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Pittston, Pennsylvania

Twin Shaft Mine Cave In

June 27, 1896

Roof of a Mine Falls In

Ninety Miners Buried In The Red Ash Vein Of Twin Shaft

No Warning of the Great Damage _Over Two-Thirds of the Victims Married Men _Concussion so Great That Nearly Every Building For Miles Around Was Shaken

Wilkes Barre, Pa. June 29-
While ninety miners were at work in the Red Ash Vein of the Twin Shaft, at Pittston, about 3 o’clock Saturday afternoon, the roof caved in and it is believed all of the men perished. About forty of the imprisoned men were English-speaking miners. The others foreign. The names are:
M. J. LANIGAN, inside superintendent, married, 49 years old
M. J. LYNOTT,
inside foreman, married, aged 43
ALEXANDER McCORMICK,
aged 42
THOMAS MURPHY,
driver boss, aged 36
JAMES COSTELLO,
married, aged 24
MICHAEL CAUGHAN,
single, 24
JOHN HART,
single, ?0
JAMES DAILEY,
single, 20
MICHAEL CORNELL,
single 34
DANIEL WARDE,
single 39
FRANK KEHOE,
single 16
JOHN MEHOE,
married 40
JAMES McDONALD,
married, 38
ED DELANEY,
married, 38
CORNELLUS McGUIRE,
married, 44
JAMES GOLDEN,
married 34
MICHAEL O’BRIEN,
married 45
MICHAEL HUGHES,
married 35
ED KILDAY,
married, 36
JAMES BURKE,
single, 35
PATRICK RUANE,
married, 40
THOMAS TENPENNY,
fire boss, married, 24
THOMAS GAFFNEY,
JOHN GAFFNEY,
married, 26
THOMAS DOING,
single,30
ANTHONY KANE,
single, 34
J. W. MURPHY,
single, 28
JAMES WALL,
married, 45
OWEN LEE,
single, 22
ANTHONY GORDON,
married, 28
THOMAS WALL,
single, 18
DOMINICH O’MALLEY,
single, 30
PETER MARTIN,
married, 35
MICHAEL FORD,
married, 30
TIMOTHY DURBRICH,
single, 26
THOMAS CARLIN,
married, 28
PATRICK GIBBONS
JOHN OBERLE,
married, 32
PETER JOYCE,
married, 32
DANIEL GAVIN,
single
JOHN GILL,
single, 35
PATRICK BOLAND,
ANTOLINY JORDAN,
married,
JOHN HOLSTEN,
married, Hungarian laborer
JOSEGH [sic] DURENDA,
married, Hungarian
TONY TOLLASKI,
married, Hungarian
PETER SAVOSKI,
married, Hungarian
ANDREW SLOVINSKI,
married, Hugarian [sic]
LUNANLAN MASKOVITE,
married, Hungarian
JOHN CADAMISKI,
single, Hungarian

Aside from these there may be other English-speaking miners among the unfortunates. Thirty Polanders and Huns were entombed and it is thought the total number of bodies in the mine will reach 100.

The men were at work propping up the roof when the fall occurred. The alarm was immediately given by the ringing of the fire bells, and rescuers were put to work without delay. At 3 o’clock this afternoon the first bodies were found in the slope some distance from the place in which the men had been working.

More than two-thirds of the victims were married men. Among them were Acting Mayor LANIGAN, who was inside superintendent of the mine, and J.H. LYNETT, a ward councilman. About two weeks ago the surveyors reported to GENERAL SUPERINTENDENT LOW that the mine was “squeezing” and that unless steps were immediately taken to timber it in a cave-in or fall might be looked fo (sic).

SUPERINTENDENT LOW lost no time, but at once put a number of men at work to brace the falling roof. The “squeeze” continued, however, and Saturday the situation became alarming.

The roof fell in without any warning. It is supposed, however, that the men were not all together, but some were near the slope, and these probably ran up the incline when the fall occurred. This is the only way the finding of Mayor LANIGAN’s body can be accounted for. If the men received any warning they had time to run up the slope, but not to any great distance. The falling rock and coal filled up the slope and the adjoining gangways, completely shutting off all avenues of escape.

One mother cried out that she had two sons below. Another was the wife or widow of some unfortunate one and had nine helpless children at home. Many knelt on the ground and in voices broken in sobs, implored the divine providence to restore their lost ones alive.

