THE SONMAN MINE EXPLOSION

Sonman, near Portage, Cambria Co., PA

A big THANKS to Rich Hill for finding this material!

"The first official death toll of men killed in yesterday's Sonman mine explosion was made available this morning by James Hess, young president of the Jamestown local of the United Mine Workers Union. All men who work in the mine are members of that local. The following, whose approximate ages are given where Hess knew them, were killed." [Johnstown Tribune, July 16, 1940, Page 20]
ALEX UVEGES Cassandra JOHN HEBDA Jamestown
LEWEY (prob. Lewis) MONTEL Ebensburg JAMES MONTEITH foreman Ebensburg
JOHN LESTER, 22 Sonman JOHN PANYAK Sonman
JOE SMITH, 33 Cassandra JOSEPH KUZEN Portage
AUGUST SNYDER, 32 Beaverdale JOHN TRUNAK Cassandra
CHARLES KLUT (or KLATT) Portage, R. D. 1 EMMETT MOYER Gallitzen
AUGUST BEM, 27 Portage R. D. 2 FRANK SZURA Jamestown
FLORIA PASSA Portage STEVE SARVASH Cassandra
WILLIAM WISNISKIE Portage PETER SIBIS, 32 Lilly
LAIRD ZIMMERMAN, 20 Portage GEORGE STUPAKI Portage
CLAYTON BARNETT, 29 Portage R D 2 WILLIAM FLYNN Portage
JOHN RUDASH Portage MIKE CHERNISKY Portage
DOLY RUDASH Portage JOHN DOVIBROVIK Portage
JOHN INMANCassandra JOHN PRESTASH, 32 Jamestown
STEVE DOMAN, 32 Beaverdale ANDREW BOBROWCIZ Portage
EDWARD MANTEL Ebensburg TED PITMAN Portage
PHILIP HUFFORD, 30 Lilly R D. 1 JOHN METARKO, 35 Portage
WALTER SZURA, Jr. Portage GEORGE LUTZ Sonman
JOHN MUTSKOVAK Jamestown MELVIN OWEN Wilmore
JOHN DUBULLS Portage STANLEY KOVALSHINSKI Jamestown
ANGELO CONCINO Lilly HOMER LEAP, 22 Cassandra
ARTHUR McDONALD, 26 Portage THOMAS SHAW Portage
FREEMAN GEORGE Portage THOMAS LEAP Cassandra
STEVE GAVALAK Portage CHESTER BRADLEY, 26Cassandra
JOHN NOWOBELSKI Cassandra MELVIN LEAP Cassandra
JOHN SCHMENDAK Portage HORACE CHAPPEL Portage
FRANK CHILESKI Portage MIKE SIMO SR Portage
JOSEPH HOLLIDAY, 38 Jamestown GEORGE ZIMMERMAN Portage
JOHN THOMAS Portage THOMAS HUFF (or HOUGH) Portage
JOHN SIMO Portage JOSEPH SIMO Portage
LEO ETIENNE, JR. Portage HARRY McVICKER, 40 Portage

PETER SIBIS
Numbered among the 63 victims was Peter Sibis, 31, a well-known resident of Lilly. The deceased had been prominent in athletics for some time. He was an official umpire of the P. N. A. Baseball League in the county and was well known in amateur diamond circles. Peter Sibis was a son of Peter and Sophia Sibis. Surviving are his parents, his widow, Mrs. Irene (Grzegorzeski) Sibis, and these brothers and sisters: Balek Sibis, Lilly; Mrs. Mary Gorski, Detroit, Mich.; Mrs. Veronica Lutten, Lilly; Mrs. Clara Vakszewski, Aliquippa; Mrs. Victoria Delemata, Portage and Frank and Stella Sibis, both at home. Funeral services probably will be under the direction of Izidor Serenko, Portage mortician.

ANGELO CONSTANTINO
Angelo Constantino, 55, of Lilly was a native of Italy. He had been employed at the Sonman slope of the Koppers Coal Company since last October. Surviving are his widow, Mrs. Mary Constantino, and these children: Carmen, a student at the University of Naples; Patsy and Verda, both at home. Funeral services probably will be conducted Friday morning and will be under the direction of Alex Tickerhoof, Lilly mortician.

JOHN INMAN
John Inman of Cassandra had been employed at the Sonman slope for the past two years. He was a son of Mrs. Ida Inman of Jamestown, near Portage. Surviving in addition to his mother are his widow, Mrs. Anna Inman, and three sons and a number of sisters.

