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Annual report of the Bureau of Labor, Statistics, and Mines, Volume 4 online

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Q. Did you ever work io No. 1 room at junctiou of L and K
entries, and if so, did you ever accidentally fire the gas in that

A. Yes, sir; I Worked there from about the 1st of July, 1895, to
August 1, 1895, and had my leg broken in that room by falling
slate ; during the time I worked there the gas caught fire, the first
time in a hole while tamping, the second time from an open lamp
while working there ; we had to fan our room nearly every day.
[Signed] W. B. Walkek.

Sworn to and subscribed before me, this January 6, 1896.

F. P. Clutb, Commissioner.


Q. What is your name and age?

A. Will Cox (col.) ; 19 years old.

Q. What was you employed at in the Nelson Mine at time of ex-
plosion, and how long had you been working there?

A. Was a driver, but that morning I was going to head of P 1
to run a small hand fan for Mr. Iverson ; I had worked in mines
nearly three months.

Q. Where were you at time of explosion, and what happened to

A. I was near No. 9 side-track on main entry U; I was waiting
for a safety-lamp ; I heard the wind coming, and started to run, but
it threw me across the track, and I tried to crawl, but couldn't, for
the after-damp got me down ; Geo. Cunningham (col.), who had
come from No. 1 district with John Hughes, a driver, carried me
out, and I remembered no more until I reached outside.

Q. Did you see any fire or flash at the time of explosion ?
A. No, sir.

Q. Have you been in the mine since?
A. No, sir, I have not been back.
Q. Did you hear any report from explosion ?
A. No, sir; nothing but the sound of the rushing wind.
[Signed] Will Cox.

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Sworn to and subscribed before me, this January 5, 1896.,

F. P. Clute, (hmmisBwner.

Will Cox re-examined :

Q. Do you know anything about the condition of brattices and
-doors in Nos. 7, 9 and .10 districts previous to explosion ; if so^
please state what it was ?

A. I don^t know anything about the brattices ; the doors were
good doors.

Q. Were these doors and brattices reasonably good last Sep-
=tember ?

A. Yes, sir.

[Signed] Will Cox.

Sworn to and subscribed before me this January 8, 1896.

F. P. Clute, Commissioner.


Q. What is your name and age ?

A. John O. Thurman ; about 20 years.

Q. How long have you worked in the Nelson Mines, at Dayton,
A. I have been working off and on for over two years.

Q. Where were you at time of explosion, December 20, 1896?

A. I was at work in the New Richland Mines, digging coal.

Q. Did you hear the report of the explosion ?

A. I do not know whether I h^ard it or not ; I heard something,
but could not tell whether it was a fall or not.

Q. What time did you enter Nelsoil Mine ?

A. I guess when I entered it was about half-past 12, with J. L.
Hunter, Andy Majors, Will Smedley, Mat Black, and others.

Q. Where did you go in the mine, and state circumstances that
happened ?

A, We went down main entry to No. 7 parting, and through No.
1 district to entry D, in No. 9 district ; on entry D we found a lit-

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lie after-damp near No. 22 room ; then we went down and foun<i
two mule« near entry D door, both dead, with an empty car be-
tween them ; about thirty feet beyond the door we found the body
of Thomas Hawkins; he was lying with both hands clinched
against his face, face down, stretched out, feet toward entry U ; I
looked for bums, but did not see a hair singed, but found a big
gash in back of his head; we removed his body outside ; I returned
back in mine as soon as we could get a fresh relay of men ; I made
way to No. 10 side-track on main entry U ; here I met a crew of
men coming back from toward K side-track ; then P. F. Lynch,,
John McMillen, Asa Newman and myself continued our way to
side-track at junction of K and L ; we crossed over two heavy talb
on the way ; we found two cars under the last large fall at side-
track ; we found the body of Chas. Washburn lying flat on his
stomach next to rib, and a piece of slate that would weigh about
twenty-five pounds on small of his back ; he was burned badly ; his
clothes were singed some ; we removed his body across the fall and
waited for help ; after more men aririved we returned to side-track^
and found the body of Wm. Brotherton, a driver ; he was about
thirty feet beyond where we found Washburn ; he was lying on his^
belly and partly under a car ; there were two dead mules close
to Brotherton^s body ; the after*damp affected me so that I had to-
come out of mine ; it was after dark when I come out.

Q. When did you return to the mine again ?
A. As soon as we could get a fresh crew of men.
Q. Where did you go then, and what did you find ?

