Honoring the dead, a fight they couldn’t win

Sandy Vasko

    • Aug.19, 1868 - Wilmington Independent: Serious accidents at the coal mines - Mr. John Cox and his son, miners at Cady's shaft, were seriously injured on Friday last, by the falling of the roof of the room in which they were digging. It was some fifteen minutes after the roof fell before they could be extricated. They were brought to this place for medical treatment. Their chief injuries are spinal, and their recovery is extremely doubtful. One of the miners in the employ of the C. & W. Coal Co., at Braidwood, who was recently injured by a falling cage at the shaft, died last Friday evening from the injuries. He leaves no family. The funeral was attended by all the miners.
    • Sept. 28, 1872 - Wilmington Advocate: John Morrison, who has resided near this city for several years, was killed by an accident in Braidwood, on Saturday last. The unfortunate man fell down the “C” shaft, and died almost instantly. We are without further particulars.
    • Feb. 22, 1878 - Wilmington Advocate: A serious accident occurred at Hunter's shaft, Braidwood, Wednesday afternoon, which resulted in the death of Walter Griffen. He was standing near the “gin,” when someone placed a car on the cage, causing it to come back very suddenly, striking him in the side, and breaking several ribs. The accident occurred about twelve o'clock and he died about 2 o' clock.
    • Sept. 7, 1872 - Wilmington Advocate: Fatal Accident in Braidwood - On Thursday morning last, at about 6 o'clock, a terrible accident occurred at the “C” shaft in Braidwood, the thought of which makes one shudder.
    It appears that James Rankin, a middle-aged man, John Duffy, aged 77, and a son of Widow Brophy, of about the same age, were pushing a coal car in the mine, when by some means one or two props were knocked out of position, letting down many tons of ceiling on the unfortunate victims. It is supposed that death was instantaneous.
    The parties were highly respected by all who knew them, and their sudden deaths have cast a pall of gloom over the community in which they resided. We are without further particulars.
    • March 31, 1876 - Wilmington Advocate: A man named Dennis Dougherty was fatally injured Wednesday, while engaged at mining in the Eureka coal shaft, at Braidwood, by a portion of the roof falling upon him.
    • Feb. 15, 1877 - Joliet Weekly Sun: On Thursday afternoon about 2 o'clock a sad accident occurred in the B shaft of the Star Coal Company's mine, at Braidwood. Francis Bertrand, a man aged about forty five years, was engaged at work in the shaft, assisted by his two sons.
    During the progress of their labors a large quantity of slate and earth gave way and fell with tremendous force upon the laborers. It was some time before the mishap was discovered, and when at last help arrived, the soul of Francis Bertrand had sped up and away from the fatal shaft. By the almost wild exertions of miners and others who flocked to the fatal scene, the three men were extricated - the father stone dead but the boys showing signs of life.
    Additional help was secured and the boys were brought back to life. Coroner McBride was summoned to hold an inquest, which resulted in eliciting facts as recounted above. The coroner's jury, however, severely reprimanded the company for the loose and insecure condition of the shaft at the time of the sad accident.
    A negro woman at Diamond shaft, on Sunday last, accidentally shot herself through the limb while fooling with firearms. A negro man at the same shaft sustained a fatal injuries last week from a fall of roof, and lays at the point of death.
    • Nov. 15, 1878 - The Republican:  A fatal accident occurred at the Diamond shaft on last Wednesday, in which WM. Fribbins lost his life. He had fired a shot to loosen the coal. After the shot was fired he began to gather the coal, when several tons of coal fell upon him, crushing the very life out of him. Strange to say, not a bone was broken or a wound inflicted. Deceased was aged about 55 years, and was respected by all who knew him. He has no relations in this country.
    • April 30, 1880 - Wilmington Advocate: A small Italian boy, working in the H shaft had a limb broken there on one day last week, by two heavy pieces of roof falling upon him while at work. It occurred near the spot where young Davy was fatally injured a few weeks previous.
    • Nov 19, 1880 - Wilmington Advocate: Joseph Hobbs, an English miner, not long in this country, met a fearful death in the Eureka coal mine on Tuesday evening. While working in his “room” alone a huge stone from the “roof” fell upon him.
    Unable to extricate himself he shouted for help lustily, but before succor arrived a second rock fell with fatal effect. An inquest was held, and the body was buried by the Foresters on Thursday last. The deceased was quite a young man, and was without relatives here so far as we know.
    • Feb. 1, 1881 - Joliet Signal: The boiler of the hoisting engine in the “G” shaft, at Braidwood exploded early last Friday morning, severely, if not fatally injuring Albert Hoskins, the engineer, who was at the time the only person in the engine room.  He is an unmarried man about 26 years of age, and has been employed by the company a number of years.
    • Aug. 11, 1882 - Wilmington Advocate: Wm. Bevan, a coal miner in the G shaft, was fatally injured at 11 o'clock on Tuesday night by a large rock falling from the roof of his room. The unfortunate man was aged about 25 years and was unmarried.
    • Sept 14, 1883 - Wilmington Advocate: At an early hour on Monday morning Frank Wenzel, a Bohemian miner, was fatally crushed in the sump of the “I” coal shaft in Braidwood, the cage having descended upon him while he was passing across its passage way.
    He survived but an hour and a half.  Coroner Werner's verdict was; “Killed by wounds inflicted by cage at bottom of the I shaft by being crushed beneath said cage. No blame attached to anyone.”  The deceased leaves a wife and two children. It is understood that he was a member of two beneficial societies, both of which attended his funeral in a body on Tuesday last.
    • Oct 9, 1883 - Wilmington Advocate: George Hufford, late pit-boss of Eureka shaft No. 1 was fatally injured there on last Monday evening by a fall of stone from the roof of the mine. It was one of those treacherous fallings that too often occur in this coal field, and with fatal result in too many cases, reminding us repeatedly that “in the midst of life we are in death.”
    The sufferer in this case lived but a few hours, the spine being fractured. The deceased was well known and popular with all with whom he was associated, and his family have every sympathy, as was evinced by the very large funeral procession on Wednesday last, when the remains were conveyed to their final resting place in Oakwood cemetery in this city.