Braidwood, Ill., Feb. 19
There are many persons who even yet do not fully understand how the terrible affair of Friday could have occurred.
The first man who knew anything concerning the break was the pump man, who is located at the bottom of the shaft, and whose duty it is to keep the water out of the shaft and see that the loading of the coal-cart goes on properly. He had just sent up a load of coal, and upon going back to the pumps he found the water was rising rapidly, and the cause, he thought, was a lack of steam power in the engine above. He accordingly went up and saw the engineer, who said he had on as much steam as usual. The engineer stepped into the cage and went down to see what was the matter, and to his astonishment he found the water was up to his waist and rising rapidly. He also found a number of miners who had come to the shaft to escape. An alarm was at once given by the "shovers," and all made for the top. The big whistles of the engines were sounded three times, and the little hamlet recognized it as the signal that the mine was flooded. Nearly four hundred distracted women and children gathered in a few minutes, and the heart sickens when imagination paints the scene that followed. The water in the mine was rapidly rising, and the stealthy stream had swollen into a roaring torrent. The miners had received a late warning, and they started, some toward the main shaft and others toward the air shaft, a little west of it. The tide met them before more than twenty had reached the principle exit. Some had lingered to warn friends or to collect tools. The rushing water, which was descending like an Alpine torrent, with the impetus given to it by a fall of eighty-five feet, struck many of the unfortunate victims, whirling them away, and dashing them against the blackened roof with irresistible force. Some struggled on with the seething water up to their arm pits, but at points, where the roof sloped downward they found the waves touching the top, and recognized the terrible fact they were to die like rats in that terrible underground trap. One man dived three times under the sloping roof and finally rose in the mine shaft and climbed into an elevator. He was a good swimmer and knew the locality perfectly, hence he was the only one of those whom the waters had shut off who escaped when hope had deserted everyone else.
Many incidents of startling interest occurred. The case of the Pearson boys in particular may be mentioned. "There were four of them," said one of the rescued miners to a reporter. "I was with them. We all rushed toward the shaft. Two of the boys took the wrong track, running at full speed. The eldest of the four turned to his remaining brother at his side and said: "Save yourself; I'll bring them back." The young one and myself got out, and we saw no more of the other three." The brave lad never brought them back." He called to them in vain, followed them, and died with them.
Pat Redmond and his two sons reached the shaft, when the younger one stumbled. The man had his foot on the cage, but he turned back to save his boy, and father and son were swept on to gloomy death. A man, with the body of his dead child, climbed up the winding stairs. He was ascending the last ladder; his wife was bending over the shaft to greet him. He lost his hold, and still clinging to the corpse, fell to the bottom of the pit. Cool-headed men above ground had all they could do to restrain the miners from going down in the cages to help their fellows. All who went down were lost, and there were others besides the two mentioned above.
The scene at the mouth of the mine shaft cannot be pictured in all its terrible reality. The loud sharp whistle, which only sounds in times of disaster, drew nearly three hundred wailing women and children to that awful spot. Only a score of men came to the top, when it was learned that the shaft was filling up, and that no more could come. The fear-blanched faces of those women, the cries of distress in the strange pathetic Scotch dialect, the blind efforts at rescue made by the few men, their prayers and oaths commingled - all this combined to make a vivid reflection above the ground of the agony suffered in the caverns below. A rush was made for the air-shaft when the main was swamped. Nearly a hundred men came up. The sharp cry of joy with which a woman would fall upon the rescued form of a lover, son or husband, was almost more terribly thrilling than a shriek of pain. It was as if men were rising out of the grave. But before an hour had slipped away the shaft filled up and no more could come out. Then the scene grew more heart-rending. One man who was the last to come up was told by his wife that their son was still in the pit. Without a word, and before anyone could stop him, that man returned to his death.
It was while gazing into that pit that Mrs. McQueston went crazy. Her husband and three sons were in the depths. She scanned every face that came up, her fear growing wilder every moment but not one of the forms she loved appeared. At last no one could come up, and the frantic woman tried to clamber over the protecting boards and fling herself into the tomb which held her loved ones. One thing only prevented her, and that was not the rough hands of the men about her. Her youngest son, the only one of the household left, a mere child, tugged at her skirts, looking up to her with streaming eyes. She burst into tears, and clasped the little boy in her arms. Then she was gently led away.
