Marion County, WVGenWeb

Jamison Coal & Coke Company's Mine Explosion

14 Jan 1926 in Marion County, WV

Compiled by Joyce Yowler

Jan 14, 1926
Jamison Coal & Coke Company
No. 8

SOURCE: "WV Mine Disasters 1884 to Present" Provided by WV Dept of Commerce

The first marketed West Virginia coal was produced in 1853 at a mine in Fairmont, W.Va.
An explosion at Wheeling Steel Corp.’s Benwood Mine killed 119 men in 1924.
This was followed by an explosion at Bethlehem Steel’s Barrackville Mine that killed 33 men in 1925.
The next year an explosion at nearby Jamison Mine killed 19 men.

SOURCE: "Coal Mining and Accidents in Northern West Virginia", by Mark Reutter

14 Jan 1926 Casualties
Jamison #8 Mine Explosion
Marion County, West Virginia
Lonnie Bee
W. P. Carr
Leo Vernon Cutlip
Archie Franklin Cutlip
John Dennis
Joe Flaherty
Clarence D. Fonner
Chas B. Fonner
Wassel Frankoff
F. D. Lester
Coy Franklin Lough
Cornelous C. Mahaney
Herbert C. Myers
Wm E. Myers
Pearlie Jackson Sell
John Starensky
John Thomas
John Zemon
Nick Zeotosky
Note: The Fonner & Cutlip boys were brothers


The Zanesville Signal, 15 Jan 1926 p.m.
Think Nine Others in Mine Killed by Dreaded Gas Damp

     Greensburg, Pa., Jan. 15--Seven bodies of miners have been recovered from the Jamison Coal & Coke company mine at Farmington, W. Va., where an explosion is said to have entombed 38, according to advices received here today at the headquarters of the coal company.
   Nine more miners were known to have been working in the entry from which the bodies were recovered, according to reports received here. Hope is head out that 24 miners working in an entry about two miles from the one where the bodies were found will be rescued alive, it was stated.
     George B. Taylor, general manager of the Jamison Coal & Coke company, and E. Cowan, chief engineer, left here early today for the scene of the explosion. Company headquarters has not been advised of the cause of the explosion.

Rescuers Frantically Try to Reach Entombed Miners

     Farmington, W. Va., Jan. 15. Gas mask rushed here from Barracksville, Fairmont and nearby towns, were donned by rescue crews early today in a second attempt to penetrate the smoke and gas filled chambers of the Jamison coal and Coke Co.'s Mine No. 8, where between 35 and 60 miners were entombed by an explosion.
     Leaders of the rescue crew believe all of the entombed miners have perished because of the dreaded black damp and the fact the fire is raging in the mine.
     Frank R. Jamison of the Jamison Coal and Coke Co., expressed the belief shortly after eight o'clock this morning that the number of miners entombed would be found to be thirty eight.
     Both company officials and a party of fifteen miners who escaped from the mine following the explosion were unable to account for an origin of the blast. The mine was one of the most modern equipped shafts in northern West Virginia, it was said and every precaution was taken to safeguard the lives of the miners.
     Jamison, who with other company officials rushed to the scene, admitted that the prospects of rescuing any of the men alive were negligible.
     "It looks bad for the entombed miners" he said. "It is very doubtful that any of them will escape alive, although hope will not be abandoned nor rescue efforts lessened until we know positively that all life has been extinquished."
     The explosion occured about 300 feet below the surface and about two and a half miles from the shaft. Jamison said. The actual blast occured in headway No. 8, but the deadly gases resulting from the explosion penetrated adjacent headways.
     Rescue work is going forward at present under the direction of W. J. Riggleman. Crack mine rescue crews who have demonstrated their prowess in other memorable northern West Virginia coal mine disasters arrived at the scene shortly after word was spread throughout the countryside.
     W. L. Lambie, chief of the West Virginia department of mines, was expected to arrive here before noon to take charge of rescue operations.
     But for the fact that the explosion was not of great violence, Jamison said, several hundred miners would have been victims. The mine is one of the largest in this section and employs about 300 miners, he asserted.
     While rescuers are handicapped by the hundreds of tons of debris separating them from the trapped miners and can remain on the floor of the 300 foot level for only a short time due to the deadly gases, they were thankful that the shaft and elevator were not affected by the explosion.
     According to the list furnished International News Service by Jamison, the entombed miners are: P. J. Seal, married, 4 children; Frank Snapp, widower, 1 child; Allen Stanton and Mack ?urson, single; John Thomas, married; Frank Trotsky, married, 1 child; Sergy Norman, single; Frank Krusk, married, 4 children; W. E. Myers, married, 2 children; Will McGraw, married; W. H. Robinson, married; John Zeman, married; John Phillips, married; Lonnie Bell; W. C. Carr and John Dennis, single; Arch Cutlip, married, 2 children; Coy Lough, J. C. Green, Charles Imch and Martin Creggle, single.
     Family connections of the following men are unknown: Joseph L. Wiggins, Herbert Myers, John McNeal, Martin Srepal, Charles Snot, Mike Ru??, D. S. McCormick, Clarence Mahaney, Leo Me??y, Walter Neal, William Flinker, W. Frankoff, S. B. Lester, Leo Cutlip, Joseph Fluharty, J. C. Crin, John Starenscky, and Alex Yarashank.


