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Coal Miners Memorial Naomi Mine, Fayette City, Naomi, Washington Twp., Fayette Co., PA


Coal Mines of Fayette Co., PA MAIN INDEX

Map of H.C.Frick Coke Co. Mines
Naomi Mine,
Naomi,
Fayette City,
Washington Twp.,
Fayette County,
Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

A Tribute to the Coal Miners that mined the Bituminous Coal seams of the Naomi Mine, Fayette County, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Compiled & Edited by
Raymond A. Washlaski

Raymond A. Washlaski, Historian, Editor,
Ryan P. Washlaski, Technical Editor,

Updated April 9, 2010

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Naomi Mine (ca.1910-  ?  ),
Located on the P. & L. E. Railroad, on the Monongahela River, north of Fayette City, Naomi, Washington Twp., Fayette Co., PA
Owners: (ca.1910-  ?  ),
              (ca.1916-  ?  ), Naomi Coal Company, Pittsburgh, PA
              (ca.1920-  ?  ), Hillman Coal & Coke Company, Pittsburgh, PA

from the Bureau of Mines Report for 1902
Naomi Mine
A new slope and shaft opening, located near Naomi station. Only a few persons are at work inside - driving an entry from the shaft to the slope. Extensive improvements are being made on the outside, consisting of trestle, tracks, tipple, etc.

A telegram to the Chief of the Dept. of Mines of Pennsylvania, telling him of the explosion at the Naomi Mine, Dec. 1, 1807.
(courtesy of the Western Pennsylvania Historical Society, Pittsburgh, PA.)

A photo, ca.1907, taken on a railroad siding, on the banks of the Monongahela River, showing the arrival of the plain cheap wooden box caskets, that the coal company had shipped to Fayette City, Fayette Co., Pennsylvania, for the bodies of the miners killed in the Naomi Mine Explosion.  Robert R. Hawker, second from the right, a 15 year-old wagoneer, for the coal company, helped with the delivery of the caskets.
(Photo courtesy of Peggy Farquhar.)

December 1, 1907,
Naomi Mine,
Naomi, Fayette City, PA
34 miners Killed.

From the Pennsylvania State Mine Inspectors Report, 1907.

About 7:45 P.M. Sunday, an explosion of firedamp augmented by coal dust resulted in the death of 34 persons, all were in the mine.  A large quantity of gas must have been ignited.  The gas was not detected before anyone was allowed to enter the mine.  For some time previous to the explosion, only the working places were being examined before the mine was allowed to be entered.

The cause of the gas being present was an open door.  The explosion was caused by an open light or an electric spark from the wires.  The system of ventilation was faulty, having too many doors.  They commenced to sink a shaft, but very little progress had been made. It was evident that the fireboss had been trying to get the  men together preparatory to leaving the mine.
(Pennsylvania State Mine Inspectors Report,1907:xvi-xviii,38-39)

From the "Daily Reporter," Washington, PA
Monday Evening, December 2, 1907
46 ARE ENTOMBED BY AN EXPLOSION IN A COAL MINE
Naomi Workings Near Belle-vernon Scene of a Terrible Catastrophe.
It is Feared That All the Remaining Miners Have No Chance to Escape.

THE MINES WERE CROWDED

United Press Dispatch
BELLE VERNON, Dec. 2, 1907
Bulletin: At 1 o’clock it is known that 46 men are entombed. Rescuers are working with little hope of success.

United Press Dispatch
BELLE VERNON, Dec. 2, 1907
Between 40 and 50 men are entombed by last night’s explosion in the Naomi Mine of the United Coal company. It is believed all are lost. No official statement by the company has been made. Rescuers are working hard to save the unfortunates. Several Americans are among those buried. One body, that of a foreigner named Joe, a pumper, was recovered this morning.   The mine is two miles from a telephone and reports are slow and meager.   The explosion was caused by a miner carrying an open lamp into old workings of the mine, where black damp had been accumulating for years. The explosion affected many of the passageways, ripped away old timbers and slate and rock rolled down to complete the work of death.   Only one man, an unknown foreigner, reached the surface through an airshaft, but as he reached the open air he fell unconscious from gas fumes and died in a few minutes.

