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Saturday, August 20, 2016

Insurance Salesman Among Those Killed in 1914 Eccles Mine Disaster

It was payday at the Eccles mine and an ambitious insurance salesman had been permitted to go inside the  mines to sell new life and accident policies to workers and collect payments. The agent had managed to sign several miners up for coverage before a violent explosion tore through the workings of the Eccles No. 5 mine, at about 2:30 p.m.

Freeman Linville, an agent of the Providence Life and Accident Company of Charleston, W.Va., was the first victim to be found by the rescuers. At the young age of 32, he had achieved the dubious distinction of being "the only known non-miner to die in a West Virginia mine."




The April 28th 1914 explosion killed 183 persons at the Eccles Nos. 5 and 6 mines of The New River Collieries Company in Raleigh County. Five of the fatalities were young boys, said to be between 14 to 16 years of age.

The Eccles Disaster was the 29th to occur in the state. In terms of fatalities, the Eccles Mine Disaster was the second worst mining disaster to occur in West Virginia, eclipsed only by the December 6,, 1907 Monongah Mine Disaster, which claimed 361 lives. A second disaster occurred at the Eccles No. 5 mines on March 8, 1926, that killed 19.

A memorial dedicated to those who died at the two  Eccles mine disasters is located on Old Eccles Road, near Beckley, WV, and a historical market has been erected on the Raleigh County Courthouse grounds commemorating the 1914 Eccles explosion.


Sources


Public Service Commission: First Annual Report, Part III

History of Raleigh County, by Jim Wood

Freeman Linville @ Find A Grave

Trapper Boys Among the Dead in West Virginia Mine

History of Raleigh County, West Virginia "Miners Paid With Their Lives"

WV Mine Disasters 1884 to Present

They Died in Darkness, Lacy A. Dillon


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