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Illinois
Coal & Coal Mining
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Coal Mining Disasters in Illinois
1931 to 1940
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List of Illinois Coal Mine Disasters Reference Sources

Accident
      On October 3, 1931, at Rennie Brothers' mine, Chesterfield, Macoupin County, three men were going into the mine to begin the day's work, when the cage broke loose and fell to the bottom of the shaft, killing all three. The Rennie brothers were killed almost instantly; Madison died three days later.
 
1931 Annual Coal Report27 - Fatal Accidents
      Saturday, October 3, 1931
 
John Madison, miner, age 47 years. He died three days after the accident. He leaves a widow.
 
Hugh Rennie, of Chesterfield, operator, age 55 years, was killed almost instantly. He leaves two dependents, a widow and grandchild.
 
William Rennie, of Chesterfield, operator, age 51 years, was killed almost instantly. He leaves a widow.

Gas Explosion at the Moweaqua Coal Company
Moweaqua, Shelby County
      At starting time on the morning of December 24, 1932, there occurred one of the worst disasters in the history of the coal industry of this State. An explosion of gas at the Moweaqua Coal Company's mine, Moweaqua, Shelby County, killed 54 men, all that were in the mine at the time.
 
1932 Annual Coal Report28
December 24, 1932 --
Disaster At Moweaqua Mine

 
      On the morning of December 24th occurred one of the worst disasters in the history of the coal industry of this Stale An explosion of gas at the Moweaqua Coal Company's mine, Moweaqua, Shelby County, killed 54 men, all that were in the mine at the time.
 
      The following report is given by Mr. John C. Millhouse, Director of this Department.
 
MOWEAQUA.
"Honor and shame not from condition rise.
Act well your part. Therein the honor lies."
J. G. Millhouse.

