Thursday, September 11, 2008

Jozef Rasimowicz 1865- 1895

Jozef Rasimowicz died in the Osceola mine fire 7 Sept 1895. His son Joseph was born four months later on 4 January 1896 to his teenage wife.

Mine Inspector Report
Accident 23. - One of the most terrible mine accidents in the history of the Copper Country resulting in the loss of thirty lives occurred at the Osceola Mine - September 7th.

At about 11:30 a.m. while the whole of the day shift men were under ground fire was discovered in No. 3 Shaft at the 27th level. Capt. Richard Trembath with a party of men trying to extinguish the fire which had caught in the lagging at the back of the shaft. As there is no timber in the drifts or stopes of this mine it seems that this is the only place that a fire could possibly have caught. How it originated is and probably always be a mystery.

The only solution seems to be that it must have caught form a candle or snuff thrown there carelessly by some of the men or boys. Capt. Edwards after locating the fire leaving Capt. Trembath and his men to fight the fire with buckets went to the surface for hose to attach to the pump in the shaft and to report the fire to the officials. Upon his return to No. 4 Shaft the smoke was so thick he was told by a party of men who had just come up that it was impossible to descend either No. 3 or No. 4 Shafts. There were other outlets - Shafts No. 1 - 2 and 5. Capt. Edwards at once sent men down these to warn all the men under ground of their danger and order them to come to the surface. Skips were kept running in shafts 4 and 5 to give the men assistance in getting out. The skip continure to run in No. 5 bringing load after load of men up until about three oclock.

In the meantime a searching party had been sent down. They went to the bottom of the mine and in to the different levels as far as possible but failed to find anyone. Owing to the smoke and gas they were unable to approach No. 3 or 4 and the thirty men given up as lost as no living being could exist in them at that time. Another attempt was made to descend No. 4 but it was found utterly impossible to do so. After careful consideration when it was known that no human being could be alive in the mine at about 4:30 oclock Shaft No. 3 was closed over in the hope of checking further progress of the fire.

It was then ascertained that thirty men had perished in the mine - viz: Capt. Richard Trembath - Richard Bickle - Thomas Curtis - Alexander Daniel - Richard Grenfell - James Williams - Frank Lander Jr. - Michael Johnson - Isaac Harrio - Peter Strandgaard - John Matson - Andrew Rosinski - Michael Schultz - Joseph Rasec (Rasimowicz) - Steve Oriski - Michael Slotta - Joseph Slotta - Mike Voak - Veno Verbenz - Steve Ristivick - Fred C. Peardon - John Cudlip - William Bryant - Barney Hellner - James D. Harrington - Anton Zeswick - William H. Donald - Robert Johns - Peter Malmstrom and Walter Dahl. Most of these men were old and experienced miners and their loss of life was doubtless due to the fact that they thought that owing to there being so little timber in the mine that there could be no fire of consequence there. Thus although there was ample time for all to have made their escape by Shafts 1-2-and 5 their assurance of their safety made them careless and thoughtless. Some after being warned even stayed to eat their lunch.

Then instead of trying to reach the surface by the comparatively clear Shafts 1 - 2 and 5 they attempted to ascend the smoke filled No. 4 and were soon overcome and perished.As soon as it was possible to enter the mine the work of recovering the bodies began. Thirteen were found the following Thursday and the last recovered the Monday following. The bodies were all discovered in or near No. 4 Shaft scattered between the 4th and 17the levels. An inquest was held at Osceola by Coroner Macdonald on the 12th - 13th and 17th days of September.

Twelve witnesses were submitted to a thorough examination by the Coroner - Jury and Prosecuting Attorney Streeter. The facts given above was clearly proven. The jury brought in the following verdict: That the deceased came to their deaths by suffocation caused by smoke and gas from a wood fire originating in 27th level of No. 3 Shaft Osceola Mine on the 7th day of September 1895. The cause of said fire unknown. We believe that this fearful loss of life is due to the fact that deceased did not realize the seriousness of their danger although from the evidence given this jury we find that said deceased were duly notified.

We exonerate the mine officials from all negligence in this sad affair. Before leaving this it seems proper to me to attempt to make some explanation as to how the unfortunate men were caught in the fatal trap which caused their death when an easy and sure escape was open through No. 5 Shaft. They undoubtedly thought that No. 4 being a down-cast that there they would find the clearest and safest means of exit. Under ordinary circumstances this would have been the case. But part of the immense volume of smoke in the No. 3 which had been changed by the heated air from a down-cast to an up-cast found its way through the upper levels to No. 4 Shaft and this being downcast the smoke and gas were borne swiftly down upon the men while they were making their way to the surface - extinguishing their lights and suffocating them then and there as fully described in the testimony of Mr. Cocking allowing them neither to go forward nor giving them time to go back.

Had they not felt assured of a sure and safe passage to the surface through No. 4 they certainly would not have delayed as they did in some cases. It will be remembered that some after being warned even stopped to eat their lunch. This delay was no doubt due to the fact that they thought that No. 4 was and would remain a clear passage and they could ascend it at their leisure.