Thursday, April 29, 2010

"HURRY BOYS GET ME OUT!"....The April 27, 1918 Accident At Sharp Mountain Colliery, Pottsville

Miners At Work


Working in the anthracite coal mines of eastern Pennsylvania has always been a dangerous and deadly job, and continues to be to this day. In 1918 the anthracite coal industry was working at or near its peak in coal production. Mines were working hard to supply coal for the military and its involvement in World War 1.
On April 27, 1918 David Daub and his butty Irvin Umbenhauer and fellow miners were working in the 36 foot heading of the 30 foot mammoth split vein in the Sharp Mountain Mine of the Sherman Coal Corporation, Pottsville. Daub and another miner were cutting upward on the 36 foot heading, when a rush of coal had enveloped him. Near by was the inside foreman Thomas Hawkin, who heard Daub shout out, “Hurry boys, and get me out.”
For three quarters of an hour, from 4:10 until five o’clock, Friday afternoon the miners were working grimily and silently. They could hear Daub repeat his cry for help over and over. Then after an hours time they heard him no more. It was after 7:00 o’clock a.m. Saturday morning when the lifeless body of Daub was uncovered. He was taken to the Pottsville Hospital where a doctor examined him and said that he had been dead for 12 hours or more.
Cuts and bruises covered the 55 year old Daubs body, and both his shoulder blades were broken. David Daub was your typical anthracite coal miner who braved death every day he went into the anthracite coal mines, earning a meager livelihood for his wife and six children, the oldest not yet 14 years, and the youngest only an infant, who waited his return in vain.
During the rescue attempt, hope was expressed to the wife and family until the last. Daubs body was taken in charge by Undertaker Shoener and was later removed to his home , at 731 E. Norwegian St. Pottsville.

Types of Mines

During the valiant effort to save Daub none of the miners worked with greater determination than that of Irvin Umbenhauer, a brother miner, who had been working with Daub. The manway was about three feet square, and was being driven up through the center of the pillar and the work had gone on to the point where the second set of timber was to have been put in. Daub was standing on the ladder built to carry the men forward and upward almost perpendicular or straight as the pitch runs from 70 to 80 degrees. Several small rushes of coal dust and broken coal dropped and were cleared away. Then when Umbenhauer was down on the heading, and Daub was was standing on the ladder rungs his feet about four feet from the heading which is a little tunnel between the breasts or mine chambers, a big rush of coal came down and jammed Daub in the narrow manway.
Umbenhauer immediately sent in an alarm for help and started to pull down the manway coal but fast as it was removed at the bottom more kept coming and filling up the space about the form of Daub, which seemed wedged to ladder, so that he could not be drawn down. With frenzied effort the men redoubled their endeavors under the direction of Foreman Hawkin, especially when the hear the pleading voice of Daub, urging them to hurry, words the men who heard him can still hear, and which makes them feel the cost of mining coal never can be measured in dollars and cents. The miners operated in relays.
Finally other miners set at work driving a counter manway or opening along the side the one in which Daub was pinned, and by a strenuous effort it was pushed to a point above the end of the other manway, and then a hole was cut above where the body of Daub was, and timber placed there blocked any further rush of coal. The debris was removed and the body extricated.
General Manager Paul Heinze and his son, worked hard to rescue the entombed miner, and when hope was gone helped to recover the body. Other miners engaged in the work were Fireboss, John Lishman, Outside Foreman John Schablein, Henry Umbenhauer, Joseph Womer, Andrew Mulson, Edward Montag and others.
David Daub came to Pottsville from Ashland some years ago, and looked upon as a careful and efficient, coal miner and a good husband and father. The coal is of a friable nature. This is the foirst fatal accident at this colliery, which is located near S. Second St, and the Cressona Hillside Road.