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1905 Mine Explosion

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Re: 1905 Mine Explosion

Posted: 1271095544000
Classification: Query
This is some information I've collected from different places about the explosion. The lists are copied from the newspaper, so the names of the categories of workers are as they appeared in the time period. No offense is intended. Apologies for the length of the posting.

Virginia, Alabama
Mine Explosion
February 20, 1905
Alabama mine disaster.

Birmingham, Ala., Feb. 21. --- By an explosion in the Virginia mine, about eighteen miles southwest of Birmingham, at 4 o'clock yesterday afternoon, between 110 and 135 union miners are entombed, and it is believed the entire number suffered an awful death.

Scores of vigorous rescuers are at work digging into the mine to relieve their friends and comrades in the mine.

The explosion is believed to have been caused by an accumulation of dust, although the mine has heretofore been noted for being entirely free from dust. It is also believed that as the entire quota has probably been killed, the details of the cause of the disaster will never be known.

Summit County Journal Colorado 1905-02-25




One Hundred and Sixty Hapless Victims - Gruesome and Harrowing Scenes at the Mouth of the Mines-Bodies of the Mangled Miners Being Gathered Up in Pieces.

Birmingham, Ala., Feb. 21.-The scene at the Virginia mines today, where a terrific explosion yesterday imprisoned 160 men 100 feet below the surface, was the most gruesome and harrowing that has ever been witnessed in this section of Alabama.

Of the miners who entered the mine yesterday, so far only 50 bodies have been recovered. It is believed of the remaining 110 men none is alive. Practically isolated from the outside world, the Associated Press reporter found it necessary to employ a courier to intersect its wires three miles distant. The corpses are frightfully mangled and disfigured and identification is almost impossible. Many of them are so badly bruised and discolored that negroes cannot be told from white men. All day long at the mouth of the mine the moaning and wailing of women and children whose unfortunate relatives were in the mines has been the most heartrending feature of the disaster. One hundred families and 360 children are left destitute and without means of support by the calamity. As the bodies of the victims which in many cases have been gathered together a piece at a time, are brought to the surface, they are placed in rows on a rough, improvised platform.

The work of the diggers at the mines has been an inspiration to the directors and every one has done all in his power to facilitate the work of rescue. The excavation of debris has been handicapped from the start. The foul gases which had collected in the shaft made it necessary to use safety lamps and it was found that less than a score of safety lamps were available in the district. Union miners went to the scene from practically every mining camp within a radius of 25 miles of Virginia City to aid in the work of rescue.

Of the fifty bodies recovered one was found which was barely alive. Scant hope is held out for his recovery. PRESIDENT FLYNN, of the Alabama United Workers, said to the Associated Press tonight:

"I shall be surprised if a single person escapes alive from that mine. Ventilation is very difficult and if the men were not killed by the explosion, they have certainly been suffocated by the gases. The bodies so far reached were in the main slope and it will be several days before we can ket [sic] to the rooms which branch off from the main slope."

Horrible Sights.

One of the most gruesome sights witnessed today was a man's head being carried out of the mine in a dinner basket. It was found in this position and the flesh was almost entirely burned away from the skull, arms and mangled trunks were brought out in succession. After nightfall the entrance to the mine was converted into a veritable chamber of horrors. The awfulness of this was intensified by the flickering of lamps as the feeble rays fell upon the mangled and bleeding fragments of human flesh, strewn about the entrance.

Many stout hearted men who had been assisting in the work of rescue were forced to give up the task and numerous persons have fainted upon seeing the ghastly array of bodies.

Several women became hysterical, others fainted and still others had to be placed in the hands of attending surgeons, being completely prostrated by the terrible scenes. When bodies are identified a tag is placed on each and special ambulance wagons conveyed them to Bessemer.

Mine Boss REED is confident that more than a hundred men in the mines were white and believes all perished.

The Grand Forks Daily Herald, Grand Forks, ND 22 Feb 1905


Birmingham, Ala., Feb 22.- At 8 o'clock this evening seventy-five blackened and disfigured bodies had been recovered from the Virginia mines, in which the awful explosion occurred on Monday afternoon, entombing what is now confidently believed to be more than 150 of the best miners in the Birmingham district.

