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Coal Miners Memorial Mather Mine, Mather, Morgan Twp., Greene Co.,PA


Coal Mines of Greene Co., PA MAIN INDEX

Mather Mine,
Mather,
Morgan Twp.,
Greene County,
Pennsylvania, U.S.A.


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

Compiled & Edited by
Raymond A. Washlaski

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

Updated July 25, 2010

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The Morgan Township map was cropped from a 1/50,000 USGS Geological Survey Map of Greene County dated 1977.

HISTORY:
Miners Attention
Loaders wanted at Mather Mine, Mather, Greene county, Pa.  New mine, new houses, water and electric light in every house.  Steady work garenteed.  Company furnishes powder and drills holes.  Having own R.R. cars made.  Finest mining town in Pennsylvania.
[from "The Morning Herald," Uniontown, PA, Sept. 23, 1920.]

Following are accounts of the Mather Disaster from newspapers published at the time of the explosion:

MINE EXPLOSION MAY 19, 1928, MATHER, PA.

KILLED: 195, DEATH TOLL 195, IN MATHER MINE

Corner Defers Inquest Until Cause Of Explosion Has Been Determined

MATHER, Pa. June 3. (AP)—The official death toll in the mine explosion here, May 19, was 195. Coroner John W. Ross announced tonight. He said all but three bodies had been recovered. Only tow of the victims were buried without identification. He had not yet fixed a date for the inquest, he said, pending a decision by mine inspectors as to the cause of the explosion.

The work of clearing the mine is progressing rapidly. Officials of the Mather Colliery Company said the workings would be reopened in a few weeks.

WEDNESDAY MORNING, MAY 23, 1928.

A MAJOR DISASTER

With hope given at first that many of the men trapped by a gas explosion in the Mather mine in Greene county last Saturday might be saved, the emmensity of the disaster has dawned by degrees. It is now indicated that it was one of the worst catastrophes of the kind, with its death list but to 196. That would leave it exceeded by only one other in the history of Pennsylvania, that of Jacobs Creek in 1907, in which 239 lives were lost. It would make it the sixth worst in the history of the country: Monongah, W.Va., in 1907 with 361 victims; Dawson, N.M., in 1913, with 263; Cherry, Ill., in 1909, with 259; Jacobs Creek with details biven above; Scofield, Utah, in 1900, with 200, and now Mather.

The only relieving note in the dispatches present is that of the heroic efforts that were made to save lives, with rescue teams rushed forward not only from all the surrounding districts of Pennsylvania, but also some from West Virginia. As usual, the Red Cross was early on the scene and there also have been many volunteer relief workers. Even though the mining company doing everything within its power to aid the stricken families, and even though there was insurance carried for the workers, the need in a disaster of such magnitude is great. With the facts before it, this sympathetic and generous community will know what to do to meet any further need for help.

Mather, Pennsylvania

Mather Colliers Company Mine Explosion

May 19, 1928

NEARLY 200 MEN BELIEVED DEAD IN MINE BLAST

MATHER MINE GIVES UP 63 BODIES WITH KNOWN DEATH LIST NOW STANDING AT 50

Rescue Teams Encounter Much Gas as They Fight Way Into Deep Recesses; Little Hope Held Out for Life Among Others Still in Pit; One Man Dies in Hospital.

By United Press.

MATHER, PA., May 21. -- With the faint hope that some life might still exist within the debris of the Mather mine of the Mather Colliers Company, hundreds of rescue workers sought today to learn the fate of at least 150 victims in one of the most disastrous explosions in the history of Pennsylvania soft coal mining.

Early today 63 of the more than 200 miners trapped in the pit when the explosion occurred Saturday were accounted for.

Fourteen men have been rescued alive and 49 disfigured bodies have been brought to the surface and placed in temporary morgues.

WALTER H. GLASGOW, state secretary of mines, who arrived Saturday night has settled on a total of 210 as the number of men originally trapped.

GLASGOW held to the hope that some of the main group of miners in butt 4, where it was thought the gas exploded, might yet be found alive in their working places, more than 300 feet underground and thousands of feet from the shaft entrance.

