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The Scofield Horror

The world was horrified at the terrible news that came from the little town of Scofield, Utah, May 1. The first report that a mine explosion had occurred there and fifteen men killed was serious enough. But when later reports came telling of the awful fate that had overtaken the unfortunate miners working there and that two hundred of them had either been killed by the explosion or from the effects of the after damp, it shocked the people throughout the country. Many from Salt Lake and citizens throughout the state hurried to that stricken town to render what assistance possible to the unfortunate ones. For two or three days a large force of men worked to get the dead from the mine. Salt Lake City was unable to furnish coffins enough and a large number were expressed from Denver, Colorado. The scene around the mine as the dead were brought out cannot be described, hundreds of women and children stood awestricken, waiting husband, father, or brother to be brought out a mangled corpse and strong men broke down with grief as someone dear to them was carried out and placed among the dead, and hundreds of women and children were weeping aloud as they discovered some of their dear ones who had left home only a few hours before in the full vigor of life, now cold in death how miserable and gloomy were the surroundings.

Brothers Sonnedecker and Harrison from Salt Lake City, representing the Pythian Order were early on the scene, to do all they could to aid those in dire distress. On Friday the following grand lodge officers went to Scofield to assist in burying our dead and to offer our sympathy to the bereaved ones: Grand Chancellor Gardiner; Grand Vice Chancellor Jennings, Grand Prelate, Stoney; Grand R. R. S., Wardleigh: and Knights McGill, Hobday, and others.

Rathbone Lodge No. 9, Scofield

Rathbone Lodge No. 9, Scofield, was one of the most flourishing of the Pythian lodges of the state. It had forty-four enthusiastic, big hearted fellows with ample funds for its ordinary needs.

A number of its members had just formed an incorporation, the Fraternal Building Association of Scofield and Winter Quarters, and had completed arrangements to erect a handsome two story building halfway between the railroad station at Scofield and the company store in Winter Quarters between which two points nearly all the cottages of the mines and railroad employees are located.

The building was arranged for entertainments on the ground floor, with ample stage room for the ordinary play. The upper floor was arranged for a lodge room with ante rooms and a reception or banquet room. The building completed would have cost about $3,000. Two thirds of this amount was subscribed when the awful accident occurred which not only took away some of the biggest subscribers, but also some of the most active in all the affairs of the lodge. Fourteen of its members, loyal hearted and kind, were swept away in a breath, leaving many helpless widows and orphans.

The lodge bylaws provided $60 benefit to be paid in case of death, which alone amounts to $780, and that amount is increased almost as much more by the needs of widows and orphans.

Grand chancellor Gardiner issued the following circular to the lodges of this domain, which has been responded to most nobly and generously.

Circular Letter

To all lodges. Knights of Pythias, Grand Domain of Utah. Greeting. The appalling disaster which has befallen our sister lodge Rathbone No. 9 at Scofield, Utah, by which that lodge and our order has lost a large number of its membership, call for our deepest sympathy and the tears of these widows and orphans thus bereft of their natural protectors admonish us to our duty. The occasion is one that requires that substantial aid be furnished at once; and I therefore call upon all lodges in the domain to appropriate for the benefit of the affected families of our deceased brothers such sums of money as they can afford (making the amount as large as possible,) and recommend further that each lodge appoint a committee (of workers) to solicit subscriptions from the members of the Order individually. The committee so appointed will remit all sums so collected to Bro. L. H. Farnsworth, care Walker Bros' Bank, Salt Lake City, who will see that the same is promptly forwarded to our brothers at Scofield for distribution.

The awful catastrophe and the deep distress resulting there from must appeal to every Pythian heart, and I confidently submit the matter to you with the assurance that your response will be both generous and prompt. I direct that the charter of each lodge be draped in mourning for the period of thirty days.

As soon as full particulars are obtained information as to the full extent of our loss will be sent to each lodge. At present writing, twelve members are known to have lost their lives, and it is feared that many more have perished.