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The Zanesville Signal, 15 Jan 1926 a.m.
21 Taken Alive From Mine But 19 Miners Dead
Grief and Joy in Home Of Farmington
Pump Gas Out of Mine and Men Freed

     Farmington, W. Va., Jan. 16. -- Although a pall hung over this little mining community today, where the bodies of 19 miners await burial, scens of unrestrained joy were enacted in homes of 21 other miners who escaped unhurt from the explosion which wrecked Jamison Coal and Coke Co. Mine No. 8, after being entomed for 20 hours.
      R. M. Lambie, chief of the West Virginia department of mines, said the state's probe of the mine disaster would be started next week. Company officials said their own investigator would enter the mine as soon as all dangerous gases have been pumped out.
      Forty miners, in two groups were working on the seventh level, about 300 feet below the surface when the explosion occurred. Seventeen men comprising the group nearest the shaft died within a short time from injuries and deadly gases.
      Twenty-three miners, two and a half miles farther back in the mine protected themselves from the gases by promptly closing two air doors and stuffing the crevices with hay. All remained in shelter until a few hours before the rescue when two miners, John Thomas, miner-preacher, and Lonnie Bee, negroes, went outside the safety doors in the hope of reaching the shaft.
      The bodies of Thomas and Bee were found at a water hole where they were overcome by the deadly fumes.
      A few hours later John McNeil, chief compression engineer, who had chalked a final message to rescuers on the wall of the enclosure, noticed a draft of fresh air. Believing that the mine was rapidly being pumped clear of poisonous gases, McNeil and the twenty other miners with him bound their faces in handkerchiefs saturated with water and started for the shaft. When they had traversed about half the distance to the mine shaft they saw the flickering lights of the rescue party headed by Robert Lilly, Mount Hope districe mine inspector.
      Shouts of joy went up as the miners realized they would find their way out of the mine none the worse for their horrifying experience.
      McNeil and Lee Fetty, mine foreman, had high praise for the conduct of the entombed miners. They explained that only the coolness of the miners and their willingness to obey orders prevented them from meeting a fate similar to that of the 19 victims.
      The disaster will be investigated by three separate agencies it was announced today.
      Coroner L. C. Fitzhugh, with a jury already sworn in, started the first investigation this morning. Until the mine has been cleared of all poisonous gas, he will confine his inquiry to questioning survivors and officials of the coal company.
      Company officials announced their own investigation of the cause of the disaster would be started immediately. R. Lamble, chief of the state department expects to begin this inquiry early next week. Meantime, he will cooperate with the coroner's gathering statements of survisors.


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Lancaster Daily Gazette 15 Jan 1926
West Virginia is Scene of Second Tragedy-15 Escape

     FAIRMONT, W. VA., JAN. 15.-- The inner recesses of Mine No. 8, of the Jamison Coal Company at Farmington, W. Va., today gave up the bodies of 15 men, victims of yesterday's explosion which wrecked the workings and took a toll of life estimated at between 30 and 39.
      Thirty-one miners are believed to remain entombed in the tunnels of the mine. Their fate is problematical--but officials in charge of rescue work hope at least eight may be rescued alive.
     A re-check establised that 47 men were in the mine at the time of the explosion. Eight of them escaped alive.
     The explosion, which occurred on the seventh level, caused much destruction, concrete pillars being blown down, mine cars wrecked and men and horses blown to death together.
     By checking the records, officials determined the exact position of most of the workmen, and rescuers were driving for these spots. At the very bottom of the shaft, eight men were working, four of whom escaped. Sixteen men were at work 500 feet from that spot. In another direction 300 feet away were other men.
     Nearly three miles from the opening, 22 other men were employed.
     Six of the men who escaped alive were working a few hundred feet from the bottom of the shaft. They say they felt a slight shock but no great tremors.
     Rescue work is going forward under the direction of W. J. Riggleman, a mine inspector. Crack mine rescue squads who have demonstrated their ability in other Norther West Virginia coal mine disasters have arrived at Farmington to help W. L. Lambie, Chief of the West Virginia Department of mines, was expected by noon to take charge of rescue operations.
     W. L. Taylor, General Manager of the Jamison Coal and Coke Co. and C. E. Cowan, Chief Engineer, arrived here early today after a five hour drive from the company's headquarters at Greensburg, Pa. "It looks bad for the entombed miners," they agreed.


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Compressor Station
Compiled by Joyce Yowler