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You ought to be out raising hell. This is the fighting age. Put on your fighting clothes.
                                                      -Mother Jones

Thursday January 28, 1904
From the Altoona Morning Tribune: Grim Recovery of Bodies Continues at  Harwick Mine

Harwick Mine Disaster of 1904


Harwick Mine of Allegheny Coal Company Giving Up Its Dead
Day one of Horror in the Little Village Which Is Near the Pit Mouth.
It Admits That All of the Men Who Were in the Mine Were Killed and
They Number 171

Pittsburg, [Pa.] January 27- Three days have elapsed since the terrible catastrophe at the Harwick mine of the Allegheny Coal company, and to-night at midnight seventy-one bodies have been recovered and brought to the surface. Only eighteen of these have been identified. The day has been one of horror in the little village on the hill above the pit mouth, but even while the blackened bodies were brought from the top of the shaft and taken on sleds to the school house on the hill, where undertakers were ready to receive them, there seemed to prevail in the community as a clutch that repressed their natural feelings of passionate anxiety and sorrow, the grim realization that there is still much work to be done before the full extent of the catastrophe has been realized.

The Allegheny Coal company to-night, in an official statement, positively admitted that all of the men who were in the mine when the explosion occurred are dead. There are 171 names on the list, which does not include Selwyn M. Taylor, or of the two men who were on the tipple above the mine shaft when the explosion came. Nor does the list include the name of Daniel W. Steele, of Castle Shannon, whose body was found in the mine this morning. He was one of the men who went down in the mine to work last night but became separated from the rest and wandered far ahead of the air. His body was found setting with his back to the wall of one of the rooms. He had evidently been overcome by the after-damp.

The list of 171 names was made public to-night by Sheldon Parks, treasurer of the company, after a consultation with General Manager George W. Scheetz. Mr. Terry says it is possible that one or more of those included may have escaped death, but this is hardly probable. The only man included in the list who is known to be living is Chris Gunia, who is not yet out of danger. He is the man who was found at the bottom of the shaft by the rescue party, headed by Selwyn M. Taylor.

This brings the official number of known dead up to 174, but the list may still be incomplete, as it is possible that some boys may have gone into the pit to work under their fathers' direction, whose names have not yet been determined. Hutchinson, the custodian of lamps, says that between 150 and 190 lamps were given out on the fatal Monday morning and no man was given more than one.

There were many harrowing sights in the little hamlet to-day. This was not good to see, and the prospect is that not many more will be presented there before the end has come.

To-night there are strange contrasts to be seen. The village is quiet. Zero weather and bright moonlight. At the shaft mouth fires have been built and groups of men are gathered there trying to keep warm. In the blacksmiths shop, about 100 feet from the mouth of the shaft, twenty-seven coffins, each containing its burden, are lined up.


About 300 yards up a winding road in the midst of a little hamlet is the school house. The desks and chairs have been removed. On the floor, in rows two in number at mid-night, were lying twenty-one bodies just as they came from the shaft.

As the bodies are brought to the surface they are carried to sleds waiting to receive them and taken up the hill to the school house. When the undertakers work is done the bodies are taken down the hill again to the blacksmiths shop.

And so the dreary round has gone all day.

Financial aid for widows and children is coming in and is in charge of a temporary relief committee, headed by George A. Bigley, president of Cheswick borough and acting burgess.

Morning Tribune
(Altoona, Pennsylvania)
-of Jan 28, 1904

Photo: Harwick Mine Disaster of 1904
Note: it is the story, and not the photo which was from this edition of the Altoona newspaper.

Wednesday January 28, 1914
From the Miners' Bulletin: House Committee Will Investigate Ongoing Industrial Wars

Government to Make Probe Into Strike Districts of Colorado and Michigan

Washington, Jan. 23-By a vote of 149 to 17, the Democratic caucus of the house last night adopted the MacDonald and Keating resolutions for investigations of the industrial wars now raging in Michigan and Colorado.

This signal victory for labor was won only after a bitter fight in which the reactionaries tried to defeat the resolutions in the name of "reassuring the business interests," and "by letting things take care of themselves."

Although the proceedings of the caucus are secret, it is learned that Representatives Henry, Texas, a so-called "radical" Representative Pou, North Carolina, and Representative Hardwick, Georgia, not only spoke against, but voted against the investigation.

The investigation will be made by the committee on mines and mining of which Representative Martin D. Foster, Illinois, is chairman. Foster is also on the rules committee and was the sole Democrat to vote for the investigation when that committee debated. ...

The committee will probably get to work within a week. The first hearings probably will be held in Michigan so that the congressional investigators can get the facts on the grounds.