STEPHEN DOMAN
Stephan Doman of Beaverdale was born December 24, 1907, in Beaverdale. Surviving are his widow, Mrs. Mary (Hudak) Doman; his mother, Mrs. Susan Doman, Beaverdale, and these children: Elaine, aged eight; Stephen Jr., aged seven and Jimmy, aged two. He was a brother of John Doman, Beaverdale; Mrs. Mary Kovalsky, Bridgeport, Conn.; Mrs. Anthony O'Donnell and Mrs. Paul Roman, both of Beaverdale, and Michael Doman, at home. The deceased had been employed at Sonman for the past year. He was a member of the First Catholic Slovak Union of Beaverdale. Funeral services will be conducted at 9 o'clock Friday morning in St. Joseph's Catholic Church, Beaverdale.

JAMES R. MONTEITH
James R. Monteith, 43, a foreman at the Sonman mine, had been residing near Ebensburg the past five years. He was born in Patton on September 10, 1896, a son of Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Monteith. His father served many years as a state mine inspector. Mr. Monteith resided in Cresson and Clymer for several years prior to moving to the Ebensburg vicinity. He was a veteran of the World War, having served overseas 15 months. Surviving are his widow, Mrs. Mary (Fleming) Montieth, and three sons- Robert, Richard and James Monteith, all at home. He also leaves his mother, Mrs. Alexander Monteith, Barnsboro, and these sisters and brothers; Mrs. Ray Brown, Barnsboro; Mrs. Arthur Dinsmore, Heilwood; Mrs. Robert Stoffergren, New York City; Mrs. Catherine Chapman, Detroit, Mich., Alexander Monteith, Pittsburgh, and Theodore Monteith, Detroit, Mich. Funeral services will be conducted at 2 o'clock Thursday afternoon at the Monteith home by Rev. Roberts, pastor of the Ebensburg Presbyterian Church. Interment will be in the church cemetery under the direction of the Doerr Funeral Home of Ebensburg.

FUNERAL OF JAMES MONTEITH
Funeral services for James Monteith, section foreman at the mine, will be conducted at 2 o'clock Thursday afternoon at the Monteith home by Rev. Roberts, pastor of the Ebensburg Presbyterian church. Members of the Ebensburg and Patton American Legion Post will be in charge of the services at the grave in Lloyd's Cemetery. Mr. Monteith was the foreman in No. 17 Heading where 33 other miners also died. "Jimmy" wrote down the names of all 34 men as he, and his pals, apparently waited the death that was inevitable. [Photo]

AUGUST SNYDER
August Snyder, 34, was a son of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Snyder, both deceased, and was born in Onnalinda on November 30, 1905. He had been a resident of Beaverdale for more than 15 years. Surviving are his widow, Mrs. Josephine Snyder; a son, Ronald, and these brothers and sisters: Mrs. Anna Sustarsic, Beaverdale; Mrs. Mary Horgan and Frances Snyder, both of New York City; Frank Snyder, Coudersport. A brother, Joseph Snyder, died in 1939. Mr. Snyder had been employed at Sonman for three years. He was a member of St. Agnes Catholic Church and Slovania Lodge, S. S. C. U. Funeral services probably will be conducted Friday morning in St. Agnes Catholic Church, Beaverdale, by Rev. Father William Ryan. Interment will be in the church cemetery under the direction of R. E. Donnelly, Beaverdale mortician.

EDWARD & LOUIS MANTEL
(EDWARD MANTEL WAS TO HAVE MARRIED ILLINOIS GIRL)
Edward Mantel of near Ebensburg, one of the victims of the Sonman slope disaster, was planning to be married July 26, members of his family revealed today. Mantel's fiancee, Miss Emma McKadetz of Taylorsville, Ill., arrived in Ebensburg Sunday and was planning to spend a week at the Mantel home to make plans for the ceremony. Miss McKadetz was among the hundreds of persons who went to Sonman yesterday and kept a vigil at the entrance to the slope. She did not leave the scene until she had received definite assurance that Edward Mantel was among the dead. The tragedy struck twice at the Mantel home as Edward's older brother, Louis Mantel, 52, also was numbered among the victims. Louis Mantel was born in Marles, France, on January 4, 1888. He was a veteran of the World War, having served 15 months overseas with a motor transport company. Surviving are his widow, Mrs. Adelaide Mantel. His brother, Edward, was born in Marles, France, 42 years ago. Arrangements for the funerals of the Mantel brothers have not been completed.

JOSEPH HOLLIDAY
Joseph Holliday of Jamestown, aged 35, was born in Benscreek. In 1925 he married Mary Mackovicik, who survives him with five children. They are: Joseph, Sara, Mary Louise, David and Lawrence, all at home. He also leaves these brothers and sisters: John Holliday, Benscreek; Mrs. Mary Malahosky, Mrs. Stephen Malahosky, Mrs. George Malahosky, Nicholas Holliday and Mrs. Susan Hajduk, all of Cleveland. He was a member of St. Peter and Paul's Greek Catholic Church. Funeral arrangements are being made by Frank J. Pentrack and Son, Johnstown morticians.

