Coal Creek, TN Fraterville Mine Disaster, May 1902 - Terrible Disaster
All day long the rescuers toiled at the slate obstruction, and not until five o'clock did they force an entrance through it. Up to that hour only five dead bodies had been recovered and hope was still high that many within were safe. The hopes of the living were doomed, however, for when once the rescuers could enter and proceeded they walked along one continuous tomb of death. There was not a sign of life. Every man had perished, they believed, although it will be several hours before all the rooms can be entered.
Eight dead bodies were first recovered, and these were sent to Coal Creek. Twenty-six more were soon found. They were not disfigured beyond identification, and each corpse as it was borne from the mouth of the gigantic tomb was surrounded by eager crowds of relatives of the men who were entombed. The mine was not on fire except in remote portions.
Perrysburg Journal Ohio 1902-05-23
Letters Written In Fraterville Mine
Letter from JACOB L. VOWELL.
"We are shut up in the head of the entry with a little air and the bad air is closing in on us fast and it is now about 12 o'clock. Dear Ellen, I have to leave you in a bad condition. But dear wife set your trust in the Lord to help you raise my little children. Ellen, take care of my little darling, Lilly.
Ellen, little ELBERT (VOWELL) said he had trusted in the Lord. CHAS. WOOD says that he was safe if he never lives to see the outside again, he would meet his mother in heaven. If we never live to get out we are not hurt but only perished for air. There is but a few of us here and I don't know where the other men is. ELBERT said for you all to meet him in heaven. All the children meet with us both."
Letter from HENRY BEECH.
"Alice do the best you can. I am going to rest. Goodbye Alice."
Letter from SCOTT CHAPMAN.
"I have found the Lord. Do change your way of living. God be with you. Goodbye."
Letter from JAMES A. BROOKS.
"My Dear Wife and Baby:
I want you to go back home and take the baby, so goodbye. I am going to heaven. I want you to meet me there.
Jas. A. Brooks."
Letter from GEO. HUTSON.
"To GEO. HUTSON'S wife. If I don't see you no more bury me in the clothing I have. I want you to meet me in heaven. Goodbye. Do as you wish."
Letter from JOHN HENDREN.
"Dear Darling Mother, Brothers and Sisters:
I have gone to heaven. I want you to meet me in heaven. Tell all your friends to meet me there and tell the Church I have gone to heaven. Oh, dear friends, don't grieve over me because I am in sight of heaven. Oh dear, stay at father's or your father's and pay all I owe if possible. Bury me at Pleasant Hill if it suits you all. Bury me in black. This is about 1:30 o'clock. So goodbye dear loving father, mother, brother and friends. I have not suffered much yet. Your boy, your brother.
Letter from POWELL HARMON.
"Dear Wife and Children:
My time is come to die. I trust in Jesus. Teach the children to believe in Jesus. May God bless you all is my prayer. Bless Jesus, it is now 10 minutes till 10 and we are almost smothered. Don't know how long we will live, but it is our time to go. I hope to meet you all in heaven. May God bless you all, wife and children, for Jesus sake goodbye until we meet to part no more.
My boys, never work in the coal mines. Henry and Condy be good boys and stay with your mother and trust for Jesus sake.