As far as can be ascertained the actual number of men in the mines was 185. About 220 are employed in all in the Diamond mine, but some forty of these were not under the surface. With perhaps twenty exceptions the men who escaped made their egress into the open air through the air shaft. The number drowned is ascertained to be about seventy-five - the fate of one or two strangers being in doubt. All the men tell the same story of a panic stricken crowd rushing blindly against the waters in the dark, the lights having been extinguished. The men would tumble over one another and some would fall back into the waters. Some got as far as the ladder of the escape shaft and then fell back exhausted. Others were carried up by their stronger companions. Some who could have escaped lost their wits entirely, and wandered aimlessly through the roadway, or were pushed aside by their fellows who were determined not to be lost. Many of the men reported stepping on lifeless bodies as they waded through the water, while in places where it had risen higher the corpses floated by them. In the labyrinth of passageways through the coalpit many of the men became confused and lost their bearings entirely. In several instances they turned and ran directly opposite of the way which led to at least a chance of safety.
Some show has been made of speedily clearing out the mine, but outside of the relatives, miners view the matter despondently, and a feeling that any efforts on their part are useless has begun to spread abroad.
The following is a list of the married men known to be lost: John Huber, Adam McQueston, Robert McQueston, Isaac Pierson, James Carroll, B. Schatzell, John Boyd, H. Eddy, John Nell, A. Orr, P.C. Redmond, P. H. Wall, Fritz Key, Samuel Atkins, John Atkins, A Hocka, Geo. Butskonskey, John Butskonskey, Larry Sullivan, John Brokman, A. Fulton, K. Graten, William Scholtz, James Pierson, John Pierson, Harmon Unger, Joe Matthew, A. Gollingberg, Frank Motto, William Klesser, Joe Smith, C. Clattin, John Gullock, Frank Klass, Adam Damm, E. Damm, Joe Grotes, M. Neyski, Andrew Butty, John Denbroskey, Anton Denbroskey, F. Murray, H. Ramsey, F. Soup, Matt Bretz, P. Seck.
The unmarried men known to have been lost were: John Huber, Frank Huber, Willie McQuinston, Adam McQuinston Jr., John Pierson, Mathew Redmond, D. McBride, T. Costigan, Adam Stewart Jr., Frank Stewart, Hughes Nesbit, A. Bibington, Simon Stumps, John Smith, R. Rabbart, ? Mathew, W.S. Secora, H. Clesser, J. Senz, John French, John Johnson, O. Osterlow, John Anderson, William McCulley, Thomas Rodgus, Joe Ruzek, George Mathew, Harry Eades.
One of the most experienced pit bosses in this region expressed the opinion yesterday that the total number of victims would reach a hundred, and practical miners concur in this opinion. This estimate may be exaggerated, but there is every reason to believe that there are several miners among the victims whose identity is unknown, and that the full extent of the calamity is not appreciated. The stories of those who escaped have all been told. The miners are beginning to examine more closely into the cause of the disaster. It is asserted that all the inmates were warned in time to force their way out if means of passage underground had been sufficient. The state law requires escape passages two and a half feet high and four feet wide to be maintained throughout the mine, and the Diamond Company had complied with the law in this respect, but the passageway, two and one-half feet high, even when compulsory affords little better means of egress than crawling, and this is believed to be the reason why so many were lost before they could reach the air shaft.
Most of the mines in the vicinity compel their workmen to keep a passageway at least four feet high open. If this had been done in the Diamond mine, it is said that the number of those lost would be decreased one-half.
Bills are to be introduced simultaneously in both houses of the Illinois legislature to appropriate $10,000 for the relief of the sufferers by the disaster.
The mayor of this city, recognizing the necessity, has issued the following call:
"The citizens of Braidwood and vicinity are requested to meet at Music Hall on Monday afternoon, at 2 o'clock, for the purpose of making arrangements to provide for the families of those who lost their lives in the mine disaster of Friday."
Wilmington, Ill., Feb. 17
The greatest calamity that ever befell this coalfield occurred at the old Diamond Mine, four miles from Braidwood, at about half-past one o'clock yesterday afternoon. At that hour the surface water from an old sink hole broke through and caused a general caving in of the shaft, in which seventy-five men and one boy were drowned in probably less time than it takes to tell it. The water rushed in, mercilessly flooding all parts of the mine instantly. Escape was simply impossible for the great majority, and but three or four out of the whole force escaped. Among the lucky ones are David Mackey, the mine superintendent, and David Skinner. The water quickly reached a depth of 16 feet in the south of the shaft, or, in other words, a point 10 feet above the top of the rooms in which the unfortunate miners were working. The scenes which followed the accident are almost indescribable. The people were wild with excitement, and yet helpless. Men, women and children bewailing the terrible fate of the victims, were almost frantic with grief over the horror which robbed them of those most dear to them on earth. One man is reported to have rushed in at the mouth of the mine to save his little son who was working close at hand; neither father nor son returned. Countless heart-rending incidents occurred just after the accident.
