For One More Breath: The Fraterville Mine Disaster

Farewell Letters

After the explosion, rescue efforts began immediately. Those who survived the initial blast were trapped in other sections of the mine and some lived on for hours, fighting for breath as the poisonous afterdamp made usable oxygen scarce. Of the at least 216 men that perished, 10 survived for up to seven hours, leaving notes for loved ones. These notes were later discovered with the bodies of the men.



"We are shut up in the head of the entry with of little air and the bad air is closing in on us fast and it is now about 12 o'clock. Dear Ellen, I have to leave you in bad condition. But dear wife, set your trust in the Lord to help you raise my little children. Ellen take care of my little darling Lily. Elen, little Elbert said he had trusted in the Lord. Chas. Wood said he was safe if he never lives to see the outside again, he would meet his mother in heaven. If we never live to get out we are not hurt but only perished for air. There is but a few of us here and I dont know where the other men is. Elbert said for you all to meet him in heaven, All the children meet with us both." 


"Alice, do the best you can. I am going to rest. Good bye Alice.

Elen, darling Good Bye for us both. Elbert said the lord had saved him. Do the best you can with the children. We are all praying for air to support us but it is getting so bad without any air. Horace, Elbert said for you to wear his shoes and clothing. It is now 1/2 past 1.

Powell Harmon's watch is now in Andy Woods hand. Ellen, I want you to live right and come to heaven. Raise the children the best you can. Oh! how I wish to be with you. Good Bye to all of you Good Bye. Bury me an Elbert in the same grave by little Eddy. Good Bye Elen Good Bye Lily Good Bye Jimmie Good Bye Horace. We are together. Is 25 minutes after Two. There is a few of us are alive yet JAKE & ELBERT.

Oh God for one more breath. Ellen, remember me as long as you live. Good Bye Darling"            Farewell letters left by Jacob Vowell














"I have found the Lord. Do change your way of living God be with you Good Bye"


I want you to go back home and take the baby so good Bye. I am going to heaven. I want you to meet me there. JAS. A. BROOKS" 


"To Geo. Hutson's Wife--If you dont see me no more bury me in the clothing I have. I want you to meet me in Heaven Good Bye Do as you wish."


I have gone to heaven. I want you all to meet me in heaven. Tell all your friends to meet me there and tell the Church I have gone to heaven. Oh dear friends, don't grieve over me for I am in sight of heaven. Oh dear stay at fathers or your fathers and pay all I owe if possible. Bury me at Pleasant Hill if it Suits you all. Bury me at black. This is about 1-1/2 o'clock. So good bye dear darling father, mother, Brother and friends. I have not suffered much yet, your boy, your brother JOHN HENDREN."


My time has come to die. I trust in Jesus. Teach the children to believe in Jesus. May God bless you all is my prayer. Bless Jesus it is now 10 minutes till 10 and we are all almost smothered. Don't know how long we will live but it is our time to go. I hope to meet you all in heaven. May God bless you all wife and children for Jesus sake good bye until we meet to part no more. POWELL HARMON.
My Boys, Never work in the coal mines. Henry and Condy be good boys and stay with your mother and trust for Jesus sake."

Condy Harmon was killed in the Cross Mountain Mine explosion if 1911 and is buried next to his father in Longfield Cemetery.


"Dear father, mother, brothers, and sisters, I guess I come to die. Air is not much now. Well, all be good and I aim to pray to God to save me and all of you. I guess I'll never be with you any more, so goodbye. Tell Clarence to wear out my clothes. Give Bessie Robbins a stickpin of mine. Tell her goodbye." 

Message written on a barricade wall, inside of the Cross Mountain Mine