 
December 24th :
      With the approach of the Christmas festivities there is always more or less apprehension among mining men in control of operations regarding unexpected accidents, which are more or less likely to occur at that season of the year. A careful review of our records proves that many accidents happen in coal mines at this time.
      With this feeling in my mind, I entered my office in the Department of Mines and Minerals on December 24th at. eight-thirty A. M. Assistant Director Peter Joyce had arrived before me on this particular morning and informed me that a gas explosion had taken place in the Moweaqua mine that morning. We thought at the time that the explosion was probably small in character, involving possibly the injury of one or two men. However, to satisfy myself, I called the Moweaqua Coal Company's office by 'phone, inquiring as to the extent of the explosion, and was informed that they did not know how serious it was (not having that information), and that a few men had gone down to investigate. I advised them to keep me informed as to what developments took place and as to how serious the explosion may have been.
      It was then decided to order the Springfield Mine Rescue team to proceed at once to Moweaqua and render whatever assistance necessary. I also got into communication with Mr. John K. Fraser, State Mine Inspector for the District in which Moweaqua is located, advising him to proceed immediately to the scene of the explosion, also Mr. Thomas English, our State Mine Inspector-at-Large, and Mr. Harry Marshall. State Mine Inspector of the Springfield District, telling them to get in readiness to go to Moweaqua as soon as possible.
      Not having received any telephonic information from Moweaqua, we decided to immediately proceed there, regardless of whether the explosion had been of minor or major proportions, leaving at ten A. M. We arrived at Moweaqua at eleven-fifteen A. M.
      Upon inquiry it was found that no information was available as to what had happened, with the exception that the explosion must have been severe and that verv slow headway had been made into the mine due to many serious falls of debris on the roadway. Mr. Joyce, Mr. Marshall, Mr. English and I immediately dressed to go inside the mine. By this time Mr. Fraser had arrived and he went with us. Fully equipped with battery flashlights, we entered the mine.
      After traveling from the shaft bottom inside into the mine some one thousand feet, approximately, the first indication of the explosion was that the overcast floor had been blown upward and had been temporarily repaired in order to conduct the air inside of the mine. Probably one hundred yards farther on we found timbers had been dislodged, causing a fall, and from there on in. the violence of the explosion was more evident and seemed to grow in intensity to the 13th and 14th South. A short distance west of this point we found men underneath the timbers trying to make an opening inside and with a very heavy obstruction before them. I was convinced that it would be some time before we could get an opening through this obstruction, it being very difficult and dangerous to work on.
      Naturally, our first thought was the possibility of finding men alive inside of that point. Mr. William Decker, Chief of Police of Moweaqua, was one of the first men I met. He had been opening a roadway up to that point and advised me that he had done everything that he knew by way of sounding and other means of communication whereby he could get some reply from the inside. No response having been given to his signals, the situation seemed very desperate. Naturally myself and my associates were very much concerned.
      We went back to the 13th and 14th South. The door into the back entry had been blown out and a canvas erected in order to conduct the ventilation up the Main West entry. Ventilation was none too good, the main roadway being blocked and the stoppings leading into the back entry outside of us being just temporarily repaired.
      We had a conference as to what would be the best thing to do in the meantime with the hope that there might possibly be someone alive inside. I suggested : ''There is only one tiring I know of that we can do at the present time until we get an opening through the Main West entry, and if it is possible, I would like to get back behind this fall by traveling up the back entry and maybe work our way back from the 15th South and open up the Main West entry." I reminded my associates that in doing this, we were taking a rather desperate chance. There was a possibility of the air in the back entry being foul. We had no instruments with us other than a closed flame safety lamp and our physical senses to warn us of danger. They readily agreed to follow me in, whatever I should decide to do. A test was made of the air in the return airway for firedamp and it was found clear. We then, by the aid of our physical senses, tried to determine if the atmosphere contained carbon monoxide gas and found it was, in our judgment, safe to work in. As an additional precaution, we had three sets of men some fifty feet apart behind us, so in the event that we were overcome we could be removed immediately.
      There was no indication of an explosion having taken place in the return airway. I remember saying: "I believe the good Lord is with us -- so let us travel very carefully." We very slowly worked our way up to the 15th South, without any physical or other inconvenience. We checked up and were satisfied that our condition was satisfactory. We found the overcast at the 15th South completely destroyed. So much so that it had the appearance of an abandoned structure. We then moved north to the Main West with the ventilation short-circuited at that point and giving a reasonable amount of fresh air.
      At the Main West we found a very extensive fall. In fact. I believe much larger than that we found at the other end of the Main West entry. Realizing that we could not do anything there at that time, we retreated, and I started to cross over to the 16th South. As soon as I entered I detected the presence of carbon monoxide and it seemed to me that white-damp was present everywhere from there on. I immediately gave the order to retreat, informing the men that the atmospheric conditions were very dangerous and unfit to live in. After some difficulties, we finally reached the fresh air base.
 
December 25th:
      At four o'clock on Christmas morning I again entered the mine and reached the point where the men were opening up the roadway, the rock at this point being still intact, and there seemed to be a hollow sound underneath, indicating that we were on top of the timbered roadway. I then went out of the mine and ordered a new crew of men, consisting of Mr. John Simpson and his men from Pana, to relieve the men who were working their way through the Main West. After thinking the matter over, I became convinced that these men were working on the top of timbers and directed Mr. Nicholas Stein, County Mine Inspector from Perry County, to go down and tell Mr. Simpson to discontinue driving ahead where he was and work his way down and see if he could get beneath the standing timbers. Strange as it may seem. Mr. Simpson found an opening, and immediately below him, four bodies in the mantrip that was standing at that point. Later on, eight other bodies were found at the same place. These bodies were taken out under very difficult conditions. After they were taken out, I re-entered the mine again on Sunday afternoon and continued on driving through to the 15th South. That seemed to be the key to the situation and I instructed Mr. Fraser that as soon as possible after we could get into the 15th South we would build an air bridge, which was done during Sunday night.
 