The following are the names of the brothers of Rathbone lodge No. 9, killed:

Robt. Parish, V. C
James Jenkins, Prelate
John Webber, M. of F.
John X. Lloyd, Trustee
S. W. Clark
John Hunter
W. C. Reese
Dan Pitman
John Pitman
J. R. Price
Wm. Parmley
Frank Strang
James Ferrins
Jos. S. Thomas

Former members of the lodge

Adam Hunter
M. Patterson
S. J. Padfield
M. Pitman
Robt. Williams

Members of Eagle No. 13, Castle Gate

D. D. Evans
Rich Stewart

Only four of the above were members of the Endowment Rank, and were insured for the following amounts:

John Webber, $1,000
John Hunter, $1,000
W. C. Reese, $1,000
James Jenkins, $ 500

The fifteen widows and fifty-one orphan children left by our deceased brothers, who meet such an untimely death in the mine, and we extend to them our sincere sympathy in their sad bereavement.

Resolutions of Sympathy

Scofield, Utah, May 25, 1900.

Whereas, on the first day of May, A. D. 1900, a terrible mine explosion occurred at Scofield, Utah, thereby causing the death of one hundred ninety-nine men. The most heartrending' disaster that ever occurred in this great commonwealth.

Whereas, it has pleased the Almighty God in this terrible sacrifice of human lives to remove from our midst eighteen loyal, brave and true Knights of Pythias, men worthy of esteem, confidence and love of our brethren, men who have so lived that the world is better for their having lived. Their lives were a shining example of industry, frugality, love, and devotion to humanity.

Whereas, Rathbone Lodge No. 9, K. of P. was by the Divine Will of our Master, called upon to give up fourteen members out of this number.

Resolved, That to the widows and orphans of our deceased brethren we offer our prayers and sympathies. That while their grief and sorrow is almost unbearable, we urge them to bear up bravely. That the trials and vicissitudes of life are burdensome almost beyond human reasoning, but through all the pain, sorrow, and suffering, there appears the bright star of hope, a happiness in the great beyond, a meeting where there is no parting, no pain, no sorrow. Rest eternal.

We offer them our protection. We claim them as our own and will guard their homes against the ravages of want and need. Their joy is our joy, their sorrow our sorrow.

Resolved. That the resolution be spread upon the pages of our minute book and a copy forwarded to Rathbone Lodge No. 9, with instructions to forward a copy to the family of each deceased brother.

B. F. Caffey,
J. A. Harrison,
T. T. Lamph. Committee.

Unanimously passed by Eagle Lodge No. 13, Castle Gate, Utah, this 18th, day of May 1900.

Attest: Wm. Cowley, C. C.
Robt. Williams, K. R. S.

Last Session of the Grand Lodge Knights of Pythias.

The grand lodge of the Utah Knights of Pythias closed its labors with the session of yesterday afternoon, and last evening was given a banquet by the Salt Lake lodges of the order that started the visiting delegates tor their respective homes with high ideas of the hospitality and good fellowship of the brethren in Zion. It was the general opinion at the close of the grand lodge that this was one of the very best meetings ever held by the order in this state. More seems to have been accomplished and with less friction than has been the case hitherto.

Handle Relief Funds

The next matter taken up was the appointment of a special committee to handle and distribute the special fund being contributed by the Knights of Pythias of the entire country for the assistance of those left helpless by the Scofield mine disaster. The committee appointed is C. I. Duglas of Salt Lake, president; J. M. Beatie of Scofield, secretary; L. H. Farnsworth of Salt Lake, treasurer; J. A. Harrison of Castle Gate, first vice-president; F. H. Mereweather of Scofield, second vice-president.

There were seventeen Knights of Pythias killed in the Scofield disaster. There are fifteen widows and fifty orphans left as a result; in one family there are a widow and seven children. An appeal was sent out to all K. of P. lodges to help these unfortunates and it is felt that a considerable sum will be contributed. The committee appointed will have the full control of this fund.

Upon special invitation it was voted to hold the next grand lodge in Ogden on the third Tuesday of June as usual.

At the afternoon session a uniform code of laws was adopted for trials in the subordinate lodges, and this, it is thought, will dispense with much confusion.

The grand tribunal was given authority to henceforth take part in grand lodges and act as an advisory committee to the Grand Chancellor in all matters of law and the application of law.

Means were provided for the consolidation of local lodges.



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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