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Frontier No. 1 Mine Disaster 1923

Privacy Level: Public (Green)
Date: 14 Aug 1923
Location: Kemmerer, Lincoln County, Wyomingmap
Surnames/tags: Mining_Disasters Wyoming Disasters
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Disasters | Mining Disasters | United States Mining Disasters |Wyoming Mining Disasters| Frontier Mine Disaster, 1923

Contact: United States Mining Disasters

Contents

History and Circumstances

  • Date: 14 Aug 1923
  • Location: Kemmerer, Wyoming
  • Victims: 99 deaths
  • Cause: Mine explosion

Mine History

Kemmerer, Wy is located North of Interstate 80 off Highway 30. With coal deposits in Wyoming being discovered in 1843 by the second Frémont Expedition. It opened opportunities for companies and individuals to invest money. When the Union Pacific Coal Company opened the first underground mine in 1881 after construction of the Oregon Short Line Railroad from Granger to Oregon. Mining companies starting to find locations throughout the state, one such location was near what is currently Kemmerer. In 1897, Patrick J. Quealy founded Kemmerer as an "independent town" and later incorporated it in 1899. Quealy was the vice-president of the Kemmerer Coal Company. The company and town was name after Quealy's financial backer, Pennsylvania coal magnate Mahlon S. Kemmerer. [1]
Throughout the years, the mines located in Kemmerer experienced many accidents ending in fatalities. The accidents were not exclusive to just one mining company they all experienced accidents caused by explosions. These accidents left many families without fathers, sons, brothers, and uncles. Many of the deaths received compensation depending upon whether they had families.
Kemmerer 1908
Kemmerer Mine No. 1 - 1910

Mine Disaster Circumstances

Hutchinson News, Hutchinson, Kansas – 14 Aug 1923 [2]

On Tuesday, 14 August 1923, 136 men reported to work in the Frontier Number One mine. Ordinarily, 250 miners would have reported for work, but about 125 men took a holiday that day. At approximately 8:30 a.m., after the second trip car carried miners into the mine, a terrible explosion took place. The town of Frontier knew something had happened from the dense smoke coming out of the large mine fans. The influence of the accident began immediately. One hundred and thirty-five men had reported to work that morning and only thirty-six came out alive. Ninety-nine miners perished. According to the coroner’s inquest, "The explosion was caused by gas in No. 7 room 30 entry, same being ignited by fire boss when relighting his safety lamp, all victims of the explosion thereby meeting their death." This accident became the second worst mining disaster in the state of Wyoming.

Frontier Mine No. 1

About a thousand people had gathered at the mouth of the mine by noon, on the day of the accident. The Kemmerer Camera reported, "Within a short time all roads and paths from the town to the mine were filled with wives, children, and friends of the imprisoned men." Citizens of the community banded together both in grief and in the necessity to care for its own. The women of the community made meals, hot coffee and fed the rescuers. Others fed the families who lost loved ones. Men in the communities, many coal miners themselves, lent their manual labor in the rescue efforts and in the digging of the graves. The Kemmerer Republican reported, "For every task, and there were many, that was presented following the tragic affair, there were volunteers without number..." The whole community was involved. Local physicians and nurses responded by offering their services at the mine. The blacksmith shop was changed into a first aid station where several miners were treated.

Families at Frontier Mine No. 1 Entrance after Explosion

Rescue Effort & Rescuers

Rescue teams initiated efforts while residents of the communities gathered at the mine entrance. About a hundred miners answered the call to rescue and to help with the recovery of the dead. These miners came from surrounding mines including Cumberland, Glencoe and Diamondville to help. The relief crew included men who had the day off work, but ordinarily would have worked in the Frontier mine that fateful day. P.J. Quealy and Tom Jiacoletti directed the rescue operations. Trip after trip went into the mine clearing debris and looking for survivors or bodies of the dead.

They did not go into the mine to rescue strangers, they went in the mine to rescue fellow miners.

Rescue teams successfully saved the lives of 37 men and recovered the bodies of 99 men. Rescue efforts for survivors took a total of forty hours, but they continued their work recovering the remaining bodies of the deceased miners over several days.