A. I only went to No. 8 side-track this trip, and staid therer
some time, and then returned to outside; went back into mine
again before morning.

Q. If you went into mine Saturday, give account of what bodies
were found.

A. We found Henry Williams, Thomas and Willie Lane and
Elder Morgan.

Q. In what part of the mine do you think the explosion hap-
pened, and give your reasons for your opinion ?

A. I think it took place in Josh Bennett^s room, on entry K, for

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^he timbers are heavily scorched^ and the dust and timber are blown
from that point.

Q. Have you seen evidence of any fire elsewhere ?

A. We found one place on P 1 air-course near No. 7 room, and
4 few isolated props in No. 8 room, but the latter might have been
joorobed on outside before the timber was sent in.

Q. In No. 7 room was there evidence which way the explosion
•traveled ?

A. Yes, the dust showed that it traveled up No. 7 room.

Q. Were you present when the bodies were found in head of No.
7 room?

A. No sir, but I helped to remove them.

Q. Were you present when the bodies of Ivester and Roddy were

A. I was with the party that found them and helped to bring
ihem out.

Q. Who found these last two bodies ?

A. Mr. W. K. Gibson, J. M. Head, and W. T. Head.

John Oscar -f Thubman.

W. K. Gibson, Attest.
Sworn to and subscribed before me, this Jan. 5, 1896.

F. P. Clute, CammUsumer.


<i. What is your name and age ?

A. A. J. Holden ; am 32 years old.

Q. What is your occupation and by whom employed ?

A. I am employed by the Dayton Coal & Iron Co., in the Nel-
^n coal mine, as fire boss and first assistant mine boss.

Q. How long have you worked in the mines ?

A. About thirteen years.

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Q. How long have you worked in the Nelson mine ?

A. About nine years.

Q. What time did the explosion occur on Dec. 20^ 1895, in dis*
trict 10 of Nelson mine ?

A. About 7:30 a. m. (local time).

Q. How far did you enter the mine after the explosion, and who

A. By myself^ and went to No. 9 door on main entry U, where
I found Oliver Morgan, a trapper, suffocating from the effects of
afler-damp, and brought him to fresh air, and returned to a point
near the electric pump, and assisted in bringing out another man p
then I came to outside, overcome from the effects of the afler-damp.

Q. Did you return to the mine again that day, and to what point?

A. Tes, I returned to No, 10 on entry U and assisted in putting
up some brattice cloth at that place ; this was in the afternoon.

Q. When and where did you enter the mines next?

A. At Dixon slope entrance Saturday morning about 8:30 or 9'
o'clock ; Wm. McNelis, L. E. Craig, and two or three others were
with me,

Q. Who did you find and where were they found ?

A. Lon Ferguson was found first ; was in a room off from entry
K (district 10) ; was found dead, lying with his head towards the
Dixon slope ; he had a cut behind his ear ; this was in No. 9 room ;
he was blistered on exposed parts ; we next found Arthur McMillin
lying dead, about 10 feet south-west of Ferguson ; he was blistered
on exposed parts; he was lodged against a prop, apparently as
though he had been blown there ; we next found Wm. Henderson
lying dead in his working place adjoining the room where we found*
Lon Ferguson and Arthur McMillin ; he was in his parting, with
his head toward the Dixon slope ; we took these bodies out through
Dixon slope.

Q. Have you formed any opinion as to point of origin of the
explosion ; if so where do you think it occurred ?

A. I am of the opinion that it occun'ed about Josh Bennett's or

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Tom Lane's room, which is evident by the force of explosion, shown
by scattered debris.

Q. Have you made it a special practice to caution the men in
the mines working under you against crossing any danger mark
made by the gas inspector ?

A. I have,

[Signed.] A. J. Holden.

Sworn to and subscribed before me, this Jan. 8, 1896.

F. P. Clutb, Commissioner.

J. E. blackfobd's deposition.

Q. What is your name ?

A. J. E. Blackford.

Q. What is your age ?

A. Twenty-four.

Q. How long have you worked in Nelson Mine, and what were
your duties at time of the explosion, Dec. 20, 1895?

A. About one year ; my duties were tending to the safety lamps
on entry D, No. 9 district. The lamp6 were used to pass through
that gaseous district, along entry D to top of the hill at trappers'
station ; the drivers used them all the time through same district.

Q. Where were you and who was with you at time of the ex-
plosion, Dec. 20, 1895?

A. I was in the car with D. D. Davis, the driver who drove
through the gaseous district on entry D. I did not see anyone else
until after the explosion.