“If the men have air they are still alive,” JOHN IRA THOMAS, deputy mine secretary in charge of the bituminous section said.

But rescue workers were more dubious about the chances of life withing the subterranean chambers than were the state mine officials. Rescuers noting the manner in which the recovered bodies have been disfigured, saw little possibility that life should have survived in the pit nearer the explosion.

Officials of the mine refused to give up hope of finding any of those entombed alive, but the grime covered rescue workers have just one word for inquirers -- “gas.”

One theory of the explosion was that a pocket of gas had been struck by one of the working faces in the mine. Veterans of the pit, including ___ O'HARA, who has worked in the Mather mine four years as a ______ agreed with this theory and gave the opinion that is was a coal dust explosion. They believed a wreck had piled up a motor and a string of mine cars stiffing up a lot of coal dust, which had been ignited by a trolley wire. They cling to this theory even though the Mather mine, which was considered a model in modern methods of engineering efficiency, had been completely rock dusted, which is a method used in mines to avert explosions of coal dust.

UNIONTOWN, May, 21.

Twelve more bodies were brought to the surface this morning, making the number of dead recovered 49. FIELD WHITNEY, one of the rescued men, died during the night at the Brownsville General Hospital, making the known death list 50, and reducing the list of survivors to 13.

It was said at noon today that the total of dead might reach 198 as little hope is now entertained for the missing men.

On the person of one of the victims brought from the mine this morning was a watch which had stopped at 4:05 o'clock. It is believed that is the exact time at which the blast occurred.

Nine of the ten bodies removed this morning were identified. The names are given as JOHN FLOWERS, GEORGE ERWIN, JOSEPH STILES, ALFRED REYNOLDS, WILLIAM SMITISH, ROMAN STYEHEZYN, WALTER SCHOENBERGER, ALBERT SILLES, and ALBERT NEWLEN. There is a total of seven bodies still unidentified.

FRANK ROBY, one of the dead, is a son of the late ISAAC G. ROBY, formerly the dean of soft coal inspectors for the State.

JOSEPH EASTON, formerly of Vanderbilt and recently residing in Uniontown, is survived by a wife and a week-old baby. MRS. EASTON was formerly MISS NELLIE STRICKLER of Vanderbilt.

ALBERT COBB, a former catcher on the Uniontown Elks baseball team and a workman at Mather, has made 4 trips into the mine as a rescue worker. In each instance he has brought out a body, three of the men being alive.

Mather Death List

The list of known dead, as announced is:

EDWARD REED.

CHARLES BIGAM.

CYRIL GARVY.

JOHN KROVATS.

MATT EVANS.

FRED KREGAR.

TOM CALLAHAN.

WILLIAM BUTLER.

JOHN MARSIC.

PAUL STAMEKO.

PETE RONSENICK.

ALBERT DAVIS.

FLOYD MORRISON.

LEROY EATON.

CLARENCE RADISH.

JOE TAYLOR.

PAUL SPARKS.

ARCHIE STEWART.

PETE FIDL. (Unsure of last name – Transcriber)

JAMES PULLMAN.

STEVE JONES.

JOHN SAXTON.

JAMES COLLINS.

WILLILAM GRAVES.

WILLIAM JACKS.

G. G. PIERSON.

CHARLES MEDLOCK.

WILLLIAM BUNSEATH.

WINFIELD WIEHL.

FRANK ROBY.

CHARLES WALKER.

FIELD WHITNEY.

JOHN FLOWERS.

GEORGE ERWIN.

JOSEPH STILES.

ALFRED REYNOLDS.

WILLIAM SMITISH.

ROMAN STYCHEZYN.

WALTER SHOENBERGER.

ALBERT STILES.

ALBERT NEWLEN.

Severed Electric Wire Advanced as Cause of Disaster

By United Press.

MATHER, Pa., May 21. -- The first coherent theory for the cause of the Mather mine explosion which killed scores of miners was told today by two survivors of the disaster.