The sinkhole that broke through is the identical spot that caved in three years ago, after which it was filled with soapstone. The ground surrounding is level, sloughy prairie, and having once been mined was not of a solid character. Holes of that kind are common and running veins of water underneath often render them most dangerous and liable to settle at any moment.
Mr. A.L. Sweet, president of the Wilmington Coal association and of the Wilmington & Vermillion mines, was called upon by a reporter. Mr. Sweet had just returned the day before from a visit to the mines, where he had contracted a severe cold wading about in the water which surrounds the mines for miles.
"The place where the accident occurred," said Mr. Sweet, "was in the northeast side of shaft No. 2 of the Wilmington Coal Mining & Manufacturing company's mine. This company is one of the four which form the Wilmington Coal association.
"How did the accident occur?"
"There was what we call a fall of earth - an opening from the surface of the earth into the mine. The surface being covered with water, it took but a short time for that to permeate the entire mine, drowning all who were unable to get out before the rising water caught them.
"But how could such a fall of earth occur?"
"In opening this mine a shaft seventy-five feet deep was sunk into the earth. At right angles to this, two main galleries were run nearly parallel with the surface of the earth and about seventy-five feet below it. From these main galleries narrow spurs or gangways are dug out in various directions. These spurs rise and fall with the ledge of coal, sometimes rising to within twelve or fifteen feet of the surface. It was at such a point, very near the top, that the break occurred. While lying on his back picking at the coal above, the earth must have fallen upon the doomed miner. Through the opening thus made the water poured in, filling one gangway after another, cutting off escape to the central shaft. There was little time to give the alarm, for in less than an hour from the time the break occurred every avenue of escape was cut off, and every occupant of the mine at that time must have been drowned. These galleries are low and narrow, and only by painfully slow crawling could the poor victims escape. No noise accompanied the rising of the water, and the first indication they had of their danger by many of the dead was the chilling sensation of cold water trickling along the pathway in which they lay at work. There was an air shaft, offering an additional avenue of escape of which many availed themselves. But the water came in too rapidly to allow all to reach it."
"Was the mine considered dangerous?"
"Not especially so. A break had once before occurred about the same place, but those are accidents to which all mines are liable. Smaller falls of earth are of frequent occurrence."
"Is anything being done to rescue the men?"
"To rescue, no; to reach the bodies of the dead, yes. Mr. Fordyce, general manager of the company, has gone to the scene of the disaster with two steampumps. It is said an effort will be made to reach the mine shaft No. 1. But there is not the remotest possibility of reaching any of them alive. Only the drowned or suffocated remains can be recovered. About three hundred men were employed. And of that number sixty-five are said to have been caught by the waters."
"Will their families be left destitute?"
"In most cases, no. The wages paid averaged between $50 and $75 per month, and, I should say a majority of the men owned their homes. Of course there will be suffering, but the miners as a class are not as impoverished as is generally believed. The majority of the workers are foreigners - English, Scotch and Irish."
"Could any precautions taken beforehand have prevented the catasatrophe?"
"I think not. I am not certain whether the gallery was or was not timbered. If it was, the timbers must have given way. It is one of those unlooked for, unforseen calamities which we all deplore but to remedy which we can do little. The company will, undoubtedly, do all in its power to assist the families of the poor victims. I should have gone down to the scene myself had I been well. The accounts sent were meagere, the only direct news being a telegram reciting the fact of the break and the probable drowning of sixty-five men. Yes, it is, indeed, an unfortunate affair - a very said affair, and we can do nothing to help them - not a thing."