Q. Did you and Davis have open lights at the fime?

A. I had no light ; Davis had a safety.

Q. You were, going towards the door attended by Thomas Haw-
kins, About how far were you from the door?

A. I think about fifty feet, when the explosion, occurred.

Q. Did you see the flash of the explosion ?

A. I did not see any flash or fire.

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I the force of the air from explosioD

d me from No. 10 haul way, whiob is

re did you go and who was with ytfa ?

id followed No. 7 to main entry ; near
!), I met William Hale, John McEn-
Sharp, and some others ; Wm. Hale
lin entry ; when near main entry we
ut of the mine at main entrance.


iwkins, either before or after the ex-

when he got his lights at No. 9 side-
I followed after in a car.

r air knock you out of car?

^d, and several bruises about head,

th you, and did he come out of mine

oae of explosion ; I was blown ahead
he car I was riding in ; after the ex-
each other, and met in sight of open
le and others.

and Oscar Hawkins when explosion

5 were twenty or thirty feet apart, I

ikled previous to explosion, and what

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A. The entry had been sprinkled a few days before, and was
usually sprinkled whenever the entry became dusty.

Q. Have the men in charge of the mine ever instructed you to
fise every safeguard to prevent any accident ?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Were all the safety lamps in your charge in good condition the
cnoming of explosion ?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Do you know in what condition the doors and brattices were
in No. 9 and No. 10 districts at time of explosion ?

A. So far as I know they were in good shape.

[Signed] J. E. Blackfobd.

Sworn to and subscribed before me, this Jan. 8, 1896.

F. P. Clute, Oommiuioner.

Q. What is your name ?

A. S. L. Umbarger.

Q. What is your age ?

A. Thirty-two, nearest birthday.

Q. How long have yon worked in coal mines ?

A. About 12 or 13 years.

Q. How long have you worked in the Dayton Coal and Iron
Oo.'s mines— the Nelson Mine?

A. About six (6) years.

Q. In what capacity are you now employed, and what are your
duties ?

A. My regular work is that of a miner, but act as extra fircftboss
when my services are required.

Q. Have you acted as fire-boss previous to December, 1896?

A. Yes, and a good long while.

Q. Who taught you how to detect gas with a test lamp ?

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A. Capt. J. B. Carter and Jim Delozier; I saw safety lampB used
before at No. 7 slope, Pratt Mines, Ala.; I mean test lamps.

Q, Where were you the morning of Dec. 20, 1895, up to 7:30
a. m.

A. I went in the Nelson Mine on the morning of Deo. 20, 1895,.
about 2 o'clock.

Q. Were you acting as fire-boss ?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. What are your instructions in regard to reports of gas in
rooms and working places ?

A. My instructions have been to "mark out" all places contain-
ing any gas.

Q. Where did you find gas in the mines on the morning of Dec*
20, 1895, and give name of the working places?

A. No. 1 room on K entry contained small quantity ; I don't
know who worked there, and was marked out ; No. 2 room on K
entry contained a very small quantity of gas, and was marked out
In usual manner ; this was Josh Bennett's room ; No. 16 room on
K entry contained a small quantity of gas, and was marked in usuat
manner; on entry D, district No. 9, there was gas in the dog-hole
connecting with pillar workings from F; cannot state as to quan-
tity ; entry G was an abandoned entry and was marked out alto-
gether ; also all rooms off from G ; F entry and rooms from same
were all marked out.

Q. What do you mean by being marked out ?

A We generally take a plank, prop, tie or anything long enough
to reach across the track, and take a shovel and prop it up on a
board or tie across the track, making X marks, and write the word
''gas" with chalk on shovel or timbers.

Q.9 What time did you leave rooms Nos. 2 and 3 on entry K on
the morning of Dec. 20, 1895 ?

A. About 4:30 a. m.

Q. Ton state that you found gas there ; how did you mark room
No. 2 — Bennett's room ?

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A. I took a shovel and wrote the word **GAS" on it and made
four (4) crosses on it, one on each corner with white chalk, and took
a tie and laid above the shovel, or toward the face of his place, and
wrote "GAS'^ on the tie, and made several X marks with white
chalk on the tie ; I placed this mark between entrance to room and
first dog-hole on right, the marked sides facing entrance, across the
track ; also I marked a shovel next to Mr. Lane^s room in dog-hole
to guard the approach to Bennett's room from Lane's room, or from
No. 3 to No. 2 room.

Q. From whom did you receive your instructions about marking
danger lines or marks ?

A, Mr. W. K. Gibson, Supt., and Jas. M. Head, mine boss, have
both given instructions to mark out all places containing any gas..

