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Keith and Perry Coal Company
Keith and Perry No. 6 Mine Explosion

Rich Hill, Bates County, Missouri
March 29, 1888
No. Killed - 24

Final Investigation Report  (1.0 Mb)  PDF Format
From the Google News Archives:  External Link
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The Mine Disaster
Hamilton Daily Democrat, Ohio
March 31, 1888

Kansas City, Mo., March 31. -- Further particulars of the disastrous mine explosion at Rich Hill, Mo., show that there has been a great loss of life.  The mine is 240 feet below the surface, and eighty-five men were employed in the mine, but it is thought not all were at work at the time.  At the time of the explosion eight men were in the cage coming up.  There was a sudden report, a collapse of the shaft, and the horror had been completed.

Superintendent Sweeney immediately went down the shaft in a tub lowered by ropes.  He had scarcely reached the bottom when two other reports were heard, followed by the screams of wounded men.  It was impossible to make any extensive exploration, but the most conservative estimate puts the loss of life at thirty.

The mine is six miles from Rich Hill and it will be some days before the debris can be cleared away and the actual loss of life known.

The following is the latest authentic list of the victims:
  • Charles Smith, colored
  • George May, white
  • G. McPherson, white
  • Frank Lawler, white
  • Jordon Smith, colored
  • Joshua Trumbe, white
  • John Roberts, white
  • George Block, colored
  • G. Black, colored
  • W. Black, colored
  • H. Sheppard, colored
  • J. C. Neptune, white
  • John Leffler, white
  • Charles Kay, white
  • John Gray, white
  • Bruce Brown, white
  • L. R. Dixon, white
  • Fred Henderson, colored
  • W. H. Hill, colored
  • Alex White, colored
  • Gibson McFerron, white
Of the above named the first five were taken from the mine dead.  Trumble and Roberts died after being out, and the last fourteen are the unfortunate imprisoned miners who were suffocated in the west end.

Of the eighteen injured miners taken out nine are reported to be in a critical condition, but their names are not ascertainable.

There is still a great deal of conjecture as to the cause of the catastrophe, some persons claiming that natural gas was the cause, while others contend the accumulation of foul gases without proper ventilation was the real cause of the explosion.

State Mine Inspector Wolf is strongly censured by the miners.  He examined the mine on March 6 last and pronounced it perfectly safe.  All the victims will be buried at the expense of the owners of the mine, Messrs. Keith and Perry, of Kansas City.

Note: The total number of fatalities in this mine explosion was 24.

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