Monday, September 5, 2016

Honoring Ancestors Who Died in Mines

On Labor Day we commemorate working people and the labor movement by observing Labor Day, our national holiday established to exhibit to the public "the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations." Labor Day was born out of the Industrial Revolution and that revolution was fueled by coal. Many of my ancestors worked in coal pits in Australia, Canada, England, Scotland, and the United States. Today, I would like to remember and honor those men who were killed working in coal mines.

John Franklin Austin (1915-1943)
Age at Death: 27
Relationship: First husband of the wife of my third cousin once removed, Clyde Hilton Key (1911-1987)
Parents: Harry F. Austin and Mattie E. Parker
Cause of Death: Crushed between a train and the wall of the coal mine.
Death Location: United States
New Nipper Killed in the Mine

William Collins (1850-1917)
Age ag Death: 67
Relationship: Second husband of my great great grandmother, Clementine (Wells) Riggin (1846-1932)
Parents: William Collins and Mary Lang
Cause of Death: Killed by a fall of slate at the Donk Brothers Coke & Coal Company
Death Location: United States
Coal Mining: A Dangerous Occupation

George White Dick (1871-1925)
Age at Death: 54
Relationship: Husband of my first cousin times removed, Henrietta Brown Muir (1874-1939)
Parents: Thomas and Margaret White
Cause of Death: Shock following injuries sustained after being crushed at Hopeturn Colliery
Death Location: Scotland

Andrew Cairns Muir (1902-1936)
Age at Death: 34
Relationship: Adopted son of my first cousin three times removed, Nathaniel Muir (1872-1936)
Parents: Birth -- Andrew Cairns and Elizabeth Cameron; Adopted: Nathaniel Muir and Ann "Annie" Hutton
Cause of Death: Died of injuries sustained when the roof of the mine where he was working collapsed and fell on him.
Fatal Colliery Accident

Alexander Paterson (1886-1944)
Age at Death: 57
Relationship: Husband of my third cousin once removed, Henrietta Cassells Lively (1892-1948)
Parents: John Paterson and Marion Scoular
Cause of Death: Asphyxia after being smothered by a fall of coal, stone, and dirt when mine ceiling collapsed.
Death Location: Scotland

James Richardson (1896-1921)
Age at Death: 24
Relationship: Second cousin twice removed
Parents: Hugh Richardson and Janet Muir
Cause of Death: Changing a trolley pole and came into contact with a live wire and he was electrocuted.
Electrocuted in the Frederick Mine

James Richardson (1886-1921); photo courtesy of
member and DNA match BarbZale

William Brown Shaw (1866-1878)
Age at Death: 12
Relationship: Step-son of three times great uncle Robert Orr Muir (1839-1917)
Parents: Unknown father and Mary Watson (Shaw) Muir
Cause of Death: Died of injuries sustained when he fell out of cage ascending the pit shaft.
Death Location: Scotland
Fatal Coal Pit Accident

Daniel Boone Wells (1856-1910)
Age at Death: 54
Relationship: Third great uncle
Parents: James Wells and Mary Hearelson
Cause of Death: Killed instantly under a fall of coal at the face of his room at the Lumaghi Coal Company's No. 2 mine.
Death Location: United States
Coal Mining: A Dangerous Occupation


  1. Wow Schalene, just wow. So many in your family killed by working in one occupation. The photograph of a young James Richardson makes me feel so sad.

    1. James Richardson was a good looking young man. He left a wife and two young daughters behind when he died.