Their names have not been diverged by mine officials but their story appeared to mine experts as the most logical yet advanced.

These miners told mine officials they had witnessed the beginning of a series of explosions when a cutting machine severed the insulation of an electric cable, causing a flash of sparks. The sparks ignited a pocket of gas and coal dust, which wrecked the mine.

Fire in Mather Workings Choked Off by Rescuers

By United Press

MATHER, Pa., May 21. -- Fire broke out in the workings of the Mather mine this afternoon temporarily halting rescue workers in their efforts to locate nearly 150 entombed miners.

The fire started about a half mile from the foot of the shaft 300 feet below the surface of the earth.

The flames were believed to have been smothered in a section of the pit since the explosion Saturday and they were revived when the air was pumped through the compartment by rescuers.

The relief crews were forced to flee from their positions to the surface. With the use of fire extinguishers, the flames were brought under control without injuries reported.

Trapped Miners Phone For Help; Call Is In Vain

WAYNESBURG, Pa., May 21. -- “Hurry, hurry! We have erected brattice. There are 14 of us! We are alive and waiting! Hurry, we've only a little air!”

For five hours after the fatal blast had rocked the Mather mine near here, THOMAS CALLAHAN, assistant mine foreman, continued to telephone this message and urge the rescue workers on in their fight against the deadly gases.

Two hours later a team of rescue workers broke through the brattice work.

CALLAHAN and his companions were dead, victims of the gas which had seeped through the hurriedly erected barricade.

CALLAHAN had gone down into the mine with the night shift before the blast and was about a mile and three quarters from the shaft at the time of the explosion.

During the work CALLAHAN telephoned at short intervals to the men on the surface advising them of the work they were doing and their location in the mine. Hour after hour he repeated the message always urging the rescuers to hurry. The rescue teams did hurry. But the gas beat them to their goal.
[from "The Daily Courier," Connellsville, PA, June, 21, 1928.]

ALL HOPE FOR LIFE AMONG ENTOMBED AT MATHER ABANDONED

Glimmer of Hope Aroused by Finding One Survivor Quickly Subsides; Large Body of Men Believed to Be Together in One Section; Still 127 In Workings Is Report.

ELEVEN BODIES ARE REMOVED DURING MORNING.

MATHER, Pa., May 22. -- Known dead totalled [sic] 87 and 27 recovered today. The last six victims were brought out of the mine at 1:30 P. M.

UNIONTOWN, May 22. -- It was learned this morning that hope of any further life in the underground compartments of the Mather mine at Mather, Pa. Shattered by a terrific explosion late Saturday afternoon, had been abandoned.

Despite the fact that one man was found alive early this morning, it is believed that only a freak of the air and gas currents kept the deadly fumes from his position and permitted him to live.

According to figures on which officials are working it is believed there are still 127 men entombed. The majority of these are together in one section of the workings not yet reached by rescuers, it is believed, but the hope that they have successfully blocked off the fatal gases which followed the blast, is slowly fading. In fact, it was understood that some, familiar with such disasters, had abandoned all belief that life still existed beneath the surface.

Eleven bodies were brought to the surface this morning three of which had not been identified at noon.

Gloom of Death Settles on Mining Village; Shrieks of Stricken Woman Pierce Air.

By United Press

MATHER, Pa., May 22. -- The gloom of death had settled closer today about the little mining town.

The townsfolk mostly women and children, had come to feel the extreme seriousness of the explosion. At these dwellings hopes were renewed by the rescue of FRANK KRUBICK, that others may be taken out alive. The tension of sorrow, which has held the village for two days, broke in nerve racking outbursts of emotion.

Throughout the day shrieks and the mourning of women could be heard for blocks. Now and then a woman collapsed and high pitched screams wore on the nerves of bystanders.

The situations around the mine of the Mathers Colliery Company had settled into a dreary routine. Then the rescue of KRUBICK lent excitement to the scene and urged rescue workers on to a swifter pace. Hearses and ambulances rolled swiftly back and forth from one morgue to another. Hammers drummed in a hollow chorus upon the boards of rough boxes.

