Tragedy at the Sawmill – 30 September 1902

The following is a newspaper article in its entirety. You are hereby forewarned that this is a graphic account of a saw mill explosion and the aftermath.

Glasgow Weekly Times 3 October 1902
Five killed in boiler explosion.
The boiler engine and mill building a total wreck.
Bodies of deceased terribly mutilated.
Out of a crew of six, only one alive.

“A terrible mill explosion occurred at the saw mill owned by Jess Kinslow & Son, Tuesday (30 September) at 1:30 pm. The mill is situated near Sinking Creek Bridge, one and one-half miles south of Hays and six miles southwest of this place. (This is on the present-day Patterson Road, which turns off of Merry Oaks-Railton Road.) As a result of the explosion five men are dead and one seriously injured.
“Jesse Kinslow, 51-year old owner of the mill, was killed instantly.
“Carlton Kinslow, saw man, son of the above, was killed instantly.
“Allen Shackleford, the engineer, was killed instantly, and he was terribly mutilated.
“Jessie Crumpton, age 17, was injured, and died in a few hours.
“Jimmie Crumpton, age 13, was injured, and also died in a few hours.
“Kemp Hendrick, also age 13, was seriously injured from the scalding.
“The citizens for miles around the Kinslow saw mill were startled by a terrific explosion Tuesday afternoon at 1:30. There were six men at work at the mill, which was the property of Jess Kinslow and Son. At one o’clock the crew went on duty and took their respective places. Shortly the engineer, Allen Shackleford, announced that the pump would not work. This brought the whole crew about the engine and boiler, which was pumping away under pressure of 200 pounds of steam with but little water in the boiler. All hands went to work to adjust the wrong. Suddenly, there was a terrible explosion – (missing), boiler, timber, machinery, and men were lifted up and hurled through the air and scattered over the earth for hundreds of yards around. Water, mud, and steam clothed the scene in a mist for several moments, and not a soul was left on the mill yard able to look after the dead and wounded. The only survivor of the fearful disaster is Kemp Hendrick, and he is in a precarious condition.
“Kemp Hendrick, while seriously injured, was able to give an account as to the cause of the explosion. He says the engineer had on full steam when the pump gave out and failed to work. The steam soon ran up to 200 lbs. and the safety valve failed to ‘pop off’ or let out the accumulating steam. The engine rocked to and fro, the steam rising higher and higher. Seeing there was danger, Hendricks stepped away a few yards. Then came a terrific explosion followed by a rush of steam and scalding water, which fell over him. He ran, blinded, from the mill up the road, and then to Mr. Kinslow’s residence. There was too much steam on.
“Mrs. Kinslow heard the explosion, which shook the earth. In a short time, Kemp came to the house, staggering, in a confused state. He said that the mill had blown up. Immediately, Mrs. Kinslow went to the mill. A most horrifying sight was in store for her. Nearby was her son’s body on a pile of lumber; his head and arms on the ground some distance away. Her husband was blown up the hill about 80 yards away. Allen Shackleford lay dead and mutilated near him. Her brothers, James and Jessie Crumpton, were lying on the yard in a dying condition. The neighbors came in and they gathered up her loved ones and carried them home.
“The bodies of the men were terribly mangled, that of Allen Shackleford being beyond recognition. The arm of the elder Kinslow was not found. The two Crumpton boys died Tuesday night, and five torn and dead bodies were in the house at one time. The scene of the disaster is a terrible one. Huge pieces of the boiler weighing thousands of pounds, were hurled through the tree tops and crashed through timbers hundreds of feet away. Men’s bodies and parts of bodies were scattered about in a chaotic state, and those first on the ground say that the moans of the wounded were pitiful indeed. Mill men say this is the worst wreck that has ever occurred in this part of the country.
“Mr. Kinslow and his family were highly respected and God-fearing people. The remains of Allen Shackleford were interred in the Hays Cemetery Wednesday. The others were buried that evening in a nearby graveyard (the Huffman Cemetery located off of Patterson Road). This awful accident has thrown a pall over the community about the mill, and hundreds viewed the wreck and victims Wednesday and Thursday.
“Allen Shackleford was a married man and leaves a wife and children. Jess Kinslow was 51 years old and leaves a wife and five children. He has been in the mill business many years, having operated mills in almost every part of Barren County.”

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About Gclee

I am a long time genealogy and local history hunter from Barren Co., KY. I have many stories to share that may be of interest to other local genealogists and history buffs. I enjoy this as a hobby and hope I can be of encouragement to others. I also hope everyone enjoys my stories as much as I have enjoyed learning about them.
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One Response to Tragedy at the Sawmill – 30 September 1902

  1. heytoto says:

    What a horrifying story! Poor Mrs. Kinslow–so many close to her lost.

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