Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Deaths At The Kennedy Mine

Last year, I wrote a brief history of both the Argonaut and Kennedy Mines located in the historic gold country town of Jackson, California. I have lived in Amador County at different times in my childhood and teenage years, and even during my adulthood.  I have always been passionate about local history and Amador County is has plenty of history just waiting to be told.

A lot has been written about the Argonaut Mine, especially due to the Argonaut Mine Disaster of 1922. To watch the most in depth documentary about that particular story, please check out Brandon Alvis' "Ephemera" video on Youtube. He took all the dusty news headlines from the archives and brought this tragic history back to life. I highly recommend this documentary.

Because the Kennedy Mine did not gain a lot of publicity for any large mining disaster like the Argonaut did, most of the history written about it is brief. No one had ever written about the various deaths that took place there, besides the newspapers mentioning these events at the time they occurred, until I wrote a blog about it last year.

Even though there have been many deaths at the Kennedy, the only mention of some of these fallen miners are scattered between the pages of archived newspapers just waiting to be retold. I wanted to share with you some of the details of the deaths that I have uncovered over time, like I mentioned in my last blog, but this time with copies of those newspaper clippings so you can read the headlines for yourself. As my research allows I will continually update this blog with more names, newspaper clippings and photos of grave sites for these forgotten souls.

(Note: click on each photo to enlarge)

David De Ricci 

On March 15, 1902, miner David De Ricci made a misstep, falling backward down into the east shaft 2,600 feet. “In his descent, his arms, legs, the back portion of his head and every vestige of clothes were torn from his body.”—

Los Angeles Herald, 3/16/1902

Francisco Giovannoni 
May 26, 1902 -- "A miner named Francisco Giovanoni [SIC] lost his life at the Kennedy Mine shortly after midnight on the night of May 26. The fatality was purely accidental. It occurred at the 2300 foot level of the north shaft. There were from fifteen to twenty men around there at the time. A plank 18 inches wide was in position for the men to walk to and from the shaft, and below this was a chasm thirty feet deep, made by the excavation of ore. Deceased was in the act of carrying the lunch bucket to the station when he was seen to make the fatal step off the planking, and fell to the bottom of the chute.”—Amador Ledger, May 30, 1902.

Amador Ledger, 5/30/1902

Walter Williams

June 12, 1902 - 30 year old Walter Williams was instantly killed when about 200 feet from the top of the shaft, his body came in contact with a shaft timber. He was caught on it and dragged out of the skip. His head and body were crushed between the skip and timbers. His companions C. Parker and B. Allison could not explain how the accident happened because the shaft was so dark. Williams had only worked at the mine three weeks and was new to the area. No one knew where he came from and he had no family to contact. All that was known was that he was a member of the Knights of the Pythias and was living with Henry Osborne at Kennedy Flat.

Amador Ledger, 6/13/1902

Edward Hallam

March 6, 1905 – Edward Hallam was killed at the Kennedy Mine today. He was descending a shaft from the 2400 foot level when a skip came down in another compartment. It is believed he got scared and let go his hold. He fell, breaking his neck.” – Los Angeles Herald, March 7, 1905

Los Angeles Herald, 3/7/1905
Luigi Reviera

December 7, 1909, Italian immigrant Luigi Reviera was crushed to death by several tons of rock falling on him while working at the 3,150 level of the mine with Fred Hicks. Engaged in placing a butt cap in the hanging wall above the tunnel timbers, the rocks gave way and a huge slab came down on him, killing him instantly.

Amador Ledger, 12/10/1909

James Baldwin

On February 27, 1911, James Baldwin was crushed to death while working at the 3400 level of the mine.  Baldwin and his co-workers were told to be careful working in the area that had been blasted earlier. While cleaning out the loose dirt a large mass of rock fell from above, crushing him.  Baldwin’s helper claimed he could hear Baldwin hollering that he was stuck, but given the massive amount of rock and dirt that covered him, the coroner felt death was almost instantaneous.

Amador Ledger, 3/3/1911
Janko Acimovich & Maksim Rupar

November 17, 1913 – Miners, Maksim Rupar and Janko Acimovich died from a premature explosion while in the mine shaft.  Janko Acimovich is buried at St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Cemetery in Jackson. 

Sacramento Union, 5/2/1914

Mike Vijovich

Mike Vijovich died in 1916, after falling 300 feet down a shaft. After straightening a mine can that had fallen on its side, he lost his footing and slipped. 

Sac Union, 6/14/1916

William Harvey & A. Targo

On December 20, 1915, the timber boss William Harvey and A Targo both met their death when they fell down the main shaft of the mine, a total of 3,900 feet.  According to the newspaper accounts, Harvey had been working in compartment 37 since 8 o’clock in the morning. As he was descending a ladder at the entrance of the shaft he became dizzy and slipped, falling. As his body was going down the shaft, just below was A. Targo, who was standing on the edge of the shaft. Harvey’s body smacked Targo’s knocking him off the edge and down the shaft with Harvey. Both died and their bodies were “badly mangled.”

Press Democrat, 12/21/1915

(Copyright 2017 & 2018- J'aime Rubio,  )

Los Angeles Herald, March 16, 1902
Amador Ledger, May 30, 1902
Amador Ledger, June 13, 1902
Los Angeles Herald, March 7, 1905
Amador Ledger, December 10, 1909
Amador Ledger, March 3, 1911
Sacramento Union, May 2, 1914
Press Democrat, December 21, 1915
Sacramento Union, June 14, 1916

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