The Aftermath

Volunteers, including many miners, had to help dig graves in the local cemetery for burial. Several hundred men worked in shifts preparing graves for the deceased miners. Most of the graves held eight coffins each. In addition to the large graves, throughout the cemetery, private graves in family plots needed digging. The Kemmerer Republican reported, "It is a gruesome (sic) sight at the City cemetery, this morning, with a hundred rough boxes awaiting the coffins this afternoon. Great credit is due the volunteer grave diggers, most of whom are fellow-workers of the dead."

The two local funeral parlors, Fitzpatrick and Embree, had a difficult time handling the sudden influx of business. The mortuaries needed volunteers to assist in transporting the bodies from the Frontier mine to Kemmerer and in preparing the bodies for burial. Many of the dead could not be embalmed, because of the limited number of undertakers, so they used another method to preserve the bodies. Between the alternative method of embalming and the hot August weather, burial had to take place immediately.

Another factor relating to the mortuaries had to do with space. The funeral homes did not have enough room to hold the large number of deceased miners. The local I.O.O.F Hall improvised as a morgue to accommodate the large number of bodies. The Wyoming Press describes the scene, "Stretched out on the floor at the I.O.O.F hall at Kemmerer were the dead. They were laid out in two rows, their bodies covered only by a sheet. In another room, the miners were being stripped of their work clothes and the bodies washed and a third row of the dead was being added to as fast as the workers could accomplish their awful task."

Family and Friends Identifying Bodies of Miners

Reports by several sources, maintain that the undertaker’s greed combined with the large ordeal had unfortunate consequences. Apparently, in their hurry they carelessly stacked the bodies on the waiting trucks. Upon leaving the mine, one of the trucks hurried over the railroad tracks causing several bodies to fall from the truck on the way to Kemmerer. Whether carelessness, greed, or because of the enormous task, this incident put this particular funeral parlor out of business. This carelessness during the Frontier mine accident caused this funeral homes' ultimate demise.

A community memorial service was held in Kemmerer in Triangle Park. The Kemmerer Republican newspaper describes:

All of Kemmerer bowed its head in sorrow last Friday and Saturday as the victims of the mine explosion were tenderly laid at final rest, and it was a great relief to all when the last body, the last reminder of the awful tragedy, was laid away. It really was a three-day funeral, as nine caskets were lowered Thursday the second day after the explosion, 63 Friday, the day of the community services; 10 were shipped to out-of-town points, and 17 were buried Saturday. [3]
21-Gun Salute at Memorial Service for Miners

Results and Findings

E.W. Holmes, Coroner of the County of Lincoln, State of Wyoming, opened Court at Kemmerer, in the said County, on the 17th day of August, A. D. 1923, at 9:00 o'clock A.M. Said Coroner summoned Geo. W. Brown, Wm. McAllister and Joseph Bird Sr., to appear in the Court forthwith to act as jurors at this inquest, and all of the said jurors being present, they were duly sworn as required by law; and thereupon they inspected the bodies lying then and there before them, and proceeded with the inquest. [4] To view excerpts of the Coroner’s Inquest click on this link.

In Memoriam

See the category for a list of the men that died, or were injured, in the mine explosion.
To see a list of the names of the 37 individuals who were rescued from the mine after the explosion click on this link. The list is located on the right side of the page near the bottom of the page.

Men That Died

Frontier Mine No. 1 - 99 Miners Killed
Statistics:
  • 14 American--10 married, 4 single, 26 children
  • 12 Austrian--6 married, 6 single, 22 children
  • 37 Italian--16 married, 21 single, 32 children
  • 17 Japanese--8 married, 9 single, 3 children
  • 11 Finnish--6 married, 5 single, 6 children
  • 5 Mexican--5 married, 6 children
  • 2 Slavic--2 married, 2 children
  • 1 Canadian

This page has biographies with photos of gravemarkers along with date & place of birth and other information.

