Fatal Accident at Carbon Black Factory in 1902


Transcribed by Norma Knottts Shaffer from microfilm of the Calhoun Chronicle dated 3/18/1902.

A Horrible Accident

Gas Pipe Bursted at Cabot's Factory Friday;
Gas Caught Fire and Lum Shafer is
Now in Eternity, as the Result.


With His Clothes Saturated with Paraffine
He was Caught in the Flames and
Burned to a Crisp Before
He Could Get Out.

Another horrible accident has happened at the Carbon works below town - a heart-rending sickening accident, the like of which it has never before been our sad task to chronicle.

Last Friday morning manager Lou Bickle was trying to connect the 4-inch gas line with a ring which was just completed, and was assisted in the work by Lum Shafer, of Mt. Zion who has been employed at the factory for several months, and who was a hard working industrious, popular citizen.

In some way the pipe was thrown in a strain, and directly behind Mr. Shafer the threads on a joint of pipe where it was connected tore loose, letting the entire pressure strike him. The force knocked Mr. Shafer down and when he got up he ran directly in front of the gas toward a ring, in which there was a fire. When the gas reached the ring there was an explosion and he was enveloped in an awful flame. The pipe was full of paraffine and when the pressure first broke loose, Mr. Shafer's clothes were saturated with it, so when he merged from the fire his clothes were a mass of flames.

His shrieks of horror were terrible to hear. Men who were there and saw the awful sight shudder at the remembrance, and would fain to forget it. He started running from the flames and it was with much difficulty that he was overtaken, and the men could hardly hold him while they tore the burning clothes from his body.

Medical aid was summoned, Drs. Ireland, Swentzel and Pickering dressed the burnt man, and he was brought up to town on the gasolene packet "Winona" and taken to the Central Hotel where he died at 11:40 p.m.

Lou Bickle escaped behind one of the rings, but was severely burned on the hands and arms in tearing the clothes from Mr. Shafer's body. Will Deems, who was inside of one of the rings, narrowly escaped death from the flames. The suction from the door of the ring which he was in drew the flames into it, and his life was saved by him lying flat on the ground tearing out a hole in the bottom part of the ring, through which he got fresh air. It is a terrible disaster and is regretted by all. Mr. Bickle was deeply affected and did everything in his power to relieve the sufferer and make the burden lighter on the afflicted relatives.

The remains were taken to the Mt. Zion Cemetery Saturday to be interred.

Men who have been employed on the factory for months have quit, fearing a fate similar to that of Mr. Shafer.