Glenfield, PA Towboat PERCY KELSEY Explosion, Jan 1898

RIVER DISASTER.

THE BOILERS ON THE TOWBOAT PERCY KELSEY EXPLODE ON THE OHIO AT GLENFIELD, PA., A FEW MILES BELOW PITTSBURGH.

SIX OF THE CREW WERE INSTANTLY KILLED AND SEVEN WERE SERIOUSLY BURNED AND INJURED, THREE OF WHOM WILL PROBABLY DIE -- TOW WENT TO THE BOTTOM.

Pittsburgh, Pa., Jan. 8. -- The towboat Percy Kelsey, owned by W. H. Brown's son, of this city, blew up while going down the Ohio River, near Glenfield, Pa., about 11 o'clock Saturday morning, and so far as is known six or eight of the crew were killed and at least four others were injured. The boat was commanded by Capt. LESLIE JONES, of Shouztown, Pa., and the crew was made up of two pilots, two engineers, two mates, two firemen, a chambermaid, cook and deckhands, in all about twelve persons. The Kelsey left Pittsburgh about 8 o'clock Saturday morning for Cincinnati with a tow consisting of seven barges and two flats of coal, and everything was apparently all right till the explosion took place, when the boat was literally blown to pieces and the tow scattered and lost. The hull sunk almost immediately and the shattered portions of the upper works floated down the river and covered the water in the vicinity of the wreck.
The explosion was most terrific and was heard for miles. Hundreds of persons ran to the river upon hearing the noise and an awful sight met their gaze. Bodies were floating down the river, and the debris was scattered far and wide, but no live person was seen.
A few minutes later Capt. JONES and three others were picked up alive, but badly injured, and one body floated ashore near Neville Island. The injured were removed to Capt. Crowe's residence on Neville Island, here everything possible was done to alleviate their sufferings. It is believed that the rest of the crew were killed and parties are now searching for their bodies.
The list of dead and injured as far as known at 1:30 p.m. was:
Killed -- MILTON WOODS, pilot, of Allegheny, Pa., aged 70 years; THOS. FLINN, second engineer; JOSEPH LALLEY, second mate; LEE WEBSTER, fireman; LEE RECHTOLD, fireman, and another fireman are still missing.
Injured -- LESLIE JONES, captain, badly burned and hurt about the body, condition serious; PERCY F. WOODS, apprentice pilot, aged 25 years, will probably die; DAVID WALKER, one of the crew, serious; ADOLPH WANDELL, steward, serious; HARRY HANNA, deck hand, not dangerous; HUGH CLOSE, iron worker, not of the crew, will die; WM. ALEXANDER, Mt. Washington, deck hand, skull crushed and burned, will die.
It is not known at present what caused the explosion. The boat's boilers were recently tested and found to be in good condition, and the boat was considered one of the best and stanchest on the river.
The boat was valued at $25,000.
When the boat blew up, Pilot WOODS was asleep in the pilot house only a few feet from Capt. JONES. Others of the crew were also asleep. The pilot was thrown high in the air and fell right where a few minutes before the pilot house was. He was dead when found and a pitiable sight was his son, only a few feet away, injured very badly. He was pleading to help his father. Capt. LESLIE JONES was injured by a bad cut in the head and his back badly sprained.
The body of the fireman was blown ashore right near where the accident occurred. Only three of the crew escaped uninjured.

Marietta Daily Leader Ohio 1898-01-10

Comments

Percy Kelsey Explosion

Stu: Thanks you for your research and this article. Pilot Milton Lawrence Woods who was killed in this explosion was my Great-Great Grandfather and Percy Francis Woods, his son, was injured. I am looking for any and all other information about my ancestors. Any leads would be appreciated. Thank you. Bob Wood