|Birth: ||Dec. 9, 1881|
|Death: ||Nov. 21, 1903|
DEATH CAME FROM OLD HILL FARM AND GARNERED A GHASTLY HARVEST
Twelve Killed, Eight Injured and One Missing as a Result of Explosion at Ferguson GAS IN THE WORKINGS SET OFF BY OLD FIR Which Has Raged in the Hill Farm Mine for the Past Thirteen Years—Rescue Party Searching Passages for Missing Man Details of the Disaster and Statements of Officials—Funeral Arrangements Being Made Today
Death, that thirteen years ago stalked in Hill Farm mine and claimed the lives of 31 men, came in a flash of fire to the Ferguson slope, near Dunbar, on Saturday evening at 6:30 o'clock, and smote down the 21 miners who were working there. Ten lives were snuffed out by the explosion and the deadly after-damp that followed, and the grim destroyer has probably not yet finished his gruesome tally. Two victims have since died at the Cottage State Hospital and others are lingering between life and death. One man is missing and there is now no hope of his being alive. The Ferguson disaster comes as a sad memento to the Hill Farm horror of 13 years ago, for the statements of the mine experts show that the shouldering Hill Farm fire probably fired a body of gas in the old working at Ferguson. These are the dead, missing and injured.
James McGurk, 22 years old, son of Fire Boss, John McGurk.
Wheatly Foster, 21 years old and single.
Mike Samandre, married, wife and family in the old county.
Joseph Ocklan, 27 years old and single.
Peter Sekora, 32 years old and married, wife and three children.
John Sedravia, 39 years old, has wife and family in the old county.
Charles Vera, 42 years old, has wife and family in the old county.
Mike Sekora, 22 years old and single.
Andy Kootsar, 38 years old and married, leaves wife and three children.
Mike Havarsjack, 24 years old, leaves wife and family in the old country.
Rijack Baleslaf, died at the Cottage State Hospital Sunday afternoon, 28 years old and single.
William Foster, aged 48 years, died at the Cottage State Hospital this morning. Remains will be sent to his home near Dunbar.
Michael Bene, a Slav
John McGurk, 39 years old, wife and five children, thought to have been fatally burned, cannot recover.
John Foster, 19 years old, serious burns about the body and face in a dangerous condition, will not recover.
Adam Linka, fatal burns, cannot recover.
Joseph Doviac, seriously burned about the body and face, condition considered serious.
John Patrick, badly burned, will recover.
John Marchich, severely burned about body and face.
John Korchusch, seriously burned.
Fred Longden, slightly burned.
The explosion occurred 10 minutes after the night shift had gone into the slope on Saturday evening. Because the mine is almost worked out only 21 men were employed in it. The work was 1100 feet from the mouth of the slope. The men were working in the entries near the main heading drawing ribs and letting down the roof. In about six months the mine would have been closed up. The miners had gone to their accustomed places and were just beginning the labors of the night when with a rush and uproar the blue flame of death swept up the slope entries and enveloped them. Some were hurled along the passages and crushed against the side of the mine. Others not in the direct path of the flame were overcome by the deadly black damp which followed the explosion.
O'Toole, the engineer at the main house saw the smoke and dust roll out of the mouth of the slope and knew that an explosion had happened. He tied down his work whistle and its shrill wail carried the news of terror over the countryside. Then John McGurk staggered out shrieking for help. In a few minutes the mouth of the slope was crowded with miners and a rescue party hastily formed. Headed by Robert Nelson, brave miners went into the place of death and assisted the injured to the outside. The dead were brought out with them.
Morgue and Hospital
Morgue and hospital were combined for the time being in the little black smith shop outside the mine. Here Drs. McKinney, Colley and Warne of Dunbar were called and gave the survivors first aid. The burned men were swashed in oiled cloths, and prepared to be sent to the Cottage State Hospital here. Three of them, however, preferred to be taken to their homes. Among these was Fire Boss John McGurk, who is badly injured.
The Pittsburg, McKeesport & Connellsville railway supplied a special car to bring the injured to the hospital, and the car made a record run over the road. The entire staff of the hospital was summoned, and as soon as the seven injured arrived they were given the best attention that the medical profession can offer. Sunday afternoon, however, Rijack Beleslaf, a Polishman, died, and after midnight this morning William Foster breathed his last. More deaths are expected at the hospital almost any time.
Up at the improvised morgue, Undertaker J. M. Burhans of Dunbar assisted by D. C. Fortz, cleaned up the bodies, and prepared them for burial. One by one they were dressed and laid on slabs on the floor of the shop. Almost all this work was done Saturday night.
Identifying the Dead
With the dawning of day, Sunday, crowds began to gather at the Ferguson mine. The idly curious mingled with the heart broken friends and relatives of the dead. Rapidly the work of identification went on. The names of the men who were first identified by their numbers were secured at the office of the Dunbar Furnace Company and the bodies labeled and numbered. All day long crowds thronged the scene of death. Canvas was hung up on the blacksmith shop windows to keep away the morbidly curious. Shortly before noon Sunday, Robert Nelson and a rescue party went in to search for the missing man, Michael Bene. Outside at the manway, a crown waited for tidings of him. When the rescue party came out in the evening however he had not been found. Something that looked like his coat had been found in one of the passages.
This morning a party in charge of James Conroy and James Palsley again entered the mine. They are making a thorough search and expect to bring the body of Bene out with them. The mine is not on fire and no further danger is anticipated for the present.
This morning, Dr. McKinney of Dunbar, reports the condition of John McGurk somewhat improved. He had bad burns but his physician hopes that he has not inhaled the fire and thinks he has considerable chance for life. The condition of the two foreigners who are at their homes are somewhat improved.
(Remainder of article is unreadable.)
The Courier, Connellsville, PA, Monday Evening, November 23, 1903, page 1, column 1
John McGurk (1861 - 1903)
James McGurk (1881 - 1903)
Francis James McGurk (1889 - 1966)*
Lawrence V McGurk (1894 - 1913)*
Mary Ellen McGurk Doolittle (1896 - 1960)*
Saint Aloysius Cemetery
Created by: RobMinteer57
Record added: Sep 27, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 97890004