Utah ~ AHGP
Part of the American History & Genealogy Project


Search Our Site

Caskets Deliver to Each Town

On May 4th, those who were present at the Rio Grande Western Railroad depot when the special arrived carrying the dead victims of the awful mining disaster, were able to realize a tithe of the suffering and anguish which the fearful calamity had entailed, there was hardly a dry eye among the crowd of over five hundred people that had gathered upon the platform to witness the arrival of one of the saddest trains that was ever pulled into Salt Lake when engine No. 128 steamed into the depot with a train of five cars from the scene of the disaster. Even the bell on the locomotive seemed to give forth a muffled sound, and a hush fell upon those assembled as they caught sight of the baggage car which was draped with black and white streamers. As every car passed slowly' in review, the pale, tearstained faces of the passengers caused a murmur of unconstrained sympathy to pass over the crowd. There were little children there to, who were too young to sense the pitifulness of their loss and to whom a ride in the cars was a novelty. From one car rang out an infantile laugh as the bright eyed little orphan gazed upon the scene, not realizing the extent of his bereavement. A hardy workman, standing near the express office, at the sound furtively wiped his eyes with the back of his grimy hand and then turned his face away and vainly tried to hide his emotion, while overhead the stars and stripes were waving at half-mast, over the scene. When the cars came to a standstill, the sliding doors of the baggage car were thrown back and a glimpse of tier upon tier of oblong cases were disclosed to view. Stacked one upon another were the plain outer cases containing the bodies of the breadwinners who had met such fearful death, while engaged in their daily avocations. Each coffin was covered with the now withered flowers that had been sent by loving hands the day before from Salt Lake, while upon the ends were tacked the yellow paper which gave the names of the dead and the signed "Physicians and Undertakers Certificate of Death." Tenderly the caskets were removed one by one to the undertaker's vehicles and a furniture van, which had been chartered for the occasion, until there were in all eight bodies removed.

First in order came the Wilson boys, Willie, James and Alexander.

Then followed the bodies of the three Italians, Nicola Anselmo, Joseph Mayo, and G. Funari, who were brought to the city at the request of their friends.

The body of Chris Johnson was the last to be brought out. He leaves in the City of Salt Lake a wife and little son to mourn his loss.

The train stayed only a few minutes longer and then proceeded north on its way, with the burden of twenty-one victims and about one hundred friends and relatives. Prior to the departing, however, the floral offerings on the coffins were replenished to the extent of two large wagon loads of flowers, the gifts of the school children of Salt Lake. Among those that accompanied the train on its sad journey was J. A. Lambert of Ogden, who is a member of the Hunter family, which has lost ten of its members in the awful accident. In the course of a brief conversation he said: "There are nine of our family on this train who met their death in the mine; the other still lies under the debris down there. My God it is awful. No tongue or pen can describe the horror of the situation down there. I have been through the entire war of the rebellion, but I can tell you it was nothing to what it is down in Scofield, from the fact that the women were not present on the battlefield. Whole families are wiped out and the women do nothing but shriek and wring their hands day and night. There are pitiful sights and cases there that would stir the hearts of the most callous. Take one instance that of Mrs. Williams, who came from Tennessee with her husband and a family of seven children a few days before the explosion. Her husband went to work in the mine and the next day met his death there."

S. R. Rickets, the assistant to undertaker S. D. Evans, told the same story after he had alighted from the train. He said were it not for the bounty of the people of the State of Utah, that there would be a famine staring them in the face, for the women to the last were not in a condition to do any household work. "The people of Scofield," he said, "entertained nothing but the kindest of feelings towards the Coal Co."

Scofield Cemetery on Day of Burial

The funeral special left Scofield with fifty-one bodies at one o'clock on Friday.

Making their first stop at Thistle, the bodies. of Dan Williams, of Vermillion, and William Nelson, of Elsinore, were transferred to the Sanpete branch train. At Thistle there was a scarcity of food at the lunch counter and many had to go on the train with nothing to eat.

On arriving at Springville the train was met by a big crowd of citizens who donated armfuls of flowers to strew over the coffins. At this place the following bodies were removed from the car: Morgan Miller, William Miller, John Miller, John T. Davis, John O. Davis, George O. Davis, also the bodies of Daniel Pitman, John Pitman Jr., Evan Evans, Lewis Leyshon, and W. K. Douglas of Spanish Fork. Provo was made by 440 where the remains of William Parmley, Thomas Gatherum, James and William Gatherum, D. D. Evans, George Langstaff were escorted up town by a great concourse of people.

The next stop was made at American Fork, where the bodies of Samuel and David Padfield were left with their relatives.