Braidwood, Ill., Feb. 20
Adjt. Gen. Elliott arrived here from Springfield yesterday morning, with a commission from Gov. Hamilton to investigate the condition of the families of the buried miners and the means which would be necessary to pump out the flooded mine, with a view to learning whether any steps could be taken by the state. The dam around the crevasse was completed during the morning, though the water which forced its way through the earth at several points showed that it is of a very fragile nature and not able to withstand a sudden thaw. The water boxes at the cage or main shaft were then operated, and the water was carried off a couple of hundred feet by a drain when raised to the surface. A small pump was also used at the escapement shaft. Though in the course of two hours the water in the shafts fell twelve or thirteen inches, it was noticed that it merely added to the volume on the prairie, which was a certain indication that a course would again be forced through the earth to the mine if an outlet is not opened up. The saddest feature of the situation was brought out in the rounds made by Gen. Elliot to ascertain the condition of the fatherless families. The work had already been done by the committee of miners, and no cases of actual suffering were found. But the wants of the future were apparent. The scenes at the homes visited were saddening beyond recital. In some of the houses two of the bereaved women would be gathered with ther broods of children, too young to know the meaning of their mother's sorrow. In one of the houses were an elderly German woman, her daughter, and the latter's children, one a babe at the breast. Both had lost their husbands, as well as the son and brother. Neither could speak other than the language of the fatherland, and their only answers to the strangers' expressions of sympathy was a convulsive sobbing, while some kindhearted German women themselves broke down weeping in their attempts to comfort the mother and daughter. In another house a young Scotch woman had gathered her children around her, and replied to questions with a composure which showed the depths of her misery more eloquently than tears could have done. She had come to this country with her husband a few months ago and had not a relative on this side of the water, and scarcely an acquaintance among her neighbors. Among the Polish women there were many stories of the same character.
In the afternoon the meeting called on Sunday was held in music hall. Between seven and eight hundred of the miners crowded into the hall, and all of the many nationalities which are to be seen in Braidwood were represented. Daniel McLaughlin, mayor of the town, was made chairman.
A committee of Messrs, Mooney, Patterson, Huston, Stuart, Goldfinger, LeCarron, Rev. Adams, and Father Bennett, was appointed to draw up resolutions explaining the disaster that had fallen upon the community; and appealing to the generosity of the country to relieve the needs of the sufferers. Mr. William Mooney then moved the appointment of a permanent relief committee, three members of which were to be custodians of the funds collected and the other members to constitute a board of trustees. The motion was amended so as to insure the appointment of working miners on the board and was then passed. The committee was empowered to add to its numbers by selecting such miners as might be necessary in view of the many languages spoken amongh the miners. A local committee was appointed to solicit subscriptions, and subsequently it was resolved to ask every miner on the prairie to have his company withhold one day's wages and apply it to the relief fund. There are over two thousand miners on the prairie, whose average daily wages is $2.50 and the aggregate sum will make a very handsome contribution.
Adjt. Gen. Elliott then told the miners the object of his visit to Braidwood, and read the letter of Gov. Hamilton requesting him to examine into the condition of the people of the Diamond. Whatever the state could do, Gen. Elliott said, it would do promptly. He would report that not only the assistance of the state, but of the entire country would be needed.
Mr. Odell, of the permanent relief fund, then stated that contributions to the amount of $1,217 had already been received. It was also announced that a subscription would be taken in Joliet during the afternoon. A dispatch was read from Archbishop Feehan, of Chicago, saying that all the orphans would be received at the Catholic institutions in the city, and asking when they would be sent. The list of widows and orphans was read, during which the roughest of the miners were moved to tears. After a few remarks by Rev. Mr. Adams the meeting adjourned.
Braidwood, Ill., Feb. 21
A force of about fifty men is at work in the Diamond coal shaft, feeling encouraged over the fact that the water in the main shaft has been lowered eighteen feet from the point it reached on Saturday. A huge box holding one and one-eighth tons of water is raised every minute on one of the cages in the shaft. The opposite cage will have a like contrivance arranged today. Another pump is working a few rods distant, discharging a rapid three inch stream. A locomotive furnishes the motive power. Another and larger pump is being got in readiness rapidly to work at the oldest Diamond shaft, which lies perhaps an eighth of a mile southwest of the one at the scene of the disaster. Mr. Cherry, the mining engineer, and Superintendent Mackey, are quite satisfied with the progress made, and the latter says that with good luck the mine can be emptied in ten days. The water in the hold which broke through is down about fourteen feet, and crevices are being closed as fast as possible. It is true that some surface water leaks through the coffer-dam surrounding this hole, but Engineer Cherry says that one ordinary No. 4 pump will offset all that filters through from the top. The hole is about as large as two circus rings. Around it peering over the brink were a score or more of sad-looking women. Monday the working force seemed demoralized at the seeming slow progress of operations, but yesterday all were working like beavers, and the result is encouraging. Young Daley, the cage-tender, who first discovered the incoming water, stood in the bottom of the shaft where the cages rise and descend. He said that the water at first was not slow, as many papers had said. It came upon him quick as a flash a wave two feet high. All the men that escaped made their exit at the air shaft. Additional subscriptions received include $1,000 from the Chicago, Wilmington & Vincenes Coal company; also $10 from A.D. Sweet, president of the coal association, and $100 from Weadley & Clearly of Chicago.
