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One of the 194 victims of the Mather Colliery explosion in the Pittsburgh region which claimed the life of Howard Rowan in 1928.

47 Accidental Workplace Deaths in the Manufacturing, Mining & Metals Industries

~ So We Will Never Forget ~


In the course of building our nation's mighty industrial underpinnings, an alarming number of unfortunate cousins accidentally have lost their lives working in the manufacturing, mining and metals industries, primarily in coal, coke and steel. We seek on this page to identify them by name, linked to their individual biographies, and to honor their memory so they will never be forgotten. 

The first accident was in 1884, with William H. Minerd's death in a "fire damp" explosion near Uniontown, PA. The latest was 1996, when Frank Michael Huddy Jr. was fatally injured in an accident at the LTV Steel Corporation plant in Aliquippa, PA.

See our 1999 study of the hundreds of coal, coke and steel workers in our extended family, and the related guest column in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.


Name - in Alphabetical Order


Randolph D. Bailey - While employed in the coal crushing department of the Prime Western Spelter Co. in Iola, KS, he fell and his arm accidentally became "caught in the tubular machine lined with heavy cogs for crushing coal for the retorts," said the Iola Daily Record.


Joseph James Benistone - Working at the a mine in Jordan, WV, was caught under a motor, crushing his head and body. His skull was punctured, his shoulder and hip fractured and his abdomen lacerated.


Isaac N. Dean - labored at the Lemont Mine near Uniontown, PA. Was caught in a wreck of coal cars in the mine, and "sustained a fractured skull," said the Uniontown Morning Herald.


Charles William Dean Sr.  - having been "unemployed for almost a year," he was "instantly killed shortly after entering the Keister mine to begin work as a miner. He was caught beneath a fall of slate, suffering a fractured skull and a broken neck," said the Connellsville Daily Courier.


John Edward Everly - a mine foreman, was killed when his neck was broken in a fall of slate at the Royal mine of W.J. Rainey, Inc., reported the Uniontown Morning Herald.


Jackie D. Giles - killed "when a piece of machinery fell on him ... while dismantling machinery at the site of the former USX Homestead Works" in Munhall, near Pittsburgh, said the Connellsville Daily Courier.


Floyd Gorsuch - Laboring at the George Warrick mine known as Works Coal Co. at Rogers Mill, PA, was "caught by a fall of slate," said the Connellsville Daily Courier. "Men who were working near the young man heard the fall and rushed to his assistance, but life was extinct when his body was removed shortly afterwards."


Clarence Green - While laboring on electrical wires connected to a boiler at the Pittsburgh Steel plant in Monessen, PA, received a heavy shock and died of electrocution.


Charles H. Halfhill - Working at the W.J. Rainey mine at Moyer, PA, he "was drawing the dangerous rib coal when the accident happened," said the Daily Courier. "A large amount [of slate fell] down before he was anticipating it and he was completely buried.


Harrison Hall - employed at the Connellsville Blue Stone Quarry at Connellsville, PA. While at work in the quarry, he fell and fractured his skull and neck, dying instantly


Harry P. Harshman - Employed in Grindstone, PA, he was killed when his skull was fractured in a coal mine accident at the Colonial No. 4 Mine.


Harry Hertzog - A loading machine laborer at the Kinlock Mine of the Valley Camp Coal Co. in Lower Burrell Township, PA, was burned and suffocated to death following an explosion.


Josiah Hiles Jr.  - A laborer at the Provance Mine of Powell Coal near Masontown, PA, said the Uniontown Daily News Standard, he was "caught beneath a trip of mine cars .... His body was badly mangled."


Josiah Hiles Sr.  - At at the Plumer Works near Uniontown, PA, during a friendly wrestling bout with the plant superintendent, was thrown and his head "struck on the edge of a bench which had been nearby but thought out of danger," said the Morning Herald. "Death resulted from a broken neck."


John Finley Holub - Worked as a packer of gelatin explosives in a the Liberty Powder Company plant in Mt. Braddock in Dunbar Township, Fayette County, PA. On Oct. 22, 1958 he and three others were killed when an explosion shook the plant, heard for miles around," said the Daily Courier.


