Wapello County, IA

Index of Mining Fatalities Iowa State Region 9

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Allen, Daniel1883/12/05 Wapello
Anderson, George M.1947/01/08 Wapello
Armentrout, George1888/08/31 Wapello
Avon, Pete1964/10/05 Wapello
Baxter, James1903/03/12 Wapello
Benton, William1891/04/19 Wapello
Beyer, Berthold1926/11/24 Wapello
Black, Archibald1889/05/24 Wapello
Blaine, George Richard1957/01/09 Wapello
Boughlna, Thomas1930/09/24 Wapello
Brown, Frank1897/06/12 Wapello
Burke, William1912/09/18 Wapello
Carey, John1927/05/16 Wapello
Clark, John1917/05/29 Wapello
Cook, D.D.1917/06/08 Wapello
Cooper, Samuel D.1902/03/22 Wapello
Corngan, Frank1917/03/23 Wapello
Courtney, George W.1903/10/27 Wapello
Davis, Thomas1887/12/10 Wapello
Davison, Ben1916/09/06 Wapello
Edwards, David1884/04/29 Wapello
Edwards, Leff1906/02/01 Wapello
Ellis, David T.1920/08/12 Wapello
Fenroick, Robert1897/10/04 Wapello
Foster, Alex1936/11/23 Wapello
Fox, William1916/07/20 Wapello
Goudy, Albert1897/03/17 Wapello
Graham, Patrick1889/01/25 Wapello
Greiner, John1888/03/16 Wapello
Hampton, George1914/11/25 Wapello
Harkless, Clarence E.1916/03/07 Wapello
Harris, John D.1886/05/29 Wapello
Harris, Phillip1888/09/19 Wapello
Hirst, Thomas Jr.1884/05/01 Wapello
Hoadley, William1937/07/29 Wapello
House, Francis T.1938/02/25 Wapello
Hunter, Frank1889/01/02 Wapello
Huston, Kinzie1906/11/01 Wapello
Jenkins, Isaac D.1895/03/18 Wapello
Johnson, Charles1888/12/29 Wapello
Johnson, Enoch1908/01/30 Wapello
Johnson, Logan1927/08/20 Wapello
Johnson, Martin1888/09/26 Wapello
Jones, George1896/01/12 Wapello
Kilfoil, James1957/06/19 Wapello
Lancy, John Jr.1888/04/20 Wapello
Larson, Helmford1912/03/01 Wapello
Lester, Virgil1927/08/20 Wapello
Lindstrom, Axel1895/08/02 Wapello
Lord, James1916/02/04 Wapello
Lowe, Oscar1906/11/01 Wapello
Marshall, R.B.1914/09/24 Wapello
McKinley, Dan1889/05/27 Wapello
McNearney, Daniel1888/02/13 Wapello
Mescko, Andrew1916/01/12 Wapello
Middleton, Arthur1914/01/26 Wapello
Middleton, John L.1914/03/04 Wapello
Neighbor, Lewis1886/11/16 Wapello
Nevin, William Edwin1908/06/01 Wapello
Newman, George1940/10/09 Wapello
Northway, Moses1891/03/02 Wapello
Northway, William1890/01/08 Wapello
O'Connor, Patrick1888/10/26 Wapello
Overstake, W.J.1903/03/14 Wapello
Patkins, Dominick1909/09/27 Wapello
Perry, Charles1932/12/26 Wapello
Peterson, Edwin1911/12/14 Wapello
Pierce, William1915/02/11 Wapello
Price, John1888/02/08 Wapello
Rainbridge, W.H.1928/09/18 Wapello
Ruby, Robert L.1936/01/11 Wapello
Rush, J.D.1896/12/21 Wapello
Sackerson, Eric1917/11/29 Wapello
Spears, Clyde1909/07/07 Wapello
Stacy, John1925/01/17 Wapello
Sullivan, T.R.1897/09/03 Wapello
Thomas, Thomas G.1894/08/18 Wapello
Trisick, Frank1917/03/08 Wapello
Wiley, Abner C.1887/03/07 Wapello
Wright, George1893/10/30 Wapello
Yates, Joe1932/01/26 Wapello
York, Frank1908/11/04 Wapello


Friday January 24th, 1902 at the east entry of Lost Creek Coal Co., #2 shaft, 2 miles NE of Eddyville, a mine explosion occurred. The following week, the funerals were held for the 20 miners who died there that day. Five were buried in St Mary's Catholic cemetery, across the road (east) from Highland Cemetery. Church service was held for 12 of the men at the Congregational Church, located across from St Mary's church. There were not enough hearses, so the coffins were taken up the hill on horse-drawn sleds. The weather was -15 degrees, and the snow was deep. The graves are in a row about 100 yards west of the east line of what is section B.