JOSEPH KUZEN
Funeral services for Joseph Kruzen of 720 Prospect Street, Portage, will be conducted at 10 o'clock Thursday morning in St. Joseph's Catholic Church, Portage. Interment will be in the church cemetery under the direction of A. F. Tickerhoof, Lilly mortician.

AUGUST BEM
August Ben, 21, was a son of Jacob and Tekia Bem and was born in Portage Township on may 20, 1919. Surviving are his parents and these brothers and sisters: Stella and Adam Bem, both at home; John Ben, Portage Township; Mike Bem, East Freedom; Edward Bem, Portage; Mrs. Mary Ganage, Mrs. Cecelia Bronck and Joseph Bem, all of Detroit, Mich. Funeral services will be conducted at 9 o'clock Friday morning in the Sacred Heart Catholic Church at Portage by Rev. Father A. M. Habroski. Interment will be in the church cemetery under the direction of Izidor Serenko, Portage mortician.

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN AND SON LAIRD
George Zimmerman, 48, and his son, Laird, 20, resided in Portage Township. The father had been employed as a miner for 30 years and his son had worked at Sonman with his father for more than a year. George Zimmerman is survived by his widow, Mrs. Elsie (Gillen) Zimmerman, and these children: Cyreal, Emerald, Wayne, George Jr., Iona and Trava Zimmerman, all at home. He was a brother of Mrs. Rose Mort and Clair Zimmerman, both of Niagara Falls. Double funeral services will be conducted at 3 o'clock Thursday afternoon at the home of Rev. A. N. Salvis of the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church at Portage. Interment will be in Prospect Cemetery under the direction of George Bros., South Fork morticians.

CHESTER BRADLEY
Chester Bradley, 31, of Lilly had been a lifelong resident of that place. The remains have been removed to the home of his parents at 536 Willow Street, Lilly. Surviving are his widow, Mrs. Frances (Sheridan) Bradley; two children: Clark and Joyce, both at home; his parents, George and Catharine (Hoover) Bradley, and these brothers and sisters: Mrs. Warren Bender, Cresson; Mrs. Fred Nedhammer, Pittsburgh; Mrs. Raymond Trybus, Altoona; Ruth, Rita, Jerome and Grover Bradley, all at home. Funeral services will be conducted at 9 o'clock Friday morning in St. Brigid's Catholic Church, Lilly. Interment will be in St. Francis Xavier's Catholic Church Cemetery at Cresson under the direction of A. F. Tickerhoof, Lilly mortician.

WILLIAM FLYNN
William Flynn of Portage was married and is survived by his widow. He had worked at the Sonman slope for several years. Funeral services will be conducted at 9 o'clock Friday morning in St. Joseph's Catholic Church, Portage. Interment will be in the Wilmore Cemetery under the direction of the Beck Funeral Home.

JOHN THOMAS
John Thomas resided on Jefferson Avenue, Portage. He is survived by his widow and several children. Funeral services will be conducted at 2 o'clock Thursday afternoon in the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church, Portage. Interment will be in Prospect Cemetery under the direction of the Beck Funeral Home of Portage.

HARRY McVICKER
Harry McVicker resided on Orchard Street, Portage. He is survived by his widow. Funeral arrangements, which are incomplete, are in charge of the Beck Funeral Home, Portage.

JOHN NOWOBLELSKI
John Nowoblelski resided in Sonman and had been employed at the slope for several years. He was married. Funeral services will be conducted at 9 o'clock Saturday morning in the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Portage, by Rev. Father A. M. Habrowski. Interment will be in the church cemetery under the direction of the Beck Funeral Home of Portage.

ANDREW BOBROWIECZ
Andrew Bobrowiecz resided in Cassandra. He was married and is survived by his widow and three children. Funeral services will be conducted at 10 o'clock Friday morning in the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Portage, by Rev. Father A. M. Habrowski. Interment will be in the church cemetery under the direction of the Beck Funeral Home of Portage.

FREEMAN GEORGE
Freeman George of Portage was married and is survived by his widow. Funeral services will be conducted at 1 o'clock Thursday afternoon in the Portage Evangelical Church by Rev. E. A. Miles. Interment will be in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park.

FRANK CHILESKI
Frank Chileski of Portage had been employed at Sonman for several years. He is survived by his widow. Funeral services will be conducted Thursday morning in St. Joseph's Catholic Church, Portage, by Rev. Father Dunphy. The remains will be removed to Du Bois for burial in a cemetery there. The Beck Funeral Home of Portage is in charge of funeral arrangements.

