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Yancy, KY Deadly Coal Mine Explosion, Dec 1932

LAST OF BODIES TAKEN FROM MINE.

23 ARE DEAD IN EXPLOSION OF ZERO MINE.

"BLACK DAMP" BELIEVED TO HAVE BEEN CAUSE OF TRAGEDY.

Yancy, Ky. -- The last four of 23 bodies of miners trapped by an explosion in Zero Mine of the Harlan Fuel Company here yesterday were brought out by rescue crews at 7 a. m. today.
The dead: HENREY MASSENGILL; CALVIN MASSENGILL; GARRETT MASSENGILL; ESAW MASSENGILL; and CAMPBELL M. MASSENGILL, brothers; GEORGE HENDRICKS, and HERMAN EDDIE, half-brothers; CHARLES DAVENPORT; HENRY HIBBARD; O. A. ROMINE, all white; and 12 negroes, ARTHUR L. WOODS and HAROLD WOODS, brothers; WILL REYNOLDS; EUGENE WOODS; BEN FIELDS; HARRISON JACKSON; JIM DAVIS; MACE TURNBOUGH; ALFRED GRAVES; WILL NEWELL; ROBERT BENBO; and LUTHER JONES.
The MASSENGILL brothers are sons of JAMES NELSON MASSENGILL, of Claiborne county, Tenn. Their bodies were to be shipped to Tazewell for burial.
Four rescue teams worked feverishly throughout the night in an effort to reach the last of the victims trapped by the blast a mile and a half from the opening of the mine high up the side of Black Mountain.
Mine officials said they could not as yet determine either the cause of the blast or the cause of death in some cases. It was generally believed that the tragedy resulted from a dust explosion since Harlan county coal mines are singularly free from gas.
"Black damp" or gas which followed the explosion, however, was believed to have been the cause of death in many cases.
Among the victims of the explosion are the six sons of J. M. MASSINGILL. The six are married and between them there are five children.
The casualty list contains 12 negroes and 11 white men, it was said.
Miles Underground.
The explosion occurred about 11 o'clock yesterday morning, at a point over a mile back of the entry to the mine. CHARLES GUTHRIE, superintendent of the mine, was seated near the entry when he noticed that leaves were blowing away from it instead of into it. Since the ventilation system of the mine is constantly pumping air into the passage, he sensed that something had happened and rushed into another entry parallel to the one in which the explosion occurred and sounded the warning to the miners working there.
Almost immediately after the explosion became known rescue teams, under the direction of J. F. BRYSON, safety director of the Harlan County Coal Operators association, started into the entry. All during the day they worked in shifts, trying to penetrate to the point where the explosion occurred. The finding of the bodies, at 7:30 last night made it apparent that this point almost had been reached.
Later in the night it was reported that other bodies had been sighted in the passage, but the rescue crews were not close enough to tell how many there were.
Assisting BRYSON in the rescue work were J. F. DAVIES, U. S. Bureau of Mines engineer, R. H. GONIA, district mine inspectior and rescue teams from the Harlan-Wallins Coal Corp., at Verda; King-Harlan Co., Kildav; Bowling Coal Mining Co., Bardo; Mahan-Ellis Co., Stanfill and Greech Coal Co.,. Wallins.
Caused By Dust.
The explosion apparently was caused by dust filling the passageway. Mining engineers explained that this is the worst time of the year for such a hazard, since the dry atmosphere increases the possibility of the dust filling the passage, where the slightest apark will set it off with the force of dynamite. Another hazard in this instance was that the Zero mine is one of the oldest in this section, with the entries running well over a mile baack into the mountain side, thus making it hard to force air back into them.
A crowd of more than 200 mostly relatives of those trapped inside stood at the entry last night. There was no commotion, no excitement. Now and then a muffled sob could be heard as the grief of some one of those watching the last glow of hope slowly fading would break through to the surface.
Harlan county has seen mine disasters before, but this is the worst. And the wives, mothers and sweethearts of the men who work in the mines know the dangers they face very day. So, when the fatal blast comes there is no hysteria, only a deep, silent grief over the whole community.
Rescue parties still were at work at midnight and it was expected momentarily that other bodies would be brought to the mine entrance.

Middlesboro Daily News Kentucky 1932-12-10

Comments

Massingill death's at zero mine yancy KY.