Charles Houchins - Employed in the Chicago & Alton Railroad shops in Bloomington, IL, received a fractured skull, "when a crane chain broke and fell, striking him squarely on top of the head, while he was at work with a companion in the coal chutes," said the Clinton Daily Public. He died at the Brokaw Hospital a day and a half later.


Frank Michael Huddy Jr. - killed in an accident in the tin mill of the Aliquippa Works of LTV Steel.


William H. Ingles - At the Pennsville, PA mine of the Pennsville Coke Company, was crushed to death in a fall of slate.


Hartsel Lee Mayle - Along with William D. Sheme, was caught in an explosion at Consolidation Coal Company's No. 9 Mine in Farmington, north of Fairmont, WV. Was named in related stories in Time and Life magazines.


Charles Minerd McKnight - Fatally injured while at work at the Darwin mine of the Anaconda Copper Company in California.


Andrew Minerd - Killed when "crushed between a rib and the side of his car in the Allison mines," said the Uniontown Daily News Standard, "while enroute to the pit at the close of his working day. [He] was instantly killed. The car jumped the track, it is said."


Elizabeth Miner - On Sept. 25, 1907, the 18-year-old went to see her father at the H.C. Frick Coke Company's Davidson Works near Connellsville, PA, where he shoveled coke. Reported the Connellsville Daily Courier, she "stepped backward upon another track and was run down and almost instantly killed by a switching engine.... The crew of the switching engine saw the girl and her companions standing along the track but Miss Miner stepped back so quickly that it was impossible to check the speed of the engine. She was struck and knocked from the track, suffering a broken arm and internal injuries. Dr. A.J. Colborn was hastily summoned and arrived just as she was dying."


Ernest Minerd - While working at the Tower Hill No. 1 Mine of the Tower Hill Coke Company, "fell into the coal crusher ... and was instantly killed," said a newspaper. "The body was not found until a charge of coal fell taking the mangled form with it, onto the lorry below. It is supposed the man fell into the crusher while oiling it."


John Charles "Jack" Minor - A mine foreman for Midvale Coal Company in Tuscarawas, OH, was killed when "crushed by a fall of rock while working in the mine," said the Daily Reporter. He was "sounding the roof of the mine for loose rock" when caught in a sudden rock fall. "He was crushed from the shoulders down and had to be liberated from nearly two tons of rock by fellow workmen who were in a nearby room."


Marshall Minerd - Working in Dunbar, PA, "was instantly killed by a trip of loaded coal cars," said the Uniontown Genius of Liberty. The Keystone Courier said he had been "descending the Mahoning mine, on the front of a coal car, [and] his head was caught between the car and the side of the pit, killing him instantly."


Oliver Minor - While in Ocean Mines in Harrison County, WV, the Clarksburg Exponent said he was caught "in a fall of coal while working in the mines of the Cortright-Corning Colleries Company at Bridgeport. [He] had been employed by the company but a short time."


William H. Minerd - Killed when caught in a "fire damp" explosion that ripped through the Youngstown (PA) Works of the Youngstown Coke Co. He was among 14 miners trapped in the mine. The tragedy was front page news for weeks in the newspapers in Connellsville and Uniontown.


Boyd C. Nicholson - A carpenter at the Christy Park Works of U.S. Steel Corporation, suffered a "severe leg injury," said the Connellsville Daily Courier, and was hospitalized at McKeesport Hospital. Unable to recover, he died after lingering for a month.


Robert Nugent - Killed in a coal mine accident at the Robena Mine of U.S. Steel Corporation, operated by the H.C. Frick Coke Co. in Carmichaels, PA, the largest coal mine in the world at that time. His neck was broken in a fall of slate in the mine.


William D. Ogle - Hurt in at the Pennsville (PA) Coal Mine while performing his "usual daily labour" as a driver. The Connellsville Courier said he "was caught between the bumpers of two pit cars ... and so seriously injured that the right leg will have to be amputated." A little more than a month later, he died in a local hospital.


Melvin C. Owen - On July 15, 1940, when only 26 years of age, was at work in the north slope of the Sonman Mine, and was one of 90 men trapped in an accidental methane gas explosion. Unable to escape, he suffocated and 62 other men died.


