Several hundred coal miners and mine workers lost their lives in Sangamon County mines through 1930, according to researcher Wayne Hinton.*
Hinton’s former website also reported on four Sangamon County mine “disasters,” defined as any incident between 1880 and 1986 in which two or more men were killed. The first Sangamon County incident was in 1902 and the last in 1945.
The worst Sangamon County disaster took place on Feb. 23, 1918, when four miners died in an explosion at the Citizens Coal Company’s Mine A, west of the then-city limits of Springfield. A coroner’s jury and state inspectors found that a variety of safety violations contributed to the blast. Six mine employees were later charged with violations of mining laws, but the charges seem never to have been followed up.
Killed were: Ernest Cox of Springfield, trackman, age 18, single; Ray Hiner of Springfield, foreman, age 24, single; Thomas Reilly, driver, age 40, married with eight children; and Walter Whelchel of Kalo, Iowa, trackman, age 28, married with two children.
*SangamonLink obtained the information from Hinton’s website, “Wayne’s World of History and Genealogy,” when this entry was written in 2013. As of 2023, however, the site’s home page appeared to be the only remaining accessible portion.
See also: Coal mining.
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