Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sunday Cemetery - Mine Victim Graves

Published the 14th of July in 1902 in the Philadelphia Inquirer out of Philadelphia, PA
TRENCHES DUG TO HOLD BODIES OF MINE VICTIMS
Regular Grave Diggers Refused to Work, So Comrades Dug Grave
WORK TO BE BEGUN
But Foreign Laborers Fear a Return to the Scene of the Disaster
Special to The Inquirer.
     JOHNSTOWN, Pa., July 12 – The tragedy is about over. To-day was given up to funerals and requiem mass for the dead.
Mine Superintendent George T. Robinson took a party through the Rolling Mill mine to-day where the disaster occurred. The company is preparing to operate the mine this week. The superstitious foreigners refuse to return to work in that mine.
The regular grave diggers in the Slavock and Polish Catholic Cemeteries refused to do their work because of exhaustion from the previous day’s work, and the comrade of the men who were to be buried had to perform this last sad office.  This summarizes the day’s news in the tragedy of the Cambria mine.
Trenches Served as Graves
     The hard rock of the cemetery soil made the task of digging the seventy graves separately too great, and two great trenches were dug instead. The scarcity of men to dig the graves came very near causing the county authorities to interfere and take charge of the work of interring the remains of the dead miners.
     Almost forty bodies lay in the barn to the left of the foreigners’ cemetery in Morrellville all last night. There was not even a man left to guard the bodies. The corpses in the barn were augmented this morning by four other bodies which were taken to the barn, and as there were no graves they had to be deposited among others.
Grave Diggers in Demand
     The Rev. Father B. Dembinsky made a herculean effort to have men volunteer to go out and dig graves but very few responded. This morning he made a personal canvass among his parishioners of St. Cassmir’s Slavack Catholic Church and succeeded in getting several relatives of the dead miners to go.
     Then Rev. Father Dembinsky made a personal appeal to the official of the Cambria Steel Company and they took action on the matter at once, and sent thirty miners to the cemetery.
     During the masses, which he held for his own people this morning, the Rev. Father Dembinsky again called for volunteer grave diggers, with the result that about five men volunteered their services. At 10 o’clock mass, held in St. Stephen’s Slavish Catholic Church, the Rev. Father John Marlvin made a stirring appeal to the members of his congregation and quite a number of men agreed to go, and at 11 o’clock there were sixty-four men in the Morrellville Cemetery digging graves for the dead bodies of the victims.
Regulars Refused to Dig
     The two regular grave diggers employed by the cemetery had positively refused to take up a digging iron. The force which went to work shortly before noon make great excavation, with the result that by 2 o’clock preparations were begun to bring the bodies from the barn and deposit them in the ground. The men worked hard and fast. Then their friends came to the cemetery and many not in working clothes, who had come to the burring ground to attend the funerals, got down into the holes and worked for ten or fifteen minutes each.
Solemn Church Scene

      In St. Stephen’s Catholic Church this morning the coffins, twenty-four in number, were placed side by side and pointing toward the altar. Others were placed on the tops of church pews, where they remained while the services were in progress. One by one, as a funeral was announced, the pall bearers, and dozens of them aced at numerous funerals during the day, would walk up the aisle, select the desired coffin or casket, always