Durham Morning Herald, May 28, 1925

The Coal Glen Mining Disaster
Farmville, Chatham County, N.C.
May 27, 1925

Durham Morning Herald
May 28, 1925

Explosions at Coal Glen, Near Sanford

Six Miners Are Known
To Be Dead In Disaster
At Carolina Company Pit

Rescue Workers are Toiling Ceaselessly in Hope of
Reaching the Others in Time to Save Them: First
Explosion Came at 9:30 O'clock Wednesday Morning,
Followed by Two Others at Half Hour Intervals.


First Explosion Was About the Thousand-Foot Level and
Is Thought to Have Blocked Main Tunnel; Officials
Believe the Air in Most of the Mine is Clear of
Gas and Have Hopes That the Entombed Men are Still
Alive and That They Will Be Brought Out Safely.


Alabama Is Also Sending a Crew to Aid in the Work of
Rescue; General Metts is Present Representing the
State, But Has Found No Need for Troops, There
Being No Tendency to Disorder; Families of the
Entombed Men Gather About the Ropes, Waiting
Patiently for News; Six Men Brought Out Were Alive
When Discovered but Died Before They Could Be
Gotten Out.

(By the Associated Press)

       Coal Glenn, May 28.--Hope that a single one of the three score or more miners entombed in the mine of the Carolina Coal company near here early Wednesday morning by a series of three explosions, was alive was abandoned at 1:30 o'clock this morning by rescuers who had entertained the hope earlier in the night that the men might have escaped suffocation following the blasts.) It is the opinion now that if the actual explosions did not kill them, the afterdamp snuffed out their lives.  Efforts to reach the recesses of the mine where the miners were caught will be redoubled at daylight.  Searchers during the night have penetrated to the 1800 foot level without finding any bodies.

       Hope had been expressed by B. H. Butler, vice president of the mining company, and William Hill of the Cumnock coal mine, nearby, that the entombed men might still live.  Miners from the Cumnock company aided throughout the day in the work of rescue.

       Mr. Hill said the air was clear in the mine below where the bodies were found and this was held to indicate by officials that the entrapped men might still survive. The fans were kept going all day purifying the inner recesses of the mine, that eager fellow workers and those from nearby points might penetrate further into the dark passages that were believed to hold the victims of the disaster.

       Mr. Butler told newspaper men tonight that his information was to the effect that the first explosion was in the second right lateral of the mine, approximately a thousand feet from the entrance.  He added that if this was true the main shaft may not have filled with gas but merely was blocked with debris.

       The two subsequent explosions were believed by officials to have occurred between the second right shaft and the opening.  The second and third explosions came at half hour intervals after that at 9:30 o'clock which had blocked the men from the entrance.

       Mine authorities said the finding of the six bodies climaxed what appeared to be almost a rescue for them, the men apparently having died only a short time before they were reached.

       This section tonight presented a scene of sorrow and suspense, with women and children composing the families of the men caught in the lap of the disaster, gathered as near the scene as possible, waiting and praying that their father or brother might be returned safely to them, yet grimly realizing that only a miracle could have saved them.

       Many, too, awaited hopefully for rescue cars rushing across neighboring states to the aid of the pent-in miners, and hoped against time that they might not be too late.  Leaders of the rescue work had been advised of action taken by the bureau of mines at Washington to lend aid and were looking forward to their arrival, although feverish workers toiled as rapidly as possible that they might if possible effect a rescue at any hour.

       Little hope of reaching the entombed men before tomorrow was held, those in charge admitted.

       While two lorries of troops from Fort Bragg were sent to the scene, their services were declined.  Adjutant General Metts, representing Governor McLean, is on the grounds and declared that he would remain at the mine for two or three days.

       Removal of the six bodies from the mine brought to light an attempted rescue by Howard Butler, son of the vice president of the company, and Joe Richardson, an employee.  Immediately after the first blast these two men penetrated the mine to the first right lateral and upon entering the lateral found six men partially overcome by gas.  Together they dragged these men to the main shaft and pure air and left them there while they went to summon additional aid.

       Then the second and third explosions occurred, Richardson reaching the surface before they look place while Butler was caught in a lateral but escaped the full force of the explosion.  He crawled out of the main entrance nearly an hour later and was given medical aid.  Tonight he was in a Sanford hospital and doctors said he would recover, while in a nearby undertaking establishment lay the six bodies of the men he had striven heroically but in vain to save.

       There were no scenes of disorder at the mine.  Hundreds stood behind the ropes which held them back from the mouth of the fatal shaft, but they appeared too numbed to make their grief visible.

