The Grinkevich Family

The Grinkevich Family
For years this family with the many varied name spellings has been a source of fascination. I never knew my great grandparents-- we visited when I was very young, but I have no memory of this momentous occasion. Pictures show them as two tiny, wizened people aglow with love for each other. Perhaps therein lies the source of my interest. Though they went through many trials in their lives, from living in poverty in a Russian ruled country with no hope of a happy future, to burying several children in the spring of their young lives. Their tenacity carried them through. That, and their devotion, and faith in God.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dangerous Work

Though to my knowledge the tragedy in the following article involved none of my ancestors it hits awfully close to home.

       Another Attempt at Rescue Failed
Shamokin, PA, May 9 (1904)—The rescuing party at the burning Locust Gap slope who yesterday gave up the five entombed miners for dead made another effort this morning to reach the place where they are supposed to have been buried.  After going part way into the mine the fire drove the rescuing party out.[1]

An Accident That Hits Home

The Luke Fidler mine had two shafts, #1 & #2, but the report did not state in which shaft the explosion occurred. The mine was owned by the Mineral Railroad & Mining Company, who also owned the Cameron mines. In 1905, this mine was in District 14. The superintendents were Robert A. Quinn of Wilkes-Barre and E.A. Rhoades of Shamokin. The Pennsylvania Railroad serviced the mine.

The report states the following regarding “William Grinavitch” and his involvement in the explosion that occurred there on Dec.13, 1905.

He is listed as a Lithuanian Miner, age 28, who was “burned by an explosion of gas”.  Another miner, Anthony Wable, was also burned….neither died of their injuries, but the report goes on with this statement:

“Joseph Mazeski, Benjamin Grego, Frank Mattis and Joseph Grobeck were so severely burned by an explosion of gas that they all died a few days later. The explosion was caused by the outburst of gas from a breast, under great pressure, which drove it to the gangway on top [above] of the men and in some unaccountable manner, the gas ignited. All the men in this colliery worked with locked safety lamps. Later some cigarette papers and tobacco were found on the gangway, and it is supposed that one of the men was in the act of lighting a cigarette at the time {of the explosion}”.


  New Castle News” 13 Dec 1905, page 17

William would have missed some work due to being badly burned in the explosion. He carried the scars on his arm and neck for the rest of his life.  The impact of the explosion even sent a chunk of coal into his neck that was later a marvel to his grandchildren.

There was another mining accident injuring William Grinkevich.[3]  It started when a man William worked with in the mine was setting dynamite in core holes to open up veins of coal.  The coworker lit a fuse and both men shielded themselves behind the relative safety of a coal car. They waited and waited.  No explosion.  The man went to investigate, while William peered from behind the car…AND IT EXPLODED!  After this accident William’s ears were burnt severely and it is believed he rode out in a coal car, injured, but the only survivor.

[1] Courtesy NewspaperArchives.  This transcribed clipping from the Altoona Mirror dated Monday, May 9, 1904 depicts the dangerous reality coal mining could be. 
[2] From the “Report of the Department of Mines”, page 489.  Courtesy of Marianne Fisher whose great great-grandfather worked almost 40 years as an inspector of Pennsylvania mines.
[3] John and William Grinker.

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