Moosic, PA Terrible Powder Explosion, Apr 1892




The Bodies of the Victims Scattered in All Directions.

One Man Hurled Four Hundred Yards -- Hands and Legs Burned Off -- The Remains Gathered Together and Placed in Boxes -- The Mill Contained Six Hundred Kegs of Powder -- DAVID BILLINGTON'S Story.

Scranton, Pa., April 14 -- The glazing mill of the Moosic Powder Company, located on the outskirts of the village of Moosic, five miles south of this city, exploded with terrific force shortly before 11 o'clock yesterday morning. Seven men were hurled to instant death, horribly mangled and charred, and four others badly injured. The victims are:
DAVID PARRY, aged 28, married.
AARON COOLBAUGH, aged 30, single.
MOSES TUCKER, aged 31, single.
ALLEN SCHMALE, aged 20, leaves a wife and four children.
CARADOLE REESE, aged 30, single.
JOHN GIBBONS, aged 33, single.
GEORGE ELLIS, badly burned from head to foot, not expected to live.
DAVID BILLINGTON, burned on body and feet charred.
JOHN GREEN, feet and legs burned.
WILLIAM GREEN, hurt on shoulder and back.
The victims of the explosion met with terrible deaths. Their bodies, excepting that of REESE, were found within the enclosed yard of the powder works.
Their bodies were quickly recovered by the villagers, who were on the scene within a few minutes after the explosion.
The body of REESE was not found until after 12 o'clock. It had been hurled fully 400 yards away, and nothing remained of it but the limbless trunk.
The corning mill, about 400 yards from the glazing factory, was shattered by the first explosion, and some of the burning timbers hurled from the glazing mill caused fifty kegs of powder to explode.
Four men were in the Corning mill and three of these were blown out of one door, the other man, WILLIAM GREEN, was hurled into Spring Brook. DAVID BILLINGTON, on of the men in the Corning mill, gives the following story of his experience:
"I was at work at the press with THERON COOLBAUGH. We heard the report from the glazing mill and we ran out. Then the Corning Mill blew up. We dashed wildly into the woods, expecting that the press would go next. There we saw GEORGE ELLIS all on fire. He was running around, and when he saw me he shouted: 'DAVE, pull off my clothes. Oh, hurry and help me.' I ran up to him, and in an instant my clothes were ablaze, too. They were my powder clothes. Whether they caught fire by my placing my hands on ELLLIS, or whether the burning grass did it. I cannot tell. I tried to tear my clothes off and fought the fire as hard as I could. Then WILLIAM WEIR, who was washing in the wash shanty, came running out with two coats that had been soaking in the trough. He said: 'Lie down quick, DAVE.' I did so, and he threw the wet coats over me. This put the fire out and I was saved except as to my feet. My work in the press was to shovel powder, and my shoes for that reason easy to be set afire. The flames were worst about them, and that is the rason my toes are so badly burned. WEIR and COOLBAUGH also succeeded in helping ELLIS, but he was badly burned."
BILLINGTON has a wife and family.
CARADOLE REESE'S arms had been burned off to the elbow and his face greatly disfigured. His appearance was still more terrible on account of the fact that the culm into which he had fallen made him still more blacker than the devastating powder had originally made him. His body was nearly burned in two at abdomen.
All the victims were drawn up, and the frightful scorching through which they passed was apparent all over them. The hands of some and the legs of others had been burned off. One hand lay beside the body of ALLEN SCHMALE, and it is supposed that it was his.
Whatever of the remains of the victims could be found were gathered together and placed in rough wooden boxes.
The mill in which the first explosion occurred contained 600 kegs of powder. The loss to the company will not exceed $10,000.

Middletown Daily Press New York 1892-04-14