The miners are entrapped a mile from any entrance and far beyond the air shaft, and the men could not travel, if unhurt, through the wreckage that strews the main entry to the mine. By the terrific report of the exploding gas, felt for miles around the vicinity, and wrecking windows in all the houses on the hillside, it is thought the mine supports have been splintered and may cause further collapse of the entry and side workings.   The explosion occurred at an hour when the mines were crowded with workmen. The night shift had just got under way in its work. The miners who had been relieved of duty were in the town three miles away enjoying their Sunday holiday. In this word blurred the news of the accident was delayed in reaching the authorities. The efforts of the mine officials and rescuers soon were impeded by the throng of anguished women who ran up to the very pit mouth and cried out in agony for the loved ones who were buried in the dark recesses of the hill. The curses of men bent on entering the mine, the cries of women and the frantic efforts of the officials of the company to locate the exact scene of the explosion added to the chaos.

News of the disaster was telephoned to Bellevernon, Monongahela and other surrounding towns. Special cars were chartered and physicians and undertakers hurried to the scene. As yet, however, there has been no work for either. The men entombed are beyond human aid.   From the interior could be heard the rumbling noise which indicated that new pockets of the fatal gas were being touched off or that the workings are giving away.

From the "Daily Reporter," Washington PA
Tuesday Evening, December 3, 1907
30 BODIES HAVE BEEN RECOVERED FROM THE MINE
Rescue Parties Make Gruesome Discoveries in Ill-Fated Workings.
DEATH LIST MAY BE 31
Fifteen Miners Found Huddled Together, Evidently Caught Trying to Escape.
TO MAKE INVESTIGATION

United Press Dispatch
Belle vernon, Dec. 3, 1907
Up to 10 o’clock this morning 30 bodies had been recovered from the Naomi mine. At that hour Superintendent J.D. O’Neil said:   “I do not think the death list will exceed 30 or 31. We have figured it out and cannot see how it can exceed that number.”

Preparations have been begun for bringing the bodies up the airshaft. The new powerhouse is being used as a morgue.   An announcement that the dead found were scarcely disfigured afforded great comfort to the families of the deceased.   It is stated that of all the bodies found only three are beyond recognition.   Of the few remaining in the mine is Fire Boss David Roberts.   A gruesome find was made at entry No. 29 where within 25 yards no less than 15 bodies were scattered about.  Every man had a dinner bucket in his hand and all seemed to have been making their way toward an exit. The slope entrance is still choked up, and entry and exit are made, by the airshaft.

Great crowds are still about the mine and cars are carrying people to and from the scene all the time.

Company to Bury Unknown.
The identity of the foreign workmen cannot be rigidly tabulated.  Those who have no families here and who have few friends will not be recognized. Few of them carry papers or articles, which would lead to discovering their names.   Doubtless many will remain unknown. In this case the company will defray the funeral services and will provide a decent burial for every one of its unfortunate workmen.

A plot of ground will be secured in the local cemetery and here the remains of the unknown dead will be interred at a general funeral. Hungarian and Slavish societies will take part.   The townspeople in Bellevernon do not seem to appreciate the extent of  the horror. Trolley cars leading two miles across the country to the mine where jammed with sightseers and extra cars were placed in commission to accommodate the crowds.   Superintendent O’Neill said the exact cause of the explosion had not been discovered. It is believed, however, that a miner with a lighted lamp set off a pocket of gas in some portion of the old workings. An investigation has been ordered. Charges of carelessness, based principally on wild rumors created in the crowd of spectators, have received no serious attention from the officials of the mine or of the miner’s organizations.

