|Transcribed by Norma Knotts Shaffer from microfilm
of the Calhoun Chronicle dated 8/20/1901.
A Horrible Accident
Buhrs in Johnson's Mill at Big Springs Exploded,
Killing Two Men and Seriously Injuring Two Others
Was It Dynamite?
George Richards, Miller
Jake Knight, Farmer
One of the most terrible accidents that ever occurred in this county,
was the explosion of the burh-stones in the Johnson mill, at Big Springs,
a little village about two miles east of the Metz oil field. It occurred
last Friday evening, and as a result George Richards and Jake Knight are
dead, and Charles Harris and a Reese boy are seriously, though not fatally
injured, and the mill is a wreck.
The details of the calamity are as follows: The workmen had just
gone into the mill and turned the power on to the burhs preparatory to
grinding some grain. George Richards was attending to the burhs,
and had ground one grist, and put the second into the hopper, when the
explosion occurred. There were in the mill at the time the four men
above named, and a deaf mute by the name of Wilson, who escaped unhurt.
The mill was running with about 75 lb. of steam pressure, and at what was
not considered dangerous speed, when, without a moments warning, the stone
burhs gave way with a tremendous sound that could be heard for a great
distance, and stone and iron and splintered wood filled the building.
Richards and Knight were on opposite sides of the mill, about an equal
distance from the burhs. Richards was struck on the breast with some
heavy weight, crushing in the bones and terribly bruising him. It
is not likely that he ever knew what hurt him, as he never regained consciousness.
He died within half an hour. Knight was struck on the right shoulder,
crushing the shoulder, the breast and collar bones; and also received a
long deep cut across the left side of the abdomen through which the entrals
protruded. He lived a while longer than Richards, but didn't regain
consciousness. Harris was struck about the knee by some flying timbers
or stone, causing a painful wound. He was also otherwise bruised
up considerably. Reese received a severe blow in the face knocking
out his teeth, and badly mashing and bruising his face. A messenger
was sent here immediately for medical aid, and Dr. Ireland responded, but
Richards and Knight had both died before he arrived.
There is a diversity of opinion as to the cause of the accident; some
claiming there was dynamite in the grain which was being ground, while
others attribute it to running the burhs too fast. This latter theory
seems to be the correct one, as it was reported that W.C. Wilson was in
the mill just a moment before the explosion, and becoming alarmed at the
speed at which the burhs were being run, went out, and had just got beyond
the mill when the accident happened. It is also reported that the
deaf mute who was in the mill at the time, claims he saw dynamite in the
grain just before the explosion. The accident caused great excitement
and hundreds of persons visited the scene of the disaster. Pieces
of stone fragments of iron and splintered timbers line the interior of
the mill and are scattered for rods around in the mill yard.
George Richards, the miller, was one of the most popular young men in
the county. He was conscientious, honest, was shrewd, a great worker
and was in many respects more than an ordinary man. Every one who
knew him, liked him, and his acquaintance was large. His untimely
and sudden death is a great shock to all, and his young widowed wife has
the sympathy of everyone.