Your Amazon purchases made using this link will benefit the United States Mine Rescue Association


Mine Safety Training Repository
united states mine rescue association
Mine Disasters in the United States


Zeigler Coal Company
Zeigler Mine Explosion

Zeigler, Franklin County, Illinois
April 3, 1905
No. Killed 49

Consolidated Zeigler Mine Recoveries Report  (4.6 Mb)  PDF Format
Includes recovery efforts following these disaster events at the Zeigler Mine:
See also:   Zeigler Mine Fire, Nov. 3, 1908
Zeigler Mine Explosion and Fire, Jan. 10, 1909
Zeigler Mine Explosion, Feb. 10, 1909

From the Google News Archives:  External Link
(news links open in a separate window)


At 7:10 a. m., April 3, 1905, a violent explosion occurred in the Zeigler Coal Company mine, Zeigler, Franklin County.  Forty-eight men were reported killed from the explosion and three asphyxiated during attempted rescue work.

William Atkinson, the State Mine Inspector of this the seventh district, was called at once from his home in Murphysboro.  Upon arriving below on the improvised sinking tub, two men were requested from the group working on the shaft bottom, busy then in the hoisting of bodies, to accompany him in his examination.  These are the three, state inspector, mine examiner and miner, that died from afterdamp not far from the shaft bottom.

The mine was very new.  No. 1 room on one of the first panels, when worked to its boundary, was used to store black powder.  This, if not the origin of the explosion, added materially to the explosion force.  Many fires resulted.

The fan had stopped and men were called out.  However, a few worked at underground repair work, depending upon air from three air compressors.  While this may have been adequate for the breathing of the 48 men and five mules in the mine, it is not possible to have been adequate with regard to gas.

Immediately after being informed of the explosion, Governor Deneen summoned the state inspectors and the members of the Mining Board, and requested them to proceed at once to Zeigler, make a careful and thorough examination of the premises and cause of the explosion, and report their findings to him.

After making two visits, this commission submitted its report.  In order to fully ascertain all the facts, the Governor, a few days later, delegated James Taylor, of Peoria, and John G. Massie, of Belleville, men of ability and long experience in mining affairs, to supplement the work of the others, each to make a separate investigation and report.

The reports made by the different investigators are substantially the same and all agree in attributing the cause of the disaster to an explosion of gas.


(From the 1905 Illinois Annual Coal Report)

William Atkinson, district mine inspector; John Graham, mine examiner; and John Lindsey, miner; died in the mine on the evening of the same day, from the effects of after-damp, while engaged in the work of rescue.

Owing to the death of State Inspector Atkinson the detailed circumstances leading up to the causes of these fatalities are not as complete as is usually reported to the Bureau by the State inspectors.  However, the Zeigler Coal Company has reported direct to the Bureau a carefully prepared list of the names of the killed by the explosion April 3, 1905, giving all the information possible to be obtained as to the nativity, residence and conjugal relationship of each man killed.

Of the forty-nine men employed at the Zeigler mine losing their lives by this calamity, the bodies of forty-one were recovered and identified, while eight are reported as missing, or their remains, if found, unrecognizable, therefore unidentified.

The bodies of thirty of these unfortunates, identified, were buried at Zeigler.  while eleven bodies were shipped to other places for burial.  The occupation of the forty-nine killed or missing, forty-six have been given in the table following as that of miner, as no report was made as to their occupation, the ages were not ascertained; the place of burial, nativity, and the conjugal and family relationship so far as could be discovered, are given as follows:

Aured, C. O., buried at Zeigler, father living, no other near relatives known.

Baxter, William, mine manager, was buried at Ladd, Illinois, leaving a widow and one child, a daughter.

Baxter, William A., buried at Ladd, Illinois, leaving a widow.

Babincak, Mike, buried at Zeigler, leaving a widow and two children in Maltza, Hungary, Austria.

Babincak, Paul, buried at Zeigler, leaving a widow and three children in Maltza, Hungary, Austria.

Brunlick, Gustaff, buried at Zeigler, leaving a father and mother, possibly also brothers and sisters.

