Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Electrocuted in the Frederick Mine

James Richardson was born on 19 May 1896 at Glenlee Cottage, his parents' home in the Burnbank area of Hamilton, Scotland. He was the oldest child of Hugh and Janet (Muir) Richardson. His father was a coal miner. Hugh and Janet had three more children between 1898 and 1901.

In 1904 James' little sister, Lily Weir Richardson, died of diphtheria and septic bronchitis at the Combination Hospital in Hamilton. She had a tracheotomy before her death. Six months later, the children's mother, Janet (Muir) Richardson, died of catarrhal pneumonia, an inflammation of the lung tissue. James was nine years old when he lost his mother.

James' father, Hugh, married Marion Kilpatrick on 8 Jun 1906. She was a 35-year-old "spinster" who worked as a housekeeper. Later that same year her appearance was described as 5 feet, 2 inches tall, fair complexion, fair hair and blue eyes.

Four months after the couple married, they and Hugh's children boarded the Allan Line's S/S Parisian in Glasgow and arrived in Boston, Massachusetts on 22 October 1906. Their destination was Trinidad, Colorado, in Las Animas County. Trinidad was another coal town in a new country.

By 1910 the family was living in Segundo, Colorado. It was a company town where Colorado Fuel and Iron Company (CF&I) housed its workers. Segundo is practically a ghost town today. James worked as a laborer at a coal mine and his father was a miner.

Some time before 1917 James married Jean Evelyn Clark, a Colorado native who had been born in 1897 in Crested Butte. They had two daughters in 1918 and 1919.

When James registered for the military draft on 5 June 1917 he lived in Valdez and worked as a miner for CF&I at the Frederick Mine. Valdez was another coal town the mine company built to house it's workers. At the time James and his  family lived there, it had a company store, a school and a baseball field.

On his draft registration James was described as being of medium height and build with light brown hair and blue eyes.

James Richardson; photograph courtesy of member BarbZale, James'
granddaughter and my 4th cousin, who I
discovered through AncestryDNA

James was still working at the Frederick Mine when he was electrocuted on 8 March 1921. The circumstances of his death were described in the State Inspector of Coal Mines' Nineth Annual Report:

JAMES RICHARDSON, Scotch, motorman, experience 12 years, age 24 years, married, two children, employed by the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company at the Frederick mine, Las Animas county, came to his death by electrocution. Deceased was cleaning track and was in the act of changing a trolley pole when he came into contact with a live wire. The accident was unforeseen and unavoidable.

Snippet of page 55 of the Nine Annual Report of the Colorado State
Inspector of the Coal Mines, 1921

James Richardson was buried at the Masonic Cemetery in Trinidad. His widow, Jean, married again in 1924 and his father lived until 1931 having buried a wife and two children. This tragedy is but one in a long list of my ancestors who died while working in coal mines, but I found it particularly sad.

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