Indianapolis, IN Boiler Accident, May 1901

Met A Horrible Death

Heroic Deed of William PHELPS, a Colored Man – Gave Up His Life That A Married Friend Might Make His Escape.

Indianapolis, May 12. – While William PHELPS of Richmond, Ky., and James STAPLEBURY of this city were cleaning the inside of an eight-foot upright boiler at the Cerealine mills today, an enploye (SIC) turned on the steam, thinking the cock was tight. It leaked and the scalding steam poured in on the two men. The only exit was up a ladder. Both jumped for the ladder. PHELPS reached it first, took one step and stopped. He jumped aside and shouted, “You go first, Jim; you are married.”

STAPLEBURY sprang up the ladder and escaped with slight burns. Though PHELPS followed at his heels, his act of heroism cost him his life. Both men were being cooked when PHELPS jumped aside. By the time he had followed STAPLEBURY up the ladder the flesh was dropping from his limbs. He lived for two hours in great agony.

“It was Jim’s right to go first,” said he quietly. “He is married.”

PHELPS has been boarding at STAPLEBURY’S house. Both men are colored.

Butte Weekly Miner, Butte, MT 15 May 1901