Slope Mine for sale, Coal 5 feet, good roof, ton cars, all iron track, good house and mule; driving horse, harness and buggy and a 3 room house: will sell cheap. If interested write C Malcor, Givin, Iowa - Eddyville Tribune Jan., 7th, 1910.

Carl McElroy has purchased a miners house and moved it upon the lots he purchased of A L Surbuer last fall. When overhauled will make him a nice home. - ET April 8th, 1910

Coal has been mined in the vicinity of the Des Moines river almost from the earliest settlement of the county. The high bluffs bordering the valley and the deep ravines opening into it revealed the rich stories of life to the hardy pioneers and they soon availed themselves of the opportunities thus presented. The county soon acquired a position among the leaders in the mining industry and has always held a high rank although superseded in later years by others whose production has shown larger growth. The earliest operations on a commercial scale seem to have been conducted in the northwestern part of the county in the neighborhoods of Eddyville and Kirkville. Near the former place mines were opened in Mahaska and Monroe counties as well as in Wapello. Worthen describes several coal banks as being in operation in 1857, among which were the Cooper mine near Dahlonega; the Roberts mine opposite Eddyville and the McCready bank on Bear creek, four miles west of Ottumwa. It is worthy of note that while a number of mines have been operated on Bear creek still more extensive work is being prosecuted here today than ever before. Ten years later when White visited Wapello county , He found that the centers of activity had moved somewhat. One of the principal operators then was C. Dudley and Company who worked a four-foot vein. south of the present station of Dudley and shipped over the Burlington and Missouri River railroad, now the main line of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy. Another mine which played quite an important part in the development of the county was that of Henry Shock and Company, at Happy Hollow, three miles below Chillicothe. This mine also furnished a large amount of coal for shipment over the Burlington. In 1868, C. O. Godfrey of Hannibal, Missouri, and James Brown, an enterprising operator, formed the firm of Brown and Godfrey. They opened a drift mine four miles northwest of Ottumwa in a four-foot vein of coal about 100 feet above the St. Louis limestone. Coal was shipped from this mine over the Des Moines Valley railroad. Several other mines were in operation near Kirkville and Eddyville. At this time a large mine was being operated by the Alpine Coal Company at Alpine, two miles below Cliffland, on the Des Moines Valley railroad, under the direction of C. J. Love. The bed was from four to five feet thick and furnished large quantities of excellent coal for the Keokuk market. 'White states that up to the time of his studies about 1,000,000 bushels of coal had been mined here, a larger output, probably, than that of any other mine in the state at that time. In 1871 the Union Coal and Mining Company was organized by Messrs.' Brown and Godfrey together with a number of Boston men of capital, who were interested in the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad. Mr. Godfrey was chosen president and Mr. Brown manager. About a year afterwards these two men organized the Watson Coal Company of Centerville. TV. J. Ladd of Bo ton was the first superintendent of the Union company and was soon succeeded by William Haven who held the position until 1874. At this time Samuel A Flagler took charge and held the position until the company was dissolved. This company took over the Shock and the Brown and Godfrey mines and operated them on a large scale. In 1872 they employed 300 men, who took out 77,000 tons. These mines were single openings ventilated by furnace whose draft was up an air shaft 400 or 500 feet from the entrance and which furnished air in a continuous current from entrance to exit. Tile fact that the furnace required attention would be manifested by two or three men coming out sick. The product of the mine was taken on pit cars down · tram tracks to the railroad and the empties were drawn back by mules . No screens were used; the coal went to the market and to the railroads in the same condition in which it was mined-run of mine. The coal was largely undermined, and was frequently rib- or center-cut, so that a very small quantity of powder was used in proportion to that now required Payment for mining and sales were. made by the bushel and Mr. Haven claims the credit of being the first to introduce the plan of making settlements on the tonnage basis. Payments ranged from four to four and one-half cents per bushel and the unscreened coal sold for $2.25 to $2.50 per ton at the mine. The freight rates to Council Bluffs were made on the basis of $45 for a ten-ton car, but were reduced a few years later when W. B. Strong was General Freight Agent of the B. & M. R. to $35 per car. In 1870 the coal carrying equipment of the Burlington was 138 ten-ton cars, which was added to by the Union Coal and Mining Company furnishing 150 ·additional twelve-ton cars. The shipment from the mines of this company, in connection with the team trade, was seventy five to 150 tons daily. An interesting development occurred at the Happy Hollow mine. After the vein had been worked into the hill 200 or 300 feet it began to pinch out. While sinking a