Location: Cherry, Bureau County, Illinois
Surnames/tags: disasters mining disasters Illinois
Contact: United States Mining Disasters
History and Circumstances
- Date: 13 November 1909
- Location: Cherry, Bureau County, Ilinois
- Victims: 259
- Cause: Fire
The Cherry Mine was located in Bureau County, Illinois. It was owned by the St. Paul Coal Company, and had been in operation since 1905. On November 13, 1909, a fire spread through the mine; efforts to stop the fire only made it worse. 259 miners, most of them immigrants, died in the mine. 21 miners survived for eight days, after blocking themselves off from the fire and gases; 1 of these died after rescue.
According to the U. S. Department of Labor, this was the third worst coal mining disaster in U.S. history. 
Please visit the link below for the profiles of the 259 men who died in the Cherry Mine Disaster. (Note: names are taken from the list in the official state report, and spelling may vary in other records.)
Rescue Efforts and Rescuers
Powell, David - superintendent of the Braceville, Illinois mine.
Heaney, Father James - Pastor of St. Mary's Church in Mendota.
Wencel, Father - of St. Bede Abbey in Peru.
Kenney, Captain - of the Chicago Fire Dept.
Hozey, Joseph - saloon keeper
Survivors found on November 20:
Eddy, George - age 48; mine examiner; lived in Cherry.
Halofcak, Daniel - died 2 days after rescue.
Lorimer, John - brother-in-law of George McMullen
Pigatti, Silvatore, d. of tetanus in 1923. 
Quartarole, Antenore - later wrote an account of the disaster, which was published in Italian and English.
White, Thomas - cousin of Thomas English, of Streator.
Buckels, Albert - age 14.
Cawley, John - hoisting engineer, formerly of Streator.,br. Dean, Robert -- cager. Attempted to fight the fire.
Francisco, Matt - age 16.
Hanney, James - age 56. President of the local union; born in Scotland.
Hewitt, Thomas - driver, of Streator.
Lettsome, Alma - age 26, married, lived in Cherry.
Maxwell, William - lived in Spring Valley. His son also worked in the mine, and survived.
Hugh McMullen -- son of George McMullen, Sr.
Quimby, John -- first to call up with word of the fire.
Rosenjack, Alex -- cager. Attempted to fight the fire; participated in early rescue attempts.
Shaw, Robert - lived in Spring Valley; miner for 10 years.
Smith, William A. - lived in Cherry.
Stuckert, John - secretary of the local union; miner for 35 years.
Tallio, Consiglio - said he was the last man to escape alive.
Vickers, William - lived in Cherry; married.
Results and Findings
The fire was determined to have been caused by a coal car, filled with hay for the mules working underground, being placed underneath kerosene torch. By the time the flames in the hay were put out, the pine timbers inside the shafts had begun to catch fire.
As a result of the Cherry Mine fire and deaths, the Illinois legislature passed stronger regulations over mine safety, and the beginnings of the state's Worker's Compensation program.
- ↑ Mining Safety and Health Administration, Fact Sheet 95-8
- ↑ Dixon Evening Telegraph clipping
- ↑ Illinois Labor History Society
- Cherry Mine Disaster, pages 36-45 for Table of Victims
- Memorial of the 50th Anniversary of the Cherry Mine Disaster, 1909-1959. Anton Demichelis. Peru, IL: St. Bede Abbey Press, 1959.
- Buck, F. P., "The Cherry Mine Disaster." Chicago, IL: M. A. Donohue & Co. (1910)
- The Times (Streator, Illinois), various dates
- Newspaper articles
- Miners Memorial Cemetery Note: not all the miners are buried here, and not all the burials are miners.
- "Trapped: The 1909 Cherry Mine Disaster." Karen Tintori. Atria Books, 2002. Note: the author's grandfather was a survivor of the disaster.
- Cherry Coal Mine Disaster This site has many photos, plus articles about the mine and some of the people involved.
- The Cherry Coal Mine Disaster on gendisasters.com.
- Illinois Department of Natural Resources Includes photos.
- Illinois Department of Natural History Another report with many photos.
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