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Fraterville Mine Disaster, Coal Creek,TN

216 men and boys lost their lives inside the mine after an explosion occurred on May 19, 1902.


At 7:20 am on May 19, 1902, near the town of Fraterville, TN, an explosion occurred at a coal mine. The cause of the explosion was never identified, though most agree it had been due to a build up methane gas, resulting from poor ventilation. It was the worst mining disaster in Tennesee's history.

The community of Fraterville lost all but three of its adult males. Hundreds of women were widowed, and roughly a thousand children were left fatherless. Some families lost as many as eight family members. A large memorial service was conducted at the Briceville Community Church on June 8, 1902.

184 of the 216 miners were identified. 89 of the deceased miners are buried in the Fraterville Miners' Circle in Leach Cemetery (behind Clear Branch Baptist Church) just off U.S. 25W at Rocky Top. A monument at the center of the circle bears the names of all 184 miners identified. On May 19, 2005, the circle was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Other miners who lost their lives in the Fraterville disaster are buried in nearby cemeteries.

26 miners had survived the blast by barricading themselves in a side passage, but slowly suffocated to death hours later. Some of these miners had scribbled out notes to their loved ones, which had been found laying next to their bodies. Those who wrote notes were: Jacob Vowell, Powell Harmon, John Hendren, Harry Beech, Scott Chapman, James Brooks, R.S. Brooks, George Hutson, Frank Sharp, and James Elliott.

List of Deceased

fraterville mine deathsThe names below come from a list published in the The Knoxville Independent, May 19, 1917, page 4, on the 15th anniversary of the explosion. The list separated out the "Colored Men" and printed them below the main list.

(F): Father
(S): Son
bur: Name of cemetery

Note: "Miner's Circle" refers to Leach Cemetery, where a special memorial is erected for 89 of the 184 deceased.