The cage in the tall tipple rose and fell, bringing dead bodies to the surface.

The scenes of grief settled around the two morgues, one in the recreation hall and the other in the little schoolhouse. The first stopping place on the death road was in the machine shop of the mine where the bodies were identified and prepared for burial.

Bodies were placed in caskets in the recreation hall and later removed to the schoolhouse to await the claims of relatives.

Individual funeral arrangements were going forward rapidly today for that will be a task of its own. Many of the caskets were removed yesterday to the homes and others were shipped out of town.

The first funeral services were held today, taking on the character of both joint and individual services. The service for Roman Catholics was held during the morning and Protestants held their service in the afternoon at a central point in the town. After joint service clergymen visited the homes and conducted private services. More than a dozen clergymen from Waynesburg, Mather and nearby towns were enlisted.

MISS HELEN CALDWELL Red Cross base supervision came here today from Washington D. C. to take charge of medical aid and assistance to stricken relatives of the dead miners.

Scores of Boy Scouts carried messages and aided in distribution of supplies to families.

THE KNOWN DEAD

By United Press

MATHER, Pa., May 22. -- Following is the list of dead taken from the mine:

MATT EVANTLY.

JOHN KRAJIR.

FRED KREGAR.

TOM CALLAHAN.

JOHN MARNIE.

CHARLES BIGAM.

CYRIL GAY.

LEROY SHFUKE.

FLOYD MOREIN.

ALFRED DAVIS.

PETER RAUSACH.

PETER SEDA.

JOHN SPINKS.

ARCHIE STEWART.

JAMES TULLEAN.

STEVE JONES.

JOHN SANDE.

LEROY EATON.

JOESPH COLLINS.

CLARENCE RADISH.

WILLIAM GRAVES.

JAMES TAYLOR.

G. F. PEARSON.

WILLIAM JACKS.

CHARLES SHEDLOCK.

CHARLES WALTER.

FRANK ROBY.

JOHN FLOWERS.

GEORGE URMEN.

JOSEPH MALAR.

WINFIELD WIEHL.

WILLIAM BUNSHEATH.

JOE STILES.

ALFRED REYNOLDS.

WILLIAM SMITH.

ROMAN STYCYCZYS.

WALTER SHOENBERGER.

FIELD WHITNEY.

ALBERT STILES.

HARRY NEWLEN.

ANDY SCHNERMAN.

WILLIAM SMITISH.

JOE HARBAUGH.

JOHN R. FISCHER.

ANDY YOCKOPOVICH.

JOHN KURPUYKA.

THOMAS TENTLMAN.

JAMES RATON.

ADAM YOCKOPOVICH.

STEVE HABANAK.

JOSEPH PENTIMAN.

FLOYD ALLEN.

AUGUST RUOMA.

ED REED.

ROBERT McLAIN.

JOHN WOCOBLISKI.

GEORGE HAVER.

PAUL BOOTZ.

Eleven bodies were brought out this morning. They are:

ANDY ZAXLE.

MIKE BAILEY.

SAM MACRARTO.

GEORGE HARVEL.

PAUL BOGGS.

ROBERT McCLAIN.

JOHN WROBLESKI.

JOHN DOSHER.

[from "The Daily Courier," Connellsville Pennsylvania 1928-05-22

ONE MAN, RESCUED ALIVE AFTER 55 HOURS, REVIVES HOPE THAT OTHERS HAVE SURVIVED BLAST.

Frank Krubick Found Perched On Steel Rail by Rescue Workers.

GAS HAD NOT REACHED HIM

By United Press

MATHER, Pa., May 22. -- Life was found today among the men trapped in the underground workings of the Mather coal mine.

FRANK KRUBICK, one of the 210 miners entombed when an explosion wrecked the workings Saturday was rescued alive after 55 hours of imprisonment.

The news of KRUBICK'S rescue spread rapidly throughout the little mining village and new hope was born that more of the 130 miners still missing will be found alive.