December 26th :
      The air bridge having been constructed, entrance into the 15th South was made. A very heavy fall was evident all the way in this entry and after temporarily repairing what stoppings had been destroyed we finally got to the end of the fall, which probably was eight hundred feet long. From there on, the roadway was fairly clear.
      The atmospheric conditions were very poor and we very cautiously advanced, with nothing but our safety lamps and canary birds to give us warning f any danger in the atmosphere. Mr. James Clusker, our Mine Rescue Superintendent, of Springfield, was a short distance in advance of us and found the motor-trip containing sixteen bodies. Six men were out of the trip and the rest in the cars, which were all close together. The brake on the locomotive had been applied and the controller shut off.
      We decided to .stop further exploration until the bodies had been removed. However, Mr. Clusker, going in a little farther, discovered eleven other bodies lying on the abandoned sidetrack -- numbering twenty-seven all told found in this section of the mine. Through the able work of Mr. John Simpson and his associates from Pana, these bodies were all wrapped in canvas, and with the willing help of many men were carried out of the mine. One hundred and twenty men were used in this work, which required courage and endurance. After the bodies were taken out of the mine I directed Mr. Fraser and two of his fellow inspectors to take care of the operations from there on and to explore the South entry for the purpose of finding out whether or not any other men were in this section of the mine. None were found.
      At this point it may be well to say that my later investigations of this section of the mine convinced me that the eleven men found on the farther end came out from the inside after the explosion had taken place probably seven or eight hundred feet and that when they entered the foul atmosphere they died. I am inclined to believe that if they had gone inside and sealed themselves in they might have been alive today. Every indication satisfies me that this could have been done.
 
December 27th :
      On the morning of December 27th I again re-entered the mine and upon reaching the 15th and 16th South found that it had been barricaded in order to force the air into the Main West and l5th North. At the l5th North switch a body had been found the night before severely burned from the effects of the explosion. In company with State Mine Inspectors White, Morgan and Plumlee, I entered the 15th North, where two abandoned rooms were found open: We found approximately three feet of gas at this point. We proceeded farther in and opened a cross- cut, put a barricade on the main entrance and got the Mine Rescue team to go farther in and find another crosscut open if they could, which fortunately they found two or three hundred feet away. Removing the barricade, we followed the fresh air men in very slowly until we came to the next crosscut.
      Mr. Fraser, Mr. Weir and a crew of men conducted the recovery work that night, at times meeting with large bodies of firedamp, and after meeting with many difficulties and after midnight, on December 28th, discovered seven bodies in a car. and a mule, at the inside of a fall.
 
December 28th :
      Acting on the information given by Mr. Fraser and his associates on the work done during the night, we went into the 15th North and located the seven bodies in a car. The roadways were in very bad condition for traveling and the atmospheric conditions were very bad; so bad that I considered them unfit and unsafe for fresh air men to work in.
      It was decided at that time to discontinue further explorations or the removal of these bodies until the ventilation had been improved, in the interests of safety. Accordingly, I ordered all men out, with the exception of sufficient men to close up all crosscuts and brattice off the Main West entry, which, by the way. had not been very much disturbed by the explosion ; also, seal off the 15th and 16th South and the 13th and 14th South and level off the roadways in order to make transportation better when ready to bring the remaining bodies out of the 15th North.
      It must he borne in mind at all times that the haulage roads were practically unfit for traveling.
      After the ventilation had been improved and the roadway made belter. Mr. Fraser. Mr. Weir and the Benton Mine Rescue team removed the seven bodies to the bottom of the shaft.
 