Hello,

My name is Deborah Kennedy, I am the granddaughter of Thomas Massingill, My grandmother's name was Minnie Massingill the wife of Thomas. At the time of his death they had 2 children, My mother Billie Massingill & a son James Massingill. James was named after his grandfather James Nelson Masingill. My grandmother had a booklet that was printed after this great tragedy, and had all of the names of the deceased members of the family with pictures of them in their coffins, before they were buried. I remember reading this booklet many times. Sadly it was misplaced after my grandmother's death...or taken my an immediate member of my family, I am not sure which. I would love to have a copy of this booklet. I do not know the author's name but since my grandmother had a copy, I am sure the wives or a relative each received one. If anyone could help me get a copy of this booklet I would be very greatful as it has all the brother's, their parents names, and the names of the wives, and children that were left behind. It has great setimental value to me and my sister's because all of our grandparents and parents are now deceased.

If anyone knows of this booklet or who the author was, I would appreciate it. I would also like to hear from any of my cousins that I was unaware of until I found this article yesterday.

Sincerely and Gratefully,
Deborah

Michael, I to am searching

Michael,

I to am searching for information on my family history. My name is Deborah Kennedy and I am the granddaughter of Thomas Massingill. We always spelled it Massengale. Not sure yet at this point is correct. I guess we are distant cousins? Feel free to contact me at the email address above, I would love to hear from you!

Sincerely,
Deborah

Dear Jerry, I am the

Dear Jerry,

I am the granddaughter of Thomas Massingill, my name is Deborah Kennedy. My family always spelled it Massengale, which may have been why I could not find any of the information I was searching for. I appreciate the research you have dedicated to this horrible accident that took the lives of my grandfather and his 5 brother's my mother would be so excited if she were still alive. She always wanted me to keep looking for information on the but she died before the birth of the internet. I just wanted to write and say thank you for what you have done. I am very excited to know that I have relatives that I can now reach out to. Thank you so much for your dedication!

Sincerely,
Deborah

Hi Kayla, My name is Deborah

Hi Kayla,

My name is Deborah Kennedy and I am your cousin! I have been searching for information about this accident for a while now. I am very excited to hear you are my cousin!! I am the granddaughter of Thomas and my grandmother's name was Minnie they were married at the time of the accident. You can reach me at the email above if you like I would love to hear from you!

Sincerely With Love,
Deborah

I would love to hear from

I would love to hear from you, My name is Deborah Kennedy, I am the granddaughter of Thomas Massigill. My grandmother Was the wife of Thomas Massingill, my grandfather. You can contact me at the email address above if you would like, I can send you my phone number if you rather.

Sincerely with Love,
Deborah

Hello, I am Deborah Kennedy

Hello, I am Deborah Kennedy and I am the grandaughter of Thomas Massingill. I noticed that the article spelled the name Massingill, but my grandmother also spelled it as you did Massingale. Minnie was my grandmother and just passed away a couple of years ago, but she used to have a booklet that told of the deaths of all 6 brothers I am rather excited to find out that I have relatives that I am just finding out about. We would be cousins! If you would like you can contact me at the email address above, I would love to hear from you!

Sincerely with Love,
Deborah

Massingill death's at zero mine yancy KY.

Sue,

I am the grandaughter of Thomas Massingill, which means we are relatives. I would love to hear from you. My grandmother Minnie Massingill & my Mother Billie Massingill had a book about all six of the brother's who died in the mine. Over time the book was either misplaced or taken my a member of the family. If you have a copy of this book, I would love to have a copy for myself as well as for my children who are very curious about their family history. Most of all I would just love to hear from a member of my family I didn't know existed. You can contact me at the email address above.

Sincerely With Lover,
Deborah Kennedy

Yancey Mine Disaster 1932

I recently found a pocket watch that belonged to my father, John Calvin (J.C.) Hannah. There was a note stating it was found on the railroad tracks after the December 1932 Coal Mine Explosion.
He was a mine foreman in that mine from about 1926-27 until he retired in 1952.
We continued to live in Harlan until 1965.
I would be very interested in hearing from you.

Coal Mine Explosion 1932 Massingill Brothers

The daughter of Calvin Massengill is living in Knoxville Ten and maybe a source of information her name is Opal Turner. I believe she maybe one of the last people alive who may have first hand memory of this disaster.

32 yancey disaster

I have researched this disaster for over 14 years.I fought to get the road named with help only from Representative Rick Nelson. Some local people thought it was too negative regarding gas in Harlan mines. The Three Point mine disaster in 1943, was only 1000 feet from the Yancey site. I worked in the Harlan seam at Grays Knob.This mine had a gas well vented into the return air course. The Yancey mine explosion was from an improperly tamped powder load. After pushing black powder load in dummy bags,they were tamped in tight. If the load was too loose the powder would burn out the hole like a broken fire cracker, setting the gas on fire, the dust would magnify the explosion making it ten times worse. I am a volunteer tour guide at the Coal Museum in Benham, Kentucky.



article | by Dr. Radut