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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Dock E. Hall, January 7, 1976. Interview H-0271. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Deadly accidents at a mine

Hall remembers that three miners died at the mine where he worked when a skiff taking them to the surface left its track and plummeted nearly two hundred feet. Another died in a fall from a ladder.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Dock E. Hall, January 7, 1976. Interview H-0271. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

BRENT GLASS:
Were there any accidents that you remember?
DOCK E. HALL:
Yes. There was three men got killed out there. Let's see, four men got killed while I was there.
BRENT GLASS:
How did that happen?
DOCK E. HALL:
Well, I was just talking about that skiff. Well now, they had a ladder, what we called a ladder road right beside where that skiff went down in the shaft, and it was kind of built off—you know, penned up—so that you wouldn't get over in the shaft. And you come up on that ladder (you'd go climb that ladder) or you get on that skiff. And so many rings would tell you when there was men on the skiff; this man the hoister would get that. And there was four working on it at that time, and they started out. And that was on payday; I believe it was the fifteenth day of September, and I can't tell you what year to save my life. But anyway it was on payday, the three o'clock shift that started out. And three of them got on the skiff that was coming out. And one of them, he didn't get in the skiff (he was afraid of it) and he climbed the ladder—and he got out alive. And the others got up oh, I don't know, as well as I remember somebody said about a hundred and eighty or ninety feet and that skiff jumped the track. And it had a lip on it, you know, like that, and it caught in one of the joints in the railing of the track and went down. And they just had to bail to, you know; didn't have a thing in the world. It just turned and poured them right back down in there, and that killed all three of them.
BRENT GLASS:
And you were working there then?
DOCK E. HALL:
Yes.
BRENT GLASS:
What was the talk around the mine then? Did they go down and get the bodies?
DOCK E. HALL:
Yes, they went down. They chained that skiff and went down there and brang them out, one by one.
BRENT GLASS:
Do you remember who they were?
DOCK E. HALL:
Yes, I knowed them and worked with them days after days.
BRENT GLASS:
Who were they? What were their names?
DOCK E. HALL:
One of them was Charlie Cranford, and one of them was Neal Class, and the other one was Walter Sanders. That's three of them, now.
BRENT GLASS:
Charlie Cranford, Neal Class, and Walter Sanders.
DOCK E. HALL:
Well, then after that a bunch of them was going—I believe this was on a Sunday night. I won't say, 'cause if you print this or somebody hears of it they'll want to know about this, and I want to tell the truth, you know, near as I can.
BRENT GLASS:
Sure.
DOCK E. HALL:
Near as I remember. But this I believe was on Sunday night—now it might not have been Sunday night, it might have been Saturday night. Anyway, there was a boy named Griff Parrish, a young man about your size, and he come up to my house. And I used to cut hair (there wasn't no barber shops right around, and I'd cut hair). And he come up one evening to have me to cut his hair. And there was a protracted meeting going on, what we called protracted, big meeting, you know.
BRENT GLASS:
Protracted meeting.
DOCK E. HALL:
Yes. And he was talking about going to that meeting. And he wanted me to cut his hair (a good fellow), and I took a straight chair and set it on the porch and cut his hair. And he offered to pay me; and I don't remember whether it was a ten dollar bill or whether it was a twenty (might have been a ten), but he offered to pay me. And I said, "Griff, I ain't got no change for that." I think it was about fifteen cents or a quarter (maybe fifteen cents, I don't know)—it was money then. And I said, "I've got no change for that." And he said, "Oh, I ain't going to pay you nohow"—or something like that. And he had a brother, Walter Parrish, and I told him about that way afterwards: "You know, he tried to pay me that, and I never did take it."
BRENT GLASS:
And then he died right… ?"
DOCK E. HALL:
That boy, he got killed. They started down the mine, four of them: now two of them were chuckers and two of them were machine runners. Got onto one of these pendices way on down, nearly down maybe a hundred foot from the bottom.
BRENT GLASS:
What do you call them, pendices?
DOCK E. HALL:
Pendices, where they built, you know…
BRENT GLASS:
How do you spell that? Do you know?
DOCK E. HALL:
No.
BRENT GLASS:
OK.
DOCK E. HALL:
That's where the ladder goes through, like I told you, down through that. Well, there was a fellow up above him, and he fell off of that ladder above them. And there was two below him, and he knocked them two off. And they went on down to the bottom; and it killed one of them—that boy Griff Parrish—and broke the other one's, Walter (that guy, I knowed him for years; I forget his name now)…
BRENT GLASS:
Oh, that's all right.
DOCK E. HALL:
In other words, you can say two of them. But the one of them just broke his back and was kind of broken up; and it did kill the other one. Danged if I don't believe it was Sunday night, because I was learning buckets and I was working twelve hours a day, you see. And I lived right there close to the mine. And a fellow come by and waked me up, and I went out there when they went down and chained the thing down and brought him out. And I pulled off my coat, I remember, and laid it right down like that on the little old trolley where we dumped the ore and stuff that come out. And we laid his head on my coat there for a while. And his name was Griff Parrish: good fellow, Walter Parrish's brother, there right going down with him. And Pete Green was the man that fell off of the ladder. He happened to be close to one of them pendices, and he fell out on that (didn't hurt him); and the other who he knocked loose from the ladder, he went on down. And one of them got killed and the other got his back broke. Walter something: I can't even remember.
BRENT GLASS:
Was there anyone who would come and investigate these accidents? Anyone from the state come and check up on it?
DOCK E. HALL:
No, not that ever I knowed anything about.