THOMAS SHAW
Thomas Shaw, 26, of Portage is survived by his widow, Mrs. Ethel Shaw, and a son, Thomas, Jr. He was a brother of Ralph Shaw, Ebensburg; Mrs. Raymond Friedhoff, Munster; Mrs. Sheldon Nayant, Pittsburgh; George Shaw, stationed at Langley Field, VA.; William Shaw, Portage; Pearl, Martha, Agnes, Zumland, Ronald, Glenn and Betty Lou Shaw, all of Portage. Funeral services will be conducted at 3 o'clock Thursday afternoon in the Portage Evangelical Church by Rev. E. A. Miles. Interment will be in Forest Lawn Memorial Park under the direction of A. F. Tickerhoof, Lilly mortician. A United Press dispatch yesterday to the effect that Mrs. Shaw had given birth to a child, which was dead, a short time after her husband's death, was found to have been untrue today. Mrs. Shaw, however, is ill at her home.

JOHN PRISTAS
John Pristas, 34, of Jamestown was unmarried. He was born in Cresson, a son of Frank and Eva Pristas, and was employed as a loader in the Sonman slope for the past 15 years. In addition to his parents, he leaves the following brothers and sisters: George Pristas, employed on the night shift at the mine; Betty Pristas and Mrs. Mary Check, all of Jamestown, and Miss Eva Pristas, 18, of Sonman, who underwent an appendicitis operation July 8 at Memorial Hospital Johnstown. Her condition is fair today. Funeral services will be conducted at 9 o'clock Saturday morning in SS. Peter & Paul's Greek Catholic Church, Portage. Interment in the church cemetery will be directed by A. F. Tickerhoof, Lilly mortician.

PHILIP A. HUFFARD
Philip Alfred Huffard, 27, of Lilly R. D. 1 was born in Gallitzin February 1, 1913, a son of George and Mary (Bolen) Huffard. He is survived by his parents, his widow, Mrs. Reba (Simpson) Huffard, and Philip Jr., Rebecca and Ronald Huffard, the last-named being only one week old. The deceased was a brother of Thomas Huffard, Altoona; Alfred Huffard, St. Michael; Anastasia and George Huffard, at home; Edwin Huffard, Mrs. Marie Sheridan, Mrs. Catherine Maturko and Mrs. Hilda Richardson, all of Portage; Mrs. Madeline Mobly, Duncansville, and Rita Huffard, Punxsutawney.

THOMAS HOUGH
Thomas Hough, 24, of Portage was born in Portage on October 12, 1915, a son of Mr. and Mrs. Abraham Hough. He was a member of the band and prominent in other activities while attending Portage High School. In addition to his parents, he is survived by these brothers and sisters: Milton, Jack and Vivian Hough and Mrs. Julia Strachan, all of Portage. Funeral services will be conducted Thursday afternoon at the Hough home. Interment will be in Prospect Cemetery, Portage.

CHARLES KLATT
Charles Klatt of Portage R. D. aged 58, was a native of Poland. His wife, Mrs. Josephine (Gradar) Klatt, passed away on February 5 last. He leaves seven children as follows: Zanda, wife of Joseph McKrush of Portage R. D.; Edward and Carl of Portage, R. D.; and Robert, Henry, Louis and Stanley, all at home. Funeral services are to be held at 10 o'clock Friday morning in the Holy Cross Polish National Church, Woodland Avenue, Moxham. Interment is the Boswell Polish National Cemetery will be under the direction of John Moskal, Johnstown mortician.

JOSEPH GAVALAK, JR.
Joseph Gavalak, Jr., 22 of Portage had been employed in the Sonman mine the past two years. He was born in Portage August 23, 1917, a son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Gavalak, Sr. Surviving are his parents and these brothers and sisters: John, Margaret, Emil, Stephen, Velma and Frances Gavalak and Mrs. Joseph Blaschak, all of Portage, and Mrs. George Selezan, Empire, O. Funeral services will be conducted at 9 o'clock Friday morning in St. Mary's Catholic Church, Portage. Interment will be in the church cemetery. [Photo]

FLORIA PASI
Floria Pasi, 43, of Portage had been employed in the Sonman slope mine for the past two years. He was born in Italy September 5, 1896, and immigrated to America in 1921. Surviving are his widow, the former Marian Bunk, and these children: Martha, Joseph Albert and Florence Marian Pasi, at home. He was identified with the Portage Moose Lodge. Funeral services will be conducted at 9 o'clock Friday morning in Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Portage, with interment in the church cemetery under the direction of the Beck Funeral Home, Portage.