Lehi was the only town along the whole route that had no one there to assist in taking care of the body of John Kirton, but this can be accounted for from the fact that the deceased had not lived there for so long a time that he had passed from memory.

Salt Lake was reached at 6:30 where a stop of fifteen minutes was made, while the eight caskets were being placed in the undertaker's wagons. When the train proceeded on its way it bore the remaining twenty-one bodies, as follows:

For Ogden. John Hunter, David, William, Adam and son, John, Robert, and James A. Hunter: also Frank Strang Sr. and Frank Strang Jr.

For Coalville, Charles Edwards, Samuel Livsy, Richard Dixon, David Illmgsworth, William Clark, Jr. William Ullathorne, John and George James, George, William and Walter Clark.

The committee which left Scofield to assist in the distribution of the bodies enroute consisted of James W. Dilley, William Hirst, Pat, Sam and Ed. Wycherly, William Stones, George Crompton and James Walker.

In addition to the bodies sent north on the special, the regular train that left Scofield a few moments before the special carried the bodies of Harrison A. Miller, Isaac Miller and V. R. Miller for Helper, Robert Wilstead, William Willrtead, Robert Farrish, Thomas Farrish, W. T. Evans and a man named Franklin.

When the special arrived at Ogden there were pathetic scenes at the Union Depot when the horror of the Scofield accident was brought directly home to the people of Ogden. The funeral train bearing twenty-one bodies arrived at eight o'clock. There were large numbers of the dead miners relatives and friends in the passenger coaches. They were the fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters who had gone to Scofield at the first news of the disaster and they were bringing home their dead. On the depot platform were the remaining friends and relatives and when they met these on the train all seemed to lose control and there were enough pathetic incidents to fill a book. John Scowcroft and Sons had been telegraphed and asked to prepare a lunch for the people on the train, and when they arrived there, arrangements had been made at the restaurant to give everyone their supper. Those who were not able to leave the coaches were provided for and a large box of sandwiches and hot coffee was served to them on the train. Eleven of the bodies for Coalville were transferred here to a baggage car on the regular train of the Union Pacific that had been held for the transfer.

The ten that were left at Ogden were taken in charge by the three undertakers of the city, and conveyed to Lindquist's. These were buried the next day from the tabernacle. President L. W. Shurtliff conducted the funeral services over the ten bodies. The three leading undertakers of Ogden with all their employees assisted at the funeral of the ten brothers of the Hunter family relatives. Mr. Lindquist had general charge, Mr. Larkin attended to the seating of the relatives and other mourners. Mr. Richey, with one set of pall bearers, took the bodies from the conveyances to the door, where Mr. Lindquist, marshaling" another set, took the caskets inside and placed them in their station. The caskets contained Adam Hunter, John Hunter, Robert Hunter, James A. Hunter, William Hunter, David Hunter, John Hunter, F. Strang, F. F. Stang and and Richard Stewart.

The Rio Grande Western special train bearing the Provo victims of the Scofield disaster arrived at about 5 p. m. An hour or more before the train arrived hundreds of people began to gather at the depot, and when the special came in there were fully 1,000 anxious people on the platform. The Garden city was in deep mourning that afternoon. All business was suspended and an immense crowd of people attended the funeral of William Parmley, D. D. Evans, George L. Langstaff, and the three Gatherum brothers, Thomas, James, and William, all victims of the terrible disaster at Scofield. A great crowd was gathered at the depot when the funeral train arrived, and sadness has deepened in the city since then, as preparations for the funeral were made. Scores of school children were busy all forenoon bringing flowers to the stake tabernacle, where the funeral services were held. The edifice was suitably decorated in white, with flowers everywhere. Young ladies of the fourth ward did the decorating. Although William Parmley and D. D. Evans were members of fraternal societies, it was desired to hold the services together and President Partridge, of the stake presidency, took charge. The building was crowded to its fullest capacity at 2 o'clock, when the services were commenced. The tabernacle choir furnished the singing. The opening prayer was offered by Patriarch C. D. Evans; the speakers were: Judge J. E. Booth, Professors George H. Brimhall and J. B. Walton, Mayor T. N. Taylor, Bishop J. B. Keeler, and President Partridge. The cortege was one of the longest ever witnessed in the city. Six light vehicles had been suitably draped all alike in mull, with black bows and garlands of flowers. The pall bearers wore bows alike, the order regalia being dispensed with in order that no distinction might be manifest. The bishops of the four wards of Provo led the cortege, and following the bodies came the mourners, city officials and the general public.


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.


Back to AHGP

Copyright August @2011 - 2018 AHGP The American History and Genealogy Project.
Enjoy the work of our webmasters, provide a link, do not copy their work

This web page was last updated.