Campbell, Rolla, buried at the Harrison Cemetery, leaving a widow, no children, at Christopher, Illinois.

Davis, Robert T., single, buried at Coulterville, leaving parents and one brother.

Dombay, Ivan, single, buried at Zeigler, native of Nagy Kanisa, Hungary, leaving a brother in New Washington, Pennsylvania.

Dudas, Emerick, buried at Zeigler, leaving a widow and one child in Maltza, Hungary.

Dudas, John, buried at Zeigler, leaving a widow and three children in Maltza, Hungary.

Fedorka, Jonas, buried at Ziegler, leaving a widow and three children, address unknown.

Geisler, Joseph, single, buried at Zeigler, leaving mother and brothers and sisters, residence of family unknown.

Graham, John, mine examiner, was one of the rescuing party, and was overcome by after-damp.  He was buried at Zeigler, relatives, if any, unknown.

Hare, Robert, buried at Greensburg, Penn., leaving a widow.

Haydukovic, Valent, buried at Zeigler, leaving a widow and four children in Carola, Croatia, Hungary.

Jankowich, Peter, buried at Zeigler, leaving a widow, previously deserted, residence unknown, also a cousin in Philadelphia, Penn.

Jones, Everett, single, buried at Mulkeytown, Illinois, the home of his parents.

Koski, Capi., buried at Zeigler.

Koski, John, buried at Zeigler. nothing known of the relatives of these two men.

Kostick, Andrew, buried at Zeigler. leaving a widow and one child in Berek, St. Miklos county, Hungary.

Kostick, Frank, buried at Zeigler, leaving a widow and one child at the same address as the one previous.

Kowach, B., buried at Zeigler, leaving a widow and three children at Mandock. Hungary.

Kowachich, Ivan, single, buried at Zeigler, relatives at Nagy, Kanisa, Hungary.

Lindsey, John, one of the rescuing party, was overcome by the after-damp, was buried at Mulkeytown. Illinois. Nothing given as to family.

Lovrek, Mike, single, Austrian, buried at Zeigler; relatives unknown.

McKenzie, Andrew, buried at Zeigler, leaving brothers and a sister.

McKenzie, William, biured at Zeigler, leaving a widow and four children; location not given.

Macky, Oscar, buried at Zeigler, single, relatives unknown.

Moretti, David, buried at Zeigler, single, cousin. 623 N. 6th St., St. Louis, Mo. Parents in Milan. Italy.

Perryman, Frank, buried at Zeigler, deserted wife in Jackson, Miss, seven years ago. relative of Dr. Stam, Holly Springs, Miss.

Rayburn, James, buried at Carterville, leaving widow and one child at that place.

Rabby, A., buried at Zeigler, leaving widow residing at Witnyed, county Sopron, Hungary.

Robinson, C. B., buried at Crawfordsville. Indiana, leaves a widow at that place.

Sabolich, Steve, buried at Zeigler, leaving a widow and two children in Godala, Croatia. Hungary.

Semivan, Louis, buried at Zeigler, leaving a widow and two children in Nagy, Kanisa, Hungary.

Sloh, Joseph, buried at Zeigler, single, an Austrian-Pole, relatives in that country.

Tinan, David, buried at Zeigler. single, leaves a brother and sister, residence unknown.

Vinar, George, buried at Zeigler. single, relatives living in Pothering county, Porek, Hungary.

Withrow, H. M., buried at Newton Upper Falls, Mass., leaving brother and sister at that place.

Wood, J. O., was killed while working in the tower for a Construction Company, was buried at Cleveland, Ohio: nothing known of relatives.

The bodies of the following eight men were not recovered or were not identified:

Canfield, Mike, leaves a widow and six children, who will remove to Sheffield, Illinois.

Ipsan, Stif., leaves a widow and two children in Velika Croriza. Croatia, Hungary.

Maros, John, single, home same as preceding.

Mikesie, T., leaves a widow, whereabouts unknown, native .of Croatia, Hungary.

Nolan, J. T., leaves a mother.