The death toll stood at 72 and the survivors at 14 when KRUBICK was rescued by BRUCE BEAL.

Perched upon a rail awaiting for death or rescue KRUBICK was found by BEAL one and one half miles from the shaft entrance to the mine and more than 300 feet underground. He was in Butt 22.

“BRUCE where you been?” KRUBICK inquired as BEAL entered the compartment. “I been here three days now. You not come soon something choke me.”

With the aid of other rescuers KRUBICK was carried to the mine shaft and lifted to the surface. He was able to step from the stretcher to the cot and seemed free with his strength.

The discovery of KRUBICK was described in a dramatic manner by BEAL who wanted to return to the underground workings immediately for he was sure more men are alive in the mine.

KRUBICK was in a small dark hole between two trap doors. His contentment to remain in one position had saved his life.

“I heard the explosion and started to turn when some one pushed me back,” KRUBICK said. “I could detect gas coming upon me and I rapidly retreated to the little hole where I had been working. There ______ for gas had failed to enter and I knew I was safe if rescuers could reach me in time.”

KRUBICK said another whose name he did not know stayed a long time with him in the little dark pit but became restless and started to grope his way out. The rescuers said they passed the body of KRUBICK'S friend only a short distance from Butt 22 as they were carrying the alive man to the surface. He evidently had fallen victim of the deadly gas that followed the explosion.

Three or four other bodies were seen by the rescuers.

JOE BLANKET was another member of BEAL'S rescue team.

“I had a rescue team of six men,” BEAL said. “I was not using a gas mask but I had sent the other men on ahead with the canary bird to test the air.”

“There was fresh air where we found KRUBICK in a low spot in the mine. Although he had not barricaded himself the gas had not reached him by some freak maneuver of the gas and air currents.”

“KRUBICK was sitting in the dark on a steel rail. He was hunched up like a bird when we came upon him. I don't believe he had anything to eat or drink during the 55 hours he was in the mine”

“KRUBICK had lost his mine lamp and was in total darkness. He recognized me as an old buddy in the glare of our lamps and spoke to me accordingly. We started to carry him out of the Butt and he began to tell us of his long vigil.” “I heard the explosion,” he said in broken English, “I started out and something pushed me back. Another man came and we waited together hours and hours. We didn't talk much. After two days he started out alone. That's all.”

“We carried KRUBICK back to the shaft. Part of the time his mind was clear and he spoke rationally. At other times his mind wandered and he talked of things that had occurred in his loading house some time before. He had been under a hard strain for 55 hours.”

“But when we got to the pit mouth he got up off the stretcher and was able to walk to the cot in the emergency room. He said he wanted coffee and it was given to him. This seemed to revive him.”

“On the way out we passed three or four bodies of men. One of them was that of the buddy KRUBICK spoke of, who started to make his escape from the pit after two long days and nights of waiting. It took us an hour to carry KRUBICK to the shaft. We may find more life within those blast torn chambers soon. I'm going back in as soon as I can get my team together.”

Special calls were sent to Waynesburg, Pa., and other nearby towns for more doctors and nurses to be on hand when rescuers reach the main group of entombed men. It is thought that somewhere within these depths a group of 100 men or bodies will be found together. It is known that 109 men, members of the night crew who had just taken their positions a few minutes before the blast came, were together. They may have been able to barricade themselves against the gas.

Some dispute arose over the name of the rescued man. One report gave his name as KRUBICK and another as FRANK BACSHA. Company records gave it as the latter, it was said.
[from "The Daily Courier," Connellsville, PA, May 5, 1928.]

All Life in Mather Mine Extinct, Rescuers Think; 41 Yet to Be Brought Out

Many Bodies Burned Beyond Recognition; Brass Checks in Pockets Only Means of Identifying Victims; Mine Rock-Dusted to Prevent Another Blast.

INVESTIGATIONS TO BE CONDUCTED.

By United Press.

MATHER, Pa., May 23. -- Forty-one bodies remained to be removed today from the debris of the Mather Collieries Company mine where an explosion occurred Saturday, trapping 210 men.