       Adjutant General Van B. Metts, sent by Governor McLean to take charge of the situation and if need be to summon military aid said that the crowd about the mine was orderly and that there appeared to be no need of outside aid.  Sheriff G. W. Blair of Chatham county had a force of extra deputies on duty at the mine to aid in holding back the crowds.

       Headed by Major Burr of Fort Bragg, a company of army engineers and a hospital detachment came to the scene from Fort Bragg to render aid but it was found that the troops were not needed and they were returned to the fort.

       The hospital detachment however remained on duty at the mine and was aided by a corps of volunteer nurses from Sanford.   General Metts said that he would remain on the scene for a day or two in order to respond to any emergency.

       Estimates as to the length of time it would take to clear the mine and reach the entombed men varied.  Some believed that the work would require at least a week, while others said it would not take more than a day or two.  The arrival here tomorrow of a specially equipped mine rescue car, ordered here by the federal bureau of mines was expected to aid materially in the work of rescue.

       The rescue crew working throughout the day used gas masks when entering the mine, although the main shaft was said to have been cleared of foul air late today.  The men remaining in the mine are known to have been working in the main shaft from the 1,000 foot level down and hope was held out that they might be rescued.  The work of rescue was going forward under the direction of J. R. McQueen of Lakeview, N. C., president and general manager of the Carolina Coal company.  In this he was being assisted by Vice President Butler and other officials.  The rescue crews were led by William Hill of the Cumnock mines, C. Scott and W. A. Jones, the three men being experienced mine workers.  A full crew of miners from the Cumnock company was aiding in the work of rescue.

       Hour after hour during the day hundreds of men, women and children surged around the mine, all straining toward the entrance of the mine shaft where those rescued, if any, must emerge.  Time after time they were disappointed as the mine bucket came to the surface loaded only with debris.

       Then shortly before 10 o'clock tonight, a stir ran through the crowd and it pressed more closely against the ropes which held it back from the mine opening.  The order had gone out for the soldiers to bring their stretchers close to the shaft and the nurses stood by to give their aid.  Once, twice, the cable which brought the car to the surface stopped and the mass of human beings watching it wind its slow way out of the shaft held its breath.  Then seven grimy men came out of the opening with set faces. As if called, a group of miners descended to the cars just a few feet below the surface and tenderly removed the bodies of six of their comrades.  Death had struck them down just after the heroic work of Butler and Richardson had given them an opportunity for life.  The soldiers brought up the stretchers and the bodies were carried away to waiting ambulances to be transported to Sanford.  Another crew of miners entered the shaft and the work of rescue was resumed.

       The mine where the men are entombed, it was explained by Vice President Butler tonight, has only three openings--an air shaft, the main shaft and an old abandoned shaft.  It is possible only to work down the main shaft to set at the men below and the rescue crew have reported that the main shaft is filled with fallen timbers and other debris.  The second right lateral, where the first explosion is believed to have occurred, is about 1,000 feet from the mouth of the shaft, and about 100 feet underground, measured perpendicularly.  It was from the mouth of this shaft that the six bodies were then brought.  The air in the main shaft beyond is reported as pure, giving rise to the hope that the men might be safe behind the debris in which the main shaft at this point is filled.

       The work of rescue was to be continued throughout the night with crew of seven men, the largest number which can enter the mine at the same time, working in shifts of two hours each.

       At 11 o'clock tonight no additional bodies had been recovered.  Following is the official list of the men known to have gone in the mine this morning:

       White: George Anderson, A. F. Martin, C. B. Johnson, Joe Hutson, Claude Woods, Zeff Riners, J. E. Lobisser, A. L. Stokes, A. L. Holland, A. Williams, Sam Jeter, W. H. Sullivan, N. R. Johnson, C. L. Woods, S. Holmes, W. E. Howard, Sid Clegg, Albert Holland, Sam Napier, Elmer Hayes, Dan Hutson, S. B. Davis, T. S. Anderson, W. E. Bailey, Reuben Chambless, Tom Cotton, Gus Boyles, John Henley, H. C. Hall, D. McDonald, N. E. Dillingham, W. D. Dillingham, Wilson Chasner, Dave Wilson, -—(?)-— Hill, John Curd, Hollis Richardson, Joe Hutson and Robert Williams.  Total 29.

       Negroes: J. J. Wilson, Lee Buckingham, John Burgess, John Shaw, Charles Waton, David Barr, June Cotton, James Small, John Austin, Julius Cotton, Henry Austin, Wade Wilson, Will Moore, Page Munn, Will Austin, Arthur Poe, Charlie Wright, T. D. Wright, Will Irick, Manly Lambers.  Total 20.

       The six men whose bodies were removed from the mine tonight were:

       White: A. L. Holland, W. E. Byerly, Hollis Richardson, and Zeff Rimer.

       Negroes: Will Irick and one other unidentified.

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