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Ralph Mine Disaster - HUNTLY, Waikato - Sep 1914

Journal by ngairedith

HUNTLY, Waikato 93km south of Auckland and 35km north of Hamilton, has a large coal-fired power station, prominently situated on the western bank of the Waikato River. It is New Zealand's largest thermal power station, situated in the area which is New Zealand's largest producer of coal, producing over 10,000 tonnes a day. The area has a very long history of coal mining, with both open pit and classical mines operating or having operated here

Much has been written about the Ralph Mine Disaster which occurred on 12 September 1914, claiming the lives of 43 men when a miners naked light ignited firedamp. It was a Saturday, hence there were only 62 men working instead of the usual 160. Some of them were widowers who left motherless children


* On the 19 April 2009 a memorial board listing all the victims of the Ralph Mine disaster was unveiled at the Huntly Cemetery. The Huntly Lions Club would like to contact with descendants of all the families involved before the centennial in 2014

MINE DISASTER story

Continuing the Rescue Work, 14 September 1814

COMMISSIONERS REPORT, 31 Octobert 1914

c1910 PHOTOS of the
* Ralph Mine at Huntly
* Ralph Mine at Huntly

This is a list of the full names of the victims, some of the ages differ slightly from other sites (mine taken from BDM & research from Papers Past etc)
Some bodies took over a week to recover, the rescuers sometimes spent over 7 hours down the mine searching but their work was being hampered by gas, want of safety lamps and no provision in the way of respirators or patent head gears.

William ALLEN aged 18
- Machine Driver Boy, single
- son of Charles & Ada Elizabeth Allen
on 26 May 1915 in the Auckland Supreme Court, Mr Justice Cooper apportioned compensation as agreed upon with the Taupiri Coal Mines Ltd. In the case of Charles Allen and his wife he jointly allowed 200 for the loss of their son (equivalent to $28,760 in Sep 2012) Mr T. M. Wilford informed his Honour that "the compensation settlement amounts in all cases were in all respects generous"

Thomas BAKER aged 37
- Trucker, also listed as Robert William Baker

William BLENKINSOP aged 37
- Shooter
- leaves widow & 4 children under 14
- William married Susannah WILSON
- their known children:
1902 - 1946 Mary Elizabeth Blenkinsop
1904 - 1987 William Taylor Blenkinsop
1907 - 1973 Robert Edward Blenkinsop
1910 - 2000 Stephen Wilson Blenkinsop
on 26 May 1915 the Auckland Supreme Court, Mr Justice Cooper apportioned compensation as agreed upon with the Taupiri Coal Mines Ltd. In the case of Susannah Blenkinsop he ordered payment of one third of 775 (248 6s 8d), the reamining two-thirds (576 13s 4d) to the Public Trustee on behalf of the children
- his wife Susannah remarried in 1915 to Percy Clarence SLYFIELD (1879-1919). Percy was the 6th of 10 children (8 sons) of John SLYFIELD & Augusta Louisa LINCOLN. Percy first married Euphemia McGOUGHAN in Kyber Pass, Auckland 12 Sep 1905, was jailed for 3 months in Oct 1905 for failing to pay maintenance for an illegitimate child & was divorced 15 Nov 1912. Percy was balloted for WWI in July 1917 where they were he was then a Platelayer c/o Public Works Department, Rotherham, Amuri, Canterbury. Percy died 6 June 1919 at Ohakune aged 39

Thomas BERRY aged 29
- Winch driver, single
- body recovered 24 September, 12 days after the explosion

John Patrick BOWLER aged 22
- born in Gisborne, son of William BOWLER & Ellen O'NEILL
- body recovered 15 Sep
- he had been at Huntly for about 4 or 5 months but had not let his parents know of his whereabouts and it was only when they saw the list of missing in the papers that they learned the sad mews
On 12 Sep 1914, John Patrick, dearly beloved second son of William & Ellen Bowler (of kaiti), aged 22 years and 7 months. (Killed by accident, Huntly mine), Deeply regretted. R.I.P.
on 26 May 1915 the Auckland Supreme Court, Mr Justice Cooper apportioned compensation as agreed upon with the Taupiri Coal Mines Ltd. In the case of Ellen Bowler he allowed her 200 for herself the loss of her son ($28,760). She stated that her husband was a Harbour Board employee earning his own living

