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Mill explosion


Posted By: Ernie Lunsford (email)
Date: 9/5/2022 at 15:58:42

This article appeared in what is assumed to be a Bloomfield, Iowa newspaper in May form June of 1871. On 20 May 1871, a mill explosion Savannah claimed the lives of two men and injured others. Dead were Samuel Beekly and James Lunsford, my gg grand uncle. Among the injured and who survived and completely recovered as far as I know was William Lunsford, my gg grandfather.

I have transcribed the article as it was written.


Two men killed - One seriously and one Slightly Wounded!

We are called upon this week to record one of the most shocking calamities that ever threw a pall of grief over any community. On Saturday last at about 11 1/2 o’clock A.M. the people of Savannah, a town in this county, ten miles southwest of Bloomfield, were alarmed at the terrible explosion of a boiler in the mill owned by Lunsford Bros. and S. Beekley. Hastening to the scene of the catastrophe the awful effects were visible and means immediately taken to alleviate the suffering of the wounded and dying. We have gathered these particulars from visitors to the scene of the explosion.

The mill had just been fitted up preparatory for grinding and sawing. In the absence of the engineer Mr. Beekley took charge of the engines, and assisted by the Messrs. Lunsford’s, steam was raised and they prepared to start the mill. Everything worked satisfactorily for a few minutes, when James Lunsford, the younger of the brothers. observed the boiler raising and swaying from its bed. He at once gave the alarm and started to escape but but before reaching the door the shock came and death followed in the wake. James Lunsford was blown into a pond of water near by where he was found after the smoke and and dust had cleared away and carried into his brother’s house in the vicinity of the mill. He was wounded inwardly and suffered much pain till about 3 or 4 o’clock, when he died. Mr. Lunsford was a young married man and was much respected.

Samuel Beekley was at the engine and instantly killed. He was found near where the boiler had been, with a cut on the forehead about four inches long, skull fractured, back of head crushed in and otherwise badly bruised and scalded. Mr. Beekley had all his means invested in the mill and leaves a large family in poor circumstances.

Wm. Lunsford was at the burrs; was badly injured but hope of his recovery was entertained.

Other parties, whose names we have been unable to get, were more or less injured, though none others seriously


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