ARTHUR F. McDONALD, Jr.
Arthur F. McDonald Jr., 26, of Portage was born in South Fork December 6, 1913, a son of the late Arthur and Anna Marie (Peckitt) McDonald. Besides his mother, he leaves these brothers and sisters: Mrs. Romand Opperman of Wadsworth, O.; Russell, Viola, Zeneda and William McDonald.

LEO ETIENNE, JR.
Leo Etienne Jr., 19, of Portage was employed in the Sonman mine one year. He graduated from Portage high School in 1939. Surviving are his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Leo Etienne, Sr., and these brothers: John, Robert, Richard and Henry Etienne, all at home. The deceased was a member of the Portage United Brethren Church.

JOHN METARKO
John Metarko, 27, was a son of Mr. and Mrs. Michael Metarko of Portage, where he was born and resided. He had been employed in the Sonman mine the past five years. In addition to his parents, he leaves two sisters and a brother - Catherine, Mary and Michael Metarko, Jr., at home. Funeral services will be conducted at 9 o'clock Friday morning in SS. Peter & Paul's Greek Catholic Church, with burial taking place in the church cemetery. [Photo]

ALEX UVEGES
Alex Uveges, 43, of Cassandra had been employed in the Sonman slope the past five years. He was born in Hungary June 19, 1897, and immigrated to America in 1914. He since had worked as a coal miner. The deceased is survived by his mother, Mrs. Mary Uveges, residing in Cassandra; his widow and six children: Bertha, Elisabeth, Margaret, John and Lillian Mae Uveges. He was a brother of Frank and Stephen Uveges, residing in the eastern part of the state; Mrs. Bertha Kascak, Wilmore, and Mrs. Mary Yabon, Cassandra. Funeral services will be conducted at 2 o'clock tomorrow afternoon in the Hungarian Reformed Church, Cassandra.

THEODORE PITTMAN
Theodore Pittman, 33, was a lifelong resident of Portage and had been employed in the Sonman mine for the past 10 years. He was born June 8, 1907, a son of Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Pittman. In addition to his parents, he leaves his widow, the former Mae Bowers, and three children- Jean, Joan and Robert Pittman, at home. The deceased was a member of the Portage United Brethren Church.

GEORGE LUTZ
George Lutz, 28, of Portage R. D was employed in the Sonman slope the past four years. He was a son of Charles and Martha (Hershak) Lutz. He is survived by his parents and these brothers and sisters: John, Michael, Stephen, Peter, Mary Anna and Julia Lutz, all at home; Andrew and Barbara Lutz, State of New Jersey; Betty Lutz, State of West Virginia, and Charles Lutz, Cassandra. Funeral services will be conducted at 9 o'clock Friday morning in SS. Peter & Paul's Greek Catholic Church, Portage, with interment in the church cemetery.

JOSEPH SMITH
Joseph Smith, 32, of Cassandra had worked for the Sonman Company the past six years. He was born in Washington Township August 6, 1907, a son of John and Martha Smith. Mr. Smith was unmarried. He is survived by his parents and these brothers and sisters: Theodore Smith, Cassandra; Leo Smith, Lilly; John Smith, St. Paul, Minn.; Mrs. Madge Lipeck, Chicago; Mrs. Catharine Croll, Juniata; Mrs. Anna Stein, Wilkes-Barre; Mrs. Martha Elkins, Greensboro, N. C.; and Mrs. Eva Andreko, South Fork. The deceased was a member of the South Fork Volunteer Fire Company. Funeral services will be conducted Friday morning in St. Agnes Catholic Church, Cassandra, with burial taking place in St. Brigid's Cemetery, Lilly.

JOHN TRUNEK
John Trunek, 24, of Cassandra, a bridegroom of only six weeks, had been employed in the Sonman mine for the past five years. He and the former Sue Brow of South Fork were united in wedlock June 1 and only a few weeks ago went to housekeeping in Cassandra. Mr. Trunek was born October 12, 1915, in Cassandra, a son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Trunek. His father preceded him in death. Surviving are his mother and widow and these brothers and sisters: Mrs. Cecelia Hornick, Pittsburgh; Mrs. Rose Vaslinak, Cassandra; Joseph, Andrew and Charles Trunek, all of Cassandra. He was a member of St. Agnes Church, Cassandra.

JOHN MACKOVIAK
John Mackoviak, 27, of Portage was employed in the Sonman mine the past 10 years. He was a son of Mr. and Mrs. Michael Mackoviak, who survive him together with several brothers and sisters. Funeral services will be conducted at 9 o'clock Friday morning in SS. Peter & Paul's Greek Catholic Church, Portage, with burial taking place in the church cemetery under the direction of Izidor Serenko, Portage mortician.

