The 1924 Coal Mine Disaster at Brown's Run




Joseph Anthony "Joey" Tellitocci

A Message From Joey, May 12, 2009

My name is Joseph Anthony "Joey" Tellitocci, and I am a lifelong resident of the Boggs Run area of Benwood, Marshall County, West Virginia, as is my mother, Barbara Ann Molnar Tellitocci. Her parents (my maternal grandparents), Anthony Joseph "Tony" Molnar (1913 - 1978) and Julia Theresa Vargo Molnar (1918 - 1992), were both born and raised in Boggs Run and lived there for their entire lives as well. Both were full-blooded Hungarian, the children of Hungarian immigrants who immigrated to the United States from Hungary in 1904, 1907 and 1914 and settled in Boggs Run. The Molnar Family Home (brown duplex) is located at the mouth of Boggs Run at 24 Roosevelt Avenue (right across the first bridge). My parents and I live at 46 Roosevelt Avenue (the former Philip/Duerr residence) five houses up from the Molnar Home. I was interviewed last month by Casey Hicks, a staff writer at The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register, concerning the 85th anniversary of the April 28, 1924 Benwood, West Virginia Coal Mine Disaster.

The explosion had a profound impact on both my mother's side of the family and my father's side of the family. My great-grandfather, Istvan (Stephen "Steve") Vargo of Boggs Run, the father of my maternal grandmother, Julia Vargo Molnar (1918 - 1992), was killed in the explosion along with Pasquale Fana of Bellaire, Ohio, the first husband of the mother of my paternal grandfather, Joseph Tellitocci, Sr. (1927 - 1993).

Please click on the link below to go to the story that appeared in the Wheeling News-Register on Sunday, April 26, 2009. In the print edition of the newspaper, the list of victims was given, but it was omitted from the story on their web site. I have attached the list of the 119 victims to this e-mail.

I have seen all of the lists of the victims that were printed in the Wheeling newspaper back in 1924 after the explosion occurred, the list published in the 1976 book "They Died In The Darkness" by Lacy A. Dillon (which is the list posted on your web site) and a detailed list on the web site of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History which gives the name of the coal miner, his nationality and his job title in the mine. The common problem with all of these lists are 1) the miner's names are either misspelled or reversed, and 2) the list on your web site from "They Died In The Darkness" lists men who died in different parts of Marshall County, West Virginia on April 28, 1924 who were not even killed in the explosion (such as David Watson and George McCarrihan) and omits the names of several of the men who were actually killed in the explosion. I was wondering if you would consider replacing the list of the victims that is currently on your web site with my list.

My goals in working with the newspaper to publish this story were 1) remember the victims of the explosion 2) give proper identification to the 119 men actually killed in the explosion 3) try to correct as many of their last names and first names as possible and 4) make the public aware of the need for a memorial. Basically what I did was view all 119 death certificates of the victims on the West Virginia Division of Culture and History web site to make sure the cause of death was listed as "mine explosion" and cross referenced their names as they were spelled on their death certificates with the other lists, their interment records at Mount Calvary Cemetery in Wheeling, West Virginia where the majority of the victims are buried and with the way their names are spelled on their gravestones in Mount Calvary Cemetery and Greenwood Cemetery in Wheeling. I used other resources as well, such as Internet search engines (Google, etc.) and name books and name web sites, in an attempt to verify the correct spelling of their last names and find out the spelling of their first names in their native languages.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. Take care, and I hope you will consider using my list.

Joseph Anthony "Joey" Tellitocci
Boggs Run, Benwood, Marshall County, West Virginia

P. S. - They made one minor mistake in the article. It says my maternal grandmother, Julia Vargo Molnar (who was 5-years-old on the day of the explosion - she would turn 6 two months later on June 23), moved in with us in 1992. Actually, she moved up the street from the Molnar Family Home to our house in 1985 and lived with us for the last seven years of her life. She died November 1, 1992.