Bloomington, Ill., Feb 21
Matthew Hunter, one of the early superintendents of the Braidwood mines, now in business here, yesterday collected $117 for the relief of the suffering at Braidwood. The society of Knights of Benevolence sent $100. There are only thirty members in the association. Nearly $500 has already been sent from Bloomington and more will be collected.
The following article is taken from the files of the Wilmington Advocate of March 30, 1883. The article explains the emptying of the mine and recovery of some of the bodies.
We are safe in assuming that nine-tenths of our readers are already familiar with the main facts in this terrible accident. We will therefore simply say that after 38 days incessant pumping the mine was emptied on last Sunday, and at midnight all was in readiness to raise some of the bodies up from their watery graves. At that hour six bodies had been found and the work of exhuming began. Of the situation on Monday we quote from Mr. Appleton's excellent account in the Chicago Herald:
Braidwood, Ill., March 26 - When this morning's sunlight broke it found the same anxious crowd in waiting, the same solemn gangs of workers, the same women's faces weary with watching, the same groups of bronzed and sturdy miners standing about discussing the situation in undertones, some with pipes in their mouths and their hands in their pockets, the women with hoods and shawls of diverse descriptions, all just as the Herald correspondent had left them in the light of their torches and bonfires at 2 o'clock this morning. All night long the crowd had stood there waiting for daybreak, and all night long the gangs of tireless miners had been working underground, headed by Moffatt, the mine inspector; Mackey, the superintendent; Skinner, the pit boss, and Corey, superintendent of the neighboring Wilmington Company's mines - four men who have slept scarcely an hour apiece out of the past forty-eight.
When the Herald's last dispatch was sent nine bodies had been found. That was at 1:30 Monday morning; but between then and 6 o'clock thirteen more were discovered and brought from more or less remote recesses in the mine and laid at the foot of the shaft. Every half hour or so the "cage," shooting up from below, brought to the upper world some two or three boxes containing the dead, and the willing hands of the rude but sincere friends who had worked beside them, some for years, carefully grasped the iron handles and carried them into the dead house.
Here, in the dead house, the work of identification went on all night, and of the twenty-two blackened shapeless corpses laid out on the rough board benches, nineteen were recognized amid the lamentations of friends. Many a miner brushed his sleeve across his eyes and turned away from the sickening sight of one whom he had recognized, saying: "Yes, it's Paddy, boys - thair's no mistake. I know him by the coat he had."
Then came women, squeezing through the crowd, two or three together, one grasping tightly a checkered shawl around her head, the other wearing a man's fur cap, their eyes dilated, their lips parted, and that look of mingled fear and sorrow on their faces that nearly resembles anger. "Ach, my God, my God!" cries one, "it's he - my Tom, my Tom," and she buried her face in her hard, coarse hands, and the other woman, clasping her by the waist, looked over her shoulder and said: "Yes, Mary, sure eno' - it is Tom. Do ye mind the blue yarn sockes ye made him th' day wid yer aun hands?" and she joined her wail with the other.
The whole room and the air outside for a distance was rank with the smell of chloride of lime, and many of the bodies brought up were so badly gone when found that the miners had literally covered them over with lime. This process, it was said by some who came from below, had produced such volumes of chlorine in the mine that the workers were choked and suffocated. They had ofttimes to come to the surface to breathe, and everywhere in the crowd were men with sponges tied under their noses, as well as torches hooked onto the fronts of their caps.