During the night the bodies of 63 victims were located and lifted to the surface, bringing the number of recovered bodies to 155.

Fourteen survivors, some in Waynesburg hospitals, were still living today.

Rescue workers reported they saw most of the bodies still in the mine about mile and a half from the entrance.

The bodies, burned beyond recognition were grouped in a small compartment believed to have been near the center of the explosion.

Because of the condition of these bodies the only means of identification will be through brass check numbers which each man was supposed to have carried in his pocket.

Some of the bodies recovered early today were still warm and limp when rescue workers came on them, it was said, indicating they had lived for hours after the blast and had died for lack of air and food.

Rescuers had no hope today that any of the 41 miners still missing will be found alive, which indicated that the final death list will be 196.

Fearing another blast within the workings as the atmosphere became heavier during the night, rescue squads paused in their digging to rock-dust the interior as a safety measure. Then the rescue work was resumed.

The preparation of bodies for burial became a serious task. Volunteers came to the assistance of undertakers and two tents were put up as emergency rooms near the mouth of the mine. Forty men and women students of Waynesburg College have been excused from their classes for as indefinite period to help in the work or preparing the dead for burial.

After surveying the mine GEORGE W. GROVES, in charge of the United States Bureau of Mine rescue squad from Pittsburg said he found no evidence on which to place the blame for the disaster. Preparations were made to begin several investigations as soon as all miners have been accounted for.

The county coroner, the state department of mines and the company officials will conduct a thorough investigation to determine the cause of the blast which proved to be one of the worst explosions in the history of soft coal mining in Pennsylvania.

MATHER, Pa., May 23, -- Recovery of bodies in the wrecked Mather mine was halted temporarily today by state rescue crews in order to afford officials of the Mather Collieries Company an opportunity to send repair crews into the workings.

Satisfied that all miners remaining in the pit are dead, JOHN IRA THOMAS deputy secretary of mines in Pennsylvania, ordered all rescue workers from the diggings today and turned the property back to the Mather Company.

On the basis that there were 210 men in the mine at the time of the explosion 41 miners were still missing.

When the repair work and ventilating of the mine has been completed the rescue crews again will enter the pit and removed the remaining bodies.

As soon as the bodies are removed the investigation will start.

Miner Rescued Alive Wants Back Pay With Which To Throw Party

By United Press.

MATHER, May 23.
FRANK KRUBOCCA, the last man rescued alive from the Mather mine 60 hours after an explosion wrecked the workings and killed 196 men, is anxious to know if he will receive overtime for the extra hours he spent by himself in the dark pit 350 feet below the surface of the earth.

He wants to know because it will amount to a nice sum on his next pay check.

“I gonna hold a bigga party if I get overtime,” he said. Mine officials probably will pay the overtime to the big Pole and he is bound to stage the party.

In a little first aid shack on the mine property where KRUBECCA is kept, he told the first coherent story of his experience as an underground prisoner.

He paced about the room with a white peaked hat on his head. He has written his name on the cap so those who talk with him will make no mistake. His name has caused much worry especially for newspaper men. He first was known as Buscha, later as Kribic and Krubick but in his own hand writing he is Krubecca.

Was No Telephone Appeal From Entombed Miners

Some of the newspaper correspondents, who have been reporting the Mather explosion, who are without very accurate knowledge of coal mining, have given currency to some information that is lacking in accuracy.

For instance, a “story” was sent to the Pittsburg papers, relating with considerable detail that a group of mine workers erected a barricade of brattice cloth to shield themselves from the deadly gas which filled the mine after the explosion. Having done this one of the men was alleged to have called the mine office outside over the mine telephone, describing the perilous situation of the group, due to gas filtering through the barricade, and making appeals for haste on part of the rescue crews.

