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Crerar-Clinch Coal Company
McClintock Mine Explosion

Johnston City, Williamson County, Illinois
January 25, 1924
No. Killed - 33

Bureau of Mines Investigation Report  PDF Format
(news links open in a separate window)

Successful Rescue

Nine injured miners were removed by rescuers after an undisclosed period following an explosion in the McClintock mine which killed 33.  Eight of the injured were hospitalized.  Two were believed fatally hurt.

The saddest incident of the explosion was in the home of Mrs. Jesse Kaplinger, whose husband was killed in a mine twelve years ago.  His death left the widow with seven small children, and she struggled valiantly to raise and educate them.  Yesterday's explosion claimed the bread winners — Wilson, 19 and Clyde, 17.

Lawrence Journal-World, Jan. 26, 1924

Johnston City Blast Dead Fixed at 32
The Decatur Sunday Review, Illinois
January 27, 1924

Johnston City, Ill., Jan. 26 -- (AP) -- The definite number of dead in the explosion at East Mine, of the Crerar-Clinch Coal Company yesterday is thirty-two, it was announced late today after a thorough inspection of the colliery.  A previous report that six men were still in the mine was found to be incorrect.

In addition to the dead, eight injured still are in the hospital.  Two are believed fatally hurt.

Turn to Probes

With the death list definitely ascertained, local interest in the disaster turned to the investigations begun by a joint board of Illinois mine officials, the coroner and representatives of the company.

Although no announcements were made following today's inquiries, it was believed unofficially the explosion resulted from spontaneous combustion of coal dust, followed by the dread black damp.

The last of the dead were taken from the mine this afternoon.  Two of the bodies were burned beyond recognition.  All of the dead and injured were found in entries 11 and 12, located about a mile from the main shaft on the 250-foot level.

Pathetic Scenes

Pathetic scenes were enacted at the side of these men and youths whose lives had been unexpectedly snuffed out by an explosion.  In the meantime relatives and co-workers visited the nine injured at the American Hospital here.

The whole city participated in the silent tribute and reverence that was paid the dead.  Most business houses were closed throughout the day.  Many bore crepe on the doors.

Conduct Probe

An investigation to determine the cause of the explosion was conducted this afternoon by Martin Bolt, state director of mines and minerals who declined to make a statement, explaining his finding would be outlined in his official report.  Officials of the mining company also declined to offer an explanation for the probable cause of the explosion.  However, it was generally suggested among miners that the blast might have been caused by ignition of gas pocket formed from the coal buried in the ground.

Work in Relays

Rescue teams that started to work yesterday afternoon worked in relays until the last known victim was brought out.

The last two bodies were taken from the mine this afternoon; the fact that several men, who belonged to the shift that was at work in the shaft had not reported for work, gave rise to the assumption that six were missing, but this was found to be erroneous.

Inquest Monday

Coroner W. M. McCown of Willliamson County, announced this evening that he would conduct the inquest Monday.

Services for Victims

Arrangements were being made tonight to conduct services in honor of the victims.  Church organizations were preparing tonight to conduct these services jointly.

Many thrilling stories of heroism and narrow escapes were told by survivors of the catastrophe.  Most of the dead were badly disfigured.  It was believed that the 32 victims had been killed instantly or had died within a short time after the explosion.

During the excitement, many severely burned bodies were wrongly identified.  It was only late this afternoon that a correct list of the dead was obtainable.

Revised List of Dead:
  • Joseph Corbett
  • George Phillips
  • Albert Hopkins
  • Ollie C. Williams
  • Joseph Kech (maybe Koch)
  • Peter Kech (maybe Koch)
  • N. E. Bryant
  • Marion Bryant
  • Clyde Capplinger
  • Wilson Capplinger
  • Joseph Ankaytis
  • Otto Fehrenbacker
  • James McKowan
  • James Cobb
  • Charles Cox
  • Herbert McCullough, Mine Manager
  • Jesse Ford, Face Boss
  • J. J. Perkins
  • George Gelinski
  • Victor Lokotto
  • Charles Norbut
  • Sylvester Rock
  • James Peretti
  • Ed Grable
  • J. M. Henderson
  • Hugo Skryzbace
  • Tom Erricone
  • John Kelscetta
  • Tony Caruso
  • Patrick Gooch
  • Joe Piazza
  • J. J. Perkins
The Injured:
  • George Cook
  • Louis Lucas
  • Hubert Ponchel
  • David Babbington
  • Caulfatte Faustaira
  • Fred Fack
  • Patrick Farmer
  • Beryl L. Morgan
  • Burney Sutton

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