Adkins, Geo. W., bur: Longfield
Adkins, Conda, bur: Longfield
Adkins, P. A., (F), bur: Miner's Circle
Adkins, Chas. (S), bur: Miner's Circle
Allen, Robert H., bur: Miner's Circle
Alred, A. H., bur: Miner's Circle
Alred, William A., bur: Miner's Circle
Alred, Enoch A., bur: Miner's Circle
Angel, William B., bur: Knoxville
Beach, Henry C., bur: Longfield
Bennett, James F., bur: Longfield
Bennett, Conda, bur: Wilson
Bennett, Charles, bur: Wilson
Brantly, Roscoe, bur: Miner's Circle
Brooks, Henry C., bur: Miner's Circle
Brooks, Jas. A., bur: Miner's Circle
Brooks, R. S. W., (F), bur: Miner's Circle
Brooks, Chas., (S), bur: Miner's Circle
Brymer, Wm., bur: Miner's Circle
Bullock, John, Jr., bur: Murrayville
Carden, Charles, bur: Disney
Chapman, John C., bur: Miner's Circle
Chapman, Chas. J., bur: Miner's Circle
Chapman, Scott, bur: Island Ford
Childress, P. C., (F), bur: Heiskell
Childress, W. C., (S), bur: Heiskell
Childress, John, (S), bur: Heiskell
Childress, James, (S), bur: Heiskell
Cooper, John L., bur: Indian Creek
Cooper, James F., bur: Indian Creek
Cooper, Thomas, bur: Indian Creek
Cox, Richard N., bur: Peably
Curnutt, Wm., bur: Miner's Circle
D'Zern, John, bur: Miner's Circle
D'Zern, David, bur: Miner's Circle
D'Zern, Samuel, bur: Miner's Circle
D'Zern, Car, bur: Miner's Circle
D'Zern, George, bur: Miner's Circle
Dabney, A. T., bur: Longfield
Daugherty, Noah, bur: Miner's Circle
Davidson, Jas., bur: Welsh
Davis, Thomas, bur: Miner's Circle
Disney, Sam M., bur: Miner's Circle
Eckhardt, S. T., bur: Miner's Circle
Elliott, John, bur: Beech Grove
Elliott, James, bur: Leach
Evans, Edward, bur: Disney
Evans, Charley, bur: Island Ford
Evans, Wm. John, bur: Leach
Fielden, Wm., bur: Wilson
Foust, Mack C., bur: Miner's Circle
Goans, F. Oscar, bur: Indian Creek
Goans, Wm. R., bur: Miner's Circle
Goodman, W. B., bur: Miner's Circle
Green, P. C., bur: Leach
Green, James C., bur: Longfield
Green, Richard, bur: Longfield
Gross, Wm. F., bur: Indian Creek
Harmon, Powell, bur: Longfield
Hatmaker, Levi, bur: Longfield
Hatmaker, W. O., bur: Miner's Circle
Hays, W. W., bur: Clinton
Hendren, John, bur: Pleasant Hill
Hendren, Thomas W., bur: Clinton
Hensley, A., bur: Miner's Circle
Hightower, Bart D., bur: Starr
Hightower, J. P., bur: Miner's Circle
Hill, George, bur: Miner's Circle
Hutson, W. S., bur: Miner's Circle
Hutson, George S., bur: Indian Creek
Hutson, Charles, bur: Indian Creek
Leach, Jas. M., bur: Miner's Circle
Leach, Wm., bur: Leach
Leach, Luke, bur: Leach
Leinart, Jas. E., bur: Miner's Circle
Leinart, Charles A., bur: Miner's Circle
Luttrell, Thos., bur: Miner's Circle
Macklin, J. Clay, bur: Miner's Circle
Macklin, Levi, bur: Miner's Circle
Martin, Jas. W., bur: Miner's Circle
Martin, Dan., bur: Blowing Springs
Massengill, N. Jr., bur: Miner's Circle
McDonald, Jas. E., bur: Beech Grove
McGhee, Thornton, bur: Leach
McGhee, B. M., bur: Miner's Circle
McKamey, John C., (F), bur: Wilson
McKamey, Andrew, (S), bur: Wilson
McKamey, William, (S), bur: Wilson
McKamey, James, (S), bur: Wilson
Mefford, Thomas, bur: Longfield
Miller, Houston C., bur: Longfield
Miller, Leon C., bur: Jacksboro
Morgan, Wm., bur: Beech Grove
Murray, Wm., bur: Miner's Circle
Murray, Oscar, bur: Miner's Circle
O'Dell, David P., bur: Miner's Circle
Orben, Charles R., bur: Leach
Pitman, Hillery C., bur: Miner's Circle
Pitman, W. F., bur: Miner's Circle
Pratt, J. Taylor, bur: Big Valley
Price, Robert, Beech Grove
Prince, Thomas, bur: Longfield
Reynolds, Oscar, bur: Longfield
Reynolds, Wm, bur: Longfield
Reynolds, J. Frank, bur: Longfield
Reynolds, Andrew J., bur: Longfield
Riggs, Levi, bur: Longfield
Riggs, Roy, bur: Longfield
Roberts, Walter, bur: Miner's Circle
Roberts, Wm. H., bur: Leach
Robertson, Porter, bur: Longfield
Scott, Alex B., bur: Wiley
Seivers, Charles R., bur: Leach
Sharp, Jacob, (F), bur: Macedonia
Sharp, Roscoe, (S), bur: Macedonia
Sharp, Benj., (S), bur: Macedonia
Sharp, Alex, bur: Miner's Circle
Sharp, Frank, bur: Wilson
Slover, W. H., (F), bur: Miner's Circle
Slover, J. B., (S), bur: Miner's Circle
Slover, S. H., (S), bur: Miner's Circle
Slover, Jas. R., bur: Miner's Circle
Slover, Sam L., bur: Miner's Circle
Smiddy, Edward, bur: Longfield
Smiddy, Joseph, bur: Longfield
Smith, "Red" J., (F), bur: Miner's Circle
Smith, Forrest, (S), bur: Miner's Circle
Smith, Rob, (Mst'n), bur: Briceville
Smith, R. H., bur: Miner's Circle
Sorrells, Edgar, bur: Briceville
Stansberry, David H., bur: Longfield
Stansberry, Lewis, bur: Longfield
Stooksberry, Andrew, bur: Longfield
Strickland, Jas. D., bur: Miner's Circle
Turner, Milburn, bur: WIlson
Valladay, Charles, bur: Miner's Circle
Vandergriff, C. L., bur: Miner's Circle
Vandergriff, James, bur: Longfield
Vowell, Jacob L., (F), bur: Longfield
Vowell, Elbert, (S), bur: Longfield
Vowell, B., (F), bur: Miner's Circle
Vowell, George, (S), bur: Briceville
Vowell, W. H., (S), bur: Miner's Circle
Vowell, Levi, (S), bur: Miner's Circle
Wallace, C. A., bur: Miner's Circle
Wallace, John C., bur: Miner's Circle
Wallace, W. Earn., bur: Concord
Wallace, W. G., bur: Concord
Wallace, Wm. E., bur: Miner's Circle
Wallace, Wm. H., bur: Miner's Circle
Wallace, Jas. H., bur: Miner's Circle
Wallace, Jas. R., bur: Miner's Circle
Weaver, Elijah M., bur: Knoxville
Weaver, Sam, bur: Pleasant Hill
Webb, Hust. M., (F), bur: Longfield
Webb, Eli, (S), bur: Longfield
Webb, W. K., bur: Longfield
Webb, Conda, bur: Longfield
Webb, Wm. J., bur: Longfield
Webber, John, bur: Miner's Circle
Webber, Rufus, bur: Miner's Circle
White, John M., bur: Miner's Circle
Witt, Wm., bur: Miner's Circle
Witt, Marvin J., bur: Miner's Circle
Whitton, J. R., (F), bur: Miner's Circle
Whitton, H., (S), bur: Miner's Circle
Wilson, Marion, bur: Indian Creek
Wilson, R. C., bur: Wilson
Wilson, Ernest, bur: Miner's Circle
Woods, Andrew, (F), bur: Longfield
Woods, Chas. H., (S), bur: Longfield
Woods, Joel, (F), bur: Longfield
Woods, John, (S), bur: Longfield

Colored Men

Gibbs, Frank, bur: Welsh
Griffitts, Preston, bur: Knoxville
Kindman, James, bur: Welsh
Mack, Thomas, bur: Welsh
McClain, Sampson, bur: Welsh
Massengill, Jas P., bur: Knoxville
Rhea, Robert M., bur: Welsh
Redick, John, bur: Welsh
Spears, Wm., bur: Welsh
Yett, Joseph, bur: Welsh

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