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Editorials From Leading Dailies

Corporations with Souls.

Every visitor to Scofield is impressed by the fraternal relations of employer and employed. They were pleasant before the disaster, and calamity has only served to show them in a stronger light. Any eulogy, however eloquent, would be inadequate as a tribute to the bravery, the generosity, the self-sacrifice shown by every official of the Pleasant Valley Coal Company and the Rio Grande Western Railway Company, who has been called into service for the sufferers. Their devotion has been unlimited, ungrudging; it is a perfect refutation of the belief so often expressed that 'corporations have no souls.

"Nor has the demonstration of corporate humanity been confined to these two great companies. The local companies that have contributed to the relief funds and the foreign aggregations of capital that have responded so generously, deserve the thanks of the people for this exceptional exhibition and interest in the public welfare."

The Coal Mine Catastrophe

"The calamity at Scofield grows in horror the more it is contemplated. Our country has been in war for two years past. In no battle have there been so many killed and so few wounded. Some who had faced death in battle repeatedly and came out unscathed, went down to death in a moment in that terrible pit. Men stand benumbed in the presence of such a catastrophe. In the horror only one thought fills the mind, that is, that those who are left must feel the loving arms of the State around them; they must have the comfort which the full spontaneous sympathy of the State can give them and their material needs must be ministered to. When one among the poor dies all others carry comfort to the stricken ones.

"For all the poor are piteous to the poor," but in this case every humble home has its dead, and the spectacle is pathetic enough to dress all the State in mourning, that those poor people who are left may know that "The whole wide State weeps with their woe and the grief which all hearts share grows less for one."

There is no reconcilement for sorrow that comes by such a stroke. When disease steals in and tortured souls from couches of pain take their flight, there is the poor comfort that their sufferings are over. But only the well and the strong are engaged in the work that these men were engaged in, and from the robustness of their manhood in a moment without notice, they were translated; the prop of many a family was broken, and around the desolation that follows, all possible comfort and sympathy must be drawn. We have read of such calamities in foreign mines. We have read when the fishing fleets of New England come home in the autumn and report the number of lost, what the sorrow is; but these have seemed faraway calamities tons, such as could not afflict Utah. But these dead and this sorrow are at our very doors, the truth is forced upon us that Utah is not exempt; that she must bear her part in the world's industrial tragedies. It ought to soften all our hearts toward our fellow men; it ought to cause the whole state to draw its arms around the stricken ones who are left, with a tenderness that will be as a balm to the hearts that are breaking' and to the eyes that have grown weary with weeping.

For the Children

The two orphan asylums of this city have been opened to the homeless children deprived of paternal care by the Scofield disaster Bishop Scanlon's generous tender of the orphanage accompanied by a statement in which was the genuine ring of true philanthropy and Christian Charity. No questions are asked no conditions imposed except these, Do these little ones need a home. Will they come to ours?

The ladies in charge of the orphans Home and Day Nursery, where so many helpless children have been befriended and started upon careers of usefulness have announced that they will look after such of the Scofield children as may be needing a shelter.

This is the help that counts. Tears may be wiped away by sympathetic hands. Suffering may be relieved with food or medicine. And these are the immediate needs of the hour. But a roof for the homeless, a chance for the fatherless, a refuge for the friendless will be provided by ministering angels long after the shock has been forgotten and the tragedy has faded into history.

Investigate

We think the state authorities, especially the Governor, and if possible the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House, with the Attorney General should so soon as the immediate work at Scofield is finished, undertake the investigation of the great disaster. One of two things is evident on the face of things. Either there was something wrong with the conditions something that human foresight ought to have avoided, or else it is a clear case that every man who goes to work in a Utah coal mine absolutely takes his life in his own hands. The proper way to ventilate the mines at least the most perfect way vet devised is not by blowing air into a mine, but by suction; the attachment of blowers on the outside that will draw from the mine its foul gases and permit the vacuum to be filled with a current of atmospheric air, because when a blast of pure air is driven into coal dust, it of itself is sometimes enough to cause an explosion. If this mine had suction blowers on the outside which were at work, and there were connections which permitted the drawing' of the foul gases from all parts of the mine to the outside, and if the machinery was in order and working that would demonstrate that the mine was too dangerous a place for men to work in. If, on the other hand, those gases had been allowed to accumulate for days, then there was either gross carelessness or gross incompetency in the handling of the property, and these facts ought to be brought out, whatever they be, because coal mining in this state is still in its infancy. There are coal measure almost all the way from Wyoming to Saint George, and the amount of coal that will be taken from those mines, ten, fifteen or twenty years hence will be as great probably as the amount now taken from the Pennsylvania mines. And this accident ought to be enough to determine not only the corporations, but the state authorities to see that such regulations are made as will draw every protection possible around the miners in the depths.