Rashance, Mike, leaves a widow and one child in Torchich, Croatia. Hungary.

Roper, John, leaves a widow and four children in Chisholm, Minnesota, where he owned property.

Suke, Mike, single, so far as known, a native of Austria.

William Atkinson, State Inspector of Mines for the Seventh District, whose home was at Murphysboro, led the first rescuing party to enter the mine, and was soon overcome by gas or after-damp.


Rescuer Deaths

49 miners died as a result of two explosions in the Zeigler Mine.  In an effort to recover the entombed men, five rescuers were overcome by afterdamp.  The rescuers were let down by hand.  In two instances, the men above were nearly overcome by gas.


Zeigler Disaster is Terrible
Daily Free Press, Carbondale, Illinois
April 4, 1905

Zeigler, Illinois -- (AP) -- The number of the dead at the Leiter mine at Zeigler is thirty-eight.  On account of the wrecked shaft the work of bringing up the dead is slow.  The hastily prepared report in yesterday's Daily Free Press was in the main accurate.

William Atkinson, of Murphysboro, is among the dead.  He was the state mine inspector of this, the seventh mining district, and was called to Zeigler early yesterday morning.  He was one of the four who constituted a rescuing party and was overcome and died in the mine.  John Lindsey, of Mulkeytown, a county mine inspector was also killed at the same time and in the same way.

William Atkinson was a native of England, 59 years of age.  He first located at Harrisburg and then came to Murphysboro.  He was a miner and later was for seven years a member of the Mining Board, and was in July last appointed to succeed Evan John, resigned, as State Mine Inspector.  He was a Mason and member of the G.A.R.  The funeral will be Friday.

Evan John, of this city, was a member of the rescuing party, and was overcome with gases, and taken out of the mine all but dead.  He revived, however, and will accompany the remains of William Atkinson to Murphysboro tonight.

It is reported at Zeigler that J. C. Fink, formerly a resident of Carbondale, but employed as head carpenter at Zeigler, is among the known dead.


Benton, Ill., April 4. -- Some forty miners were entombed, Monday, is Joseph Leiter's mine at Zeigler, by a terrific explosion of gas and it is probable that thirty or more of the buried men are dead.

When between 35 and 40 miners had descended into the mine.  Monday morning, to resume work, a terrific explosion blew the timbers about the mouth of the mine high into the air.  One of the steel cages was blown to the surface from the bottom of a 560-foot shaft.  The shock of the explosion was felt at Benton, 12 miles distant.

One miner was killed and four were severely injured at the mouth of the shaft in which the explosion occurred.  The work of rescue was begun at once by miners who were arriving when the explosion took place, but the main shaft was demolished so that rescue work has to be carried on through the air shaft.  This has hindered the work of aiding the entombed men to such an extent that when darkness fell Monday night only three bodies and one injured man had been brought to the surface.  These bodies were found 40 feet from the bottom of the air shaft.

A committee of union miners from Duquoin and other neighboring towns, headed by District President Morris, hastened to Zeigler soon after the explosion and offered their aid.

The bodies of the dead are so blackened that they cannot at once be identified.

Partial list of the dead:
  • James Reyburn, engineer
  • J. P. Fink
  • Willis Campbell
  • William Atkinson, manager of mine
  • John Graham
  • William Baxter
  • Gustav Brumlick
  • Robert Davis
  • Joseph Geisler
  • Robert Hare
  • Everett Janes
  • John Lindsay
  • Charles Robinson
  • Harry Withrow
  • Jerry Woods
  • Albert Kerr
  • Willie Warner
Rolly Campbell, was injured when brought out of the shaft, and died later in the evening.  Campbell was conscious but he was unable to give any explanation of the accident.

There was much excitement among the miners when the accident became known, because there had been a strike of long duration and many conflicts had occurred between strikers and non-union members.

Up to ten o'clock Monday night 15 dead bodies had been recovered.  The work of rescue is made very difficult and dangerous by the foulness of the air in the mine.  Only two of the bodies found show marks of the explosion.  Death in the other cases having evidently resulted from asphyxiation.



See more about these products