December 29th :
      During the morning, the seven bodies brought to the bottom of the shaft during the night were removed out of the mine. With the Springfield Mine Rescue crew, myself, and several Inspectors, and the Federal Bureau of Mines men. we continued our exploration into the 15th North. Ventilation was very slow and we could not advance very rapidly. Finally, we got close to what is known as the 5th and 6th East. Mr. Clusker and his Springfield Mine Rescue team advanced to where the parting was, and where we expected to find the bodies. The seven bodies were found where we expected to locate them at eleven A. M.. but it was two P. M. when the fresh air men reached these bodies.
      The atmospheric conditions at this point were unusually bad -- so bad that the safety flame light would hardly burn. .Mr. John Simpson and his associates from Pana proceeded to wrap the bodies in canvas and they were then removed for about three hundred feet out to our fresh air base. Having done this. Mr. Fraser and two other Inspectors and fifty-six men removed the bodies to the bottom of the shaft and they were then all removed out of the mine by about nine P. M.. completing another tragic chapter in the history of coal mining in the Stale of Illinois.
 
THE ORIGIN OF THE EXPLOSION

      Dwelling on the origin of the explosion, it is very difficult to decide with exactness, hut I believe I have found a very reasonable cause for the same. It is thought that the seal in the 6th East was broken down after the men came out from working on a fire in the workings on the morning of the explosion at six A. M. When the mantrip passed by the 6th East, with the ventilation going in with them, it is quite possible that gas issued out of the 6th East to the main air current and possibly to some one hundred or one hundred and fifty feet to the parting, where the men got out of the cars. I am further led to believe that when the men stood up. the gas (being lighter than air) would naturally be found in the high part of the parting and was ignited by their open lights. Being of small amount, after ignition, it traveled like a fuse to the main body of gas in the 6th Fast. The severe violence found on the parting would indicate that a terrific power was required to lift a car and stand it on its end. I have no doubt that the concussion had its effect on any gas that was lying outside of that part of the mine and in or around where the twelve men were found at the 15th South.
      The mine map shows that there were abandoned workings at this point on the Main West 15th South that opened into the main airways into the back entry and it is possible that the North back entry opened into roadways of other entries back in behind this section of the mine.
      A low barometric condition had existed in this part of the State of Illinois, beginning Thursday prior to the day of the disaster. On the morning of the explosion, at eight A. M., the barograph shows a drop of three-tenths of an inch in practically twenty minutes duration -- a condition very favorable for gas to exude out of the old workings in any part of a mine that gas could be in. It seems strange that these workings, which had been abandoned for so many years, should give off gas in quantities sufficient to do the destruction which was done at that time.
      There is every evidence that a minor and a major explosion took place that morning, the one of the 15th North 6th East being the minor explosion, and every indication shows that the major explosion took place on the Main West at the 15th South, connections being made at that point into the North back entry. The violence of the explosion seems to have radiated in all directions from this point, almost equi-distant.
      The men who were found dead at this point were more severely burned than at any other place in the mine and the fact that this was the intake airway, gases could not have been brought from the inside at that time, so that a large body of gas must have come out of the 13th North, and these men -- having open lights at that time -- no doubt ignited the gas. However, there is no evidence of a coaldust explosion, and yet coaldust was found everywhere throughout the mine. That can be easily accounted for. The main roadways of this mine being heavily timbered, when the explosion took place the timbers were knocked out, dropping down shale, and rock containing shaledust, and, very naturally, prevented a coaldust explosion.
 