Note: Once the profiles have been created, researched, had sources added, and had the categories added; please link their profile in the chart below. Thanks!
Miner Deaths
Miner's Name Age Approx DOB Marital Status Family Family Place Nativity Wikitree Profile Profile Manager
Alego, Angelo (Alt Surname Aleo, Alleo) 45 21 December 1878 married 4 children Frontier, WY Italian
Alego, Joseph (Alt Surname Aleo, Alleo) 41 25 March 1882 married 3 children Frontier, WY Italian
Andreatta, Joe 31 21 April 1892 married 1 child Frontier, WY Italian
Andreatta, Louis 29 17 Jun 1894 married 1 child Frontier, WY Italian
Baba, Kataichi 29 1894 married 1 child Japan Japanese
Bebber, Attilio 42 1881 widower 1 child Italy Italian
Bebber, E 39 1884 married 1 child Frontier, WY Austrian
Berta, George 29 1894 married 1 child Frontier, WY Finnish
Brall, Tony 60 1863 married 1 child Italy Italian
Cappelli, W. E. 28 1895 married 1 child Frontier, WY Finnish
Castagno, John 42 1881 married 1 child Frontier, WY Japanese
Cavecchio, Livio 27 1896 married 1 child Frontier, WY Austrian
Christensen, Carl 29 1894 married 1 child Frontier, WY Finns
Christian, John 33 1890 married 1 child Frontier, WY Italian
Citerio, Mike 28 1895 married 1 child Frontier, WY Italian
Coli, John 32 1891 married 2 children Frontier, WY Italian
Coli, V 38 1885 married 2 children Frontier, WY Japanese
Desanti, Enrico 41 1882 married 2 children Frontier, WY Slavic
Dodorico, Felix 26 1897 married 2 children Kemmerer Mexican
Dodorico, Oswaldo 22 1901 married 2 children Frontier, WY Italian
Dujinik, Paul 40 1883 married 2 children Mexico Mexican
Erickson, Eino 20 1903 married 2 children Green River Mexican
Erikson, Matti 45 1878 married 3 children Frontier, WY Italian
Essman, George 35 1888 married 3 children Frontier, WY Italian
Eynon, Frank 50 1873 married 3 children Frontier, WY Austrian
Faustino, Val 45 1878 married 3 children Frontier, WY Italian
Fantino, Marco 36 1887 married 3 children Frontier, WY Italian
Forsman, Emil 31 1892 married 3 children Frontier, WY Finnish
Fortunato, D 26 1897 widower 3 children Frontier, WY Austrian
Georges, John 36 1887 married 3 children Italy Italian
Girardelli, Ettore 23 1900 married 3 children Italy Italian
Grutkoski, John 34 1889 married 3 children Frontier, WY American
Hagi, C 51 1872 married 3 children Kemmerer American
Hagi, Tsuyoshi 27 1896 married 4 children Frontier, WY Italian
Hasoda, M 32 1891 married 5 children Frontier, WY American
Hill, Mike 60 1863 married 5 children Austrian
Hobara, H 30 1893 married 5 children Frontier, WY American
Itow, K 32 1891 married 5 children Kemmerer Austrian
Jarvie, August Sr 50 1873 married 6 children Frontier, WY Austrian
Kanada, T 35 1888 married 6 children Frontier, WY American
Kangas, Henry 33 1890 single Canada
Kare, Eino (Einok) 34 1889 married Colorado Mexican
Kawahara, K 35 1888 married Frontier, WY Slavic
Kawase, S 31 1892 single Frontier, WY Finnish
Kiddy, John 39 1884 married Frontier, WY Finnish
Kirino, K 53 1870 single Frontier, WY Finnish
Kojima, K 22 1901 married Frontier, WY Japanese
Kozaki, I 36 1887 single Frontier, WY Austrian
Kovach, Joe 43 1880 single Frontier, WY Finnish
Kusnirik, Mike 58 1865 single Frontier, WY American
Loddo, Fred 30 1893 married 1 child Frontier, WY American
Lopez, Juan 30 1893 married Frontier, WY Finnish
Lupcho, George 27 1896 single Frontier, WY Finnish
Lupcho, Andrew 53 1870 single Frontier, WY Austrian
Lupcho, John 17 1906 single Italy Italian
Magnino, John, (Gioanni Battista) 34 1889 single Italy Italian
Magnino, Mark (Marco Antonio) 27 1896 single Italy Italian
Martini, Frank 24 1899 single Italy Italian
Martin, John 59 1864 single Italy Italian
Masaki, S 33 1890 single Italy Italian
Mendini, Crillo 31 1892 single Italy Italian
Metsala, Hjalmar 24 1899 single Italy Italian
Metsala, Matt 37 1886 single Italy Italian
Mikami, S 35 1888 single Italy Italian
Miura, Fusajirou 33 1890 married Italy Italian
Motoh, Joseph 56 1867 married Japan Japanese
Menapace, Ottilio (Attilio) 26 1897 single Japan Japanese
Navarro, Frank T 49 1874 single Japan Japanese
Oyama, S 50 1873 married Japan Japanese
Palavar, Masu, (Max) 38 1885 single Japan Japanese
Palmyra, Pretari 37 1886 single Japan Japanese
Pellegrini, Carl 41 1882 single Japan Japanese
Pernice, Marion 33 1890 married Japan Japanese
Pierone, John (Giovani) 40 1883 married Kemmerer American
Pinamonti, S 50 1873 married Kemmerer American
Rankin, Thomas R 35 1888 married Kemmerer American
Roberts, Isaac 37 1886 single Montpelier American
Roberts, Louis 30 1893 married Rawlins Mexican
Roberts, Thomas 26 1897 single Rupert, Idaho Italian
Rodriguez, Joe 30 1893 married Salt Lake City, UT Japanese
Rollo, Joe 29 1894 single Italian
Sanchez, Tom 28 1895 single Austrian
Sager, John Sr 59 1864 single Italian
Sager, John Jr 24 1899 single Italian
Savant, John 27 1896 single American
Smith, Nick 55 1868 single Japanese
Takasugi, G 41 1882 single Finnish
Tinpanio, Louis 33 1890 single Japanese
Toresani, Louis 33 1890 single Japanese
Trujillo, Robert 37 1886 single Italian
Valeriono, Valle 23 1900 single Italian
Vito, Tony (Antonio) 52 1871 single Japanese
Wainwright, Joe Sr 56 1867 single Italian
Wainwright, Joe Jr 20 1903 single Austrian
Walton, James Alfred 32 1891 single Italian
Warhol, Paul 21 1902 single Austrian
Wormer, George 55 1868 single Japanese
Zumbrennen, John Albert 24 1899 single Italian
Zumbrennen, John W 39 15 November 1883 single American