STANLEY KALVASINSKY
Stanley Kalvasinsky, 25, was born in Europe. He came to this country when a young man and had been employed at Sonman the past three years. His home was in Jamestown. Surviving are his step-father and mother. Funeral services will be conducted at 9 o'clock Thursday morning in Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic Church, Lilly. Interment will be in St. Brigid's Catholic Church Cemetery, Lilly, under the direction of Izidor Serenko, Portage mortician.

STEPHEN SARVOSH
Stephen Sarvosh, 22, of Cassandra was born in Cassandra November 6, 1917, a son of Mr. and Mrs. John Sarvosh. He had worked at the Sonman slope for the past two years. He is survived by his parents, a brother and two sisters. Funeral services will be conducted at 2 o'clock Friday afternoon at the Sarvosh home by Rev. W. E. Sunday, pastor of the Lilly Lutheran Church. Interment will be in Prospect Cemetery, Portage.

JOHN DUBULIS
John Dubulis, 27, an employee of the Sonman Shaft Company for the past 10 years was a son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Dubulis of Portage. In addition to his parents, he leaves his widow, Mrs. Mary (Yusko) Dubulis, and two children. He also is survived by two sisters and a brother. Funeral services will be conducted at 9 o'clock Friday morning in St. Joseph's Catholic Church, Portage. Interment will be in St. Bartholomew's Cemetery, Wilmore.

JOHN W. LESTER
John W. Lester, 28, of Moudy Hill, near Portage, had planned to be married next month. He was employed at the Sonman slope since September, 1938. Mr. Lester had served for three yeas in the United States Army, enlisting in July, 1935, and being stationed in Hawaii for two years as a field artillery man and one year at Fort Hoyle, Md. He was discharged July 15, 1938. He was a member of the U. S. Army Reserve and had on several occasions recently considered reenlisting in the Army. The deceased was a son of John W. and Jennie (Parks) Lester. In addition to his parents, he leaves these brothers and sisters: Genevieve, Florence, Mary Louise and Patrick Lester, Mrs. Joseph Reed and Mrs. Peter Walters, all of Portage R. D.[Photo]

JOHN AND JOSEPH RUDASH
John and Joseph Rudash, Portage brothers, had worked in the mine as "buddies" for the past four years. John was 23 years old and his brother was aged 21. They were the sons of Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Rudash and were both graduates of Portage High School. In addition to their parents, they leave a sister, Mary Rudash, residing in Erie, and a brother, Andrew Rudash of New York City. Funeral services will be conducted at 9 o'clock Friday morning in St. Mary's Catholic Church, Portage with burial taking place in the church cemetery.

HORACE C. CHAPPLE & SON SHELDON
Horace C. Chapple, 43, and his son, Sheldon, 20, of Portage, were among the victims. The former had been employed in the mine for nine years. Horace Chapple was a veteran of the World War. He was born in Pavia, Bedford County, a son of Mr. and Mrs. William Chapple. He was an ardent fisherman and hunter. In addition to his widow, he leaves a son Clair. He was a brother of Fred, Harry, John Jesse, William, Ralph and Lloyd C. Chapple, all of Portage. Funeral services for the father and son will be conducted Friday afternoon in the Church of the Brethren, Blue Knob. Interment will be in the church cemetery.

MICHAEL SIMO, SR. & SONS, JOSEPH & JOHN
Found almost side by side in the death trap close to heading No. 16 were John Simo Sr. of 821 Prospect Street, Portage, and his two sons, John and Joseph, both of the same address. Another son, Michael Jr., was working in the mine at the time of the explosion, but was on the opposite slope. When he emerged from the pit, he waited hours to learn of the death of his father and two brothers. The father leaves his widow, Mrs. Susan (Lukaceyda) Simo, and six children: Thomas Simo, Manville, N. J.; Michael Jr., at home; Mrs. Susan Chapple, Pittsburgh; Mrs. Mary Garziel, of New Jersey; Andrew, member of the U. S. Army, stationed in Panama, and Anna, at home. Michael Simo Sr. was born in Europe in 1880 and came here at the age of five, residing here since that time. For the past two years he worked in the Sonman mine with his sons as his "buddies." John Simo was born in Portage on July 17, 1916. He would have celebrated his 24th birthday anniversary tomorrow. Joseph Simo was born in Portage on August 18, 1918. Both young men attended Portage schools. The father and two sons will be buried together Friday morning. Funeral services will be conducted at 9 a.m. in the SS. Peter & Paul Church.

