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Mine Disasters in
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J. W. Gould Mining Company
Little Betty Mine Explosion

Dugger, Indiana
January 28, 1931
No. Killed - 28



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Successful Rescue

Seven miners were rescued after an undisclosed period following an explosion in the Little Betty Mine at Dugger, Indiana.  The men who were rescued had barricaded themselves in an entry off one of the main corridors.  Those rescued included Locie Hale, William Bedwell, Ben Snyder, Herman Brown, Charles Love and Charles Centers, all of Linton, and Jule Wellington of Sullivan.


Seven are Rescued in Linton Mine Disaster after Blast Kills 29
The Kokomo Tribune, Indiana
January 29, 1931

Linton, Ind., Jan. 29. -- (AP) -- The lives of twenty-nine miners were snuffed out in an explosion at the Little Betty coal mine near here late yesterday.  With the rescue of two men last night and seven more this morning, all of the men in the mine had been accounted for.

Identification of the victims proceeded slowly this morning.  Many of the bodies were so badly burned and disfigured a check of the dead made identification difficult.  Soon after the blast, it was understood the accident had been caused by a spark igniting a quantity of blasting powder.  Later reports, however, stated the explosive had been found intact and that the disaster was the result of a gas explosion.

The dreaded "black damp" quickly filled the passages of the mine and hampered the work of rescue crews.

The men who were rescued this morning had barricaded themselves in an entry off one of the main corridors.

Of the seven men rescued this morning, Jule Wellington suffered severe burns about the hands and face before he was able to crawl to safety.  He was also in the Sullivan mine disaster in 1925 when fifty-two miners lost their lives.

The others brought out alive attributed their escape to Wellington's experience in the Sullivan explosion.

Wellington guided his companions to the entry where they walled themselves in.  He helped erect the brattice despite his burns.

Ben Snyder who was one of the lucky seven said he was afraid all of them were doomed.  He had taken a piece of slate and had scratched on it the hour of the explosion (about 3 p.m.), doing this, he said, so that if they were not rescued there would be some record of how they died.

All of the bodies were taken to undertaking establishments this morning to be prepared for burial.  No funeral arrangements had been made however.

Albert Dalley, state mine inspector conducted an investigation of the explosion this morning.  Its cause was undetermined.

Some reports stated that the explosion occurred when workers cut into an old vein of a nearby mine and that they struck a gas pocket which in some manner was ignited.


Linton, Ind., Jan. 29. -- (AP) -- The Little Betty mine, scene of yesterday's explosion, has been worked steadily for the last two years and its employees had escaped the misery of unemployment suffered by many because of closed mines.

On Feb. 20, 1925, the City mine at Sullivan, near here, was wrecked by an explosion similar to yesterday's accident.  Fifty-one miners were killed.  Only one man was brought out alive.


Indiana Mine Blast Toll is 29
The Coshocton Tribune, Ohio
January 29, 1931

Linton, Ind., Jan. 29. -- An official death toll of 29 was announced today as the last of the charred bodies were taken from the Little Betty mine, near here, scene of Indiana's third major mining disaster since 1925.

As the twenty-ninth body was brought to the surface, officials announced that they had accounted for all men who were in the mine when a deafening blast shook the entire countryside yesterday afternoon.  The number of those rescued alive was announced as nine, three of whom suffered severe injuries.

The last of the injured to be rescued was Louie Wellington, Sullivan, Ind., whose face and upper body were burned so badly that officials refrained from questioning him regarding his version of the explosion.

With all men accounted for, the official work was turned to positive identification of the dead and investigation of the cause of the blast.  Several of the dead were burned so badly that identification was difficult.


Linton, Ind., Jan. 29 -- Rescue workers toiling to remove the remaining bodies from the little Betty coal mine following last night's explosion today placed the number of victims at 33.

Eight bodies had been removed to the surface early today.  All were identified.  Rescue crews reached the death pit shortly after midnight and there found 25 bodies, all of which were identified.