well for company use Mr. Brown encountered a six-inch vein of coal and the idea occurred to him to see what had become of it. So he sank a pit inside the mine and struck a six-foot bed of coal only twelve or fifteen feet below the one worked. The development of this necessitated a very steep grade to the pit mouth and so Mr. Ladd purchased a small mine locomotive, the first one used in the state. A competent engineer from the railroad was employed to make the trial trip, but on going down the grade the boiler flues were uncovered and on reaching the bottom the engineer had to draw hi fires and the engine was pulled out by ropes. After this it was used for outside work. The opening of this lower vein stimulated prospecting in other mines and it was not long until unknown riches of mineral wealth were discovered and utilized. About 1876 the company sank another mine near the first. For a number of years this company was the largest operator in the county, but finally abandoned the field. In 1879 O. M. Ladd opened the mines at Laddsdale in the southeastern part of the county. The camp is located in Davis county but the workings are chiefly in Wapello. The property is now owned by the Anchor Coal Company of Ottumwa. In 1880 the Phillips Coal and Mining Company was organized and opened a mine two miles northwest of Ottumwa. This mine has been abandoned for a number of years, but the company, under the present name of the Phillips Fuel Company, have worked a total of six shafts in the neighborhood, near Phillips, or Rutledge. The same company are opening up a new mine on Bear creek. The year. after the opening of the Rutledge mine the Wapello Coal Company began work at Kirkville and operated several extensive mines here. At one time they employed 435 men in their mines numbers 1 and 3. The vein was five to five one-half feet thick Four or five slopes and shafts have been operated her e but the last were abandoned in 1890' and the company moved to Monroe county and opened mines at Hiteman. One of the large operators in Iowa has been the Whitebreast Fuel Company of Illinois. This company opened mines near Kirkville in 1887 and named the station Carver. These mines were worked on a large scale and a big tonnage was taken out for three years. 'The property was then bought by the Wapello Coal Co., which worked it for two years and then abandoned it in 1892. Although the Union Coal Co. had supposedly exhausted its field the Whitebreast company in 1891 opened up a mine almost adjoining the Union property and operated it extensively for ten years. It was then sold to the Illinois and Iowa Fuel Co. and was worked out three years ago. This mine was located at Keb and was known as Whitebreast No. 22. It was one of the largest in the district, employing as many as 225 men and producing 1,000 tons or more per day.. It was connected with the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy by a long spur and the entire output was sold to the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad. Other mines have at different times been worked in the neighborhood of Ottumwa, some near Willard, and three or four local mines have been in operation at Eldon in the southeast corner of the county, since 1887. They are all comparatively shallow, ranging from sixteen to sixty feet in depth. As the early mines were an drifts, along the Des Moines river drainage, they gave rise to the theory that the coal would run out under the hills and that none need be expected under the uplands. It was many years before this theory was exploded although when the early geologists were studying the coal prospects of the Des Moines valley they predicted that in time to find the uplands would be found to be as plentifully underlain with coal beds as was the area in immediate proximity to the river. Later developments have abundantly demonstrated the truth of this prediction as the mines at Rutledge, for example, bear testimony, These deeper shaft · away from the river have shown that here the coal beds are as extensive and as thick a those bordering the vane, and that they are present in their original entirety while those exposed by the streams have by this very exposure been partly eroded and carried away. In the early days of mining activity coal was much cheaper than at present and wages paid were correspondingly small. In the early 70's, when commercial mining really had it . initiation, lump coal was delivered in Ottumwa for seven' to eight cents per bushel, and brought five cents at the mine. Now coal sells for thirteen cents. Along with the increase in the price received for coal has come a corresponding rise in the wages paid. In stead of seventy cents per ton paid the miners of the early day ninety-five cents is now paid for lump coal. The inside day men who then were paid $1.75 per day now receive $2.56. The increases have followed the general advance in wages and in all lines of industry although the strong union .organization has doubtless been effective in this direction as well as in others. In the matter of equipment the Wapello county mines have ranked well with those of other districts. Tail-rope haulage has been installed in the larger mines, such as those at Whitebreast No. 22, the Phillips mines, Consolidation No.9, near Eddyville, and others. Fan ventilation, steam hoist and safety appliances have added to the efficiency and economy of operation as well as to the safety of the employees.



