Below are transcriptions of three (3) newspaper articles concerning the Wheatley Mine explosion of October 27, 1930, outside of McAlester, Pittsburg County, Oklahoma.
I copied these from Thurman SHULLER's manuscript, page 61, "Fatalities in the Coal Mines of Indian Territory and Southeastern Oklahoma 1885--1962."
NOTE: surnames were capped by me--and did not appear that way in the articles.
This article from "The Hartshorne Sun" newspaper on October 30, 1930:
THE BODIES OF 25 MINERS TAKEN FROM STRICKEN MINE
Up to about 9:00 o'clock this morning, 25 bodies of miners entombed in Wheatley Mine No. 4 located just west of the state penitentiary at McAlester, killed by an explosion Monday night, had been removed. There were 29 men in the mine at the time of the explosion, which, counting William DONLEY, who was in charge at the mine entrance, and was also killed by the force of the explosion, makes a total toll of 30 men, as there is positively no hope of finding a single man alive. The work of removing bodies were made necessarily slow on account of the after damp in the mine, and because of the wreckage, which almost clogged some oft he passages. It is another terrible toll of life, given for the coal industry, and every person deeply sympathizes with the wives and orphans of the dead miners. Following are the names of the miners in the mine, as given out by the company:
Nick ZONTIC, Jr.,
J. P. HAMMAN,
Homer BOND, and
--from the Tulsa World newspaper, Tulsa, Oklahoma (no publication date given)
24 WIDOWS, 78 CHILDREN ARE LEFT BY THE MINE BLAST
McALESTER, Nov 1---The Red Cross workers carrying on the mine disaster relief work in McAlester under the direction of Mrs. C.V. SHUMAN of St. Louis report that there are 24 wives and 78 children surviving the miners whose lives were snuffed out in the explosion of the Wheatley No. 4 mine. Immediately after the disaster mine officials set about paying the wages due the miners to their families.
"The death of a man," explained Mrs. SHUMAN, "does not instantly alter the pantry supply, the shelter and the physical condition of the families, so there is no emergency. State people will have plenty of time to send in their contributions."
Not all families will be dependent on the Red Cross. After the survivors have gotten over the first pangs of grief, Mrs. SHUMAN and Miss Frances BLACKBURN, an experienced relief worker, will set about the task of going to each home and thoroughly investigating the situation. A file index already has been completed, containing the names, ages and addresses of the members of the various families.
"We are concerned very much about the mothers with several small children," went on Mrs. SHUMAN. One mother has seven children under 16 years of age, another nine under 11 years, and still another five young ones. And several of the grief stricken ones are expectant mothers."
The work being done by the two Red Cross women has brought to light several stories that excite sympathy. The Mrs. Nick ZONTIC, Jr., lost her father, her husband and her father-in-law in the explosion.
It was discovered that several of the coal diggers who lost their lives had begun work at the mine as late as October of this year. Phillip DITCHAVAGE, 21, single, had been standing in line ever day for two weeks trying to get work to support his mother and father. When the night shift went down into the mine on that fatal night, DITCHAVAGE started his fifth night of work.
Mayor J.B. McALESTER and the chamber of commerce selected W.H. GOODNER as chairman of the mine disaster relief committee; J.G. PUTERBAUGH, president of the McAlester Fuel Company, treasurer, and I.E. GUYMON, secretary. Mr. E.A. COLLIER, national accountant of the Red Cross from Washington, D.C. is here to handle the financial side of the situation. All the money is sent to Washington and the accounts are checked through the war department. Mrs. SHUMAN declared Saturday that she and her helpers would remain in McAlester until all of the families have been properly taken care of.
OCTOBER 27, 1930: WHEATLEY NO. 4 MINE, MCALESTER, OKLA., 30 KILLED
(From Bureau of Mines report, by C.A. Herbert)
About 9:30 p.m. the underground night shift of 30 men was all killed by an explosion. One, a trip rider, was killed at the mouth of the slope as he was loading material into a car. Almost every stopping in the mine was blown out, as was much of the timbering, resulting in heavy falls of rock, except along the slope. Rescue crews and equipment arrived during the night and temporary stoppings of brattice cloth were put in to restore ventilation into the section where the night shift had been working. The work was done without the use of apparatus except for the recovery of the last 3 bodies in the 15th west, removed by a crew at 4:00 p.m. October 30.
Explosive gas had accumulated in the face of a crosscut and aircourse after the line curtain was removed while coal was loaded out. A mining machine cut into the crosscut from the other side, and the gas was carried over the controller and ignited. The explosion was propagated by coal dust over the entire mine. Rock dusting was so limited in extent that the effect was negligible. Ventilation was inadequate and carelessly maintained. Figure 81 gives details of the explosion.
If you need me to look up a name, email me with "Oklahoma coal miner" in your email's subject line.