The concussion was so great that it was heard for miles around. The foundation of nearly every building in Pittston were shaken and windows and doors rattled as in a tornado. In the houses nearer to the mine, persons were thrown from their beds, thinking an earthquake had occurred.

The superintendent says that the mine is now a tomb and that it will be some days before the rescuers reach the bodies.

Grand Valley Times Newspaper, Moab, UT 3 Jul 1896

       

NINETY MINERS DEAD
As a Result of a Cave-in at Pittston, Pa

Were Propping Up The Roof
While it is Possible That Some of the Men May Be Behind The Fall, It is Impossible For Them to Survive in a Gaseous Mine

Wilkes Barre, Pa- June 28
While ninety miners were at work in the red ash vein of the Twin shaft, at Pittston, about 5 o’clock yesterday morning, the roof caved in and it is believed that all the men perished. About forty of the imprisoned men were English speaking miners. The others foreigners.

The following married men are among those entombed in the mine. M. J. LANIGAN, inside superintendent, 49 years old; M.J. LYNOTT, inside foreman, 43; ALEXANDER McCORMICK, 42; THOMAS MURPHY, driver boss, 36; JAMES COSTELLO, 24; JOHN KEHOE, 40; JAMES McDONALD, 38; ED DELANEY, 38; CORNELLUS McGUIRE, 34; JAMES GOLDEN, 34; JAMES WALL, 45; MICHAEL O’BRIEN, 45; MICHAEL HUGHES, 35; ED KILDAY, 36; JOHN GAFFNEY, 36; PATRICK RUANE, 40; THOMAS TENPENNY, fire boss, 34; ANTHONY GORDON, 28; PETER MARTIN, 35; MICHAEL FORD, 30; THOMAS CARDIN, 28; JOHN OBERLE, 32; and PETER JOYCE, 32.

The following victims of the disaster are all unmarried, THOMAS DOING, 30; TIMOTHY DURBRICH, 26; PATRICK GIBBONS; DANIEL GAVIN; JOHN GILL, 35;
P.S. KELLY,
35; PATRICK BOLAND; ANTHONY KANE, 34; J. W. MURPHY, 28;
OWEN LEE,
22; THOMAS WALL, 18; DOMINICH O’MALLEY, 30; MICHAEL GAUGHAN, 24; JOHN HART, 20; JAMES DAILEY, 20; MICHAEL CORNELL, 34; DANIEL WARD, 39; THOMAS GAFFNEY; FRANK KEHOE, 16; JAMES BURKE,35.

The following Hungarians are also entombed: JOHN HOLSTEN, JOSEPH DURENDA,
TONY TOLLASKI, PETER SAVOSKI, ANDREW SLOVINSKI, LUNIAN MASKOVITZ, JOHN CADAMISKI.
All are married except the last named.

In addition there are about twenty other Hungarians and Polanders whose names could not be learned.

MR. LANGAN was acting mayor of the city and M. J. LYNOTT a ward councilman.
The men were at work propping up the roof when the fall occurred. The alarm was immediately given by the ringing of the fire bells, and rescuers were put to work without delay. At 3 o’clock this afternoon the first bodies were found in the slope some distance from the plane in which the men had been working.

About two weeks ago the surveyors reported to GENERAL SUPERINTENDENT LOW that the mine was “squeezing” and that unless steps were immediately taken to timber it a cave-in or fall might be looked for. SUPERINTENDENT LOW lost no time, but at once put a number of timbermen at work to brace the falling roof. The “squeeze” continued, however, and Saturday the situation became alarming. In the afternoon a slight fall occurred, and the men who were at work had to retreat before it. A consultation of mine officials was then held and it was decided that heroic measures would have to be resorted to to prevent heavy damage to the mine.

Inside Superintendent LANGAN gave instructions that the most experienced miners should be secured, and that the party would go down the mine at 7 o’clock.

Expert timbermen put in an appearance at that hour and were soon lowered into the workings. They made their way to the red ash vein, 1500 feet down the slope. The work of propping proceeded rapidly until 11 o’clock when another fall occurred. It made a low, rumbling noise, and the flying coal and debris drove the men back.
Then the “squeeze” ceased again and the men thought it safe to resume work They labored until 3:20 o’clock yesterday morning, when, so it is presumed, the roof fell in without warning, making a tremendous crash. If the men received any warning they had time to run up the slope, but not to any great distance. The falling rock and coal filled up the slope and the adjoining gangways, completely shutting off all avenues of escape.