Just how this story originated is not know, but was probably due to a misinterpretation or misunderstanding of something a member of a rescue crew said to a newspaper reporter after the return of the former from a trip into the gas-filled mine. At any rate the story had no real foundation in fact, as there were no telephone calls from the mine and could not have been sent because of the destruction of the wires.
[from the "Daily Courier," Connellsville, PA,  May 23, 1928.]
[Newspaper articles courtesy of Stu Beitler.]

Lone Survivor Owes Life To Sitting Down for Rest
Unable to Get Up Again Because of Weakness,
Dozes While Afterdamp Clears;
Delirious After Rescue 60 Hours Delayed.

MATHER, Pa., May 22, (AP)
The fact Frank Krubik, rescued alive from the Mather mine today, sat down to rest and was unable to get up again, probably saved his life, safety experts who had talked with the miner said tonight. Krubik was taken from the workings more than 60 hours after an explosion Saturday had killed or entombed more than 200 miners.

George Riggs, connected with the United States department of mines, declared Krubik told him he had wandered about the underground passages in various directions, after the explosion, until he came to the 14 butt where, between two trap doors in an air shaft, which guaranteed him fresh air, he sat down to rest. ... Could Not Get Up.

"I couldn't get up again after I sat down," the rescued miner was quoted as saying. "I tried several times to rise and continue walking, but each time my knees gave way. Then I decided to sit there and wait what was coming to me. I had two long sleeps that I know of, and each time I woke up I thought I was in another world. Fortunately I had plenty of water, and dirty as it was, it tasted excellent to me. I kept my handkerchief soaked in the water and pressed to my face."

Those who talked with Krubik, and there were only a few, said it was impossible to continue a lengthy conversation for he became delirious under the slightest strain. He was being cared for by several nurses and doctors at the mine's emergency hospital tonight, while state troopers guarded the door, permitting only authorized persons to enter.

Not Enough for Harm!

Members of the mine rescue team which located Krubik said tests of the air in the room where he was found showed signs of afterdamp, but not sufficient to cause a man's collapse.

Tests of the air were made with canary birds. Since the Mather blast upwards of 100 of the little feathered creatures have been martyrs to the cause of safety for the rescued workers within the poisonous atmosphere underground. A fresh supply of canaries is kept constantly in readiness for use.

A painting of the Mather Mine by Howard Fogg

Mather Mine Miners Memorial, located at Mather, PA.  Dedicated to the miners that lost their lives in the Mather Mine Explosion, May 19, 1928.

Mather Gob Pile reclamation project nears completion

Mather, PA, 2002
The Mather Mine Memorial dedicated as a tribute to the 195 men who died during an explosion at the mine on May 19, 1928.

Mather Mine Memorial

The transformation of the gob pile from an "eyesore to history" brings the day closer to moving the Mather Mine Memorial, which was dedicated in May 2002, through the efforts of a volunteer committee headed by Chick & Charlotte Virgili. The memorial is to be moved to the reclaimed site and a park or recreation fields established for the benefit of the community.

The monument is an eight-foot, black-granite marker on the lawn of Mather Christian Church; the dedication ceremoney brought out several hundred people, many descendants of those killed in what is still known as one of the 10 worst mining disasters in U.S. history. The disaster had never been marked in any permanent way in Mather, but about a year ago, Orlando “Chick” Virgili and his wife Charlotte decided that needed to change.

The entire ceremony was a solemn, moving experience, including the personal memories of the speakers, the reading aloud of the names, and a solitary voice singing “Nearer My God to Thee.”

But it was the eery moan of the Mather Collerieries whistle at exactly 4:07 p.m. Sunday (the day of the dedication service) that silenced the crowd, transporting them back in time to that tragic day.

United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) President Cecil Roberts described what it must have been like in those first moments. “Imagine you’re a wife home washing clothes and tending the children, and you know that whistle means another disaster,” he said. “Imagine you’re a child and you know there’s a chance your father might not be coming home. Imagine the people running to the mine. Imagine the commotion in this community ... Imagine the bodies ...”.

In all, nearly 100 women were widowed and 500 children were orphaned. “Afterwards,” Roberts said, “The wives had no husbands, no home, and no place to go. Some went to the company store and begged.”

