Five Points, PA Dreadful Mining Accident, Aug 1855


From the Pottsville Journal of Saturday.
A frightful accident occurred on Tuesday morning at MR. AGARD'S, Belmont Colliery, in this county -- the plane is better known by the old name of the Five Points. Four persons, two men and two boys, have been taken out of the slope, dead and dreadfully mangled -- one more is not likely to live, and six others are seriously injured. It has been, and may be denominated, an explosion of gas, but more properly it was a powder explosion, for the latter did the most injury, though the "fire damp," as it is generally called, exploded first and ignited the powder.
The mining boss, MR. JOHN W. DAVIS, went into the mines early in the morning as usual, and examined the works carefully before any of the miners were at work. He found "fire" in one of the "breasts" near the face of the gangway. This breast was worked by JAMES SILVERTHORN and son, and was the only part of the mine considered dangerous. MR. DAVIS met SILVERTHORN and told him twice that his place was full of fire, and that he should not venture in it with a naked lamp until the gas was driven out. Accordingly, SILVERTHORN took the "davy," or safety lamp, and commenced to brush fire out of the breast. But unfortunately several of the miners were seated around the bottom of the breast, in the gangway with their naked lamps, taking the customary "whiff" before commencing work, and near them were between two and three kegs of powder, open and unprotected.
The gas being driven down the shute[sic] past the cross-heading, penetrated to the gangway, where the miners were seated, and as might be expected, it took fire from their lamps. But the explosion of the gas would have been trifling, in comparision to the amount of damage done, had not the powder, which was in close proximity to the men, also ignited and exploded, crushing and bruising everything in the vicinity, and doing considerable damage to the mines. The effect of the shock was felt at a great distance from the scene, and the mines throughout trembled with the concussion. Coal, rocks and material were hurled with dreadful velocity far out toward the slope. But the damage done to the work, the amount of which cannot yet be fully ascertained, is nothing in comparison to the dreadful loss of life and limb -- the horrid suffering which the fearful accident occasioned.
FREDERICK SAUERBREY and JAMES DEVLIN, the two men who were killed, leave behind them families. The two boys killed were named DAVID MORGAN and ENOCH SILVERTHORN. JAMES SILVERTHORN, the father of ENOCH, is not expected to live -- since died. Some of the other six are severely injured. There are eleven killed and wounded.
It seems that none of the men were badly burned except SILVERTHORN, who was in the midst of the gas when it exploded. The rest were mutilated by the powder, which tore out the props and covered the men in the vicinity with fragments of rock and coal. They were horribly mangled.

The New York Times New York 1855-08-03