      On the morning of the explosion, this mine had been examined by a certified Mine Examiner as required by law and my personal contact with this man leads me to believe that he is very conscientious in his duty. Had this man been a little later in his examination it is possible that he might have lost his own life.
      There are many things in mines which we cannot foresee, no matter how careful we may be. Our work is all done in the dark (with the ex- ception of artificial light), when we are in mines. We cannot see much. All the time we have many things to contend with that seem to come upon us unexpectedly.
      It may be well to remember at this time that on the morning of December 24th, at approximately the same hour, a mild explosion took place in the Virden mine under practically the same conditions, whereby fifteen or sixteen men were slightly burned on their way to work that morning in a mantrip. State Inspector Fraser, upon investigating this particular accident, found an entry which had been abandoned for thirty years and on that very morning it was still actively giving off gas in dangerous quantities. The same barometric conditions which affected Moweaqua affected the Virden mine.
      The Mine Rescue teams which participated in the recovery work at the Moweaqua disaster were the Illinois Mine Rescue teams from Benton, Springfield. Duquoin and LaSalle ; and the Superior Coal Company's Mine Rescue team from Gillespie.
      The Inspectors who took an active part in the direction of the work were: State Mine Inspectors Harry Marshall, 4th District, Springfield; Fred T. Hodges. 5th District. Danville; John K. Fraser. 6th District, Carlinville; John White, 7th District, Collinsville; Edward Flynn, 9th District, Duquoin; James Weir, 10th District, Benton; George Bagwill. 11th District, Harrisburg and Arthur Plumlee, 12th District, Cambria; also Thomas English, State Mine Inspector-at-Large, Springfield, and W. L. Morgan, Economic Investigator, Greenville, and County Mine Inspectors : Nicholas Stein, of Perry County, Duquoin and Ray Kingston, Shelby County, Shelbyville.
      The following is the report of the Commission appointed by me to investigate the accident :
 
Springfield, Illinois,
January 4, 1933.
Hon. John G. Millhouse, Director,
      Department of Mines and Minerals,
            State House, Springfield, Illinois.

      Sir: -- We, your investigation commission, appointed to inquire into the cause of the disaster at the Moweaqua Coal Corporation's Mine Number One, Moweaqua, Illinois, at eight A. M. on December twenty-fourth, 1932, beg to submit for your approval the result of our investigation, as follows --
      Our investigation convinces us that the explosion originated from the 5th East off the 15th North by methane gas being released as a result of a fall of roof and concretionary nodules falling against the seals, breaking them outward, the methane gas being carried into the air current inward to the men, who had just passed by in a car hauled by a mule. The men, arriving at the parting, in getting out of the car, evidently ignited the gas with their open lights, the flame traveling backward on the 15th North coming in contact with a large body of gas located at that point. The explosion, at this point, seems to have divided, going north and south.
      We found the first empty car going in on the parting standing on its end, showing that the force of the explosion had traveled that way. The spraggs in the loaded car wheels being in reverse position indicated that the loaded cars had been pushed back towards the north. From the 5th East, traveling out south, indications showed that the force of the explosion had traveled outward also.
      The 3rd and 4th East stoppings had been destroyed. On our first entrance in there, methane gas was found. At the 1st and 2nd East off the 15th North the stoppings had been destroyed and at the inside of the 15th North three feet of explosive gas was found outside of two old rooms.
      There was evidence that gas had been given off in large quantities in all of these openings, which the first exploration proved. The greatest violence had taken place at the mantrip where twelve bodies were found outside of the 15th South in the cars and had radiated in all directions from that point, with the exception of the Main West inside of the 15th North and was less violent on the inside workings than it was throughout the mine.
      We are convinced that due to a low barometric pressure taking place immediately after eight A. M. (a drop of .3 of an inch occurred at that time) would naturally cause gas to exude in greater volume from the old workings at this point.
      The explosion in the 5th East no doubt forced gases from some of the old workings on the men located in the mantrip at the 15th South and being ignited by their open lights the explosion radiated with severe violence from that point in all directions.
      There is also the probability that coaldust intensified the explosion, but we have found little evidence of coaldust being an active agent.
      The violence of the explosion was such as to cause the roof to fall in the 15th South a distance of eight hundred feet and outward to near the 11th North towards the shaft bottom and into the 15th North for a distance of fifteen hundred feet, and from there in, the effect of the explosion decreased.
      We are convinced that this disaster was caused by an explosion of methane gas, resulting in fifty-four men losing their lives. (Signed)
Thomas English.
      Inspector-at-Large ; John K. Fraser,
      State Mine Inspector, 6th District; James Weir,
      State Mine Inspector, 10th District; W. L. Morgan,
      Economic Investigator.

