A serious mine accident which occurred in 1937 in Williamstown, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, resulted in the deaths of William Wingert and his son William Wingert Jr. It was widely reported in the coal region newspapers.
The Mount Carmel Item (Mount Carmel, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania), published the following story on 13 February 1937.
MINER AND SON KILLED UNDER SLIDE OF COAL
Williams Wingert Sr., Elizabethville, and Son William Jr., Meet Death
Equipped With gas Masks Crew Works Hard to Recover Bodies
WILLIAMSTOWN, 13 February 1937 — A father and son were killed here last night when caught in a slide of coal in one of the Susquehanna Collieries’ mines as a breast runway collapsed.
Working 1900 feet under the surface, a rescue crew dug out the bodies two hours after the accident occurred.
The two killed were William Wingert Sr., 53, of Elizabethville, and his son William Wingert Jr., 33, of Wiconisco. They were buried beneath the collapsing walls while working on the night trick in No. 10 slope of the mine.
The accident occurred about 9:00 o’clock but it was almost an hour later that the rescue crew could start work because of the dense gas which filled the mine.
Equipped with masks, the crew dug feverishly with shovels and at 11:00 o’clock they uncovered the miners bodies.
An article, dated 12 February 1937, from an unknown newspaper told a similar story with a bit more detail.
Father and Son Are Asphyxiated At Local Colliery Last Friday
A rush of coal followed by a burst of gas at the Williamstown colliery Friday evening was responsible for the death of a 53 old father and his son, when they were asphyxiated in driving a breast at the bottom of No. 10slope when the accident occurred.
A rescue squad recruited by Richard Penman, superintendent, immediately rushed to the scene but was driven back by the gas that followed in the wake of the rush. Masks were procured and at the same time, and effort was made to drive out the gas by increased ventilation. After several hours of ceaseless effort, the men were finally reached. It is reported that the father was lying over the lifeless form of the son when found by the rescue party in the heading a short distance from the manway. It would be logical to believe that the elder Wingert was assisting the younger man to safety after he has been affected by the gas fumes.
William Wingert Sr. is survived by his wife, the former Mabel Lentz, of Elizabethville, and the following children: Henry Wingert, Williamstown; Charles Wingert, Loyalton; Lawrence Wingert, Millerstown; and Joseph Wingert and Betty Wingert at home; two brothers, Percy Wingert of Dayton, and Guy Wingert of Dauphin; two sisters, Mrs. Anna Zimmerman, Williamstown, and Mrs. Louise Hartman, of Palmyra, also survive.
His funeral was held Tuesday morning.
William Wingert Jr., is survived by his wife, the former Beatrice Glace, one son, William Wingert III, and the following brothers and sisters: Henry Wingert, of Williamstown; Charles Wingert, of Loyalton; Lawrence Wingert, of Millerstown; and Joseph Wingert and Betty Wingert, of Elizabethville.
His funeral was held from his home in Wiconisco on Tuesday afternoon.
Finally, on the mine accident, the Elizabethville Echo published a report on 25 February 1937 of the result of the coroner’s inquest:
HELD INQUEST IN MINE FATALITY
A coroner’s inquest was held at Williamstown Monday evening in the deaths of William P. T. Wingert Sr., Elizabethville, and his son Williams Wingert Jr., of Wiconisco, who were asphyxiated by gas in the Williamstown mines, 12 February 1937. The verdict of the jury was that the miners met death “in an unavoidable accident, death resulting from suffocation due to an outburst of gas in a heading where the men were employed.”
The inquest was in charge of Deputy Coroner George Wren of Williamstown.
But, the story was not over. Guy Wingert, who was named as the brother of William Wingert Sr., killed in the mine accident, was shortly thereafter involved as the perpetrator in what became known as the “Poison Toe Murder.” The story of that murder will be told in another blog post.
News clippings from Newspapers.com.