Accidental death of Harry Howard

Contributed by his great-niece Judy Palm
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Harry Howard (1870-1911) was the great-grandson of John Harvey Holton b. 1798 at Tingewick. His father Walter Howard died after being thrown from a train and and his brother Raymond died when his horses bolted.

Rossland Miner

Rossland, B.C., Saturday, April 8, 1911

Terrible Fatality at the Cliff Mine

Two men are blasted during Wednesday night - Bodies are fearfully mutilated - One is headless and disembowelled, and the other's features are unrecognizable.
Cause of the accident can only be conjectured - Sudden death comes to two Rosslanders as result, probably, of sudden firing of holes.

A terrible accident, resulting in the death of two men, occurred during Wednesday night at the Cliff mine. Just what happened can only be conjectured, but will never be known, as the only persons near the place at the time were the victims themselves.

Harry Howard, an Englishman, living on Spokane street south, and Victor Shore, a Finn, living on Nickel Plate Flat, were contracting for the Granby Co., which operates the Cliff mine, and they had Peter Polumbo working with them as mucker. Having finished their round on Wednesday night, five holes were fired, and all three were in the blacksmith shop while they were going off. At 9:40, Polumbo bade them good-night and went home, and this was the last that was seen of Howard and Shore alive.

The next thing that was known was that very early on Thursday morning Shore's boy went to the house of Gus Petersen, who, with Jacob Lekkar, worked on the opposite shift to Howard and Shore, and told them they were anxious, as his father had not come home. Petersen called for Lekkar and they went up to the mine and they almost immediately came upon the body of Howard lying some 30 feet from the tunnel. It was in a shockingly mutilated condition; the head was blown off and the poor man was completely disembowelled. Death must have been so quick in this instance that he could not have suffered any pain.

Knowing that another man was concerned in the accident, the two searchers sent for the foreman, Griffith Folkes, and he sent for Dr. Coffin and Chief of Police T.H. Long. These two arrived on the scene a little after six o'clock, and a search was made for Shore's body. After a few minutes' investigation it was found lying two or three feet away from the face and buried under some twelve to fifteen inches of rock. The body was face downwards with the legs doubled up under it. He was quite dead when found, but it cannot be ascertained whether death was as speedy in this case as in Howard's, nor are the injuries of so shocking a nature. Further investigation showed that there were two missed holes and two holes whose long fuses had not been spitted. What really did happen, as has been said, cannot be known with certainty. The supposition is that while spitting a fuse, a hole might have fired suddenly, and that Shore, being bent down, was knocked over, the full force of the explosion catching Howard with such awful consequences. That Shore's body was covered with "muck" would seem to show that other holes went off subsequently.

Fears were entertained at first that a third man, Polumbo, was killed, but he was found at home.

A board was placed across the track in the tunnel as though in warning. Polumbo says he did not do this, as he bid them good-night in the blacksmith shop, and they would know he was safe. It might have been that one or other of the deceased put it there, but it cannot be known.

A feeling of deepest sympathy passed over the camp when the sad news became generally known. Flags were flown half-mast from the Miners' Union hall, and from the smaller flagstaff on the postoffice. Both men were married, Howard leaving a widow and four children and Shore a widow and two children to mourn their loss.

Dr. A.B. Chandler, coroner, decided that as nothing could be learned as to the way in which the fatality occurred, there was no use in holding an inquest.

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From the Rossland Miner, April 12, 1911:

Burial of Mine Fatality Victim

Sunday Saw Sad Ceremony Performed

The deep and sincere sympathy felt by Rossland citizens with the families of the two men killed in the accident at the Cliff mine, on Wednesday, was fully and freely shown on Sunday, when large crowds of friends and acquaintances, members of the Miners' Union and Woodmen of the World attended the funeral of Harry Howard, one of the victims.

Shortly before one o'clock, the mourners and others assembled at the undertaking rooms, whence they accompanied the remains to St. George's church. The sacred edifice was packed to its utmost capacity. During the brief but impressive service, conducted by the rector, the Rev. H. W. Simpson, the hymn "Nearer My God to Thee" was sung.

As the sad cortege left the church there was a drenching downpour of hail and rain, but this was of but short duration and did not deter large numbers from going to the cemetery, where the last sad rites were performed.

The mourners were members of the deceased miner's family, and the flowers were very beautiful.

Page updated Feb 18 by SKF