This county was one of the earliest producers of coal in the state and was destined at one time to continue to be so, but she fell behind in her production, and other counties took the lead. In 1868, Wapello county had shipped 52,000 tons of coal out of one mine, which was the largest mine in the state and had shipped more coal than any other mine up to that time. It furnished large quantities of coal for the Keokuk market, and the coal was considered of first-class quality. The mine was opened in 1865 by C. J. Love, and was operated by him for a number of years. It was situated at Alpine Station on the Keokuk & Des Moines Valley Railroad. The Union Coal Company, consisting of C. O. Godfrey, president, and James Brown, superintendent, with others, opened a mine in 1867, four miles north of Ottumwa, which was connected by a branch from the main line of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad. At this mine J. C. Osgood received his first lessons in mining. Afterward he became one of the most successful mine operators in the state. The Hawkeye Coal Mining Company was formed and the mine was opened in the year 1873, by the following stockholders: James Harlan, Christ F. Blake and L. W. Vale. This company was afterward called the C. F. Blake Coal Mining Company, and did considerable business for a number of years. A company was formed in Ottumwa in 1871, called the Ottumwa Coal Mining Company. The stockholders were James D. Ladd, W. W. Ladd, Thomas D. Ladd, Amos D. Moss, W. B. Bonifield, and W. M. Kind. They opened and operated a mine in the vicinity of Ottumwa for some time.

- ANNUALS OF IOWA, Pioneer Iowa Coal Operators By MORGAN THOMAS


WapelloCoalDeposits.pdf for additional information.

The consolidated Coal co., which operates at Buxton & Coalfield mines is drilling for coal on the A Vance, Eli DeTar & John Lanning farms, in Pleasant Twp. Eddyville Tribune 5/6/1910.

The smokestack at the shaft at Coalfield caught fire at about four oclock Monday morning, also burning out the curbing and steps of the airshaft. This fire will cause the mines to be idle for some days. ET July 29th, 1910

Died very suddenly, Mr Thomas Bridges,Sr., of Greenridge, No 2. Had been the boss of No 2 and was in the mines at the time of his sudden attack. He leaves 2 girls and 4 boys.

James Dunning, who was working on a night shift of the Smoky Hollow mines, No 5, met with a very serious accident Tuesday night at about 11 pm. when a ton and a half of slate fell on him, striking him across the small of the back and hips, injuring him internally and breaking the left leg.  -Eddyville Tribune Friday, August 19th, 1910

The Crab Apple Coal Co is drilling for coal on the farm of Richard Brown, west of Givin. - The Eddyville Tribune, Friday, September 2nd, 1910

James Marsh had the misfortune of having two fingers badly damaged in an accident at mine No. 6, the injured hand is doing nicely. - ET Sept 30th, 1910

The Amos Gray coal mine, east of Eddyville has been leased recently to Wm Baxter, of near Avery, and he will operate the mine. -Eddyville Tribune October 14, 1910

Source: State Historical Society of Iowa, State Archives (Index dated 1/13/2015)

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