William BROCKLEBANK snr aged 52
- leaves widow & 1 child under 14
- his son, William 'Billy' Brocklebank jnr, escaped with considerable cuts and bruises and was greeted from the cage amongst cheers and warm welcomes by anxious friends. He was sent off home in a motor-car
on 26 May 1915 the Auckland Supreme Court, Mr Justice Cooper apportioned compensation as agreed upon with the Taupiri Coal Mines Ltd. In the case of Margaret Brocklebank he ordered payment of one third of 775 (248 6s 8d), the reamining two-thirds (576 13s 4d) to the Public Trustee on behalf of the children

Hutchinson BURT aged 19
- Trucker, single
- brother of William
on 26 May 1915 the Auckland Supreme Court, Mr Justice Cooper apportioned compensation as agreed upon with the Taupiri Coal Mines Ltd. In the case of Janet Burt, for the loss of 2 of her sons of whom she was dependent the Judge made an order for the payment of 775

William BURT aged 26
- Shiftman, married?/single?
- brother of Hutchinson
- body recovered from the west shaft
- along with William Kelly, they were the first 2 to be recovered

William BURTON aged 27
- Trucker, single
- leaves widow & 2 children under 14
on 26 May 1915 the Auckland Supreme Court, Mr Justice Cooper apportioned compensation as agreed upon with the Taupiri Coal Mines Ltd. In the case of Fanny Burton he ordered payment of one third of 775 (248 6s 8d), the reamining two-thirds (576 13s 4d) to the Public Trustee on behalf of the children

Thomas CASSON aged 22
- Trucker, single

James DARBY aged 58
- Deputy
- leaves widow & grown up family of 5
- identified by his son, William Thomas Darby (1883-1975)
- married Frances Mary DUNN in 1881
- known children:
1882 - 1947 Susannah Darby
1883 - 1975 William Thomas Darby
- William married Myrtle FAIRWEATHER in 1911
1885 - 1886 Frances Mary Darby
1887 - Frances Mary Darby
- Frances married WIlliam Frederick DELANEY in 1908
1890 - Elizabeth Darby

John William DIXON aged 23
- known as Mitchell
- leaves widow & 2 children under 14 in Australia
- no pension was available for her family as they lived outside the Dominion

William GOWANS aged 43
- Deep Mine manager, married
- still missing Sep 15
- leaves widow & 1 child under 14
- possibly married Martha Christina McDONNELL (1870-1962) in 1909
- they had Robert William Gowans (1910-2010)

John GREENER aged 48
- Shiftman, married
- leaves a widow & grown up family
on 26 May 1915 the Auckland Supreme Court, Mr Justice Cooper apportioned compensation as agreed upon with the Taupiri Coal Mines Ltd. In the case of Sarah Greener he ordered payment of one third of 775 (248 6s 8d), the reamining two-thirds (576 13s 4d) to the Public Trustee on behalf of the children

William HINCHCO aged 30
- born in Huntly, son of John & Rachel (1856-1918 nee Boughey?) Hinchco. His father had an eye removed at the Waikato Hospital in Feb 1911, as a result of an accident in Ralph's Mine
- leaves a widow, 2 children & one on the way
- identified by his brother John Hincho
- he married Annie HARLOCK in 1908
- William's brother Alfred Hinchco, Private 14261 with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade, 8th Reinforcements 1st Battalion, E Company, died from his wounds in France 27 March 1918 aged 22. His next of kin was his mother Rachel Hinchco of Hakanoa Street, Huntly. In June 1919 his parents were at 53 Esplanade Road, Mount Eden, Auckland when his father, as next of kin, received his Military Medal
- his widow Annie, remarried in 1919 to John Arthur HOWARD (1881-1944)

James HOLDEN aged 58
- Shiftman, married
- brought over from Taupiri West Shaft on 14 Sep
- identified by Robert McEwan
- had been at Huntly for 4 years
- leaves widow & family of 5, 1 child under 14 (Agnes Elizabeth?)
on 26 May 1915 the Auckland Supreme Court, Mr Justice Cooper apportioned compensation as agreed upon with the Taupiri Coal Mines Ltd. In the case of Elizabeth Holden he ordered payment of one third of 775 (248 6s 8d), the reamining two-thirds (576 13s 4d) to the Public Trustee on behalf of the children