There ought to be a most rigid examination to see if the mining inspector has been performing his duty, and insisting that modern precautions should all the time be taken; that the appliance which science and experience dictate were all in working order in that properly. It is a fearful thing. While in the pursuit of honest toil, there were in a moment so many men killed as would cause a shudder if the same record of death came from a battlefield, and if this catastrophe results in drawing such protection around miners hereafter as will most effectually protect them, then it will not have been altogether in vain. It is a frightful calamity. In the presence of it men are apt to be impatient and fault finding. There should be nothing of that, but there should be a calm and thorough investigation, and the truth should be known so that if any added precautions can be taken, they will be insisted upon.

Act with Wisdom

The sadness that has rested down upon the people of Utah through the awful calamity at Scofield is accompanied with that sympathy which should be felt for the bereaved. The flow and orphans now in the throes of anguish if not despair, are ever before the mental vision of the humane. Aid for the afflicted s offered from all quarters. The rich are coming forward with their large donations, the poor with their smaller offerings as to amounts, but in many instances greater when gauged by their financial abilities. This is the only pleasing feature in palliation of the horror, the magnitude of which has startled the whole civilized world. The movements of the municipal authorities in this, and a number of other cities in the State and of various associations, societies and firms for subscriptions for the relief of the suffering, is laudable and encouraging, and the responses are instant and generous. All this is gratifying in the extreme.

But there is a possible danger in the excitement of the hour to which we direct attention. That is, unwise distribution of tie means gathered from the benevolent. The circumstances of the families in distress are no doubt various, and require difference in the amounts and manners of help bestowed. Indiscriminate giving of alms would be unwise and might be unfair. Immediate relief is no doubt necessary in many cases and ought to be extended. But the funds that are now being raised ought to be discreetly handled. If each city or individual contributing expends its own means, it will be easily seen that confusion and duplication will be the result, and the most solitary benefits will not be obtained.

We advised that a Central Committee be appointed by the Governor of the State, to whom the various committees throughout the Utah shall report and send the contributions so collected, and who shall supervise the bestowal of that permanent assistance which will be necessary, according to the needs and circumstances of the bereaved. This suggestion has been adopted and it will prevent that confusion and the many mistakes which would be occasioned by the indiscriminate distribution of help from a number of different sources. Let the good work of subscription go on with energy and as rapidly as possible, while the warmth of the present sympathy remains at its greatest height and its wide spread extent. The message of sympathy and condolence from President McKinley is gratifying and timely. It is a token of the universality of popular feeling over this terrible calamity, unparalleled ill the history of the nation, and new to this ordinarily much blessed commonwealth. Gather in the means as quickly as possible, but by all means organize a State committee for the wise distribution of the funds of sweet charity.

Will Trace the Cause

There is a manly tone in Superintendent Sharp's official statement printed in yesterday's Herald. He expresses the warmest sympathy for the bereaved families, and no man doubts that he feels the effect of the disaster as keenly as any who have suffered because of it. He mourns the death of his men and his heart goes out to the orphans. But what concerns him more than it concerns almost anyone else connected in any way with this tragedy is its cause.

There will be no end of the investigation, he asserts, until the cause is determined beyond the shadow of a doubt. And his interest may be understood by his statement that "No mine in the United States was considered safer than Winter Quarters No. 4, and it is generally agreed that this is true.

The cause of the explosion is, therefore, a mystery. But Mr. Sharp declares that it will have to be solved. There must be no repetition of this May Day horror.

Scofield Relief Fund

The suggestions offered by Mr. B. L. Lloyd published yesterday, concerning the disposition of the Scofield Fund are worthy of serious consideration. Mr. Lloyd's idea is that it would be unwise to distribute at once among the afflicted families the large sum of money is generously contributed, but that it would be far better to establish a permanent fund, for the support and education of the orphans. He believes this is the wisest solution of the problem that confronts the committee. Sufficient funds have not been sent direct to the scene of the disaster to remove for some time to come all danger of distress among the bereaved families. There will remain in the hands of the committee appointed by the Governor a very large sum, possibly one hundred thousand dollars. Each dependent widow and orphan might receive an equitable share each year, the system being so adjusted that the fund would not be exhausted until the last orphan became capable of support. Of course the number of pensioners would rapidly diminish as widows become remarried and orphans become of age.

The equitable distribution of this money will involve the preparation of a complete record of those who have been left without means of support, and this record, it seems to us, cannot be prepared too soon. The families are even now scattered all over the State of Utah, and some have gone to distant States. It would be unfortunate if some should be lost from view and thus fail to receive their just share.