Norman Prinkey - A railroad brakeman for the Davidson Works of the H.C. Frick Coke Company in Connellsville, PA. On Dec. 13, 1917, said the Connellsville Daily Courier, "his foot slipped in the snow, throwing him under a moving freight train. Before his signal to stop could be given the engineer, Felix McArdle, the wheels of the coke car had decapitated the unfortunate man."


Daniel Hezekiah "Hez" Pyles - Worked in a coal mine in Ronceverte, WV. Was caught in a fall of slate, which broke his back. He was taken to the Greenbrier General Hospital in Greenbrier County, where he languished for 17 days before death.


Robert "Dewey" Rankin - Employed at the Revere Mine near Uniontown, PA, he suffered a heart attack and died suddenly "while awaiting the cage to go to work in the mine," reported the Uniontown Daily News Standard.


Earl Raymond Rankin -Worked at H.C. Frick Coke Co.'s Phillips coal mine and coke plant near Uniontown. The facility was widely considered a model of efficiency and safety for the time. Was killed in a freak accident at the age of 28 when the coal "car left the rails and crashed into a post, causing a fall of slate. It was several hours before rescuers could clear the debris and remove the dead and injured men."


Robert Henry Richter - Killed in the Leisenring mine near Uniontown, PA when accidentally squeezed between two mine cars. Said the Connellsville Weekly Courier, his "neck was broken and he suffered internal hemorrhages. He was removed to the plant hospital, where he died shortly after."


Benjamin F. Romesburg - Employed at Ursina, PA and taking a lunch break "while ... excavating for the company store, said the Somerset Herald, he "was struck last week on top of the head by a stone that had been hurled in the air by a blast, crushing his skull."


William Rose - While employed at the Mullen Mine of the H.C. Frick Coke Company, near Mt. Pleasant, PA, was caught in and killed by a fall of slate in the mine.


Charles Rowan - A laborer at the No. 5 mine of the Vesta Coal Company at Vestaburg, PA, was killed after only having worked there for three months. Said the Daily Courier: "Rowan ... was decapitated and two other workers miraculously escaped a similar fate ... when a large slab of slate let go as they were leaving the Vestaburg workings after completing their day's work."


Howard Rowan - One of 194 men killed in the Mather Collieries explosion. His was the fourth to last body recovered. A coroner's jury ruled that the " disaster was caused by an explosion of explosive gas and coal dust in the north side of the mine." The Connellsville Daily Courier said it was "one of the most disastrous explosions in the history of Pennsylvania soft coal mining."


William D. Sheme - A shuttle car operator with Consolidation Coal Company's Farmington No. 9 Mine in Farmington, WV, was caught in an explosion which also claimed the life of his wife's cousin Hartsel Lee Mayle. The story was national news on network television and in Time and Life magazines.


Albert Thomas Stone - Killed in an automobile accident in New Mexico, while on a business trip visiting a family-owned mine in Silver City.


Arthur Turner - Was "injured in the mines at Mount Braddock," said the Connellsville Daily Courier. He contracted an infection of meningitis in his blood stream, leading to periostitis (an inflammation of tissues surrounding the bone). He died after suffering for five days.


Arthur Earskin White - Was found badly injured, with a fractured skull, after falling into a coal barge at W.J. Rainey Inc.'s Clyde Mine in Fredericktown, PA. He died a day later. A coroner ruled that death was due to a shock from the fracture, "caused by falling and striking head on side of barge while at work - accidental."


Charles Williams - Working for Reeves Coal Company, was struck by falling rock in Mine #2. "His neck broken and body crushed by over three tons of rock, [he] died ... before help could be given by his companions. Williams' body was doubled up like a jack knife, his head touching his feet," said the New Philadelphia (OH) Daily Times.


John Worrick - Was instantly killed in an accident at the Donald No. 1 Mine in southwest Pennsylvania. The 1910 book, Report of the Department of Mines, states that he "was found dead under his trip of loaded cars. It is supposed that he fell off the front of [the] trip."


Frank Zearfoss - Was "crushed to death ... in a rock fall at the Royal Quemahoning mine [of near Stoystown]," said the Somerset Daily American. "He was pronounced dead by a physician upon being removed from the fall."



Copyright 2000-2014, 2016-2017 Mark A. Miner