100th Anniversary of the
Fraterville Mine Disaster of 1902
May 19, 2002

On Saturday, May 18, 2002, descendants and history buffs gathered at Briceville School to take a tour of several of the historic areas in Coal Creek.  It was an unusually cold morning for May.  There was a slight mist of rain at the beginning of the tour, but things cleared up and it was a very special tour in memory of the over 200 men and boys who perished in the Fraterville Mine Disaster 100 years ago.  Descendants came to Tennessee from as far away as California, Florida, and Pennsylvania to pay homage to their lost family.  Some family members met for the first time.  Two hundred people went on the tour.

The following is a photo gallery of the tour.

Click on image to enlarge
Photos courtesy of Mark Whaley, George Sipe, Edward Vowell,
and Coal Creek Watershed Foundation

Tour attendees gather at Briceville School to board the tour buses.

Coal Creek Watershed Foundation volunteer Carol Moore and AmeriCorp*VISTA Kylene McLucas register attendees.

First stop was Longfield Cemetery where everyone gathered around Jacob and Elbert Vowell's headstone.

Tour guide Barry Thacker, P.E. tells of Jacob Vowell and Powell Harmon leaving farewell notes to their loved ones before perishing.  Both are buried in Longfield Cemetery.

Linda Gunderson, Tony Thomas and T.J. Albert sing "When the Mines Grew Still in Fratersville".

Webb family descendants gather in front of a headstone of one of the five Webbs killed at Fraterville.

Descendants of Jacob Vowell gather at the grave where he is buried with his son Elbert in the same grave.  They are buried next to his son Little Eddy as his farewell note requested.

Next stop on the tour was Leach Cemetery where Boy Scout Drew Justice unveiled his Eagle Scout Project, a kiosk mapping out the graves of the miners buried in Leach Cemetery.

Lake City Boy Scout Troop 120 have cleaned and cared for the miners' headstones for the past two years.

Barry Thacker, P.E. heads everyone to the monument in Leach Cemetery.
The group gathers around the Miner's Circle, many searching for their family. Flags were placed at the miners' headstones by the Boy Scouts.

Rubbings were made of family names.  Rubbing of Thomas Cooper and Charles Carden being made here.

Descendants of William Murray gather around his headstone.

DeZern family descendants.  DeZern was spelled several different ways.  Five brothers and two of their brothers-in-law perished that day.

Tony Thomas, Linda Gunderson and T.J. Albert played music as guests studied headstones and got to know missing family.

Next stop was at the Itinerant Miners' cemetery in the back yard of Mr. and Mrs. Owen Bailey.  See one of the field stones marking the grave of itinerant miner at far right next to tree.


Mr. Bailey is shown in blue jacket and cap.  He told the story of how the unknown miners were buried at the site where their bodies were brought out of the mine by train.


More music was performed.

The group leaves the Itinerant Cemetery to hike to the Fraterville Mine.  Walden Ridge can be seen in the background.

There were many solemn faces as we gathered at the entrance of the mine as thoughts went to 100 years ago and how it must have felt at that time to lose so many men and boys.

The crowd gathered at the entrance of Fraterville Mine.  Group at far back of photo are standing where the entrance of the mine was located.


View of group

Reporter Yvette Martinez and cameraman Brian from ABC's WATE-TV Knoxville.  Mrs. Viva Patterson and Mrs. Opal Harris were interviewed. 

Barry Thacker, P.E., Yvette Martinez, and Brian finish up the day in front of the monument at Leach Cemetery.

List of Fraterville Miners

100th Anniversary Memorial Service

Links to Fraterville Anniversary Tours

News Articles:

The Knoxville News Sentinel  5/26/02
Fraterville Mine anniversary elicits thoughts, memories
The Courier News 5/22/02
On holy ground
The Knoxville News Sentinel 5/20/02
Remembering Fraterville's dead
The Louisville Courier-Journal  5/19/02
Victims' kin mark mine-blast centennial
1902 explosion left hundreds dead in Tennessee
The Nashville Tennessean 5/19/02
Descendants gather to remember mine disaster victims
Atlanta Independent Media Center  5/19/02
Memorial service marks the 100th anniversary of the Fraterville Mine Disaster
Daily Telegraph Bluefield-Princeton, WV  5/19/02
'Oh God, for one more breath'
Cable News Network (CNN) 5/18/02
Mining disaster remembered 100 years later
Charleston, WV Daily Mail  5/18/02
'Oh God, for one more breath'
The LaFollette Press  5/16/02
Coal Creek group receives ETHS award
The Oak Ridger 5/16/02
Dying miners wrote their final farewells
The Oak Ridger 5/15/02
Disaster in Anderson County: Sunday marks 100th anniversary of Fraterville Mine Explosion
The Courier News 5/15/02
The Battle of Fatal Rock
The Courier News  5/12/02
Who will remember May 19, 1902?
The Knoxville News Sentinel 5/12/02
Oh God, for one more breath
The Knoxville News Sentinel May 10 and 11, 2002
Advertisements for May 12, 2002 Fraterville 100th anniversary article
The Oak Ridger 5/10/02
Coal mining history preservation efforts awarded
The Knoxville News Sentinel 5/6/02
Volunteers needed for church cleaning
The Knoxville News Sentinel 5/5/02
Descendants of Fraterville Mine disaster victims mark 100 years
The Oak Ridger 5/3/02
Events will commemorate Fraterville mine explosion
The LaFollette Press  5/2/02
Fraterville to mark 100th anniversary of mining disaster

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