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





By United Press.
Spring Valley, Ill., Nov. 13. -- The most appalling mining disaster in the history of Illinois and one of the most disastrous in the history of the United States took place this afternoon when the lives of several hundred miners were snuffed out in a fire in a second vein of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul railroad coal mine at Cherry, seventy-seven miles from here.
With the fire still raging at midnight, 500 feet in the depths of the mine, the shafts of which have been sealed, it was impossible to estimate accurately the number of men who perished.
Whether 200 or 473 men perished was not certain at midnight. At that hour the officials of the railroad company issued a statement that between 200 and 250 miners were still in the mine -- presumably dead, while persons who have been constantly at the mouth of the shaft since the disaster, declare the time keepers records indicate that 473 have perished.
The railroad officials insist that of the 485 men who went into the shaft this morning about 200 have been taken out alive. Late reports from Cherry, however, deny this assertion and say that of the men who went into the mine in the morning only twenty-four are now on the surface and living.
The heroes of the disaster are twelve rescuers headed by IKE LEWIS, a Cherry storekeeper and mine foremen BUNDY and DONNELLY. These men went into the shaft in an effort to aid the imprisoned men and a few moments after were taken out dead. Their bodies were burned almost beyond the semblance of human beings and were terribly contorted by the intense heat.
President A. J. EARLING and General Manager BUSH of the Milwaukee railroad accompanied by W. W. TAYLOR, general manager of the mine, arrived here tonight and took personal charge of the situation.

Many Were Saved.
The first that was known of it was when there was a deafening explosion and a column of fire and smoke shot out of the mine shaft. The cage was instantly lowered and a moment later it was pulled up packed full of miners who staggered to the ground as it reached the surface and gasped out the story of the scenes of horror they had witnessed below.
Before they could tell their story the cage was sent down again and again, each time bringing up its burden of blackened and weakened men. Finally there was no signal from below to draw up the cage and when it came up it was empty.
Then the survivors told the story while physicians attended them. They said all the men were at work at 3 o'clock when there was a terrific report and almost in an instant the whole mine was filled with flames. They seemed to go everywhere, and it was impossible to escape from their horrible heat, they said. There was a wild dash for the shaft and when the cage came down the living men fought each other to clamber in. All of them were blackened and burned with coal dust and the bodies of some of them were terribly burned.



great grandfather's name

I too have a great grandfather who died at the cherry disaster and can not find the correct name
Him name was Anthony waszeikas- lithaunian
Anthony welkas is the closest i could find..
Where cqan i get the red cross list of names
and why did they use aliases at the mine?
Jill Nicolson

cherry mine disaster victims

In answer to Kathy Survis......I am a mine disaster archivist. All the bodies were found and brought to the surface. None remained in the mine. Some of the bodies were un recognizable , or never identified and are in mass graves in the Cherry Cemetary.You may contact me by my e mail if you care to. some bodies were buried in Ladd and springvalley also. The list you read with the 259 names on it is complete and the only one.

Cherry Mine Disaster

My husband is the grandson of the Oberto Menietti that you speak of. There is a list of the survivors in some of the publications we gathered through the years. Unfortunately, I write this from my desk at work while doing some research for my son's history fair project. If you want to contact me through the address above, I will be glad to share. You might also like to know that Oberto's brother (Celeste) did an interview of surviving the disaster and we have a CD (and transcript) if you would like a copy. Another great source is Jack Rooney of Capitol Strategies out of Springfield, IL. Will be glad to share any information we have.

name of survivors

Would like to know if there is a place to make a list of ones we know made it out of the mine. My grandfather was one of the ones who made it out with his boots on fire and got a very small settlement. There myust be a record of all that even got small settlements. Or if you know of someone maybe we can work togther to make a list that would be easy to add to. I don't have a homepage and when you put CHerry coal mine in there are only a few sites that come up and I don't know who would let us post a list.
can contact me direct at and put Cherry Coal mine since I do a lot of genealogy and other research

survivor list

If there is such a list of survivors, I would like a copy of it. My greatgrandfather Alberto Palmiori died in the disaster. My grandfather Alphonso Lancioni was a miner in Cherry at that time. I don't know if he was in the mine and escaped, worked another shift or what the circumstances were.

Locating survivors

I, too, could not locate my great-grandfather in the list of those who perished in the mine. Recently, the Bureau County Genealogical Society located Probate Court documents that detail an interview with my great-grandmother who was applying for survivor benefits. In this document, she states that her husband went by the name John Stark at the mine, and not his given name, Jerry/Jermey Lindich. Indeed the list of those deceased includes John Stark. My mystery was solved.

Pat Zeikell AKA Anton Vesel

HI Jerry

I just read your article about the cherry mine diaster tombstone to be unveiled this year. I have been searching for any documents that show Pat Zeikell is an alias for Anton Vesel ( whom is my great grandfather, he was a victim of the Cherry Mine Disaster, his remains were brought up in the spring).
His wife, Franceska was expecting their 3rd child when this tragedy occurred.
Any information would be greatly appreciated.

Names of Survivors

My husband is a 30 yr. coal miner in Central Illinois. His great-grandfather was August Governor, who was working at Cherry Mine when the disaster occurred, and survived. My father is a life-long, now retired coal miner. He had occassion to speak with an Oberto Manetti, (unknown correct spelling), who died in 1990, I believe my dad said. Mr. Manetti told my father of his, and his brother's survival story. We are all looking for a list of survivors/or all who were working at the mine on the day of the disaster. Hope someone can help direct us to a source

Cherry Mine Disaster

I responded to you once but I am not certain that it went through. Anyway, your revelation here about your grandfather Nanni has created quite a stir on another board which I post on and posed a question regarding your grandfather.

In a nutshell, the published book "Trapped" by Karen Tintori has a victim list similar to the one above that does not list your grandfather. This list is from the U.S. Department of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Academy. However, there is another publication titled "The Story Of Cherry" published January 1, 1911, by the American Red Cross that shows a Joseph Nanni, age 36, Italian, maried to Archidamia with a 4 year old child, as a victim. This sounds like your grandfather from the description you gave. This publication shows receipts and disbursements by the Cherry Relief Commission, Cherry Relief Committee, and the American Red Cross. Could this be your grandfather?

As I mentioned, I have posed questions on another board about my wife's grandfather and the existance of different victim lists not in agreement with one another as to names and to total numbers. The generally accepted total number of victims is 259. The American Red Cross publication lists 256 victims of which your grandfather is one but the 259 does not include your grandfather. Obviously something is not understood by me, a rank amateur trying to understand this discrepancy. On this other board that I post on, some experts on the Cherry Mine disaster, including Karen Tintori, have taken interest in this dilemma and are trying to understand the discrepancy.

At the 100th anniversary of the disaster in Cherry, a large granite memorial is going to be unveiled immediately South of the library. The names of the victims will be inscribed on this monument. Would you be willing to share your information about your grandfather with these "experts" in an attempt to understand why he is not included on some lists as a victim? I have no power to promise anything, but I would certainly hope that those in authority would see to it that your grandfather's name is included on that memorial as a victim.

Jerry Wiatrowski

"The Story of Cherry" by the

"The Story of Cherry" by the American Red Cross published in 1911 indeed mentions your grandfather Joseph Nanni as one of the casualties. He is listed as Italian, 36 years of age, married to Archidamia, and leaving a 4 year old child. No mention of Cattani or Comiskey.