frank
John Fusari
Tony Gall
Franc Garrasco
Carmen Larossia
Frank Larossia
Loui Lelle
James Lerant
Salvatore Lobbs
Mike Meffe
Salvastore Motts
Steve Noga
John Olivaria
Tony Olivette
Janaway Orse
Nick Perochchi
Dom Perri
Fred Prelotts
Peter Privingano
Tony Prosper
Domnick Richwood
John Richwood
Patsy Richwood
Tony Richwood
Mike Ritz
Louis Scholese
Tony Selet
Frank Tallorai
Patsy Toots
Tony Touch
Patsy Virgelet.
Tony Virgelet
Dom Ware

Frank Dutca
John Matakonis
Mike Matakonis
Thomas Matakonis
Thos. Zinnis

Patrick McDonough

No. 8 Mine

Carl Bice
W. H. Bice
Robert Charlton
Wm. R. Cox
James Fletcher
Thos. Gannon
J. W. Halm
E. V. Herndon
Patrick Highland
C. A. Honaker, Jr.
Jno. N. Jones
Pat. J. Kearns
Thos. Killeen
Adam La[y]ne
Scott Martin
Jno. J. McGraw
Chas. McKane
L. L. Moore
C. E. Morris
Marion Morris
Wm. Morris
C. D. Mort
Jno. H. Mort
Sam Noland
Hugh Reese
Jno. Ringer
T. O. Ringler
D. V. Santee
Harry Seese
Beth Severe
Jessie Severe
Dennis Sloan
F. E. Snodgrass
Geo. Snodgrass
Michael Soles
Leslie Spragg
Sam Thompson

Andy Garlock
Geo. Herlick
Anton Hiawatin
Vadis Kawalsky
Joe Keatsky
Geo. Kingerous
Mike Kingerous
Jacob Kores
John Kowalish
John Luba
John Majeska
Jno. Majeska, Jr.
Martin McHortar
Chas. Miller
Mike Motsic
Victor Novinsky
Joe Stahnlski
Tom Stampian
Stanley Urban

Alex. Bustine
John Cheesit
Paul Cheeswock
John Goff
Paul Goff
John Ignot
Geo. Konkechec
Mike Kosis
Frank Krager
Geo. Krall
Frank Loma
John Rehich
Geo. Tomko
John Tomko
Anton Unovich
John Wolincish

Chas. Farmer
Richard Farmer
Geo. Harris
Gilbert Joiner
Calvin Jonakin
Rippen McQueen
W. M. Perkins
Jno. H. Preston
K. D. Ryals
Jessie Watkins
Harry Young

Beat Anchillo
Dominick Anchillo
Paul Anchillo
Tony Angello
Patsy Alexander
Tony Alexander
Patsy Augustine
Colistino Avicello
Angello Barrard
Felix Barrard
Jose Barrard
Ross Beton
Chas. Bolze
Jersti Bonordi
Felix Calanero
Dom Colasena
Joseph Colcherci
Nick Colcherci
Nick Colleat
Dom Colross
Joe Colross
Victor D’Andrea
Vintura Darso
Clem Debartonia
Dominick Debartonia
Mike Deffelus
Tony Deffelus
Pasqual Deleal
Louis Demarco
Angelo Demaria
Jos. Demaria
Mike Demaria
Sebastian Demaria
Sebastian Demaria, No. 2
Albert Demark
Jose Demark
Felix Depetris
Angelo Desalvo
Chas. Desalvo
Dominick Desalvo
Felix Desalvo
Tony Desalvo
Jos. Dewey
Mike Dewey
Jno. Dills
Donatto Domico, Jr.
Mike Domico
Pete Donord
Tony Dorse
Jas. Fassanella
Armanda Fellen
Carman Ferrare
Joe Ferrare
Matta Ferrare
Tony Folio
Peter Frabiacolo
Petro Frediavo
Prospera Inveor
Jim Jacobin
Jim Jeremont
Antonio Joy
Frank Joy
Jno. Lombardo
Frank Lore
Dan Manse
Mike Manse
Tony Manse
Pete Marcell
Jas. Maronette
***D. C. Masch
Carl Meff
Frank Meff
Cosmo Meo
Bobrato Metill
Jno. Metill
Nick Metill
Dom Morsee
Mike Mostro
Dom Mysell
Felix Mysell
Basile Palela
Jim Palela
Tony Pasqual
Louie Patch
Nick Pett
Saverio Pignalli
Bossilo Pillela
Frank Porzilo
Frank Preletto
Jno. Preletto
Pete Prigulatta
Flora Salva
Joe Salva
Vint Salva
Vint Salva No. 2
Joe Sarfino
Frank Simpson
Dominick Smith
Jake Sullivan
Angelo Toots
Frank Vendetta
John Vendetta
John Yanero
Nick Yanero
Carman Zello
Jno. Zello

John Palinkis
Joseph Toth

Patrick Laughney

Mike Bolinski

David Riggins

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