Received this from my Lackawanna County -D@rootsweb .com list. Thought
someone there may find it useful. Lots of Phillips and even a Blewitt as
well as many others. Hope it helps someone! Sally
----- Original Message -----
From: Richard M. Reese <richreese(a)fast.net>
Sent: Thursday, September 27, 2001 5:41 PM
Subject: [PA-LAC] Follow-up information on 1869 Avondale Tragedy
The following illustrates details of the Scranton connection to
Avondale tragedy, and why anniversary
information may be used to shed light on family connections not found when
the event was current news.
Scranton Tribune-Republican, Wednesday, Sept. 6. 1911 -
ANNIVERSARY OF AVONDALE HORROR
Forty-two years ago today, 110 men lost their lives in a fire in the
Avondale mine of the Lackawanna company, and the village of Hyde Park,
scores of the men resided, was plunged into grief, similar in
the sorrow which prevailed six [five -ed.] months ago tomorrow, on April
in Throop and North Scranton as the result of the Pancoast disaster,
seventy three men lost their lives.
In the Washburn Street cemetery, lying in two long rows, are the
of fifty-one of the victims, many of
whom were never identified.
Col. R. A. PHILLIPS, general superintendent of the Lackawanna Coal
department, lived in Plymouth at the
time. He was a boy of five or six years, and his father, Thomas J.
PHILLIPS, was foreman of the Jersey mine of the Lackawanna, which adjoined
the Avondale colliery. Colonel Phillips said last night that he
the women running to and fro carrying coffee to the relief parties
"Scores of people from this section lost relatives in the disaster,"
said Colonel Phillips. "Walter
REESE, one of our district superintendents, lost a father and two
Harry HATTON lost a father and a
brother, and there were others that I do not recall at the moment.
HUGHES was then general
superintendent, and his brother, Evan HUGHES, mine foreman at the
was one of the victims."
"Some of the best miners of West Scranton were taken down there to
in the relief work. Evan J. EVANS, district superintendent now, was
and John H. POWELL, one of our mine foremen was another. Quite a number
dead. I remember Benjamin HUGHES, Thomas D. DAVIES and Richard H.
among others and Thomas CARSON, who died a few years ago."
The Avondale mine is being operated now from a new breaker, the old
having been destroyed in the fire. Legislation promoted by Harry J.
PHILLIPS now requires that there be two openings in a mine. Representative
Phillips was a brother of Joseph P. PHILLIPS, former city engineer.
Scranton Tribune-Republican, Thursday, Sept. 7. 1911 - West Scranton news
column - Notes and Comments:
It will be many years until the Avondale is not a frequent topic in
Scranton, owing to the peculiar fact that
the large majority of the victims were residents of this section of the
city. The reference in yesterday's Tribune-
Republican to the forty-second anniversary of the disaster caused the
inquiry as to the reason that so many of the victims should have found
last resting place in the Washburn Street cemetery. There are eighty
poor fellows who were entombed buried in this city, which was their
although employed at such a distance away. There are many of the older
settlers who will remember the old Luzerne slope, in the Notch, where
Benjamin HUGHES was appointed foreman by the Delaware, Lackawanna and
Western Company. In 1862 Mr. Hughes was commissioned by a New York
syndicate to examine some coal lands in Nova Scotia, and the late Thomas
DAVIES was appointed to succeed him as foreman of the Luzerne slope.
1866 Mr. Davies was promoted foreman of the Bellvue Mine, succeeding
PHILLIPS, who fell down the shaft and was killed. Evan HUGHES, a
Benjamin Hughes, succeeded Mr. Davies at the Luzerne slope, which was
in 1868, and thereupon Evan Hughes was transferred to the ill-fated
mine. When the Luzerne slope was thus closed all the miners were
practically out of employment, and Mr. Hughes prevailed upon them to
accompany him to the Avondale, where he arranged to find work for them.
Although they worked in the Wyoming valley many of them retained their
residence in Hyde Park and Providence, coming home each week-end.