 
      I believe it would be fitting and proper at this time to say a word of praise concerning the men who so willingly and gladly offered their services at that terrible disaster. They responded nobly to the call for help and maintained the finest traditions of our industry, which coal mining men are proud to perpetuate whenever any of their fellow-workers are in danger or in need of assistance, regardless of what that danger may be. I feel proud of the industry and the men who belong to it, and deem it a privilege to be called one of them.
 
1932 Annual Coal Report28 - Fatal Accidents
 
Birley, James, of Moweaqua, miner, aged 46 years, married, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois. He leaves a widow and three children.
 
Birley, Thomas, of Moweaqua, driver, aged 44 years, married, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois. He leaves a widow.
 
Board, Kenneth, of Moweaqua, miner, aged 25 years, single was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois. He leaves one dependent.
 
Burrell, George, Jr., of Moweaqua, miner, aged 27 years, married, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois. He leaves a widow and one child.
 
Cabacchi, Loui, of Moweaqua, miner, aged 45 years, married, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois. He leaves a widow and two children.
 
Campbell, Charles, of Moweaqua, miner, aged 21 years, married, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois. He leaves a widow.
 
Campbell, Ed, of Moweaqua, miner, aged 50 years, married, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois. He leaves a widow and four children.
 
CastinoulIs, Jules, of Moweaqua, driver, aged 46 years, married, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois. He leaves a widow.
 
Cathergood, Roy, of Moweaqua, miner, aged 39 years, married, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois. He leaves a widow and one child.
 
Cooley, David, of Moweaqua, miner, aged 65 years, married, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois. He leaves a widow.
 
Corby, Andy, Jr., of Moweaqua, miner, aged 25 years, married, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois. He leaves a widow and one child.
 
Corby, Andy, Sr., of Moweaqua, timberman, aged 55 years, married, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois. He leaves a widow.
 
Corby, John, of Moweaqua, miner, aged 28 years, married, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois. He leaves widow and one child.
 
Craven, Chester, of Moweaqua, miner, aged 50 years, single, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois.
 
Crinock, Mike, of Moweaqua, miner, aged 52 years, married, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois. He leaves widow and one child.
 
Davidson, William, of Moweaqua, miner, aged 55 years, single, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois.
 
Davis, Zelva, of Moweaqua, motorman, aged 40 years, married, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois. He leaves a widow and two children.
 
Dove, Arthur, of Moweaqua, miner, aged 48 years, married, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois. He leaves a widow.
 
Dowd, Earl, of Moweaqua, driver, aged 36 years, married, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois. He leaves a widow and five children.
 
Green, Lynn, of Moweaqua, miner, aged 24 years, married, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois. He leaves a widow.
 
Hartman, Charles, of Moweaqua, miner, aged 23 years, single, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois.
 
Hartman, Leonard, of Moweaqua, driver, aged 35 years, married, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois. He leaves a widow and five children.
 
Hartselle, John, of Moweaqua,miner, aged 28 years, single, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois. He leaves a widow and one child.
 
Hudson, Oliver, of Moweaqua, miner, aged 25 years, married, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois. He leaves a widow and two children.
 
Jackson, Thomas, of Moweaqua, timberman, aged 55 years, married, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois. He leaves a widow.
 
Jurick, Joe, of Moweaqua, miner, aged 48 years, married, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois. He leaves a widow.
 
Jurick, Mox, of Moweaqua, miner, aged 45 years, single, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois.
 
Kapilla, Andy, of Moweaqua, miner, aged 30 years, married, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois. He leaves a widow and two children.
 
Krall, Joe, of Moweaqua, miner, aged 59 years, single, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois.
 
McDonald, Charles, Jr., of Moweaqua, miner, aged 18 years, single, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois.
 
McDonald, Charles, Sr., of Moweaqua, miner, aged 62 years, single, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois. He leaves a widow and two children.
 
McDonald, Karl, of Moweaqua, miner, aged 23 years, single,was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois.
 
Negri, Joe, of Moweaqua, miner, aged 21 years, single, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois.
 