Heavy gases prevented immediate removal of the victims' bodies.

Two men, Don Burris and Joseph Wallace, were taken from the mine alive.  Hospital authorities said they probably would recover from the effects of black damp.

The eight bodies removed to the surface were identified as:
  • Earl Bedwell, Linton
  • Everett Bedwell, Dugger
  • Lotus Mitchell, Pleasantville
  • Jess Templeton, Marco
  • Otto Hale, Pleasantville
  • John Letot, Linton
  • Girchel Jackson, White Rose
  • John McPhail, Linton
The rescue crews, composed largely of American Legion men of Sullivan County identified the 25 bodies in the mine as follows:
  • Clarence McQueary, Jasonville
  • Charles Law, Linton
  • Julian Letot, Linton
  • Hubert Butler, Linton
  • Charles Centers, Linton
  • Ben Snyder, Linton
  • Hugh Cross, Dugger
  • Clarence Cooper, Dugger
  • David Lee Hofeditz, Dugger
  • Ralph Enochs, Pleasantville
  • James Mitchell, Pleasantville
  • Homer Robertson, Pleasantville
  • Andy Winterbottom, Sullivan
  • Martin Donie, Sullivan
  • William Boswell, Linton
  • Jule Wellington, Sullivan
  • Herman Brown, Linton
  • William Brown, Dugger
  • Don Sanders, Linton
  • Dean Phipps, Linton
  • John Suthard, Jr., Linton
  • Locie Hale, Linton
  • Henry Metz, Linton
  • Herbert Herod, Linton
  • Don Newkirk, Linton
The remaining bodies will be brought out by noon today officials declared.

The full day force of 115 men might have been trapped in the mine had the explosion occurred ten minutes earlier, officials pointed out.  The night crew had hardly taken their places before the ground rumbled from the explosion's force.

Lyle Davhoff, president, left Chicago last night for the mine to take charge of the rescue operations.

On February 20, 1925, the city mine, located in the same county was shattered by an explosion similar to that of last night.  Fifty-one miners were killed, and only one man was brought out alive.

The explosion yesterday occurred 250 feet underground and at the far end of a mile-long shaft.  Officials generally attributed the blast to the discharge of 600 pounds of blasting powder which had been carried into the mine for the shot fires.  Other reports, however, said the explosion was caused by gas.

So terrific was the explosion that entryways were filled by debris which made the shafts almost impassable for the rescue workers.

Poisonous black damp spread thru the mine following the explosion, according to officials, a factor which led those in charge to believe that all of the miners had been killed.  The deadly gas overcame nine rescue workers last night and all had to be removed to the Linton hospital for treatment.  The conditions of several of these were serious, it was said.

Many wives and relatives of the trapped miners milled about the mine mouth all night.  Some of these grew hysterical and had to be led away.


Linton, Ind., Jan 29 -- Don Burris, survivor of the Little Betty coal mine disaster which took a toll of 33 lives, described the underground explosion from his bed in Linton hospital today.
"I was walking ahead of the gang coming out of the mine," he said.  "The explosion came all of a sudden and the shaft was plunged in complete darkness.  I called to the gang to follow me and I grabbed a trolley wire and followed it as far as the mine mouth."

"Then suddenly everything went black and I don't remember anything more until some of the fellows were leading me to the fresh air."

"I didn't see any flash or any fire.  The black damp must have put us out instantly.  That is what I am afraid now has happened to the other boys who didn't get out."

"I guess we were further off to the head of the entry the tenth west, otherwise Bedwell and I would not have been able to get out."
The bodies of seven other miners were brought up alive at dawn today.  They were Locie Hale, William Bedwell, Ben Snyder, Herman Brown, Charles Love and Charles Centers all of Linton, Ind., and Jule Wellington of Sullivan.

These men had managed to brattice themselves in a distant part of the mine after the explosion and kept away the deadly after damp.  Two of them were suffering from face burns but all of them, considering their imprisonment underground since late yesterday, were in surprisingly good condition.



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