Cherry, IL Coal Mine Disaster, Nov 1909

Cherry IL The morgue scene.jpg Cherry IL Mine Day After Disaster.JPG Cherry IL Caskets Loaded On Train.JPG Cherry IL Mine Disaster Ruins of Fan House 1909.jpg Cherry IL  The Morgue where Bodies Lay.JPG Cherry IL Historical Marker Of Mine Disaster.jpg Cherry IL Remains of the Fan House today.jpg Cherry IL Remains of the Tipple at the entrance.jpg CHERRY ILL MINE




Cherry, Ill., Nov. 20 -- The St. Paul Coal Mine has given up its living.
At midnight there had come alive out of the pit twenty-one men who for a week had been given up for dead. At that hour upwards of 70 men were known to be alive in the mine but had not yet been brought to the surface, while it was reported that fifty others might have achieved the seemingly impossible and escaped death.
The return of the men to life one week after their burial alive came so suddenly that the whole community was stunned. The men came to tell tales of hardship and privation and suffering as only the pen of a Poe could adequately describe. They told of fighting first against death in the shape of fire and later against the slow death of suffocation.
For seven days they subsisted on what little food was in their buckets and the bark of the mine timbers and drank the oil from their lamps and the seepage in the gutters of the mines. For seven days they watched and waited and prayed for rescue and tuned their ears to sounds from the outside world that would tell them that saviors were near at hand.
Then when all were sinking to the apathy of despair and the songs they had sung and the stories they had told no longer served to keep their minds off their approaching doom, rescue came and willing hands dragged them from their prison 300 feet under the earth's surface and brought them up to home and friends.
History has seldom recorded so providential a rescue and rarely has the world witnessed such scenes as attended the return of the entombed men to life.
The first news that men were still living in the mine reached the surface at 2 p.m. For days the interior of the mine had been a fiery furnace and all hope that men might still be living in the subterranean tunnels had been abandoned. Volunteers had gone down to being up the dead and could scarcely believe their own senses when they found men living.
The news spread like wildfire throughout the stricken village and before the first of the entombed men had stepped out of the cage on the surface a dense throng surrounded the mouth of the pit. Men, women and children deserted their homes and ran some of them half clad to the mine's mouth. The two companies of state troops that had been sent by Gov. Benson to prevent disorder when dead bodies were brought up, found no disorder until the living appeared.
Women whose husbands, brothers or sweethearts had been buried since the fire broke out became hysterical in their excitement and fought with the soldiers to reach the mouth of the shaft.
Many swooned. These whom the soldiers held back as gently as they could, returned again to the attack and seizing the guns of the soldiers endeavored to wrench them from their hands. Many got through the lines and would have hurled themselves head foremost into the pit had they not been restrained.



Anton Masenetta

My Great Great grandfather dies in the Cherry mine disaster. I am trying to find information about his children. My great grandpa George and his twin sister were adopted separately after the accident. I am told that their mother died in childbirth and Anton was left to care for the twins on his own. Does anyone know how I could possibly find out this information or possibly what Anton's daughter's name possibly was?

Reading this story and all

Reading this story and all the comments from relatives makes for a very poignant and terrible tragedy. I am from a mining town in Canada and my grandfather died in a mine at age 36. I cannot imagine leaving a family member buried underneath, always wondering what happened to them.
These are incredible stories, thank you for sharing

Anton Vesel

emilio tonelli

i would like a list of names sent to me
emilio was a great grandfather that died
in the disaster. also we were told that a
petro lancelotti and a mane named gudatti
was ther can you please send me anything thanks

looking for relatives

I´m looking for list of victims. My grandfather had two brothers, Karl Johan and Axel Johanson who I´ve been told died in an explosion in young age.. They arrived to Illinois from Sweden in 1907. At least one of them worked as a "stonecutter"
The explosion should have taken place in Rockford Ill. I appreciate any help where to search.

Anton Vesel

My husband name is Kenneth Vesel. His father was Victor. Victors mother was pregnant with him when Anton died in the mine. We are trying to find information about Anton and where he was born and who his parents were. We know that Frances met him in La Salle Il. He was staying at a boarding house that her and her mother ran. We are also trying to find out why he had the alias attached to his name.

anton vesel

Hi Alice
Anton is my great grandfather.
Would like to hear from you. I did locate his tombstone . I attended the 100th anniversary of Cherry Mine disaster, were you there? Please contact me @

Re List of Survivors of Cherry Coal Mine Disastor - 1909

Yes There Are List Of Those Who Survied The Cherry Coal Mine Disastor of 1909 and Those Who Got Settlements
Contact The Cherry, Illinois and Spring Valley, Illinois Historical Societies. - Very Nice People - They Will Help and Direct You.
If I Were You - I Would Call Them Via the Phone and Talk With Them.
Good Luck In Your Search.

Cherry Coal Mine Disastor - 1909 - List Contain Incorrect Info

My Two Third Cousins - Sam and Alfred Howard (Develeschoward) Both Died Side By Side In The Cherry Coal Mine of Black Damp.
The Mine List and The Book " Trapped" Incorrectly State That Alfred Was 16 Years Old At The time He Died in The Mine. However, According To Family Records - Alfred Was Born in 1895 - Thus, He Was ONLY 14 At the Time He Died In The Mine and NOT 16.

The Author of The Book " Trapped" Incorrectly States That Alfred and Sam's Mother, Celina Was of Italian Descent - This is Totally Wrong.
Celina And Her Ancestors Were Of French Descent And Alfred and Sams' Father, Charles Devleschoward (Howard) was of French/Belgium and Flemish/Belgium Descent.

So Do Not Depend To Much On What The Records and List State.
Further, Given that Many of The Mine Workers Were Not Amercan Born There Are Errors In Spellings of Last Names, As Well As First and Middle Names.

If I were You, I Would Contact The Cherry and Spring Valley Illinois Historifcal Societies - I Found Them To Be Helpful when I Was Doing My Family Search. Also, Another Place That is VERY HELPFUL is The LDS - Church of Jesus Christ of The Latter Day Saints - Family Library - They Do Everyones Genealogy - Look Them Up in The Phone Directory and Call Them - They Are Very Nice People and You Do NOT Have To Be of Their Faith In order For Them To Assist And Help You. Give it A Try - I Think You Will Be Happy With The Help The Provide To You.

Good Luck To You

Cherry Mine

Sue, I believe Anton was my grandfather and the child Franceska was carrying was my dad. I dont know a lot about the story, other than that, and that his name wasnt on the marker (as Anton) anyway, and I dont remember hearing WHY it wasnt..