When Benjamin Hughes returned from Nova Scotia, the Delaware,
and Western company was glad to secure his services again and placed
charge of the Hyde Park shaft, then known as Price's, which had
with water and rendered idle for a long time.
There are many men who rendered heroic service in the Avondale
whose names are easily brought to mind. One of the most pathetic
was the dying effort of seventy-two men to protect themselves from the
by building a wall and making an inclosure. It was necessary,
one man should remain on the outside to close the aperture and then
death in the effort to save the seventy-two who were inside. The
was Johnny BOWEN, whose relatives live in North Scranton.
When the enclosure was reached Thomas DAVIES, Rees T. EVANS, and two
others found Bowen's body near the wall and then, forcing an entrance,
the seventy-two bodies within the enclosure. The total number of
Rees T. Evans did some heroic work. He was the father of Mrs. John E.
BRADLEY and Mrs. Eleazer EVANS, of Lafayette street, and was one of the
known bards of his day.
Another rescuer was John T. WILLIAMS, afterwards state representative
and merchant of South Main avenue, who was at the time a foreman for the
DL&W company. His widow resides on South Main avenue. His two well known
sons, Palmer WILLIAMS and Elmer WILLIAMS, have passed away.
Joseph D. LLOYD, father of Mrs. William R. LEWIS, was a rescuer and
afterward foreman of several of the
John HALE, who is still living and a comparatively young man, although
retired from the foremanship of the
Bellvue colliery, was one of the untiring workers. Among the other
Lewis ROBERTS, now dead, foreman for years at the Central and Dodge
mines, and one of the brainiest
foremen in the employ of the company. He was the father of Robert
employed in the post office.
Edward JAMES, father of the late Hon. Edward JAMES, and of John Rees
JAMES, now of Kingston. He was an excellent poet and well known by his
non-de-plume, "Iorweth Ddu".
Morgan HARRIS, of Taylor, father of John M. HARRIS, and Supt. H. E.
HARRIS. He was undoubtably one of
the best read men in the community and exercised a marked influence among
the men in the uplifting of their
John L. LEWIS, of the Pyne, at which place he was foreman. His son,
V. LEWIS, who is now in West
Scranton on a visit form his home in Montana, where he has prospered.
Thomas HOUSER, who was foreman at the Diamond, and was the father of
HOUSER, of Taylor. "Mike"
HOUSER, brother of the last mentioned, who was a foreman of many years.
Henry P. DAVIES, father of John J. DAVIES, the druggist, who died
a year or so ago, and was a popular choir leader and bard.
Thomas WATKINS, foreman at the Cayuga, and father of Daniel WATKINS,
city assessor, and William
WATKINS, formerly bank cashier of this city and now of New York city.
Elijah DAGGER, of South Main avenue, and Frank ZIMMERMAN, of West
both of whom are still living
and are retired foremen.
Daniel PHILLIPS, now dead, an uncle to Col. R. A. PHILLIPS. Who was
Morgan MORGAN, superintendent of the Lehigh and Wilkes-Barre Coal
company, and Rees MORGAN, his
W. T. SMITH, former general superintendent of the lehigh and
Wilkes-Barre Coal company.
Gwilym M. WILLIAMS, now dead, the well known mine inspector and choir
John GORDON, father of T. P. GORDON.
John FLYNN, now dead, who after leaving the service of the DL&W
was a partner in the firm of
Mears & Flynn.
Reese G. BROOKS, then a foeman for the Lackawanna Iron and Coal
rendered splendid aid.
Patrick BLEWITT, mine inspector, who I regret to learn is seriously
Harry J. PHILLIPS, mining engineer, who returned to Wales and built a
little home and called it "Lackawanna
Villa." He died about four years ago.
J. J. EVANS, the South Main avenue merchant, who is still alive and as
youthful as ever. Mr. Evans has a
wonderful memory and recites the stirring scenes of the Avondale disaster
today just as clearly, vividly, and with as much detail as he did
Joseph P. PHILLIPS, then in the engineer's department and afterwards
city engineer, and his brother, Jeremiah J. PHILLIPS, mining engineer,
also among the rescuers.