Negri, Mike, of Moweaqua, miner, aged 25 years, married,was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois. He leaves a widow and one child.
 
Ondes, George, of Moweaqua, miner, aged 41 years, married, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois. He leaves a widow and two children.
 
Ploski, Mike, of Moweaqua, miner, aged 25 years, married, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois. He leaves a widow and one child.
 
Portwood, Ross, of Moweaqua, miner, aged 50 years, married, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois. He leaves a widow.
 
Potsie, Andy, of Moweaqua, miner, aged 18 years, single, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois.
 
Potsie, Mike, of Moweaqua, miner, aged 52 years, married, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois. He leaves a widow and seven children.
 
Reatherford, Roy, of Moweaqua, miner, aged 40 years, married, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois. He leaves a widow.
 
Roff, Charles, of Moweaqua, trackman, aged 45 years, married, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois. He leaves a widow and one child.
 
Roff, James, of Moweaqua, miner, aged 19 years, single, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois.
 
Rogilis, Mike, of Moweaqua, driver, aged 46 years, married, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois. He leaves a widow and five children.
 
Sarver, Berne, of Moweaqua, miner, aged 22 years, single, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois.
 
Sarver, Raymond, of Moweaqua, miner, aged 22 years, single,was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois.
 
Sigloski, Sam, of Moweaqua, miner, aged 26 years, single, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois.
 
Smorado, Andy, of Moweaqua, miner, aged 60 years, married, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois. He leaves a widow and one child.
 
Supina, Andy, of Moweaqua, miner, aged 19 years, single, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois.
 
Supina, John, of Moweaqua, miner, aged 41 years, married, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois. He leaves a widow and three children.
 
Thompson, Hugh, Jr., of Moweaqua, miner, aged 20 years, single, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois.
 
Tirpak, Andy, of Moweaqua, miner, aged 18 years, single, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois.
 
Tirpak, Mike, of Moweaqua, miner, aged 49 years, married, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois. He leaves a widow and eight children.
 
Woodring, Charles, of Moweaqua, miner, aged 25 years, single, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois.
 
Yonikus, Charles, of Moweaqua, miner, aged 60 years, married, was killed in a gas explosion in Moweaqua Coal Company's Moweaqua Mine, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois. He leaves a widow.

Kathleen Mine Fire -- Dowell
      On the night of August 1, 1936, a fire occurred in the Dowell mine of the Union Collieries Company at Dowell, Illinois, just south of DuQuoin, which caused the death of nine men by asphyxiation from carbon monoxide. Twelve others were partially overcome, but were all revived.
      The fire started by a transformer exploding. The transformer was located near the face of 7 northeast, some 2½i miles from the shaft bottom. This transformer had just been set in place but not completely installed. Electric power had evidently been connected.
      The first indication of trouble was the kick out of the circuit breaker and the power suddenly going off. The first trial at connection again threw the circuit breaker. Rapid elimination of sections quickly ascertained the location of the electric short to be in the 7 northeast. Investigation showed odor of fire in the return of this section.
      The DuQuoin State Mine Rescue Team was at once ordered and this team quickly reached the fire location on foot. Two of the team members, wearing their oxygen apparatus, came out to the shaft bottom at once on a locomotive to order material and men for quick sealing. After giving these instructions, the men immediately returned. Four men were on the shaft bottom. One remained to organize workmen who had been called from the surface, and the other three (two section bosses and the electrical engineer) started in on a locomotive and left word that they would return immediately as soon as they ascertained conditions. They did not wear any protective equipment. The men from the surface, who had been called, arrived at the bottom of the shaft and waited for some time pending the return of the three officials. Six other men then started in on a locomotive with one car of material, assuming that the first three men were delayed because of a derailed locomotive or some obstruction. No message was received from these six and, after considerable waiting on the shaft bottom, two men started to walk the 2½ miles. One of these two men, while enroute, stated that he felt the effects of gas, then traveling was made on the intake air course as the haulageway was the return. They finally got up to the mine rescue team who were waiting near the fire for the other men and material.
      The team had heard nothing of either locomotive crew and they immediately returned along the return airway, which was the haulageway. They found the first three men, who had dismounted from the locomotive in an attempt to reach an entrance to the intake airway. The three were dead. The second locomotive with its six men had evidently bumped into the first one, and indications were that the six men had been overcome with carbon monoxide while enroute. Some of the six men were dead, and the others died enroute to the bottom. These casualties occurred in by an upcast shaft in this section of the mine.
      A group of other men in the shaft bottom, who became concerned about the non-return of the last two who had entered on foot, started to walk in. After they had proceeded a short distance along the return, twelve of them became ill but they were brought back to the bottom without any casualties.
      According to reports, no smoke or fire odor was apparent near the shaft bottom on the haulageway, which was the return airway, and, as it is much quicker to cover the 2½ miles distance to the seat of the fire by locomotive or by walking on the return on account of the easier walking, this prompted the men to go in on the haulageway with the thought that when smoke would be encountered they could cross over into the intake air course. Unfortunately, however, the smoke particles in the return air precipitated out before they traveled the 2½ miles to the shaft bottom and, although the air was clear of smoke, the insidious and odorless carbon monoxide was present.
 