The bodies, after being laid out in the dead house and exposed to the crowd for identification were lifted into coffins - cheap, but very decent, rosewood stained and hung with silver looking handles. On each coffin lid was tacked a plain white card, bearing, for instance, such an inscription as this: "No. 1 - Paddy Wall", or "No. 2 - Unknown black coat, gray pants, red wooled scarf, and blue flannel shirt. Features not recognizable." Of the first twenty-two bodies the nineteen recognized were as follows: Patrick H. Wall, James Carroll, John Johnson, John Cullough, John Dambroskey, Thomas Costigan, Frank Murray, John Brokmann, John Atkins, Joseph Smith, Frank Kloss, Mathew Redmond, Anton Dambroskey, George Bukoski, John French, Daniel McBride, Hermann Unger, Sam Atkins and John Boyd.
Five of the bodies were taken away by weeping groups of relatives, and the other seventeen were carried out and placed upon flat cars, which had stood upon the track all night, draped in black and white, with tall biers, covered with black cloth at each end and on the sides with large diamond shaped figures in white.
At 8 o'clock the crowd could see the skoke of an engine across the prairie, and before long the train from Braidwood - an engine and two coaches, hung all over with fluttering streamers of black and white, and with the heads of scores of people craned out through the windows to catch the first glimpse of the scenes around the shaft - drew up beside the dead house and poured forth a large addition to the crowd. In the meantime the country people had begun to arrive and in wagons from along the black and winding roads radiating out over the brown and yellow prairie in various directions.
The train was coupled onto the flat cars, and about 9:30 started back for Braidwood station. The four miles' run is quickly made, and arrived at the platform in Braidwood, the train is greeted by a crowd of at least a thousand people and half a dozen hearses, waiting to carry the coffins to the two cemeteries - one Catholic and one Protestant - lying back in the country one or two miles. This is even a more motley crowd than the one left behind at the shaft, and when the coffins are unloaded half a dozen women, weeping and wringing their hands, push through to the front and cry to have them opened. They wish to identify their dead, and they will not be persuaded to be silent. The brawny Scotchman and the strong, florid faced Yorkshire lad who are conducting the proceedings try to prevent delay by explaining in reasonable terms that the bodies have already be exposed to view.
"Why, Sandy," says one to a huge, solemn faced fellow who takes sides with the women, "ye knaw thes will on'y meck trouble for us. I have all sympathy with the women, mon, but they hev seen the bodies afore, an' w'ot gude wull ut do to thow 'em more."
"No, mon, but I tell ye' th' women should be suffered. They'll not have another chance - an' it's thair kin, mebbe, that'll be put unnergroun' withoot thair seen' 'em."
This was evidently the setiment of the crowd, for there were sullen looks and shaking of heads, and many a one did not hesitate to say that if it was his that were dead he would see them if he had to break open the box. But the lads who had the coffins were not opposed to do the fair thing, and, one by one, the seventeen coffin lids were taken off and the people crushed and jostled around to catch a glimpse of the blackened, distorted forms.
One woman, with a black shawl over her head and a purple ribbon at her throat - she was a Swede - pressed along past a dozen different coffins, straining her eyes to see and with nervous energy shouldering everybody who opposed her progress, until at last, stooping down and peering under a man's elbow, she caught sight of the foot of the object beyond. Then she gave a loud cry, and they stood aside, and she threw herself across the coffin and said she knew him by so simple a thing as the stitching of that patch upon his knee - her own handiwork, it was - and she placed her hand upon it, and turning to the bystanders, attempted to explain in agonized, broken English that she could trace each stitch, so well did she recognize the work. This was Anton Dambroskey's wife, and just beside her husband she recognized his nephew.
Another woman, a stout German with a crape veil pushed aside from a red and tear stained face, had climbed, with a score or more of men and women, upon one of the flat cars, and when they lifted the lid and exposed her dead to view, she sat down on the coffin and insisted upon staying there. They had to lift and carry her away when the time arrived to move the body into the hearse.
Such are the scenes enacted everywhere. Business is suspended in Braidwood. The stores are closed and all the houses draped in mourning. On the depot platform, on the hotel steps, on the street corners and in the saloons stand idle groups, the gist of whose talk is naught but the town's affliction.