FRANK SZURA & SON, WALTER
The body of Frank Szura, 53, was found beside that of his son Walter, 23. the two worked together in the Sonman mine for the last five years. Frank Szura was born in Poland and came to the United States 27 years ago. Three years later he married Miss Catherine Wocijk at Jamestown, near Portage, and to the couple were born the following children: Stanley, with the U. S. Army in Panama; Stella, Newark, N. J.; Angela, Pasaaic, N. J.; Julia, Theodore, Viola and Patricia, all at home. Also surviving are four brothers in Europe and his widow. The father worked in mines in the vicinity of Portage for the last 25 years and had never been involved in a mine accident. Both men will be buried Friday. Funeral services will be held at 9 a.m. in the Sacred Heart Church, Portage. Interment will be in the church cemetery.

WILLIAM WISNIEWSKI
William Wisniewski of Portage had been employed at the Sonman mines for approximately five years. He was unmarried and was a son of Mr. and Mrs. John Wisniewski. He was born in Poland and was brought to America by his parents when he was two years old. Surviving are his parents and these brothers and sisters: John Wisniewski and Mrs. Charles Henry, of Portage, and Mrs. M. F. Myers, Grandale, Mich. Funeral services will be conducted Friday morning in Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Portage.

CLAYTON BURNETT
Clayton Burnett, 29, of Portage Township started to work in the mines when he was only 16 years old. He had been employed as a miner for 13 years, the greater portion of his time being spent at the Sonman operations. He was a son of Mr. and Mrs. John Burnett and was born August 24, 1910, in Portage Township. His father preceded him in death. Surviving are his mother, his widow, Mrs. Ida (Pendleton) Burnett; four children, Alvin, Dean, Marjorie and John Burnett, and two sisters, Miss Violet Burnett, Portage, and Mrs. Caroline Eller, Johnstown. Funeral services will be conducted at 2 o'clock Thursday afternoon in the Portage Lutheran Church. Interment will be under the direction of George Bros., South Fork morticians.

MELVIN OWEN
Melvin Owen, 26, of Wilmore was born September 24, 1913, in Wilmore, a son of Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Owen. He is survived by his mother, his widow, Mrs. Hilda (Hazlett) Owen, and four children - Charles, Shirley, Bernice and Raymond Owen. The deceased also leaves these brothers and sisters: Mrs. Waldo Helsel, Portage; Mrs. Olive Engle, Hugh, Cora and Robert Owen, all of Wilmore.

JOHN HEBDA
John Hebda, 51, of Jamestown was born in Poland and immigrated to his country as a young man. He had been employed in the Sonman slope mine for the past 30 years. Only six weeks ago he was united in marriage with Mrs. Mary Grecek. Surviving are his widow and these step-children: Frances, Alvin, Helen and Anna Grecek, all of Jamestown. Funeral services will be conducted Friday morning in Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Portage. The Beck Funeral Home, Portage, is in charge of the arrangements.

EMMETT MOYER
Emmett Moyer, 32, of Gallitzin was a native of Lilly. He was a son of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Moyer, both deceased, and was born in Lilly. Surviving are his widow and two children. Funeral services will be conducted at 9 o'clock Friday morning in St. Patrick's Catholic Church, Gallitzin. Interment will be in the church cemetery under the direction of H. F. Conrad & Bro., Gallitzin morticians.

MICHAEL SARNECKI
Michael Sarnecki of Lilly was born in that town September 10, 1916. He was a son of Lawrence and Anna Sarnecki. Surviving are his parents and these brothers and sisters: John Sarnecki, Chicago, Ill.; Antoinette and Angeline Sarnecki, both of Chicago; Mrs. Anna Paluswiski and Frank Sarnecki, both of Milwaukee, Wis.; Mrs. Mary Stoach, Chicago; Mrs. Sophia Librizzi, New York; Joseph, Roy, Bernard, Walter, Stanley, Betty and Victoria Sarnecki, all at home...

THOMAS I. LEAP & SONS, MELVIN & HOMER
Thomas I. Leap, 47, and his two sons, Melvin, 24, and Homer, 21, all of Cassandra, had worked together as buddies in the Sonman slope for the past five years. The bodies of the three were found close together. Thomas Leap was born near Lilly, a son of the late Martin Leap and of Mrs. Nora Leap, who resides in Lilly. He had been engaged in mining for nearly 30 years. He and the former Miss Agnes Meyers were united in marriage 25 years ago last January. In addition to his widow, he leaves five children-Mrs. Thomas Reese of Revloc, and Robert, Ada, Albert and Russell Leap, all at home. He also is survived by two grandchildren and the following brothers and sister: Clarence, Urban, Francis and Carrie Leap, all of Lilly. Two brothers and three sisters preceded him in death. His son Melvin was born in Washington Township September 25, 1916, and was married to Miss Ethel Chappell of Cassandra two years ago last September. He leaves his widow and a daughter, Delores Jean, one year old, in addition to his mother and the above-mentioned brothers and sisters. Homer Leap, the other son of Thomas killed in the disaster, was born September 9, 1918, in Washington Township. Funeral services for the father and two sons will be conducted in St. Brigid's Catholic Church, Lilly, with burial taking place in the church cemetery.