Tomorrow will be a day of funerals at Virginia City, Bessemer, Pratt City and Ensley. The men have been taken to Bessemer as fast as identified. An extra supply of coffins from neighboring cities arrived today.

The rescuers are still heroically at work in the slope and as the diggers advance the bodies further in the mine are found to be worse burned and mutilated than those nearer the exterior. No hope is now held out that any of the men can be alive. Three men were found yesterday whose hearts were still beating but they expired immediately on reaching the outside air.

The Birmingham district has come promptly forward in the matter of relieving the destitute families of the victims and mass meetings have been held in Birmingham, Bessemer, Ensley and Pratt City today for that purpose. Hundreds of dollars have been subscribed in the suburbs and the Birmingham Commercial club and has raised more than $3,000 for the sufferers.

Alabama District No 2, United Mine Workers of America today voted $5,000 to be distributed among the bereaved families.

Omaha World Herald, Omaha, NE 23 Feb 1905


Force of the Explosion Bursts Pipes-Now Believed That Many Virginia City Miners Were Drowned in Chambers


Work of Rescuers Slow Because of Poisonous Gas and Water-Only Fifty Bodies Thus Far Brought to Surface

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., Feb. 22.-Two staff correspondents of the Birmingham News, who have just returned from the Virginia mines this morning, say forty-eight bodies have been taken out. A number of corpses, the rescuers reported, are still in sight, but could not be reached because of the water. The explosion broke the water pipes and flooded a large portion of the mine. It is therefore possible not a few of the men were drowned, as several bodies have been seen floating around in the flooded rooms. Forty-four corpses have been taken to Bessemer, where a vacant storehouse has been secured and is being used as a morgue. Within that building bodies in every form of mutilation are stretched out on the floor for identification.

In very many instances it is impossible to identify the corpses, they are so badly blackened and mangled. Absolutely no hope is held out now of finding any one alive in the mine, especially in view of the discovery that many of the rooms have been flooded. There was a report several men taken alive, but this afterwards was denied as true. It is now stated the muscles of three bodies were relaxed when they were brought out, but there was not life in the bodies.

CORONER PARIS is busy inquiring into the disaster, having already empaneled a jury.

Newspaper men who have made a close estimate on the number of men in the mine, say there were 116, and there is no doubt but every man perished. From now on the work of recovering the bodies will be slow because of the presence of water in the mine.

The Fort Worth Telegram, Ft. Worth, TX 22 Feb 1905


Special to The Birmingham News
Bessemer, Ala. Feb 21. - "Following is a complete list of coal diggers entombed in Virginia mine, as given by their check weighman, Tinning:

Sam Burchfield
John Gallegher
Fred Morgan, has wife and one child.
Charles McFalls
E. L. Cargo
Ross Stewart
D. Troulis
James Meekin, has wife and several children.
J. H. Dammer
Pat Meekin, son of above
W. M. Dickinson
Will Meeks
Barney Kiker, has wife and two children
W. A. Meeks
Ernest Hopkins
Robert Beal, has wife only
James Brown, has wife and one child
Fred Smedley
M. L. Turner, has wife and three children
S. T. Carter
Lee Hardeman
E. H. Bryant, has wife and one child.
Charles Crawley, has wife and eight children
Steve Crawley
J.C. Weaver
O. M. Parsons, has wife only
H. Meekin
W. W. Shoemaker
J. H. Pool
Sandy Nelson, has wife and two children
Harry Hughes
N. R. Pool
W. M. Wright
W. H. Donaldson, has wife and child
____ Pendley (boy)
J.D. Wells, has wife and four children
Richard Tidmore, has wife and four children
John Cohely, has wife
Ben Chastine, has wife and family
Peter Smith
G. L. Pendley, has wife and three children
____ Lawrence, has wife and four children
Joe Scott
Dave Harris, has wife and one child
Jerry Keel, has wife and two children
Kirby Powell, has wife and one child
Roly Bennett
Ira Powell, has wife and one child
Sam Slogett, has wife
Bert Slogett
R. E. Hassell, has wife and two children
Fred Wyatt
P.M. Stucky, has wife and four children
____ McDonald
Andy Nicholson
Luke Bailey, has wife and one child
Jim Jordan, has wife and one child
Bob Pearson
Walter McCoy, has wife and son

