Yancy, KY Deadly Coal Mine Explosion, Dec 1932

LAST OF BODIES TAKEN FROM MINE.

23 ARE DEAD IN EXPLOSION OF ZERO MINE.

"BLACK DAMP" BELIEVED TO HAVE BEEN CAUSE OF TRAGEDY.

Yancy, Ky. -- The last four of 23 bodies of miners trapped by an explosion in Zero Mine of the Harlan Fuel Company here yesterday were brought out by rescue crews at 7 a. m. today.
The dead: HENREY MASSENGILL; CALVIN MASSENGILL; GARRETT MASSENGILL; ESAW MASSENGILL; and CAMPBELL M. MASSENGILL, brothers; GEORGE HENDRICKS, and HERMAN EDDIE, half-brothers; CHARLES DAVENPORT; HENRY HIBBARD; O. A. ROMINE, all white; and 12 negroes, ARTHUR L. WOODS and HAROLD WOODS, brothers; WILL REYNOLDS; EUGENE WOODS; BEN FIELDS; HARRISON JACKSON; JIM DAVIS; MACE TURNBOUGH; ALFRED GRAVES; WILL NEWELL; ROBERT BENBO; and LUTHER JONES.
The MASSENGILL brothers are sons of JAMES NELSON MASSENGILL, of Claiborne county, Tenn. Their bodies were to be shipped to Tazewell for burial.
Four rescue teams worked feverishly throughout the night in an effort to reach the last of the victims trapped by the blast a mile and a half from the opening of the mine high up the side of Black Mountain.
Mine officials said they could not as yet determine either the cause of the blast or the cause of death in some cases. It was generally believed that the tragedy resulted from a dust explosion since Harlan county coal mines are singularly free from gas.
"Black damp" or gas which followed the explosion, however, was believed to have been the cause of death in many cases.
Among the victims of the explosion are the six sons of J. M. MASSINGILL. The six are married and between them there are five children.
The casualty list contains 12 negroes and 11 white men, it was said.
Miles Underground.
The explosion occurred about 11 o'clock yesterday morning, at a point over a mile back of the entry to the mine. CHARLES GUTHRIE, superintendent of the mine, was seated near the entry when he noticed that leaves were blowing away from it instead of into it. Since the ventilation system of the mine is constantly pumping air into the passage, he sensed that something had happened and rushed into another entry parallel to the one in which the explosion occurred and sounded the warning to the miners working there.
Almost immediately after the explosion became known rescue teams, under the direction of J. F. BRYSON, safety director of the Harlan County Coal Operators association, started into the entry. All during the day they worked in shifts, trying to penetrate to the point where the explosion occurred. The finding of the bodies, at 7:30 last night made it apparent that this point almost had been reached.
Later in the night it was reported that other bodies had been sighted in the passage, but the rescue crews were not close enough to tell how many there were.
Assisting BRYSON in the rescue work were J. F. DAVIES, U. S. Bureau of Mines engineer, R. H. GONIA, district mine inspectior and rescue teams from the Harlan-Wallins Coal Corp., at Verda; King-Harlan Co., Kildav; Bowling Coal Mining Co., Bardo; Mahan-Ellis Co., Stanfill and Greech Coal Co.,. Wallins.
Caused By Dust.
The explosion apparently was caused by dust filling the passageway. Mining engineers explained that this is the worst time of the year for such a hazard, since the dry atmosphere increases the possibility of the dust filling the passage, where the slightest apark will set it off with the force of dynamite. Another hazard in this instance was that the Zero mine is one of the oldest in this section, with the entries running well over a mile baack into the mountain side, thus making it hard to force air back into them.
A crowd of more than 200 mostly relatives of those trapped inside stood at the entry last night. There was no commotion, no excitement. Now and then a muffled sob could be heard as the grief of some one of those watching the last glow of hope slowly fading would break through to the surface.
Harlan county has seen mine disasters before, but this is the worst. And the wives, mothers and sweethearts of the men who work in the mines know the dangers they face very day. So, when the fatal blast comes there is no hysteria, only a deep, silent grief over the whole community.
Rescue parties still were at work at midnight and it was expected momentarily that other bodies would be brought to the mine entrance.

Middlesboro Daily News Kentucky 1932-12-10

Comments

massingill death's at the zero mine yancy ky.

the massingill brothers names are Garrett, Thomas, Campbell, henrey.Calvin and Esaw. their father and mother are James Nelson Massingill and Martha Earls Massingill Nelson died 5-29-1934 Martha died1955 I know this is true because I am their granddaughter my father was their11th child George. the names were not right. thank you

Hello i was named after

Hello i was named after george ,your father...son of lee massingale :-)

Mine disaster

Hello, I hope you can help me, I was reading the info on the mining accident that killed you family, and I remember hearing about this accident when I was young, my grandfather was injuried that year, his back broken, his name was Rice Howard. I beleive this was where he was at this time, and was wandering if you knew the names of the injuried.
I am so sorry for your loss, I lived in the Harlan county distrect all my childhood, my father, George Cosmah, worked for the Harlan co. coal company for years, and many others.
He passed in 1981 from "black lung". My grandfather, Rice live intil 1961, never worked another day after his injury.
I do hope you can enlighten me, I know he was in an exposion in 1932 or early 1933, just do not remember which one.
I am now 72 yrs of age, and all family that would know have passed on, and I am trying to write my Mother's life story, and this would help so much,
Thank you so much, any info would help,
Mary, in Georgia.

Mary, I believe you are my

Mary, I believe you are my grandfather's (Emanuel "Mike" Cosmah), brothers (George) daughter. I too am looking for family history information. I live in Columbus Ga. My father is Edward Lester "Butch" Cosmah. Please feel free to contact me at mikecosmah@yahoo.com.

Sincerely and Respectfully,
Michael L. Cosmah

family

hello, my name is kayla massingale an when i was a lil kid my mother told me about this accident and how it killed alot of my grandfather's family. recently ive been trying to look up my family ancestry and i remembered this event and thought it would be helpful. my grandfathers name is johnny massingale i live in harlan i dont rlly kno any names past his maybe u can help

Massingill brothers

Hi Kayla,

I was names after James Nelson Massingale, my mother is Sue Massingale Shelton. She would love to help you with any information you are looking for, email me if you would like some more info, calibrationbill@yahoo.com

32 yancey disaster

I have researched this disaster for over 14 years.I fought to get the road named with help only from Representative Rick Nelson. Some local people thought it was too negative regarding gas in Harlan mines. The Three Point mine disaster in 1943, was only 1000 feet from the Yancey site. I worked in the Harlan seam at Grays Knob.This mine had a gas well vented into the return air course. The Yancey mine explosion was from an improperly tamped powder load. After pushing black powder load in dummy bags,they were tamped in tight. If the load was too loose the powder would burn out the hole like a broken fire cracker, setting the gas on fire, the dust would magnify the explosion making it ten times worse. I am a volunteer tour guide at the Coal Museum in Benham, Kentucky.