Q. Did you enter the mine after the explosion on the morning
of Dec. 20, 1895?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. In company with whom ?

A. John Rose and several others.

Q. How far did you go on. first trip after the explosion?

A. I went to No. 9 siding on main entry U, and was stopped by
after-damp at that point, and did not go in again that day.

Q. When did you go in next, and how far or to what point ?

A. About 6 a. m. on the 2l8t went to side track at junction of
entries K and L, No. 10 district, for purpose of assisting in bring-
ing out the remains of Josh Bennett.

Q. Was the body of Mr. Bennett badly burned or disfigured ?

A. I did not examine him except his face, and saw that it was
lacerated or bruised badly.

Q. Did you make a written report of the condition of the mine
CD the morning of the explosion in a book kept by the Superin-
tendent for that purpose ?

A. Yes.

Q. What time that morning did you make that report?

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A. I completed the examiuation about fi a. m.; filled out report
•OD book later.

Q. What kind of lamp do you use in testing for gas ?
A. A Davy testing lamp.

Q. Do you know when the last work was done in Bennett's place
(No. 2 room on K), or when did the men leave there the morning
of Dec. 20, 1895?

A. They left there about 3 that morning.

Q. Who worked in that place that night — No. 2 room on K?

A. John Horny and George Henderson.

Q. Was there any one with you when you marked the danger
line in No. 2 room, Bennett's place ?

A. Yes, sir ; George Henderson, who had been working in that
place that night, and he joined me in the balance of my inspection
work of that morning*

Q. In your opinion, from what yon have seen of the force of the
explosion, where do you believe the explosion originated ?

A. In my opinion it did occur in the immediate neighborhood of
the sideirack at junction of entries L and K.

[Signed] S. L. Umbabgeb.

Sworn to and subscribed before me, this Jan. 8, 1896.

F. P. Clute, Commissioner.


Q, What is your name and age?

A. W. K. Gibson ; am 29 years old.

Q. What is your occupation, and how long have you had charge
of the Dayton Coal & Iron Co^s. mines at Dayton, Tenn. ?

A. Engineer of Mines ; I was Engineer of Mines two and one-
half years, after which I was given control of the mining opera-
tions, which position I now hold, making a total of seven and one-
half years.

Q. Where were you at time of explosion Dec. 20, 1895?

A. At breakfast at Dayton City Hotel.

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Q. How loDg after tbe explosion occarred before you entered
the mines ?

A. As near as I can tell it was about three quarters of an hour f
I rushed up there as soon as I got intimation of it.

Q. Give the particulars of your work that day.

A. As soon as I completed arrangements for sending rescuing
party by way of the Dixon slope, and learning some details as to
seat of explosion, I entered the mine, accompanied by Mine Boss
Head and others, and made our way to No. 10 side-track on main
entry U, in order to ascertain how the return airway was; here
we found entry E 1 door open and the air traveling all right from
No. 10 district ; the after-damp was so strong we were compelled
to retreat ; we then returned and had a curtain stretched across the
entry in order to divert the air current, so as to clear the side-track,,
thinking there might possibly be some of the drivers there; by
this time I was so overcome by effects of after-damp I had to be
taken outside ; I returned some time afterwards, cannot state how
long afterwards ; I made another attempt, but failed either to reach
the side-track or the door in entry D, where I understood Thomas
Hawkins was, and soon afterwards became unconscious from the
effects of the after-damp, and remember no more until I reached
outside; I was unable to make any further efforts that day.

Q. When did you make your next attempt, and who was with
you ; give full particulars ?

A. Saturday morning, Dec. 21, 1895, accompanied by General
Superintendent Ferguson, Mine Inspector Clute, and several others^
and was joined at No. 10 side-track by G. W. Gibson and Jno.
Thurman; the four gentlemen named and myself made our way
towards No. 10 district, a little beyond entry G 1 ; here we encoun-
tered a large fall ; Gibson, Thurman, and myself made our way
over the falls and immediately on other side of the one, entry K^
close to the entrance of Bennett's room, we found the body of Henry
Williams as described in deposition of Geo. W. Gibson, and con-
tinuing our exploration we found the bodies of Thomas Lane and
son in their room, also as described in deposition of Geo. W. Gib-
son ; returning to entry K, we soon came upon the body of Elder
Morgan, as also described in said deposition ; we then went up No