Everybody conceded that the victory of last night is in great measure due to the energy of Representative MacDonald, backed by the united protests of Socialists and union men from all parts of the country.

This is a long, and important, article, and will be continued in tomorrow's Hellraisers.

Miners' Bulletin
"Published by authority of
 Western Federation of Miners
 to tell the truth regarding
 the strike of copper miners."
-of Jan 28, 1914


Tuesday January 28, 2014
More on the Harwick Mine Disaster of 1904:

The Final Death Toll:
Coal Mining Disasters: 1839 to Present
01/25/1904    Harwick    Cheswick    PA    179    Coal    Explosion

But worse was yet to come:
The three worst coal mine disasters in U.S. history-
YEAR    DAY    MINE                                    LOCATION                       TYPE  DEATHS
1913 10/22 Stag Canon No. 2                 Dawson, New Mexico       Explosion  263
1909 11/13 Cherry Mine                         Cherry, Illinois                Fire         259
1907 12/06 Monongah Nos. 6 and 8         Monongah, West Virginia  Explosion  362

After checking over list from CDC, I found only two mining disasters with a higher death
   toll then the Harwick up to 1904:
05/19/1902    Fraterville                    Coal Creek TN    184    Coal    Explosion
05/01/1900    Winter Quarters 1 & 4   Scofield     UT     200   Coal   Explosion

From the 1839 to the Present (2010), there are 728 mine disasters listed, with a "mine disaster" being defined as an incident which claims 5 or more lives.

Center for Disease Control
& Mine Safety Health Administration
(see links above)

West Virginia Mine Disaster-Kathy Mattea

What will I tell to my
Three little babies?
And it’s what will I tell
His dear mother at home?

And it’s what will I tell
My heart that’s sure dying?
My heart that’s sure dying
Since my darling is gone?

           -Jean Ritchie

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Comment Preferences

  •  Two points of significance I noted in the 1904 (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JayRaye, oldpotsmuggler

    disaster account:

    1. "it is possible that some boys may have gone into the pit to work under their fathers' direction"--the use of child labor. I assume in this situation that whatever they mined was credited to the father rather than to the boys as separate employees.

    2.  "Financial aid for widows and children is coming in and is in charge of a temporary relief committee, headed by George A. Bigley, president of Cheswick borough and acting burgess."--Did the "aid" come from the companies, was it a "fair" amount, did the company pay the aid basically cut off litigation?

    garden variety democratic socialist: accepting life's complexity|striving for global stewardship of our soil and other resources to meet everyone's basic needs|being a friend to the weak

    by Galtisalie on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 03:51:31 PM PST

    •  A very "kind" company might chip in for (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Galtisalie, oldpotsmuggler

      funeral expenses, nothing more that I've ever seen. They really did not fear litigation, the mine ops almost always came out the victor in any legal fight.

      We may yet hear about this company paying some amount for funeral expenses. The labor press reacts with well deserved mockery when this happens:

      The Rocky Mountain Fuel company offered to contribute $75 toward the funeral expenses of the dead. They become real philanthropists, in their minds, when they offer to bear part of the funeral expenses. The widows and orphans of these men who were killed by the operators' negligence starve.

      Working class people donated, unions donated, the UMW Convention was in progress at the time and voted for a large donation even tho they were funding some big strikes at the time.

      The boys who went in with their fathers, yes, from the way it was describe, sounds like they would work with the father, but only the father would be paid.

      That was not always the case. Some young boys were hired directly and paid directly, altho, of course, in those days, children turned their paychecks over to the head of the household. So it's a distinction without much of difference.

      Even young adults did that. Rose Schneiderman described how, as a young woman, she rebelled against her mother when she started keeping a small amount of pay for herself, instead of handing over the entire pay envelope!

      God spare me the Heart to fight them... I'll fight the Pirates forever. -Mother Jones

      by JayRaye on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 04:11:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is modern. My wife, back in her country, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    before we were married. Her income was a pittance. She kept no more than she absolutely had to have, and the remainder to her family. Her mother always wanted more, because, either way, they had nothing.

    The reality of abject poverty simply escapes my fellow citizens.

    There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

    by oldpotsmuggler on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 07:12:33 PM PST

    •  And I have friends here in Texas also (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      as much as they struggle to get by, they are always sending money home

      I only wish I could do something to help them, but even my efforts to see that they aren't robbed of the small pay due them doesn't seem to help. The bosses have them too intimidated to seek legal remedies.

      God spare me the Heart to fight them... I'll fight the Pirates forever. -Mother Jones

      by JayRaye on Wed Jan 29, 2014 at 03:26:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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