"The communication of the dead is tongued with fire beyond
the language of the living."T. S. Eliot
Mining was one of
the most dangerous professions in the last centuries, often claiming numerous
lives in single disasters. Miners also succumbed to diseases directly related
to their work, the specter of miners' pneumonia hovering in the dark tunnels
and stopes, taking away even the young and strong. An added danger threatened
in the high basins and slopes of the San Juan Mountains - avalanche. Miners
called avalanches the White Death, a roaring flash of sliding snow with the
power to sweep away entire buildings, carrying away men, mules, and machinery;
and endangering the lives of those who attempted to rescue the victims.
This is a partial list of the many miners who died in the Telluride
region. Additions and corrections will be made as TMM receives them. If you
would like to add names or offer corrections, please see bottom of page.
1883 - December, one man
killed at the Nevada Mine, avalanche.
1883 - December, four men killed
at the Virginius Mine, avalanche.
1883 - December 21, James
Burns and Fionnlaigh T. "Scotty" Farquharson, died in an avalanche,
Gold Bug Mine, Marshall Basin.
1883 - December, Mendota Mine, avalanche
swept away buildings, killing eight miners.
1883 - December, thirteen
killed at the Liberty Bell (?)
1887 - May 20, Frank During,
killed at the Virginius Mine.
1888 - November 15, James Prout,
Sheridan Mine, from a head injury caused by falling rock on 29 October 1888.
His partner, Henry Wesson, was also injured, but recovered.
- October 3, Maurice M. Fawcett, Virginius Mine, from a 100-foot fall
1893 - January 29, Archibald Hawton, Sheridan Mine,
from miners' pneumonia.
1901 - May 20, E. J. Oakland crushed in
a cave-in at the Smuggler-Union Mine.
1901 - May 26, Shift Boss
Sayer died in a 200-foot fall in the Butterfly Mine, Ophir District.
1901 - July 3, John Barthell, union miner shot by Sheridan Mine
guard. His memorial stone in the center of the miners' union plot at Lone Tree
Cemetery is a place of pilgrimage for many. Twenty-seven-year-old John Barthell
was born Johan Bertills in Kovjoki, Vörå, Finland. He had joined his
cousins in Telluride in 1900, Americanizing his name and joining the union.
Every union man considered him a martyr, a brother who had sacrificed his life
for his fellow miners and his dedication to justice. He was unarmed when a mine
guard shot him during the strike of 1901. The beautiful marble monument to the
slain Finn acclaims him with the words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:
In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac
Be not like dumb driven cattle,
Be a hero in the
1901 - July 3, Joseph
Lujan, nonunion trammer shot in riot at Sheridan Mine.
1901 - July
3, Ben Burnham, nonunion trammer shot in riot at Sheridan Mine.
1901 - November 20, fire at the Bullion Tunnel buildings of the
Smuggler-Union Mining Company killed 24 men:
||and his cousin
1901 - September 10,
William John Burley, of Devonshire, England, who had worked in the mines
at Central City, Fairplay, and Telluride, died of miner's pneumonia at the home
of his friend, Joe Williams, on Fall Creek, San Miguel County. He was 45,
leaving his mother, sister, and three brothers to mourn him in England.
(Thanks to Hilary and Brian Edwards of England for biographical
details of Mr. Burley).
1901 - December 16, Peter
Casagranda, Tomboy Mine, from a 75-foot fall down an ore chute.
1902 - February 27, two Tomboy miners killed by bad air.
March 4, two miners killed up Bear Creek, avalanche.
1902 - February
28, nineteen killed by avalanche at the Liberty Bell, Sheridan, and other
mines: Henry Martin, ______________,
1902 - April 3, James
Getti died in a 200-foot fall in Smuggler-Union Mine.
February 7, an avalanche killed Louis Leslie, Ophir District.
1903 - March 14, T. McBride killed in a fall at the Tomboy Mine.
1903 - May 16, Sam Nelson killed in a fall in the Tomboy Mine.
1903 - July, Charles West, crushed by rock at the Smuggler-Union
1904 - February 8, _______ McNeice crushed by falling
rock, Liberty Bell Mine.
1904 - March 31, ________Dwyer killed
at Liberty Bell Mine.
1904 - April 24, William Burke suffocated
at the Tomboy Mine.
1909 - March 18, Peter August Gus
Peterson, crushed to death by a chute-load of ore at the Tomboy mine. He
was about 40 years old, unmarried, and had worked for the Tomboy for several
1919 - September 10, four miners were murdered at the Tomboy
Mine: Gus Danielson, Erik Smith, Alfred Sund, and Celeste Mattivi. A
fifth, Joe Kochize,(or Kochevr aSlavonian (according
to the newspapers) ) was shot in the knee by the assailants who brutally
attacked the men in the Montana tunnel of the Tomboy Mining Company. Sund was
shot in the chest and the hand, and after he had fallen to the ground, he was
then shot in the head under the left ear... [as all the victims were] to
make sure that the men were killed. The execution-style killings made
some believe the attack was ethnically motivated by a group called The
Black Hand, and in November of that year, one of the assailants, August
Morletti, was convicted of the crime. Danielson, Smith, and Sund were sons of
Finland: Danielson was born in Jeppo as Gustav Alfred Heikfolk; Smith was born
in Malax, and Sund was born in Kantlaks Munsala, Finland. His grave in Lone
Tree Cemetery once carried the inscription: Alfred Sund född 1898 i
Kantlaks Munsala avled i Telluride Colo 1919 9 10, but this
inscription can no longer be read. It is published here as a memorial to these
men from Finland who lost their lives far away from their loving families in
the home country.
Many thanks to Anders Smedberg of Finland for details of his
uncle, Alfred Sund, and the other Finns. Mr. Smedberg is writing a book about
his uncle titled, Alfred Sund: An Emigrant's
Destiny. He has provided the photo of Alfred Sund (at
left below) and the funeral of the Finns in Finn Hall at Telluride (at right
below) both used with his gracious
1920 - January 1,
Matti Puusti, age 40, husband of Hanna Puusti, died of miner's
consumption. He was born in Lappajarvi, Finland. (Thanks to
Edward Orava of Canada for biographical details of his
|To send TMM the name
of a Telluride district miner you would like to include in the memorial list,
please email us with the miner's full name, his date of death, where he died,
the mine he worked in, the cause of death, his personal information, such as
marital status, age, birth date, and any other information about him you'd like
included. Please include your source of information, such as newspapers, family
history, interview, etc.
Please also include your own name, address,
phone, and if you are related to the deceased.
Kenneth O. Walker, TMM
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