A. Lazarre
Tussel Last
L. Antonia
Roda Raffael
____ Tussey
Lonzi Eiro

Total Whites - sixty-five

Levy Steale
W. M. Howard
Ike Cole
Jake Hooks
J. A. Starling
Jim Burton
Jim Huffman
General Hooks
John Grigsby
Isaac Hooks
John Dudley
Elisha Hale
Loyd Davis
Charles Burton
J. E. Durden
A. J. Jackson
Amos Brown
Wade Johnson
Sam Simpson
Primus Wyatt
W. Goings
Homer Dawson
Ivy Walker, has wife and two children
Dave Smith, has wife and two children
Steve turner, has wife and two children
Henry Turner
James Simpson

Total Negroes - twenty-seven

Following is a list of company men, that is, those employed by the company by the day, including drivers, pumpers, trappers, etc.

John Brown, a driver boss, has wife and one child, a son who was in the mine with him.
Neil Brown, trapper
Charles Moreland
Tom Caldwell, has wife and family
Steve Hawkins
Will Green, pumper
Charles Pickett, chainer
M. J. Vance, has wife
John Nelson, driver

Ike Benner
P. Toles
Bob Hall
Bess McCarthy
Dave Hall
Jackson Bowen

"Up to 12 o'clock today many bodies had been brought to this city and had been prepared for burial by Kennedy Bros. undertakers, who were given the contract to take care of and register the entire list of the ded. They have
been assisted by Moore Bros., Vermillion & Adams, and by the Z. R. Steen,undertakers, but the entire list of bodies brought to Bessemer have passed through Kennedy Bros hands, who will have a complete record of the disposition of every body.

Below will be found a list of all bodies received here, together with the place of burial, where instructions have been received.

John Coheley, unknown
Fred Morgan, Adger
Tom Grigsby
Tolsey Veresto, Blocton
J. G. Tidmore, Pratt City
Henry Meachim, Pratt City
James Meachim, Pratt City
Charles A. Crawley, Pratt City
Steve Crawley, Pratt City
J. M. Brown, Ensley
Jerry Keel, Pratt City
Tom Caldwell, Pratt City
W. H. Donaldson, Valley Creek
Luke Bailey
Robert Pierson, Johns
Jesse Weaver
Walker Shumaker
J. E. Jordan, Gentry's Gap
Ed Bryant, McDonough, Ga
Will Dickson, Dolomite
Will Green, Sumter (Masonic)
J. M. Lawrence, Bibbville (Masonic)
Steve Hawkins, Blossburg
Sam Slogett, Adger
Bert Slogett, Adger
N. R. Pool, Valley Creek
J. H. Danner, Adger
John Pendley, Jr., Adger
Roda Raffael, Blocton
M. L. Turner, Tuskaloosa (Masonic)
George Pendley,Sr., Adger (Masonic)
J. L. Nelson, Pratt City
Ollin Pool, Valley Creek
Lanzi Ciro, Blocton
W. Alonza Meeks, Blockton
Will Meeks, Blockton
Fred Smedley, Whitwell, Tenn
Sandy Nelson, Pratt City
B. M. Chastine, Adger (Masonic)
A. Lancy, Blocton
Roland Bennett, Blocton
Thomas Cody, Adger
Charles Moreland, Adger
Robert Beals, Adger
Charles McFalls, Valley Creek
W. B. Wright
Sam Burchfield, Valley Creek
Pat McCoy, Pratt City
Walter McCoy
Lancy Antonio

Pearl Toles, Ravine, Ala
Ike Hooks, Pratt City
Sylvester McCarthy, Ravine
Dave Hall, Bessemer
Bob Hall, Bessemer
General Hooks, Pratt City
J. A. Sterling, Pratt City
unknown, Pratt City
Will Howard, Pratt City
John Dudley, Bessemer
Ira Walker, Cedar Hill
Sam Thorn, Cedar Hill
Oliver Houston, Cedar Hill
Amos Brown, Cedar Hill
A. J. Jackson, Cedar Hill
H. R. Johnson, Cedar Hill
Sam Simpson, Cedar Hill
Wade Jonson, Marion Junction
Jim Burton, Vances
Homer Dawson, Vances
Henry Stevenson, Vances
George Huffman, Sumter
Elisha Hale, Pratt City
Jim Huffman, Sumter

The Birmingham News, Birmingham, AL, 21 Feb 1905

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