Tuesday, December 4, 2007

mining days

Busy several days coming up: New Jersey tomorrow, Philadelphia Thursday, next town over Friday, up the line Saturday, and Rhode Island Tuesday through Thursday next week. Better than unemployed, eh?

I did a quick google to see if the train wreck that resulted in changing a town name to Avoca, Pennsylvania, would come up and I found this list. Sobering.

The first local entry reads, “WILKESBARRE, Pa., Aug. 10.---Ludwig Collski, aged 23, a Lithuanian laborer, employed at the Newton Coal company's Seneca breaker, Pittston, met with a terrible death shortly after the breaker started work in the morning. He was caught by the conveyers and horribly crushed his body being twisted out of shape and the intestines ruptured. The man was alive when received at the hospital, but died soon afterward. The News, Frederick, MD 10 Aug 1896.” A Lithuanian coal-cracker – that’s close to home.

Further down the list, another local entry, two months earlier reads, “WILKESBARRE, Pa., June 29.----Miles C. Miles, employed at No. 4 mine, operated by the Kingston Coal company, met with a horrible death on Saturday Miles, who was a mine carpenter, with other workmen was at work bratticing the air shaft. In the attempt to reach for a hammer he missed his footing and fell to the bottom of the shaft, a distance of 700 feet. He was mangled beyond recognition. He leaves a family. The News, Frederick, MD 29 Jun 1896.”

Still further down and just four days after the first entry above, this tragedy occurred: “WILKESBARRE, Pa., Aug. 12.---John Garbahi, a Polish laborer, and William Bamock, a doortender, aged 15 years, were fatally burned yesterday at the Washington colliery of the Lehigh and Wilkes-barre Coal company at Plymouth by the explosion of a keg of powder. A spark from Garbahi's lamp ignited the explosive. New Oxford Item, New Oxford, PA 14 Aug 1896.”

Perhaps the path of the year was set on New Year’s Day: “Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Jan.1.---A boiler explosion, by which three men were killed, occurred at the Law colliery at Avoca yesterday morning. The dead are: ALEX YOUNG, aged 48, pump driller; THOMAS M'DONALD, age 52, machinist; JOHN ROLLS, aged 50. The two first named were mangled beyond recognition. The explosion is supposed to have been caused by the low water in the boiler. The Fort Wayne Gazette, Fort Wayne, IN 2 Jan 1896.”

And underscored just three weeks later (from this list): “HAZLETON, Pa., Jan. 21. -- The Lehigh Valley passenger train, in charge of Engineer MICHAEL LONZER and Conductor GEORGE REESE, was precipitated into the depths of a coal mine near this place. LONZER was wedged between the baggage car and the ground and was crushed to death. The fireman, FREDERICK MEYERS, will probably die.

“Several passengers were injured, but all were able to walk to this city. Since the wreck the earth has dropped completely into the mines, which are operated by Linderman & Skeer, and steam from the underground cavity is issuing from the hole. Trains were run by way of Beaver Meadow.

“Traffic will be blocked for several days, both main tracks being affected. For several years past the road between here and Stockton has been the scene of many cave-ins, and to guard against accidents three watchmen were placed at different points to notify trains of any possible danger. The Essex County Republican New York 1896-01-23.”

How incredibly sad that year was for the valley.

Still in the midst of researching for a specific article, but I’ll post this …


  1. This was a great article about my Great Great Grandfather, where did you find it, may I ask? Thank you.

  2. Robert, truly pleased that I may have added to your family research. All of my sources are linked within the articles. See the yellow text throughout? That will take you to the various sources. If something is not clear, I can recreate my steps. Don't hesitate to ask ... Clyde

  3. Robert, laughing to myself ... how did I find those sources? My family was all miners. My great grandfather married his sister-in-law after his own brother was killed in the mines. I was just doing internet-based research on mine deaths. I live in this area of Pennsylvania if oyu want some local research done - death certs, etc.

  4. I'm lookin for info on my family that lived in Wilkes Barre and worked in the Lehigh & WB mines in the early to mid 1900's. Their last names were Grochmal, Smydo, Kryzewski (this is the current spelling...it was simplified many years ago) and Tarasavage. I live in Michigan and can't get to the region to do hands on research. Any help you can provide would be appreciated.

  5. There are some good resources available locally. I'll put your surnames in my list for the next time I get out. E me at my.aisling@gmail.com so we can set up a direct line of discussion. clyde