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>and the presence of gas fully 300 feet from entry K ;
ned to outside^ and went back into mines shortly after-
d the bodies of those found removed ; the same even-
Wm. McNelis and A. J. Holden, and party, who had
the Dixon slope side ; these I instructed to explore
*oom, and soon afterwards learned they bad found his
r instructed to have removed by way of the Dixon
day morning at 6:30 I re-entered the mine and super-
removal of four dead mules at side-track at junction
id L, the intervening falling debris having been re-
interval ; State Mine Inspector was with me here un-
accompanied by him and G. W. Gibson we examined
a distance of several hundred feet, also No. 7 room;
d no signs of gas or disturbances due to the explosion^
room we found the gas had backed towards entry K
; since previous examination the day before; after
remaining mule from side-track at junction of entries
i the fallen debris which covered it, we decided to
Lien who were cleaning up the falls there ; part of
ent removing the gas from No. 7 room, and making
nation, accompanied by State Mine Inspector Clute and
ifter which I returned outside ; in the evening at 4
ipanied by W. T. Head, G. W. Gibson, W. B.Walker,
f and Jesse Green, made an examination of Bennett's
joms, returning by way of Dixon slope.

\^idence of gas explosion did you find in Bennett's and

Qett's room I found the props charred, and coal on
itly coked from the face down to between first and
)le, and in Lane's room, opposite to the last dog-hole
found considerable dust on side of props next to Ben-
ndicating an explosion from that direction ; to all ap-
is seems to have been the point of origin. This is
by the fact that in Tom Alexander's room, opposite
K, there is a fall of top of roof and gob, the timber
r blown from the rib side next to entry K ; also, at
Alexander's room, one or two timbers of a crib there
wn out in a similar way ; besides, there is a car on

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other side of crib that has been blown off from track, all of which
indicates that the force came from the direction of Bennett's room.

Q. Did you find a miner's lamp in Bennett's room, and was there
s Dame on it ?

A. Yes, I found a miner's lamp on left rib of Bennett's room ; this
was on the 2d day of January, 1896^ it was lying 12 or 15 feet from
entrance of room, or point where the body of Williams was found;
this lamp had Williams' name scratched on the lid ; at time I found
lamp I was accompanied by J. D. Hughes, Joe Hossler (col.), and
Abe Pryor (col.)

Q. What day did you find the bodies of the four men in No. 7
room ?

A. These bodies were reached by the morning shift, 27th of De-
cember, 1895 ; on same evening I had them removed to the out-

Q. Who were they, and how were they lying?

A. The first body was Cyrus Alexander, lying between rails, face
downward, opposite the 5th dog-hole above entry P 2 ; his head
was towards entry K. The next was Robert Jewell, found in a
similar position, at frog No. 7 and 8 room, about 30 feet beyond
where Alexander was found. The next was Floyd Jewell, who was
found in a similar position at second dog-hole beyond the above
frog, about 120 feet beyond where Robert Jewell was found. The
next was Bob Hamilton, who was found in dog-hole 15 feet or so
below track, and immediately opposite Floyd Jewell ; he was lying
on his right side, head towards Jewell, and close to right rib of dog-

Q. What is your opinion of the cause of tjie death of the four
men, and what position do miners usually assume in such cases?

A. Their death was undoubtedly due to the effects of after-damp,
the result of the explosion. Miners, in such cases, are generally
found in the position that these men were found ; the natural ten-
dencies would be to protect the exposed parts of their body from
the intense heat.

Q. Did you find the body of J. A. Ivester and his laborer (Will
Eoddy, col.), and when, and where were they ?

A. I wa<5 present with J. M. Head and W. T. Head on Saturday,

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eD these bodies were discovered. We found them
mediately under the overcast^ near head of said en-
3 lying on his back^ near center of roadway ; head '
re rock, weighing probably 150 pounds, with a coil
is right arm ; feet towards head of entry. Roddy
back on the fallen timbers of the overcast^ directly
head towards anr-course, about 3 feet from Ivester,,
)m their working place.

ow of anything that might have led to such a re*
sion, that has not been investigated by myself?

id that you are a certificated mine manager from
, give me an idea of your experience in mining?

st-clas8 certificate as a mine manager from the Brit-
My experience extends over a period of 14 years^
ae I was assistant manager of two of the largest
md, both of which gave off a considerable quantity
ing the use of safety lamps to a great extent.

present in Thomas Lanie' sroom when his coat and
and what did they contain ?

est contained a small measuring tape, an open-face^
ide case or tin case was shattered ; crystal waa
sh registered the hour of 7:22^,
prepared a true copy of map of districts 7, 9 and

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