Lilly, PA Coal Mine Bunk House Disaster, Nov 1903
BURIED IN ONE LARGE GRAVE.
VICTIMS OF LILLY DISASTER LAID TO REST.
TWO HEARSES AND TWELVE SPRING WAGONS CARRIED THE REMAINS OF TWENTY-NINE ITALIANS TO THE CEMETERY -- SURVIVING COUNTRYMEN WERE MUCH AFFECTED -- INQUEST STARTED THIS AFTERNOON.
Altoona, Pa. -- Hundreds of people from every mountain town within a radius of ten miles yesterday visited the scene of the holocaust at Lilly that on Saturday wiped out the lives of thirty or more Italians. The dozen coffins containing the remains of twenty-eight victims were left at the improvised morgue, a little shanty within fifty feet of the destroyed sleeping quarters. An investigation into the cause of the disaster was started today by Coroner E. L. Miller, of Cambria County.
Twelve men were taken to the Memorial Hospital at Johnstown on Saturday. Of that number two died yesterday and four more are not expected to recover.
The dead are:
ANGELO GUERRIERI, 26 years old, single.
FIRZIANO STEFANNACCI, 22 years old.
AUGOSTO SANTONITI, 36 years old, married.
LUIGI COSTI, 25 years old, married.
MAISUELO KINEO, 19 years old, single.
When the first gray streaks of the dawn appeared yesterday morning, James Saunders and James Biglin were still keeping their weary vigil over the dead. The scene about the camp was a dreary one. Not a person was in sight except the watchers. Every Italian laborer who formerly made the camp his temporary home was missing.
The Italians fled from the scene a few hours after the fire. Some did not even wait to pack up their possessions. The twenty huts surrounding the main quarters were unattended. In some were found clothing, tools, dinner pails and cooking utensils. Not one of them returned to the scene during Saturday evening or yesterday. They have a superstitious fear, and Contractor McMenamin has given up all hope of getting the men back to this camp, and a new camp will be located further to the south.
Undertakers Henderson and Evans did not complete their work at the camp until 11 o'clock Saturday night. With the feeble, flickering light of lanterns, they softly stepped over the ruins of the destroyed bunk shed. Picking up a skull here, the upper portions of a corpse there and the lower limbs in another place, they worked for three hours. Whitened bones of the arm and thigh were mingled in some cases with skulls. Whenever possible, they would get the entire frame of a victim in one coffin. If there was more room another charred body would be placed in the same box. If the fragments of humanity were small enough they would get three in one coffin.
The sight was a ghastly one. Intensified by the figures moving in the shadow of lanterns, the camp presented a scene of ghastly solemnity. When the twelve coffins had been filled and no more bones could be found, the workers carried them to the rude morgue, built of new pine lumber.
Rev. Father Thomas Ryan yesterday at the services at St. Bridget's church offered prayers for the souls of the dead men, all of whom are believed to have been members of the church.
The list of dead, excepting the two who died yesterday, is as follows:
BAPTISTO CONTI, aged about 40 years.
MALLI CONTI, aged 16 years, son of BAPTISTO.
SAM MANGAZI, aged 37, single.
MARION MANGAZI, aged 33, single.
SERAPHINO FENARO, aged 17.
SAM FENARO, aged 49, married, family in Italy.
PAT PINBIGZETTA, aged 43, single.
JOSEPH VALLI, aged 28.
VINNI RINALDI, aged 40.
JOHN RUZZA, aged about 30.
TINI CALLOGGI, aged 43, family in Italy.
ALEXANDRI PELLATTI, aged 26.
JOSEPH RINALDI, aged about 33.
PETER PELLINIA, aged 25.
PENIBELLO CIALLELLO, age unknown.
ANTONIO MONCIO, age unknown, married, family in Italy.
ANGELO RICARDITTO, aged 37.
JOE MUNZIL, age unknown.
V. PILLOTTO, aged 17.
ARNOTTI POLLI, aged about 40, married, wife in Italy.
MIKE SOFFOLI, age unknown.
Seven unknown men, known to the contractors only by their numbers.
This afternoon at 1 o'clock the funeral of the victims took place. This morning the two identified bodies of the men who died at Johnstown, arrived at Lilly. These were placed in two hearses and led the funeral procession. The remains of the other victims laid in the twelve coffins, as noted above, were placed in twelve spring wagons, draped in black, and followed the hearses.
It was a most impressive sight. Four hundred Italians and as many of the people of Lilly, were in the cortege, which wended its way slowly to the cemetery connected with St. Bridget's Catholic Church, where Rev. Father Thomas Ryan conducted the simple but solemn services. The Italians were deeply affected, much more so than the people of Lilly had ever seen them before.
Each of the twelve coffins containing the unidentified men held a skull and other remains. All fourteen coffins were lowered in one large grave, and laid side by side.
Immediately after the funeral Coroner Miller began the inquest. It will probably be completed tonight.
Within a few days the work will be resumed. All the Italians who hurried away from the scene Saturday and remained away yesterday, through superstition, returned this morning.
Fletcher George, the burgess of Lilly, to whom a Mirror reporter talked this afternoon, said that so far as the authorities had been able to ascertain, only twenty-nine men had lost their lives. These include the two who died at Johnstown.
Altoona Mirror Pennsylvania 1903-11-23