THE JOHNSTOWN TRIBUNE
90 MINERS ENTOMBED IN SONMAN MINE
Hugh Gas Explosion Traps Miners
At Koppers Pit, Sonman; Rescuers
Rushed to Scene; 18 Men Escaped

Serious Tragedy Is Indicated
In Gaseous Explosion
Near Portage

FIRST REPORTS MEAGER

PORTAGE--Approximately 90 miners of the Koppers Coal Company were trapped at noon today in what was said to have been a gas explosion in the north slope of the Koppers mine at Sonman, near Portage.

First reports from the vicinity were to the effect that more than 150 men had been trapped by the blast.

Efforts to communicate with officials of the company, however, were not immediately successful.

It was learned from sources in Portage that the blast had closed the north slope heading where the miners were working.

First reports in Portage were to the effect that five miners, working near the entrance of the slope, had escaped after the blast.

Officials of the Koppers Company immediately sent out calls for assistance from mine first-aid rescue squads from Windber, Johnstown and other sections of Cambria County.

The Portage Volunteer Fire Company also was summoned to the scene shortly after 1 o'clock.

Reports in Portage were to the effect that the gas-filled chamber was handicapping rescue efforts.

Another Portage source declared that the slope entrance had been blocked by the fall of rock which followed the blast.

News of the blast spread rapidly and within a short time hundreds of persons assembled near the slope entrance.

Numbered among these were scores of members of the families of the men whose fate is sealed in what may be a chamber filled with deadly gas.

State Motor Police from the Ebensburg detail were dispatched to the scene a short time before 1 o'clock today and a cordon of guards was thrown around the slope entrance.

Red Cross officials of Cambria County were notified and rushed trained, first-aid workers to the scene.

18 ARE RESCUED

At 1:40 o'clock a spokesman for the cola company is said to have reported that rescue squads reached 18 of the entombed men and that all were living.

It was not immediately determined whether the 18 rescued men had fought their way up from the scene of the actual explosion or whether they had been working some distance away from the actual spot where the blast occurred.

Rescue crews, however, were reported to be pushing farther into the mine.

Hope that the remainder of the entombed men might be rescued alive sparked rescue efforts after the reported rescue of the party of 18.

From Pittsburgh, the United States Bureau of Mines announced that a rescue car had been dispatched to Sonman. Other than that the officials of the Bureau of Mines in Pittsburgh said they had no details of the explosion.

Filer at Mine

Efforts to contact W. H. Filer, state mine inspector of the district in which the Koppers slope is located, also were unavailing. From Mr. Filer's office in Ebensburg it was said he had been called to Sonman a short time after the first report of the explosion had been received here.

At the Koppers Coal Company office in Pittsburgh it was said that they had received reports of "some trouble" at the Sonman slope, but had received no details.

It was reported, without verification, at 2 o'clock this afternoon that rescue workers may not reach the actual scene of the blast before 4 o'clock.

The rescue crew sent from the Bureau of Mines in Pittsburgh included six men traveling in automobiles and a city-equipped rescue truck. They were instructed to report to W. H. Filer, mine inspector, at the scene of the blast.

The five men who were rescued from the slope after the blast were Edward Ben, Raymond MacIntosh, a Mr. Hufford, Edward Bobrowitz and Stanley Cyrwus.

The center of the blast was reported to have been in a section of the slope known as the Right No. 16 heading. the five men who were rescued were working "in front" of the letgo at the time.

Ben gave a Tribune reporter an eyewitness account of the explosion.

"I was working with MacIntosh, Hufford, Bobrowitz and Cywrus when I noticed a flash back in the heading. then I heard a loud noise and rumblings. I called out:

"Explosion.

"We heard things falling all around us and we started to run. It seemed like everywhere we went it was too hot.

"We got down on our stomachs so we could breathe easier. Finally we managed to get out to the dip and were rescued."

Ben and his companions who had the good fortune of being rescued said they were only slightly burned.

13 Brought Out at 2:30

At 2:30 o'clock this afternoon 13 miners, who had been working in the No. 18 heading, which is under No. 16 heading of the slope, were brought out of the workings. They were not injured.

Rescue workers, however, had not yet reached the entombed men in the No. 16 heading.

Today's blast recalled to the minds of miners and rescue workers another mine tragedy in Cambria County. In November, 1922, 78 miners were killed in the Reilly shaft mine at Spangler.

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The Johnstown Tribune, Monday Evening, July 15, 1940

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