Fawcett 'Seymour' Beacham HOPPER aged 31
- Trucker, married
- leaves widow & 2 children under 14
- his body was originally thought to be that of William Smith
on 26 May 1915 the Auckland Supreme Court, Mr Justice Cooper apportioned compensation as agreed upon with the Taupiri Coal Mines Ltd. In the case of Ethel Hopper he ordered payment of one third of 775 (248 6s 8d), the reamining two-thirds (576 13s 4d) to the Public Trustee on behalf of the children

Alexander 'Alec' IZATT aged 17
- Onshovers Assistant, single
- Alec was related to Joe O'Brien who was engaged at the foot of the main shaft with him. Joe tried to push Alec into the manhole out of the way of the flames
- Alec died later in Hamilton Hospital
on 26 May 1915 the Auckland Supreme Court, Mr Justice Cooper apportioned compensation as agreed upon with the Taupiri Coal Mines Ltd. In the case of Robert Izatt and his wife he jointly allowed 200 for the loss of their son ($28,760)

Henry JACKSON aged 24
- son of Samuel JACKSON & Janet ROBINS, brother of John

John JACKSON aged 26
- Clipper, single
- died at Waikato Hospital 24 Sep
- son of Samuel JACKSON & Janet ROBINS, brother of Henry
on 26 May 1915 the Auckland Supreme Court, Mr Justice Cooper apportioned compensation as agreed upon with the Taupiri Coal Mines Ltd. In the case of Janet Jackson he ordered payment of one third of 775 (248 6s 8d), the reamining two-thirds (576 13s 4d) to the Public Trustee on behalf of the children

Samuel JACKSON snr aged 54
- Shiftman, married
- father of Henry & John above
- recovered from the west shaft
- his son Samuel Jackson jnr identified him
- leaves widow & 1 child under 14 (Harriet Edna)
- Samuel married Janet Robins 24 Feb 1885
- their known children:
1886 - Samuel Jackson
1887 - Janet Jackson
1888 - 1914 John Jackson
1890 - 1914 Henry Jackson
1892 - Mary Jane Jackson
1894 - Isabella Tui Jackson
1909 - Harriet Edna Jackson

John Williamson JONES aged 49
- Roadman, married
- leaves a widow, no children
on 26 May 1915 the Auckland Supreme Court, Mr Justice Cooper apportioned compensation as agreed upon with the Taupiri Coal Mines Ltd. In the case of Alice Jane Jones who said that by the death of her husband she had been left a widow. She had no one depending upon her. his Honour said she was entitled to 775 ($111,435 in 2012) but what did she propose doing with the money. Mr Wilford replied that on his advice she had agreed to pay the amount direct to the Public Trustee. It would go to the common fund, and would bear interest at the rate of 4%. The principal could be drawn upon from time to time. His Honour commended this decision, remarking that a woman was not usually able to deal with large sums of money

William KELLY aged 36
- Contractor, married
- leaves widow & 1 child under 14
- along with William Burt, they were the first 2 to be recovered
- identified by William Riggins
on 26 May 1915 the Auckland Supreme Court, Mr Justice Cooper apportioned compensation as agreed upon with the Taupiri Coal Mines Ltd. In the case of Bessie Kelly he ordered payment of one third of 775 (248 6s 8d), the reamining two-thirds (576 13s 4d) to the Public Trustee on behalf of the children

David Daniel 'Dan' LYONS aged 62
- Shiftman, married
- was a widower & leaves grown up family
- identified by James Douglas as aged about 50 and a machine man

Charles Edward MALONEY aged 21
- Trucker, married
- brought over from Taupiri West Shaft on 14 Sep
- identified by Levi Allen
- leaves a widow, no children
- Charles had married Ada LOWE 27 May 1914, 4 months previously
- Ada remarried in 1917 to Alexander PATERSON

John Crofton Reiney MARTIN aged 29
- Trucker, single
- John Martin apparently went ahead of the group with Deputy William Smith behind him. It is thought that John walked into a thick pocket of flammable gas, (methane) and as he did his light went out. When he relit the lamp the firedamp ignited and created a cloud of coal slack which exploded into a fireball that rose 100 feet above the pithead.
- he was the last entombed victim, recovered 29 Sep in No 3 level near the centre of the explosion, after vigorous efforts of the rescue party head by Messrs Bishop, Wood, Jolley and A. Penman

