Hellraisers Journal: Not One Miner Brought Out Alive after Explosion at Old Ben Mine, Christopher, Illinois

You ought to be out raising hell.
This is the fighting age.
Put on your fighting clothes.
-Mother Jones

Hellraisers Journal, Saturday December 8, 1917
Christopher, Illinois – All Bodies Recovered from Old Ben Mine

From the United Mine Workers Journal of December 6, 1917:

Old Ben Mine Disaster, Christopher IL, Nov 29, 1917

Eighteen Men Die in Illinois Explosion

Christopher, Ill.—On the afternoon of Thanksgiving Day an explosion occurred at the Old Ben Mine, four miles north of this town, that wrecked both shifts and all the approaches to the workings.

Eighteen day hands were in the mine at the time of the explosion, and all of them were killed.

Rescue teams worked day and night in the hope that some of the trapped men might be found alive. Timbers had been blown out and all the entries were blocked with rock. It was necessary to establish a ventilating system as the rescuers advanced into the wrecked workings. The bodies of all the victims were recovered.

The immediate cause of the explosion is not determined. It is believed that a fall of rock drove a body of gas that had accumulated on the open lamps of some of the men; coal dust and gas together made for the terrible explosion that ensued. The first party of rescuers that entered the mine were driven back by afterdamp. Some members of this rescue party were overcome; pulmotors were used to revive them.

Some 700 men are employed in this mine. Had the explosion occurred on a working day, the loss of life would have been far greater.


[Photograph added.]


The United Mine Workers Journal, Volume 28
(Indianapolis, Indiana)
-Nov 1, 1917-May 2, 1918
Executive Board of the United Mine Workers of America
UMWJ Dec 6, 1917
“Eighteen Men Die in Illinois”
Note: UMWJ reports this disaster as occuring on Thanksgiving 1917, but the 4th Thursday was the 22nd, not the 29th. The official death toll stands at 17.

Old Ben Mine Disaster, Christopher IL, Nov 29, 1917

See also:
United States Mine Rescue Association
Mine Disasters in the United States
Old Ben Coal Corporation
Old Ben No. 11 Mine Explosion
November 29, 1917 – Christopher, Illinois
No. Killed – 17

Annual Coal Report of Illinois
State Mining Board
Springfield IL, 1918
Report from Tenth District
(Scroll down to-)

The following is a verbatim report of an explosion at Old Ben Coal Corporation’s No. 11 mine:
To the Honorable State Mining Board of Illinois.
Gentlemen: We, the undersigned inspectors having been detailed to make an investigation as to the cause and origin of the explosion that occurred at the Old Ben Coal Corporation’s No. 11 mine at Christopher on November 29, 1917, by which seventeen men lost their lives, beg to submit to your honorable board the following report:

At 10:30 p. m. on November 29, 1917. a call was sent out from Old Ben Coal Corporation that an explosion had occurred at No. 11 mine at Christopher……


Fatal Accidents-

November 29, 1917, an explosion at No. 11 mine of the Old Ben Coal Corporation, Christopher, killed 17 men, whose names are as follows: -Wm. Webb, pumpman, age 45 years, married, leaves widow and two children;
-Cal Leigh, laborer, age 25 years, married, leaves widow and one child;
-D. Medders, laborer, age 25 years, single;
-Harvey Turner, miner, age 35 years, single;
-Bert Naylor, laborer, age 18 years, single;
-Alfred Tefter- tiller, laborer, age not given, married, leaves widow and two children;
-Rex Thompson, miner, age 30 years, married, leaves widow and one child;
-W. T. Clark, laborer, age 45 years, married, leaves widow and one child;
-John Stanko, miner, age 21 years, single;
-W. J. Roth, laborer, age 55 years, married, leaves widow;
-Ed. Keller, miner, age 35 years, married, leaves widow and one child;
-O. Short, laborer, age 25 years, married, leaves widow and one child;
-Phill Kern, motorman, age 25 years, single;
-Warren Davis, laborer, age 23 years, single;
-J. W. Beamer, electrician, age 50 years, married, leaves widow and three children;
-Warren Beamer, electrician, age 16 years, single;
-D. J. Jones, laborer, age 30 years, single.