From the "Daily Reporter," Washington, PA
Wednesday Evening, December 4, 1907
24 BODIES TAKEN FROM NAOMI MINE
Controversy Between Miners and Officers Over the Number of Explosion Victims.
INSPECTORS NOW CONFER

United Press Dispatch
BELLE VERNON, Dec. 4, 1907
Twenty-four bodies have been removed from the Naomi mine of the United Coal company during last night and now lie in a temporary morgue. Up to 10:30 o’clock this morning, 20 had been identified.   No other bodies have been found despite the statement of Superintendent J.D. O’Neil yesterday that he had 27 accounted for by the rescuers.   Five members of the state constabulary Troop A, arrived from Greensburg today to do patrol duty.   There is considerable controversy between miners and officials about the number of victims. The officials claim the death list will not be over 30, while the miners declare that 43 men were in the mine at the time of the explosion, which means the death list will reach that number.

District Attorney Will Investigate.
T.H. Hudson, district attorney of Fayette county, stated today that he would demand a thorough investigation of the explosion and punish those to blame if carelessness is found to be the cause. The mine inspectors from 12 districts are here. After a preliminary examination they requested the opening of the slope, and at a conference prepared a formal recommendation which will be presented to General Manager James D. O’Neil.

Inspectors Hold Conference.
Last night they met and formed their plans. Those attending the conference were Henry Louttit, John Bell, Thirteenth district; D.R. Blower, Nineteenth district; David Young, Brownsville; C.B. Ross, Greensburg; F.W. Cunningham, Wilkinsburg; T.B. Williams, Connellsville; Nicholas Evans, Tyrone; Charles P. McGregor, Pittsburg; I.G. Roby, Uniontown, and Alexander McCance, Scottsdale.

The investigation by the inspectors will continue for the balance of the week. Practically half of the mine has not been explored. Thus far the rescue work has been confined to the right air passage. The left side of the mine has not been examined. However, the explosion occurred in the right passage and it was here that the unfortunate miners were at work.

Few of the bodies will be identified and fewer will be claimed. The corpses all are horribly disfigured by burns and already decomposition has set in. The positions of the bodies told mute tales of horrible suffering when the rescuing parties penetrated the distant entries this morning.

from the "Daily Reporter," Washington, PA
Thursday Evening, December 8, 1907
TWO MORE BODIES FROM NAOMI MINE.
Thirty-Two Have Thus Far Been Recovered.
The Last Beyond Recognition.

SEARCH BEING CONTINUED

United Press Dispatch
BELLEVERNON, Dec. 5, 1907
Two more bodies were brought out of the Naomi mine today, making a total of 32 recovered so far. The identity of those found is impossible today. An investigation into the cause of the explosion is going on today and the search for the other bodies is being continued. Lying somewhere in the wrecked Naomi mine, mangled and bruised and fast decomposing, there still lies the body of the water hauler, name unknown, who is said to have been the cause of the terrible explosion which caused the death of 30 men, beside himself, the wrecking of the mine and the destruction of windows of buildings in the vicinity. His is the only body so far as can be learned that remains in the mine. It will be brought to the surface as soon as it is possible to reach it.

The force of district inspectors was increased yesterday by the arrival of Charles Napper, of Phillipsburg; Joe Williams, of Altoona, Tom Adams, of Mercer, and John Bell, of Dravonsburg. These experts at once entered the mine to corroborate the findings of their brother inspectors and to make additional examination for themselves. The result is anything but satisfactory to the United Coal company, and Henry Louttit, of this district, will file a report with the head of the state department of mines that will undoubtedly cause a decided sensation in mining circles.

He takes exception to the statement of General Manager J.D. O’Neil that no notice of the dangerous condition of the mine had been given the officers of the company and called attention to the work that had been done and was being done in sinking a new shaft into the mine, the opening of which is about 1,000 feet from the two former openings.

