Explosion in a Mine
Galveston Daily News, Texas
January 5, 1897
South McAlester, I. T., Jan. 4. -- An explosion took place in the Alderson mines, in which five men lost their lives, about 1:30 this morning.
Joe Cox, the fire boss, passed down into the mine to make his customary examination. Between 2:30 and 3:30, probably at the latter time, G. E. Fendron came out of the mine and said nothing was wrong. At 4:40 two men, whose names could not be obtained, came out and reported that something was wrong.
They had been at work some distance away, and using compressed air to work the machine had not heard or felt the explosion. Arrangements were at once made to explore the mine and learn the extent of the calamity. Five dead bodies were taken out. The men were Joseph Cox, white, fire boss; Martin Roy, white, driver; Tom C. Curry, colored; Simon Petty, colored; William Bishop, colored.
There were only seven men in the mine last night. The fire boss went down early and made the eighth one. Fendron, who came out first, was working with Curry and they decided to quit, and Fendron wanted Curry to come out, but he said no, and lay down. The two men had done their share of work and left. When they entered the passageway they saw evidences of an explosion. It will be seen that of the seven men in the mine at the time five were killed.
Martin Roy, the driver, was hurled a long distance, his skull being broken, and he was burned and otherwise mangled. The body of Joe Cox was the last found and was badly burned. He carried a safety lamp and it was found at the bottom unscrewed.
The theory is that his lamp went out and he unscrewed it to light it, not knowing there was gas there. The work of rescuing the bodies had to be carried forward with extreme care, owing to what the miners call afterdamp. As it was, three were brought out overcome by it.