Miners Rescued

99 miners--53 married men--46 single men--97 dependent childrenɫ
Frontier Mine No. 1 - 37 Miners Rescued
Miners Rescued
Rescued: Team Member Profile Manager
Amaties, Frank
Anderson, Ed
Babush, Tony
Batta, Valentine
Bernardo, August
Bertot, Thomas
Bott, Sam
Damonte, Joe
Damori, Aldo
Damori, Joe
Duchio, Joe
Fanise, V.
Fukumutsu, M.
Hakala, August
Inama, Alec
Itow, S.
Kastagna, Albert
Konma, T.
Kuffa, Ignatz
Miks, V.
Miks, V.
Nagi, Joe
Nepote, Pete
Nishi, K.
Niska, Henry
Noji, A.
Ogliesa, Tony
Pavlisin, John
Pavlisin, Mike
Phillips, Clifford
Pozzi, A.
Pustay, Mike
Rameselli, Joe
Stansbury, E.
Tapero, Pete
Testi, August
Tono, S.
Worhal, John



ɫNOTE: The number of children shown are only those who are dependent and entitled to compensation under the state Workman's compensation law. [5]

Resources

Genealogy Resources

Further Reading

Sources

  1. Welcome to the City of Kemmerer. City of Kemmerer, n.d. Web. 4 July 2017. http://www.kemmerer.org/
  2. Hutchinson News, Hutchinson, Kansas - 14 Aug 1923
  3. "What Happened." Frontier Mine No. 1 Disaster. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 July 2017. http://fronterminedisaster.blogspot.com/p/disaster-community.html
  4. Holmes, E. W. "Coroner's Inquest." Frontier Mine No. 1 Disaster. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 July 2017. http://fronterminedisaster.blogspot.com/p/coroners-inquest.html
  5. List of Deceased and Rescued Frontier Mine No. 1 Disaster. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 July 2017. Frontier Mine Disaster Blogspot




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