From the "Reporter,"  Washington, PA
Friday Evening, December 6, 1907
TWO BODIES IN THE MINE.
All the Victims, But That Number Believed to Have Been Taken From Naomi Workings.

United Press Dispatch
BELLEVERNON, Dec. 6, 1907
Two more bodies are believed to be in the Naomi mine. It may be several days before they are recovered. All the bodies have now been removed from the temporary morgue.

From the "Daily Reporter," Washington, PA
Monday Evening, December 9, 1907

NAOMI MINE INQUEST TO BE HELD THURSDAY
United Press Dispatch
Uniontown, Dec. 9, 1907
Coroner A.B. Hagari announced today that the Inquest into the Naomi Mine explosion would begin at Bellevernon on Thursday morning.

From the "Daily Reporter," Washington, PA
Thursday Evening, December 13, 1907
NAOMI MINE INQUEST WAS STARTED TODAY
Officials Being Questioned as to Whether It Is Safe to Use Electricity.

United Press Dispatch
BelleVernon, Dec, 12, 1907
Coroner A. S. Hagan commenced an official inquiry today into the Naomi mine explosion, in which 34 lives were lost. A number of officials testified. The trend of the inquest was an examination leading to the question whether or not electricity should be used in mines.

From the "Reporter,"  Washington, PA
Friday Evening, December 13, 1907
NAOMI MINE DISASTER WAS DUE TO INSUFFICIENT VENTILATION
Coroner’s Jury Decided That Gas Accumulated From Lack of Air.
IGNITED FROM WIRES Or From Open Light.
Jury Condemns Use of Electricity in Gaseous Mines.
RECOMMENDS AIR SHAFTS

From the "United Press Dispatch," Belle-Vernon, PA
Bellevernon, Dec. 13, 1907
The coroner’s jury investigation the cause of the death of 32 miners in the Naomi mine of the United Coal company this morning rendered the following verdict: “We find the miners came to their death as a result of an explosion of gas and dust. The gas seems to have accumulated from insufficient ventilation and was, we believe, ignited from arcing electric wires or an open light at some point not definitely known. “We condemn the use of electric use on return air currents, also the use of even lights in all gaseous mines. We recommend that hereafter an air shaft be opened up where workings reach a point 4,000 feet from the main opening.”

The coroner’s jury retired at 8 o’clock last evening.

Testimony of Superintendent Henderson and Fire Boss Muri yesterday was that the mine was in good condition and the presence of gas slight. Thomas Thompson said he worked in the Naomi mine six weeks. He admitted that the fresh air-registering gauge for some time had not been in working order. He also said he had noticed gas in the mine two weeks before the explosion, but that he had not signed any of the fire bosses’ reports for two days prior to the explosion. It was pointed out that fire bosses are required by law to report daily the pressure of gas in mines. The mine foreman must counter sign the report. Yesterday was payday at the Naomi mines, but instead of the usual cheery responses when the names were called out there was in many instances silence broken only by the voice of a widow: “H was my husband.” In several cases a sister or a brother answered and drew the last earnings of their only supporters.

A Memorial to the 43 Miners killed in the December 1, 1907 Naomi Mine Explosion.  The memorial is in the Mt. Auburn Cemetery, Fayette City, PA.
(Photo by Sherry McGowan Shondelmyer.  Courtesy of Sherry McGowan Shondelmyer.)

From the "Gazette Times," Fayette City, PA  Newspaper Clipping, ca.1910
Explosion of Powder, Fairhope (Pa.)

Miner’s home shattered and burning timbers fall on sleeping children.