This is an alphabetical listing of the 119 men who were killed in the explosion of the Benwood coal mine of the Wheeling Steel Corporation on Monday, April 28, 1924. The list of the victims was researched and compiled by Joseph Anthony "Joey" Tellitocci of Boggs Run, Marshall County, West Virginia - the great-grandson of explosion victim Istvan (Stephen) Vargo.
Agelakis, JamesAlbano, SalvatoreAprea, Raffaello "Ralph"
Balanzo, FrankBaranowski, Stanislaw (Stanley)Bezanis, Pete
Bilyj, WasylBoyle, J. J. (Real Name: Matthew Herron)Caneva, Carlo
Capobianco, MichaelCapobianco, RoccoChristos, Tony
Cognitti, Domenico (Dominic)Conjeski, Jozef (Joseph)Conti, Francesco "Frank"
Corbi, PasqualeCrosby, MarkCvjeticanin, Mane
DiGiorgio, CarloDiScenna, Giovanni (John)Dlugoborski, Adam
Dombroski, SamDupla, Jan (John)Fana, Pasquale
Ferrante, CelestinoFerri, PasqualeFitrakis, Nick
Frank, John, Sr.Frank, John, Jr.George, Mike
Giannakos, GusGionis, JamesGojewski, Ignacy (Ignatius)
Golebiewski, Jan (John)Golebiewski, Stanislaw (Stanley)Heras, Mike
Hmiel, Antoni (Anthony)Hojda, Jozef (Joseph)Holliday, George William, Sr.
Holliday, George William, Jr.Horvath, Sandor (Alexander)Howe, James
Jelacic, JohnJoseph, LlewelynJuracic, Emil
Karakas, TheodoreKazemka, MichaelKocur, Kazimierz (Casimir)
Kolodziejski, Jozef (Joseph)Kopec, Kazimierz (Casimir)Kopcha, John
Kuprewicz, Dominik (Dominic)Kwicien, Antoni (Anthony)Lakomy, Wladyslaw "Walter"
Levicki, LeonardLisak, Feliks (Felix)Malaxanakis, Mike
Malicki, Mikolaj (Nicholas)Malyska, Jan (John)Marafino, Daniel
Marko, Jozef (Joseph)Masino, NickMavrigianakis, Nikolaos "Nick"
Mazzella, FrankMcGill, GeorgeMcGill, Hugh
Migliaccio, Antonio (Anthony)Mikolich, Stanislaw (Stanley)Misljenovic, Mile
Oblizajek, Wladyslaw "Walter"Onost, PeterOrban, Ignac (Ignatius)
Podolia, NickPaich, MeliPanac, Andy
Papolas, EmanuelParadice, MikeParise, Santo
Patrick, MikePiehowicz, Jan (John)Pirrera, Ignazio (Ignatius)
Polsinelli, Giuseppe (Joseph)Rawlins, JoshuaRea, Giuseppe (Joseph)
Robinsky, Stanislaw (Stanley "Steinie")Rotellini, MarianoRudawiec, Stanislaw (Stanley)
Sabatino, SalvatoreSamelli, JosephSavinos, Angelo
Senchak, SamShalayka, AndyShalayka, Izydor (Isidore)
Simos, PeteSlaga, AlbertSlaga, John
Smith, WilliamSneddon, AlexanderSneddon, Walter
Spignesi, Gennaro Stachawicz, WojciechStaszewski, Michael
Sunich, JosephSwoski, JohnVargo, Istvan (Stephen "Steve")
Vitiello, GaetanoVitiello, Raffaello "Ralph"Vitiello, Samuel
Wagner, LeoWebster, WilliamWiadrawski, Lawrence
Wiewiura, Jan (John)Wiewiura, Vincenty (Vincent)Williams, Russell
Wood, KennethYannucci, Felice (Felix)Zajackowski, Mike
Zelic, Dane (Daniel)Zuk, John 



Highway Marker erected by the West Virginia Division of Archives and History


  • May 18, 1942, Benwood, W. Va. -- Hitchman Coal & Coke Company Mine Disaster: John Paul Mojzer (d. May 18); Hardy Park (d. May 18); Daniel Polus (d May 19 at Ohio Valley General Hospital); Michael Polus (d May 18); Albert Valembois (d May 19, Ohio Valley General Hospital).
  • November 15, 1926, Moundsville, W. Va. -- Glendale Gas & Coal Company Mound Shaft Mine Disaster: Jesse Walter Fogle, Mike Kavcsak, Ruben Kirkhart, Thomas Robbins, Joseph Stifel.
  • July 11, 1912, Moundsville, W. Va. -- Ben Franklin Coal Company Panama Mine Disaster: Joe Carolinns, Andrew Cheskey, William Cheskey, Wilson Garrison Hupp, Alva Hurley, Joe Marchalski, Mike Rodeny, Wesley Wilson. (Wilson Hupp died July 13; all others died July 11.)