It is still possible that living men may still be behind the fall, although it is extremely improbable. Even if they escaped being crushed by the falling roof, the possibility of their being alive for any length of time in a gaseous mine is remote.

The alarm was first given by Water Carrier JOHN SHERIDAN, who with WILLIAM RECHARD and THOMAS GILL. were the only ones to escape of the whole party who entered the mine Saturday night. He was on his way up the slope to get some fresh water for the men, and when about a hundred feet from the foot of the shaft was knocked down by the concussion. He was badly cut and burned by the flying coal and rock. He lay unconscious for ten minutes, and then came up the shaft.

The concussion was so great it was heard for miles around. The foundation of nearly every building in Pittston were shaken and windows and doors rattled as in a tornado. In the houses nearer to the mine, persons were thrown from their beds.

People rushed from their houses thinking it an earthquake, but the ringing of the bells, and the shrieking of the big mine whistle told the story. Crowds of people gathered about the mouth of the shaft and numbered thousands by daybreak Stalwart men stood appalled, and the frantic women who had husbands or sons in the doomed mine wailed in despair. One mother cried out that she had two sons below. Another was the wife or widow of some unfortunate and had nine helpless children at home. Many knelt on the ground and in voices broken in sobs, implored the divine Providence to restore their loved ones alive. When it was given out that there was little or no hope of rescuing the men alive women and girls fainted, and were borne away senseless.

Young SHERIDAN, the water boy, who had such a narrow escape, tells a thrilling tale of the disaster. He thinks there was an explosion of gas, which blew down the newly erected timbers and caused the cave-in. When he left the mine to go out the slope to get water those inside had no apprehension of a fall or a “squeeze”. Everything was working nicely, and the men expected to be out of the mine within another hour.
“The report of the fall”, says the boy, was like a hundred cannon, and the force of it blew me fully twenty-five feet. I was hurled against the side of the slope. A piece of rock hit me back of the head, the wound commenced to bleed and I fainted.”

RICHARDS and GILL, who were on their way out after timber, concur with SHERIDAN that the concussion was terrific. They were knocked off their feet and banged against some brattice work. They cannot conceive the possibility of anybody being in the wreck and escaping with his life.

The News, Frederick, MD 29 Jun 1896

       

137 Men Entombed

Awful Result of a Mine Disaster at Pittston
HEARTRENDING SCENES AT THE SHAFT

Believed That There Is Absolutely No Hope Immediate Death or Lengthened Anguish the Lot of the Imprisoned Miners

Pittston, Pa., June 29.
Although there is still much confusion and doubt as to the number of those entombed in the mine disaster here, enough is known this morning to place the loss of life at 137. at a conservative estimate. To-day the head of the shaft is thronged by thousands of men, women and children, the latter wringing their hands and uttering the most heartrending cries for their beloved ones, who are imprisoned in the dark pit beneath. The hours following the alarm will long be remembered by those witnessing the sights, the anxious suspense of the workmen, the grief of the friends and the tender sympathy for the afflicted ones by the spectators requires more than the United Press reporter could describe. The foreign element, in particular, by their piercing harangues, with their wild demands for friends, gave to the weird and harrowing sight one of peculiar

Solemnity. Efforts were made to quiet them by tendering the little encouragement possible, but unavailing were those efforts put forth, as the mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, brothers and sisters reasonably feared the worst, and upon the first information received their fears were found to be well grounded.

First Report Of The Disasters Extent
The first to come to the surface from the shaft below after the explosion was JOHN GILL. The force of the concussion threw him with terrific speed against the wall and with intense fear, more dead than alive, he crept to the foot and with great difficulty signalled (sic) to the engineer at the surface to hoist the carriage. When he was brought up his story, freighted with direful statements, gave to the few bosses present doubts as to the safety of any of the men and boys below. From him was secured the first information of the number who appear to be likely to be in the mine and to add another to those fearful disasters occurring in the anthracite coal regions so frequently. The closest approximation he could make was that 135 or more workmen have suffered a most horrible death.