William Robert MAYLAND jnr aged 18
- Clipper, single
- son of William Robert MAYLAND & Emma Charlotte ELLIOTT
- William was recovered on 15 Sep
on 26 May 1915 the Auckland Supreme Court, Mr Justice Cooper apportioned compensation as agreed upon with the Taupiri Coal Mines Ltd. In the case of Emma Mayland and William Robert Mayland he jointly allowed 200 for the loss of their son ($28,760)

Theophilius Donaldson MOLESWORTH aged 29
- Engine-driver, married
- leaves widow & 1 child under 14
- he married Margaret Ross HOGARTH in 1909
- their known child was:
1912 - 1912 Una Margaret Molesworth, died aged 5 days

Robert MUNSEY aged 63
- Shiftman, married
- brought over from Taupiri West Shaft on 14 Sep

David Skinner Adie PATERSON aged 37
- Roadsman, married
- leaves widow & 5 children under 14
- husband of Janet Johnston Blyth ? (1877-1964)
- a new-comer, no one could be found to identify him. Before going to Huntly he had been a mine manager on the West Coast
on 26 May 1915 the Auckland Supreme Court, Mr Justice Cooper apportioned compensation as agreed upon with the Taupiri Coal Mines Ltd. In the case of Janet Paterson he ordered payment of one third of 775 (248 6s 8d), the reamining two-thirds (576 13s 4d) to the Public Trustee on behalf of the children

William PATTERSON aged 44
- Contractor, widower
- identified by James Dooley as aged 37
- William married Minnie Hinchco in 1900
- leaves 7 motherless children: William aged 14 left to fend for himself, Maria aged 11 sent to work housekeeping, Kathleen Leonore aged 8, Margaret Lavinia 'Lily' aged 6, Bridget aged 5 and Eileen Sheilah aged 3 were sent to an orphanage in Auckland
on 26 May 1915 the Auckland Supreme Court, Mr Justice Cooper apportioned compensation as agreed upon with the Taupiri Coal Mines Ltd. In the case of the 7 orphans of William Patterson his Honour made an order for payment of 1000 (equivalent in 1912 of $143,800) to the Public Trustee as administrator of the estate, the Public to have liberty to apply to the COurt for direction as the the method of administration


Henry William 'Harry' PECKHAM aged 47
- Senior Deputy, married
- identified by James Edkins as aged 45
- recovered from the west shaft
- leaves widow & family of 12, 7 children under 14

Hugh RANSOM(E) aged 65 (big differnece from others 39)
- Road-cleaner, married
- leaves widow & 1 grown up daughter
on 26 May 1915 the Auckland Supreme Court, Mr Justice Cooper apportioned compensation as agreed upon with the Taupiri Coal Mines Ltd. In the case of Agnes Ransom, a widow with no children of the marriage, he allowed 775

John ROBINSON aged 37 (others have 28)
- Trucker, married
- identified by his cousin Thomas Robinson as aged 37
- recovered from the west shaft
- leaves widow & 1 child under 14
on 26 May 1915 the Auckland Supreme Court, Mr Justice Cooper apportioned compensation as agreed upon with the Taupiri Coal Mines Ltd. In the case of Florence Robinson he ordered payment of one third of 775 (248 6s 8d), the reamining two-thirds (576 13s 4d) to the Public Trustee on behalf of the children

William ROPER aged 36
- leaves widow & 4 children under 14 in England

Arthur John RUSTON aged 28
- Roadman, married
- leaves widow & 1 child under 14
- he married Sarah HUGHES in 1911
on 26 May 1915 the Auckland Supreme Court, Mr Justice Cooper apportioned compensation as agreed upon with the Taupiri Coal Mines Ltd. In the case of Sarah Ruston he ordered payment of one third of 775 (248 6s 8d), the reamining two-thirds (576 13s 4d) to the Public Trustee on behalf of the children

John Clark SKELLERN aged 36
- Deputy & Fireman, married
- recovered from the west shaft
- identified by his brother-in-law Herbert Montaque Herdson (married John's sister Cora Clark Skellern in 1914)
- leaves 4 motherless daughters: Ruth, Thelma & Elsie were raised by their grandfather, Richard Skellern, baby Mavis (the surviving twin) was adopted by their neighbour Mavis Greenacre
- he married Euphemia BUCHANAN (1880-1912) in 1903. Euphemia died during childbirth of twins (1 survived)