These ideas are merely put forth as suggestions. The committee selected to administer the fund is composed of capable and conscientious gentlemen who are fully able to decide what is best to be done.

Sympathy and Suggestions

The horror of a tragedy like that which accompanied the mine explosion at Scofield reaches farther than the community where it was enacted. It affects the entire state, becomes national in its scope and appalls the civilized world. It spreads as fast as the electric current may run, and extends as far as the wires bear messages to mankind.

The sickening story which has thrilled Utah for two days is a subject for general discussion in eastern cities and European capitals. Messages of condolence and regret were received from President McKinley and from President Loubet of France, almost simultaneously. Offers of assistance pour in from every distance and direction. Generous contributions have been telegraphed by Utah men, temporarily absent from the State, and by business men in many places. Raphael, Wiel & Co., wholesale clothiers of San Francisco, wired $250. The Brandenstein Tea Company of the same place, $100. Henry Phipps, of the Carnegie Company, $100 and so on through the list which is printed elsewhere in this mornings "Herald."

Every mail brings in a rich freightage of donations and expressions of sympathy from this and surrounding states, intermingled with which are inquiries concerning the cause of the disaster and theories fixing the responsibility.

At this time the cause is only problematical. To fix the blame is out of the question now. It is in poor taste for a newspaper to pass judgment upon such cases while the public is under the influence of sudden shock and bereavement.

The Herald believes there will be an early investigation and that it will be thorough and searching. More lamentable than present death and suffering would be the failure to learn from this disaster, something in the direction of preventing such tragedies in the future. Some explanation must be found. Some responsibility must be fixed, either upon the victims, the Company, or the system under which coal is mined. For it will not do to go on taking chances with cheerful optimism while such calamities are not only liable to occur again at any time, but in any mine where similar conditions prevail.

This, however, is a time for sympathy and succor. When the dead are buried and the immediate wants of the survivors attended to, it will be time for the serious consideration of precautionary measures or measures calculated to at least minimize the danger of such wholesale destruction of human life.

Equals Ashtabula Horror
(Boise Capital.)

In Scofield, Utah, every house is in mourning and every home is a chamber over the gate.

Hardly a family is free from the touch of the angel of death. Nearly three hundred brave miners lie wrapped in the habiliments of the grave, awaiting the sepulchre. On that day, the first of May, memorable now as one of horror and gloom, men kissed their wives and little ones and went into the mine. No warning voice whispered aught of coming doom. Without, fair nature smiled, the bird's song thrilled the air with music, and myraids of flowers flung their fragrance to the passing breeze. There was a rumble as of distant thunder, clouds of smoke and dust and the hearts of those men were stilled forever. Of all who went into that mine not one escaped to tell the sad story of suffocation and death. There were shrieks and smothered cries and trembling of distress and running to and fro. Such scenes of agony as transpired in those tunnels beggar the pencil of a Raphael to picture; defy a pen like that of Hugo to describe. Fathers and sons were locked in each other's arms. The whole mine was a raging inferno. The men were burned and scarred and wounded, many of them beyond recognition. Many of them had their feet and hands burned away, some were decapitated, many were roasted alive. Whole families perished locked in one another's arms and silent in a last embrace."

No such disaster has ever before happened in Utah. It is one of the horrors of the century and will go down in history by the side of the Ashtabula disaster and that of the death bridge of the Lay. All that human sympathy and help can do is being done for both the dead and the living. All hearts go out in sympathy for the stricken wives and children who sit and weep beneath this awful cloud of sorrow.

Dangers of Coal Mining
(Los Angeles Herald.)

The mine explosion in Utah last Thursday was probably the worst disaster of the kind that has taken place in this country. Such things seem to be almost periodic, and all the ingenuity and precautions seem futile to eradicate all danger. If nothing has been left undone in the way of safety precautions, the men themselves grow careless. Coal mining is an extra hazardous occupation at the best, and it has been degraded in more ways than one. To begin with the coal resources of the country are practically in the hands of a monopoly that is able to control the output and to raise or lower prices as it sees fit. Its power is almost as great in the matter of wages, but the federation of miners has been able to make some headway against it. The importation first of contract labor and then of the worse off scouring of Europe to take the place of intelligent, civilized labor in the mines, has almost driven American labor from the field, more especially in the East.

In the West the conditions are not quite so pronounced, and the long list of the butchered in the Utah disaster indicates that many Americans were employed.

Doubtless the conditions are very much better than they used to be, but it has been a hard tight to secure the chanties. Ordinary precautions are no certain protection. In addition to the Utah calamity yesterday mornings papers reported mines afire in two other localities. The coal miner takes his life in his hand every time he goes down into the bowels of the earth, to earn his daily bread by the sweat of his brow.