Just after GILL was brought up word came from the pit that more men were ready to be hoisted, but only momentarily did hope live, for but three came to the surface, and they told the true and frightful story. The men in the mine were there for the sole purpose of pillaring and propping up the sixth vein, which had been discovered to be in a dangerous condition some days ago, so that the regular force of miners could go to work in safety this morning. They were working about 3,000 feet from the shaft.

Excitement And Disturbance
The repairing force had been placed at a point beyond that of the night hands and the terrible news brought to the surface by the three men, who will likely be the only ones to tell the tale, was that all of these 137 or more men had been caught and either crushed to immediate death or imprisoned to perish in a most horrifying manner. Responsive to this discouraging news the excitement and disturbance became more demonstrative. It was found, to the consternation of the few men present on the surface, that all the mine foremen, superintendents and bosses who had gone to supervise the work were also among the imprisoned. This gave the work of relief no systematic head, and yet nobly, unhesitatingly, the rescuers, providing themselves with safety lamps, hurried into the carriage and were lowered a thousand feet or more on their mission of relief.

Efforts Of Rescue
After a half hour of suspense they returned with expressions of discouragement and the story that the cave-in had become more extensive, and that the search party faced inevitable danger, and that no news had been secured of the unfortunate men. With no delay, however, they again went down to the foot of the shaft with the other men and again made heroic efforts to get what information they could, but again baffled and discouraged they repeated their dreadful story of the defeated effort. For a third time with renewed vigor and still more men, they went beneath the surface into the pit and tried by the counter-gangway to reach by a circuitous route the unfortunate prisoners. After a journey of nearly a thousand feet they met obstructions innumerable, the force of the concussion having created disastrous havoc, brattice work, pillars, air conduits, doors, cars and top rock having been piled promiscuously, so as to interfere with all efforts that could be made by any human being. Then to add to the trouble a congregation of gas had occurred so as to endanger any and all efforts to reach anywhere near the imprisoned miners. Not subdued by these obstacles they again ineffectively tried their last resource to relieve and recover the men.

An Encouraging Report
Gen. Manager JOHN R. LAW, who had been for several days on a bed of sickness made his appearance at the shaft and untiringly worked to his best ability to give instructions to those outside and succor to those inside. Special messengers hurried forth calling to the shaft or mine all of the company’s workmen, as it was indisputably learned that the mine was still caving, thereby endangering and making it practically impossible to continue the labor without propping up the way as the rescuers went in. Carriage after carriage of props were sent to the bottom and much progress was made in this work, and soon the imminent danger was prevented and at least fifty men were pushing their way to the foot of No.3 plane, the scene of the extensive cave-in. To the brief encouragement of those who feared the explosion had ended the life of everything in the mine, word was sent up that the mules at work were running about with the liberty they enjoyed. The fact of these mules living, unscratched, together with the observances, rightfully left the impression that the explosive sounds heard were due to no gas explosion.

Shattered Hopes
The supposition that a gas explosion had occurred was later repeated emphatically by General Manager LAW, which shattered the hopes raised by the story of unharmed mules. Later discoveries leave no doubt that all of the men were beyond hope. To the encouragement of all, the fan house has suffered no injury. So far as travel is possible, the air currents are perfect. This fact gives hope to those in control that perhaps a sufficient amount of air can be forced to the rear of the cave-in by a round-about way, but the hope is faint, and at a consultation of the leading superintendents of Lackawanna and Wyoming valleys it was decided that this idea could not be depended upon.

Number of Men Imprisoned
At this conference reports were made by experienced foremen who had made these rescuing trips and the work done was most fully endorsed an commended, and in their opinion nothing more skillful could have been accomplished. At this conference the fear was expressed that possibly the Susquehanna river nearby the cave was running into the mine. This, however, was entirely supposition as nothing inside justified the opinion, but the fear was expressed. The pump in this locality is under the cave and its work is entirely prevented. At the meeting the possible number of imprisoned was mentioned, but this question is wholly a problem as the entire force of bosses and company men, in fact all from whom this information could be derived are in the dark bosom of the pit below. For this rerson (sic) the subject of the missing ones is entirely conjectural

Trenton Evening Times Trenton, NJ 29 Jun 1896

Articles transcribed by Edna Schlauch.  Thank you, Edna!

       

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