William SLAVIN aged 18
- Trucker, single
- brought over from Taupiri West Shaft on 14 Sep
- identified by William Thomas Darby, son of James Darby
on 26 May 1915 the Auckland Supreme Court, Mr Justice Cooper apportioned compensation as agreed upon with the Taupiri Coal Mines Ltd. In the case of Janet Slavin he ordered payment of one third of 775 (248 6s 8d), the reamining two-thirds (576 13s 4d) to the Public Trustee on behalf of the children

William SMITH aged 62
- Deputy, married
- reported missing on Sep 15
- leaves widow & grown up family

John STEELE aged 40
- Roundsman, married
- leaves widow & 5 children under 14
- could only receive the pension for 1 child, the others born outside the Dominion
- identified by his brother Leslie Steele

Fred TAYLOR aged 29
- Winch driver, married
- leaves widow and 1 child under 14
- wife's name was Hannah
on 26 May 1915 the Auckland Supreme Court, Mr Justice Cooper apportioned compensation as agreed upon with the Taupiri Coal Mines Ltd. In the case of Hannah Taylor he ordered payment of one third of 775 (248 6s 8d), the reamining two-thirds (576 13s 4d) to the Public Trustee on behalf of the children

Jacob William THOMPSON aged 18
- Horse-driver, single
- identified by his father William Thompson
on 26 May 1915 the Auckland Supreme Court, Mr Justice Cooper apportioned compensation as agreed upon with the Taupiri Coal Mines Ltd. In the case of William Thompson and his wife he jointly allowed 200 for the loss of their son ($28,760)

John WHORSKEY aged 36
- Deputy, married
- in charge that day
- recovered from the west shaft & 3rd person to be found
- had been emplyed at Huntly for 12 years
- he was identified by his brother Patrick Whorskey, also a miner
- leaves a widow, 6 children and another on the way
- he married Martha WEAR in 1902
- their children were:
1903 - James Whorskey
1904 - Eileen Mary Whorskey
1906 - Daniel Wear Whorskey
1908 - Ethel May Whorskey
1910 - John Graham Whorskey
1912 - Blanche Unity Whorskey


PHOTO
taken from the Waikato Coalfields Museum
Ralph Mine Disaster funeral procession 1914
Huntly Post Office and Huntly Press Office in background
14 September 1914
... Quite the most affecting incident in the awful tragedy was the burial this afternoon of the twenty victims which were identified at the inquest when it was formally opened yesterday. The whole of the people of Huntly, and hundreds more from other places, assembled for the sad occasion and the passing of the cortege was so touching a spectacle that emotional outbursts were natural.
Five four-wheeled lorries from Hamilton were requisitioned as hearses and each lorry carried coffins covered with Union Jacks and other patriotic flags. Six coffins containing the bodies of adherents of the Church of England went in front.
These were the bodies of:
JACKSON, KELLY, MALONEY, PERKHAM, SKELLERN & WHORSKEY
Then followed those who were to be buried under Presbyterian auspices. They were:
H. and W. BURT, James HOLDEN, R. MUNSEY and D. PATTERSON
The Methodist quota followed next. They were:
HINCHO, IZATT and ROBERTSON
Those who were to be interred by priests of the Roman Catholice Church were:
James DARBY, D. LYONS, W. PATTERSON, W. SLAVIN and J. STEELE
The cortege was headed by the Hamilton Brass band, which played the funeral marches en route. A firing party from the old Huntly volunteer corps marched on either side of the improvised hearses and at the grave yards, about 1 miles out of the town, fired three volleys and sounded the Last Post as a mark of respect to those of their comrades who had been members of the colunteer force

by ngairedith Profile | Research | Contact | Subscribe | Block this user
on 2013-01-27 01:22:49

PECK of TAITA

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Comments

by hure on 2013-02-16 20:45:37

hi
I am the great granddaughter of Samuel Jackson who was killed alongside his two sons in the Granity Mine disaster
My name is Jude Martin hure8@msn.com my phone no is 0211447992
i am very interested in knowing more about the upcoming centenial.
Yours faithfully
Jude

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