1936 Annual Coal Report29 - Fatal Accidents
 
Clarence E. Cawvey, of Dowell, electrical engineer, aged 34 years, married, killed by carbon monoxide gas in Kathleen Mine of Union Colliery Co., leaving a widow and one child.
 
Forest Devor, of Dowell, assistant foreman, aged 44 years, married, killed by carbon monoxide gas in Kathleen Mine of Union Colliery Co., leaving a widow.
 
George Ford, of DuQuoin, machine runner, aged 44 years, married, killed by carbon monoxide gas in Kathleen Mine of Union Colliery Co., leaving a widow and one child.
 
Logan Graeff, of Dowell, pumpman, aged 41 years, married, killed by carbon monoxide gas in Kathleen Mine of Union Colliery Co., leaving a widow and one child.
 
Edwin Harris, of DuQuoin, machine operator, aged 35 years, married, killed by carbon monoxide gas in Kathleen Mine of Union Colliery Co., leaving a widow and one child.
 
Steve Hrin, of Dowell, Assistant Foreman, aged 42 years, married, killed by carbon monoxide gas in Kathleen mine of Union Colliery Co., leaving a widow and one child.
 
John Kelly, of Elkville, motorman, aged 34 years, married, killed by carbon monoxide gas in Kathleen Mine of Union Colliery Co., leaving a widow.
 
Louis Rees, of Elkville, driller and shooter, aged 44 years, married, killed by carbon monoxide gas in Kathleen Mine of Union Colliery Co., leaving a widow and two children.
 
Joe Spiller, of DuQuoin, examiner, aged 31 years, married, killed by carbon monoxide gas in Kathleen Mine of Union Colliery Co., leaving a widow and two children.

Sources :
 
1 A Compilation of the Reports of the Mining Industry of Illinois
                from the Earliest Records to Close of the Year 1930
                Department of Mines and Minerals; Springfield, Illinois

2 A Compilation of the Reports of the Mining Industry of Illinois
                from the Earliest Records to 1954
                Department of Mines and Minerals -- Printed by authority of the State of Illinois;

27 Thirty-Second Annual Coal Report of Illinois, 1913
                State Mining Board
                Printed by authority of the State of Illinois -- Springfield, ILL.: Illinois State Journal Co., State Printers, 1914

28 Fifty-First Annual Coal Report of Illinois, 1932
                Department of Mines and Minerals -- Journal Printing Co., Springfield, ILL., 1933

29 Fifty -Fifth Coal Report of Illinois, 1936
                Department of Mines and Minerals -- Printed by authority of the State of Illinois

 

Coal & Coal Mining in Illinois

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