Necessary Precautions.
(Pittsburg Dispatch.)

The Utah mine disaster is the worst of its kind for many years. The death list is simply appalling. Like the explosions which have occurred in Pennsylvania mines it is difficult to determine the immediate responsibility. But like the similar disasters of this state it may be assumed that lack of proper precautions is at the bottom of it, and probably insufficient safeguards. Whether some incompetent or reckless miner took liberties with doors or lamps is a matter for the Utah authorities to determine. Yet there remains for all the lesson that mining laws should go beyond the perfunctory examinations of workings to secure the safety of human life. The requirements regarding ventilation and safety appliances should be of the strictest. In addition, the qualifications of miners should be fixed by law. Irresponsible persons ought not to be permitted to jeopardize the lives of their fellows.

Protection for Miners
(Park City Record.)

There will be no immediate suffering for life's necessities by the stricken families, for generous hands and responsive hearts, will come to their relief and minister to them. Few, indeed, will hesitate to contribute their mite for such a worthy cause. We hope that there will be no omissions that each suffer may be given every aid and consolation that can be extended to the broken hearted. There is but one good, that can result from the horrible tragedy and that is it will cause better protection and more safe guards to be thrown around those who toil in such places, so that there can be no recurrence of such a disaster, no more blotting out of lives that have not even the enjoyment of God's sunlight in their labors.

We hope there will be a thorough investigation as to the cause, and that the blame, if there be any placed where it belongs. The truth should he known, and the responsibility, heavy as it is, should rest on the shoulders of the guilty ones, if guilty there be.

What Will Malad Do
(Malad (Idaho) Enterprise.)

Down in Scofield, Utah, in one of the mines of the Pleasant Valley Coal Company, an explosion occurred on May 1 and every man employed in the mine, numbering about three hundred was killed. Three hundred men killed; two hundred wives made widows and probably six hundred children left fatherless. This is by far the most terrible disaster which has ever occurred in this intermountain region. There are today in Scofield, about eight hundred women and children left entirely alone without any visible means of support absolutely destitute. Subscriptions are being raised in every town in this country to relieve the terrible distress and we believe Malad should do something and do quick. Let the major take hold of the matter and send out soliciting committees. The Enterprise will start the ball rolling with five dollars, and will receive contributions which the people feel disposed to make until such time as some other arrangements can be made. The names of contributors and the amount will be published in these columns.

Manti Generosity
(Manti Messenger.)

No news so terrible as the Scofield catastrophe has ever circulated throughout the state of Utah.

To think of the terrible fate of the miners in that explosion and then to remember the families left in almost destitute circumstances is enough to make any able-bodied man contribute to the relief of these heart broken families.

This terrible accident is certainly a very sad affair as many of the families are reported to be almost destitute and we hope our citizens will open their pocket books as wide as possible and donate liberally, as the means will be given to the families of these unfortunate miners who were burned, smothered, and cruelly killed while performing their duty.

Help the Bereaved Ones
(Utah County Democrat.)

The Democrat extends its deepest heartfelt sympathy to those who lost their dear ones and friends in the Winter Quarters mine disaster. Humanity stands appalled, man gazes blankly at his fellow man and the tongue is dumb to utterance when death snuffs out the light of so many lives. But though we are helpless in the presence of death, though we cannot ease or resuscitate those who have departed into eternity, who are happy now in the midst of a fuller life, still let us give a word of cheer and a helping hand to the bereaved ones.

The manner of their death was sad, but nearly all passed away without experiencing pain; the greatest sorrow and sadness is for those who will no more know the loving care of a father, the love of a husband or brother. Those who died are in the presence of the Almighty' trust Him, they are content.

Rock Springs Will Help
(Rock Springs Miner.)

The explosion at Scofield, Utah, is the worst in the history of the west. Two hundred and fifty dead bodies have been recovered, and there are more in the mine. In every house in Scofield there is a vacant chair and poignant grief overshadows the town like a cloud. It is awful, awful. Many of the victims are known here. Words are useless. Sympathy we extend, but it seems only mockery. Let us do more. Rock Springs ought to organize a committee for a relief fund. Who will lead? The Miner columns are at the service of the people and the Miner is with any movement to temporarily ameliorate the sufferings of the distressed.

 

Index

Source: History of the Scofield Mine Disaster, by J. W. Dilley, The Skelton Pub. Co., Provo, Utah, 1900.

Editors Note: The I.. O. O. F. were very active in raising money for the benefit of the widows and children along with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This information is included for historical value, it does not mean the people of this project support these institutions.

 

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