Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
The Romance of Old Barclay by Clarke
Chapter Six - Accidents and Fires
The Romance of Old Barclay

By Staley N. Clarke

Originally Published 1928, Towanda PA

Photos by Joyce M. Tice October 4, 1998
Retyped for Tri-Counties by Richard Harris and Connie Unganst and Formatted by Joyce M. Tice

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In all its history, there were never any major mine disasters at Barclay. Once in a while there would be a small cave-in injuring or killing one man but never any number. One who was badly injured was Bobbie Wilson. His back was broken in the mines at Barclay but he lived a good many years. For a number of years he was confined to an invalid chair. Levi Covey and L. S. Kelder were killed in the saw mill on separate occasions. Both of them got caught in the saws. One of them, although which cannot be said, lived to get home where he wanted to say something to his wife. Before he could give the message, however, the breath of life passed from him.

One of those killed in the mine at Barclay was Evan Meredith, father of Squire John Meredith and the late Thomas Meredith of Towanda. Mr. Meredith moved with his family from near Pittsburgh to Barclay in 1863. He met death early in January, 1864. Two branches of the track in the mine came together in a "Y." He hopped off one train directly in the path of one on the other track and was ground to pieces before he had a chance to get out of the way. His son Thomas worked in the mines first as a water boy and later driving mules to help support the family. He was in the coal business in Towanda for many years and still represented the Connell Coal Company there at the time of this death, on September 21, 1928.

Among others killed in the mines were men by the names of Reed, Hunter, McCloskey, Dayton, Devine, Lynch, McAuliffe and Davitt.

In those days no matter how badly anyone was hurt, there was no rush to a hospital. The injured and deathly sick were treated at their homes by the local doctors. A number died from what was known then as "inflammation of the bowels," but what is now known as appendicitis and cured by operation.

One time when R. T. Dodson was local superintendent of the mines, Samuel Hines of Scranton, general superintendent, came on a visit of inspection and to visit his friend, Mr. Dodson. When he was ready to return, the two men started down the mountain with a horse and wagon to meet the train. The horse ran away, throwing both of them out. Mr. Dodson, with blood running down his face, went to the home of William Penn Crandell (now of Towanda) at the foot of the hill and the latter after summoning the local doctor took Mr. Hines, unconscious and badly injured, into the house. A short time later the family doctor and nurse were brought from Scranton. Mr. Dodson was able to be taken to his home in Barclay in a few weeks but it was a long time before Mr. Hines could be removed to Scranton and it was said that he never fully recovered.


There were several quite bad fires on Barclay mountain. The Keeliher family was especially hard hit along that line. The Keeliher saw mill at Sand Run burned down about 1875 and then they lost one of their twin daughters in a fire at their home. The little girl, two or three years old, hid behind a sewing machine and they were unable to find her in time to effect a rescue. Another bad fire was on Stump street when a girl named Annie Kerrigan used kerosene oil in starting a fire and caused an explosion. The girl was burned to death and four families made homeless when the block went up in flames. A Mrs. Bush also was burned to death, her clothes catching fire [Page 10] while she was preparing Sunday night tea.

Lizzie Crawford, a sister of Mrs. William Strope, aged 15 years, was fatally burned while building a fire to get breakfast. That was in the year 1892 at Carbon Run.


Here is a picture of one of the little engines used in hauling coal on Barclay Mountain.


Probably one of the incidents which stand out most vividly in the memory of many is the fire which occurred near Carbon Run in late April, 1890. The first the residents knew that anything was wrong was when the hillside engine was noticed going up and down the track about 3:30 blowing the whistle and ringing the bell, giving an alarm of fire in the woods. The wind blew large cinders and limbs down upon the houses and barns. The men rushed out of the mines, climbed on their houses, and their good women and children carried water to them. By hard work they saved their homes. A good many had their clothing and bedding packed to leave.


At one time smallpox broke out on Barclay mountain. As remembered by Mrs. Thomas Coleman of Towanda, the McDonald family at Fall Creek was the first to be stricken. A little dog belonging to the O’Rouricke family went to the McDonalds and carried home the disease. Deaths of two more children resulted. John Mannix, John Falsey and John Welsh carried their boys and girls on their backs in the night and buried them in the Barclay cemetery. When the burial was finished, the men removed their clothes outside their homes and buried them. They would take coal and supplies in the night to those who had the smallpox. Among the others afflicted with the dread disease was Pete Shields who lived in what was known as the Half Way House. The pest house was in what was know as Frog Hollow.
Barclay Cemetery Listings
Barclay Cemetery Photos
Table of Contents
Coal Mining Photos

Published On Tri-Counties Site On 9/13/99
By Joyce M. Tice