The following excerpt is from the Times of Tuesday:
The bodies taken out Monday had to be carried over boulders and hills of jagged stone by men who had to grope their way through the devious lyes, in an atmosphere befouled with an insufferable stench. No one who has not personally seen this place can conceive of its awful character and the impressions formed by a visit to the interior. Shut out from the light of day; surrounded by inpenetrable darkness, faintly lit up only by the far off appearing glimmer of the miners' lamps; the nauseous evaporations from cesspools in the crevices or floor; the slimy drippings from the dark walls; the yawning abysses between the elevations of debris; the ominous appearance of the roofs and stony projections; the knowledge that the dead are near, and the dread of stumbling over that dead, with the occasional sighing of a dying zephyr sent through the airshaft like the last moans of a departed soul, combine to make this tomb of miners horribly unnatural - a fitting realm for Pluto. Reflections such as these do not come to the men who spend two and three hours at a time in this dismal place. One thought possesses them, one purpose actuates - how to find the remains of their buried companions. It was their good fortune to live when death overtook their former fellow laborers, and they work with a will to give the dead a human burial. The strongest of these men when relieved are exhausted. The foul air and the hard work are more than any man can stand for more than three hours. No stoppage is made, however, and all last night and today squads of men were delving into stone and carting it away.
All those who were saved from the disaster escaped through the airshaft, about seventy-five yards from the main shaft. They remember leaving their companions in certain places, but these recollections must be indistinct and uncertain, as the terror of all the workmen when they discovered the water rushing in, precluded thought, and recognition of faces in the darkness of the mine can not be better than vague.
All of the bodies recovered were found in the lye running from the main shaft, and those yet to be found are supposed to be in the northwest lye, or diagonally opposite in a westerly direction. Between these places and the main shaft millions of tons of stone are piled up in mountainous connection, and will have to be removed before investigation can be made thoroughly.
The Herald follows up in description as follows, on Tuesday:
The great difficulty encountered everywhere is the huge masses of rock and clay, which have fallen from the roof and sides, blocking the progress of the search. The props which are everywhere put in to stay walls of a mine have been washed away and the work is attended with great danger to the explorers. Thousands of tons of stone will have to be carted out of the mine by handcars and pushers, and, as it is thought many bodies may be lying under the debris in that part of the mine already explored, Supt. Mackey, Mr. Fordyce, Mr. Corey and others having the work in charge, have decided that the only way will be to cart out this hindering material as they advance. This will be a very tedious task and nobody knows how long it will take, for, besides the loading, pushing, raising to surface, dumping and their lowering of the cars, it involves the necessity of introducing timer supports all along to prevent further caving and to protect the lives of the explorers. The disintegrating effect of the water and then of the air on the sides and roofs has been so great that the mine will never be fit for working again, and the only object in cleaning it out will be to find the dead.
The prospect of finding all the remaining forty-eight or fifty bodies is so slight on account of the badly caved condition of the roof and walls of the mine that the search, it is possible, may be discontinued altogether by the end of the week. Mr. Fordyce, manager of the Wilmington Coal Mining and Manuracturing Company, returned to Chicago today, but stated to the Herald's correspondent before going that he had held a conference with a dozen or fifteen men superintendents and pit bosses from all the mines on the prairie, and they after carefully inspecting the Diamond, had pronounced the recovery of all the bodies almost impractible. More than half the conference were in favor of discontinuing the search, but in order to leave no stone unturned, he had decided to clean out the debris past the heavy falls which have blocked exploatures for the time being, and if the passages were clear farther on, to continue to the end. The probabilities are, however, that all the rest of the mine is as badly caved in as that which had been traversed, and perhaps more so. Some of the falls make the roof thirty feet high and in may places the masses of rock are piled up twenty feet, leaving only a foot of passageway.
The pumping process has already cost the company about $20,000, and the excavations now in progress, besides endangering the lives of men, will cost not less than $100 a day. Furthermore if the bodies of the victims remain much longer in the mine it will be impossible to handle them, and Mr. Fordyce is of the opinion, that, except for the grief of friends, which surely will not be appeased by their recovery, they might better rest undisturbed in the grave they already fill.
The artist for Frank Leslie's Illustrated Paper spent the day at the shaft and in the mine making sketches of the scene. Two of the bodies brought up yesterday and laid in the graveyard, three miles from Braidwood, were resurrected today and quite a romance attended their identification. Fritz Key and a man named Shatzell were great cronies, it seems, and one of their friends, who always worked near them, having been identified yesterday, Shatzell's wife felt sure that her husband might have been of those found near them. She and her father, John Schultz, accompanied by Mrs. August Rambart, rode with the undertaker over to the cemetery, and had the loose earth removed and was marked "Unknown No. ," and to the surprise of all, proved to be William Schultz, brother of John, who had come with his daughter to find her husband, Shatzell.