Placing the tragedy in historical perspective, Roberts noted that it occurred: seven years before the Wagner Act, which was New Deal legislation designed to protect workers' rights to unionization and created the National Labor Relations Board; and 18 years before health and retirement funds had been established; and it was four decades before the creation of the Health and Safety Act in 1969 after a mine in Farmington, West Virginia exploded.

As the news broke on T.V., the mine exploded again. “Now the nation saw it,” Roberts said, adding “The moral of the story is that coal built communities like this. This community has seen a lot of tragedy ... but we love who we are, and we are the most patriotic people. We fight the wars. We are America.”

Since the beginning of the coal mining industry, 100,000 coal miners have died on the job and another 100,000 have died of black lung. “In six hours, another coal miner will die from black lung, the most horrific death known to mankind,” Roberts said. Of the men who died on that tragic day in Mather, “Every one of them were heroes ... because they died, life has been better for all of us. Laws were written in their blood.”
[from the "Greene County Messenger," May 24 - 30, 2002 edition.]

HARRISBURG, Sept. 28, 2004
State Rep. Bill DeWeese and Sen. J. Barry Stout are pleased to announce to Greene Countians, especially Morgan Township residents, that reclamation of the Mather Coal Refuse Pile, begun with a state Growing Greener presentation in September 2001, is nearing completion.

Phase One of the project, costing approximately $1.7 million, excavated 700,000 cubic yards of refuse, relocating it to an adjacent property over 23 months. At the time, the highest point of the pile was 1,076 feet and 226 feet above Ten Mile Creek. The contractors, Mather Recovery Systems, also protected 1600 feet of creek bank from flooding and erosion with large stone, ditching, benching and erection of a sediment pond. Sixteen acres were matted, seeded and mulched to promote vegetation.

Phase Two, funded with an additional $2.9 million Growing Greener grant and assistance from the Federal Office of Surface Mining, has removed and relocated, to date, 600,000 cubic yards of material. The remaining 379,000 cubic yards of material will be located at the outer slopes of the pile by year’s end.

The top of the pile has been reduced to a finished elevation of 980 feet and new erosion and sedimentation controls have been added. Old abandoned buildings have been demolished, and the top and outer slopes on the Mather side of the pile will be seeded and mulched this month with the balance of seeding completed in the spring of 2005.

“Barry and I have been committed to this project since our respective elections, and it is a major accomplishment of my legislative career to see the gob pile transformed from an eyesore to history,” said DeWeese.

“I am hopeful that the Mather Mine Memorial, dedicated in May 2002, through the efforts of a volunteer committee headed by Chick and Charlotte Virgili, can be moved to the reclaimed site and a park or recreation fields established for the benefit of the community,” added Stout.

District 2 May-June, 2002

Exactly 74 years after an underground explosion killed 195 miners and displaced many families in Mather, Pa., hundreds of citizens joined President Roberts and District 2 president Ed Yankovich to dedicate a new six-foot-high Mather Mine Memorial honoring the victims who perished on May 19, 1928.

"This monument is not just for the people who died that day," said keynote speaker Roberts, "but for the 100,000 coal miners who have given their lives in the last century. I applaud the people of Mather for standing up and remembering what happened when more than 25 percent of the town's male population was wiped out in one day."

Advocating continued support for workers' rights, Roberts described how families of the 1928 mine blast victims were treated as "burdens to the company's capitalist objectives" and were forced from their homes to make room for a new wave of miners. "I'm proud I come from a union that stood up for these people," he added. "In towns like Mather, I see a lot of pain, tragedy and suffering, but I love who we (coal miners) are. We are the most patriotic Americans, we fight the wars, and we represent what is best for the United States."

Roberts lauded L.U. 1702 member Larry Kuharcik, long-time Mather resident Orlando "Chick" Virgili and their committee for securing $18,000 from county and state sources, coal companies and local donors to finally honor these "heroes."

Coal Miners Memorial Mather Mine,
Mather, Morgan Twp., Greene Co., PA

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