by Polla Horn
for The Frostburg Express
Joseph Henry Adomnick
Consol Mine No. 10 was located near today’s Frostburg Plaza on Route 36. No. 10 worked the Tyson seam, a smaller seam of coal located directly above Consol Mine No. 4’s Pittsburgh (Big Vein) seam. In 1924, No. 10 was connected to Consol No. 11 in Shaft. No. 11 was previously known as the “Pumping Shaft.” Coal from No. 11 was used to fuel a steam pump that drained water from the mines prior to the 1906 construction of the Hoffman Drainage Tunnel.The two mines were listed in the Bureau of Mines Annual Report as No. 10 after 1924. The tunnels of Consol No. 10 followed a line along the east side of Rt. 936 and extended approximately four miles to a concrete portal that still exists, one mile north of Midland. Big Vein seam No. 4 dates back to about 1828; by 1944 it was nearly mined out. As the Consolidation Coal Company began to remove the pillars from the old No. 4, the floor of No. 10 above it began to sink and shift. The roof of No. 10, being close to the surface,was also unstable. This instability was exacerbated by the removal of the coal from the Big Vein seam below. Consol No. 10, however, continued to be mined by pick and machine until the last 4,029 tons of coal were removed in 1959.
It was in these dangerous conditions that Joseph Henry Adomnik worked. Joseph was born in Centerville, PA on September 23, 1907, the son of Stanley Abdomnick and Anna Hanchick (Hancczyk) Abdomnick. (Many spellings were recorded for the last names of these Polish-born immigrants, making research difficult.) Joe married Mary Helen “Mamie” Babik in 1927; he was 22 and Mamie was 18. They lived with Joe’s parents in Shade, Somerset County, PA for several years. Joe and Mamie eventually moved with their three daughters, Dorothy, Irene, and Jean, to Eckhart Mines, MD.
On July 22, 1944, Joe and his buddies, Bernie Henaghan, Charles Sluss, and Arthur Leasure, walked into the heading of Consol No.10, probably happy to be out of July’s oppressive heat. As the seam narrowed, the men began to crawl to their work place, where they started digging and loading their first cut of the day. After breaking for lunch, they began to load the second cut of coal onto the conveyor belt---Joe digging and loading from the left, while his three companions loaded from the right. Joe had loaded out a space about six to eight feet wide and was preparing to set some props when the overhanging rocks broke loose, falling on Joe and crushing him. Remarks from the Bureau of Mines Annual Report state that the “victim was working too far under the bad roof. The rock struck him on the head knocking him forward under it.” A shovel, axe, and props were found close to him. His pick was still in his hand.
Thirty-seven year-old Joseph Adomnick, a devoted husband and father, was laid to rest in St. Michael’s Cemetery. His widow, Mamie, remarried Melvin Wolford, also a coal miner. Mamie died in 1997 and is buried with her second husband in Frostburg Memorial Park.
Bill Henaghan of Eckhart Mines was a young boy when this accident happened. He says his father, Bernie, rarely talked about it. Bernie did, however, talk about the conditions in which he worked. He said he had to crawl into the mine and work lying on his side; there was not much space to gain any leverage for the swing of a pick. After trying to eke out a living in these tight spaces, he went to work in the Big Vein. As the underground mining industry began to regress, Bernie left to drive a truck for the Coca Cola Company, and ended his working career at the State Roads Department.
The Coal Miner Memorial Statue Fund is accepting contributions for the placement of a bronze statue to honor all our Georges Creek and Jennings Run Valley coal miners and name those who perished while mining.
Tax-deductible donations can be mailed to Foundation for Frostburg CMMSF
Frostburg, MD 21532.
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