On May 19, 1902, the worst mining disaster in the history of the South occurred in the Coal Creek watershed. Newspapers in 1902 reported the death toll at 212 men and boys. The official death toll was 184 men and boys. Itinerant miners were also killed in the explosion, but not included in the official listing of fatalities because their names were unknown. (See Fraterville Cemetery below).
These men and boys are buried in the cemeteries in Coal Creek and surrounding watersheds. Some have elaborate tombstones like John Hendren whose farewell message, written while trapped in the Fraterville Mine, is inscribed on his tombstone. Other graves are marked by simple fieldstones, like those of the itinerant miners who are buried behind the home of Owen Bailey in Fraterville. Many of the tombstones of these men and boys contain the inscription "Gone But Not Forgotten".
Boy Scouts from Troop 120 in Lake City are working to document the location of these burial sites and clean the tombstones as Eagle projects. After completing work on the 1902 Fraterville Disaster cemeteries, we will undertake a similar project at the cemeteries where the 84 men and boys who died in the 1911 Cross Mountain Mine Disaster are buried. These cemeteries and related documentation by Troop 120 will be part of the Coal Creek Motor Discovery Trail. This web page documents the progress of this effort.
Sign placed at cemeteries where miners who died in the 1902 Fraterville Mine Disaster and
the 1911 Cross Mountain Mine
|Fraterville Cemetery looking in the direction of the Old Fraterville Mine. Bodies recovered from the mine were brought here to be identified. The unidentified migrant workers were buried here.||Old Fraterville Mine Site.|
|Mr. & Mrs. Owen Bailey standing among fieldstones marking the gravesites of itinerant miners killed in the 1902 Fraterville disaster.||Unreadable carvings in the large tree next to one of the fieldstones mark the Fraterville Cemetery location.|
Inscription on tombstone of John Hendren (from his farewell message found when his body was recovered from the Fraterville Mine:
"Dear Darling and Mother, Brothers and Sisters: I have gone to heaven. I want you to meet me in heaven. Tell all your friends to meet me there and tell the Church I have gone to heaven. Oh, dear friends, don't grieve over me because I am in sight of heaven. Oh dear, stay at father's or your father's and pay all I owe if possible. Bury me at Pleasant Hill if it suits you all. Bury me in black. This is about 1:30 o'clock. So goodbye dear loving father, mother, brother and friends. I have not suffered much yet. Your boy, your brother, John Hendren.
|Note visible location adjacent to I-75 near where Coal Creek discharges into the Clinch River.|
Mt. Sinai Cemetery (Clinton) --
Mount Harmony Cemetery -- 4 gravesites of Fraterville Miners:
Old Gray Cemetery (Knoxville) -- 4 gravesites of Fraterville miners
Other cemeteries (and the number of Fraterville miners buried there) include:
Big Valley (1)
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