(Special telegram to Gazette Times) Fayette City, PA, Dec. 31, 1910

Four children of James Hunter a miner of Fairhope were seriously burned and Hunter and his wife were painfully burned about the hands when an explosion of giant powder this morning wrecked their home. The injured: David Hunter aged 19 burned about the entire body; taken to the Mercy Hospital, Pittsburgh recovery doubtful, Jean Hunter aged 14 burned about body recovery doubtful, James Hunter, Jr. aged 11 burned about chest and legs; condition serious, Christina Hunter aged 9 burned about the body in a serious condition, James Hunter the father of the children burned about hands and Mrs. James Hunter burned about the hands and arms. David Hunter who works in the Naomi mine of the Pittsburgh Coal Company was preparing for work shortly before 8 o’clock this morning and started to open a 25 pound keg of giant powder with a knife. The friction caused as the knife went into the powder caused an explosion. The four sides of the house were blown away like so many cards and the roof collapsed. It fell flat on the iron posts of a bed in which the three younger children were sleeping. Hunter and his wife were in the basement of the house. They found the roof and bed clothing in flames when they went upstairs. Before they could tear away the burning bed clothing all three children were burned from head to foot and the mother and father were burned about the hands and arms. Flames burst out immediately after the explosion and the clothing of David ignited. Before he could extinguish the fire with his hands and rolling in the snow the young miner was burned so badly he may die. The homeless family was taken care of by neighbors and Dr. A. N. Marston of Belle Vernon was called. Dr. Marston ordered the four children to a Pittsburgh Hospital, but the mother frantically refused to part with them.

Despite her protests the physician sent David to Mercy Hospital, Pittsburgh. The Hunter home which was valued at $1500 was completely destroyed.

(newspaper clipping date of 1910 hand written on article)

From the "Darr Mine Relief Fund Report."

A section in the Darr Mine Relief Fund Report gave this report on the Naomi Mine Explosion.

A mine-explosion in the Naomi Mine of the United Coal Company, near Belle Vernon, Pa., on December 1st, 1907, killed 34 miners. Of these, 18 left widows (10 in United States and 8 in Europe), with 29 children (12 in United States and 17 in Europe); 16 were unmarried, leaving 42 fathers and mothers and other dependents (30 in Europe and 12 in America). The total number of dependents was 89. The United Coal Company declined to appeal to the public for assistance and assumed to themselves the task of aiding the dependents. They paid two-thirds of the expense of burying the dead ($1,700.00), and distributed $13,500. Besides this, the Naomi Relief Committee of Fayette City paid over in life insurance benefits $3,400.00, that is $100 for each of the 34 men killed. The Woman 's Relief Committee of Fayette City also paid $200.00 to each of the 10 widows, resident in the United States, besides distributing a considerable amount of family supplies.
(from the Darr Mine Relief Fund REPORT to the Executive Committee covering the collection and distribution of the public fund for the dependents of the men killed By the explosion in the Darr Mine of the Pittsburgh Coal Company, December 19, 1907.)

Naomi Mine Accident, May, 1923
Head Crushed When Cars Jump Track
Charles J. Phillips, a highly respected young man of Belle Vernon was fatally injured yesterday morning while at work in the Naomi mine of the Pittsburgh Coal company. The young man was employed as a motorman in the mine and was coming in with a load of cars to the bottom of the mine when the string of cars jumped the track and were wrecked. The motorman attempted jump to safety but instead he was caught between one of the cars and the side of the mine and his head horribly crushed. Other workmen hearing the sound of the crash of cars hurried to the scene and found the young man breathing his last.

The deceased has been a resident of this section for a number of years and has made his home with Mrs. Watson at Fairhope. He is survived by his father and two sisters at Centralia, Ill.

The engagement of the deceased and Miss Belle Montgomery, a teacher in the local public schools, was announced during the holidays and it was stated the wedding was to be an event of early summer.

The body was removed to the Melenyzer morgue and prepared for burial which will take place, tomorrow afternoon in the Belle Vernon cemetery following services at the Marion Presbyterian church in charge of Rev. Fulton.
(from the "Monessen Daily Independent," Monessen, PA, May 15,1923.)
(newspaper article courtesy of Linda Horton.)

"Coal Miners Memorial, Naomi Mine,
Fayette City, Naomi, Washington Twp., Fayette County, Pennsylvania"

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