by Bucky Schriver
for The Frostburg Express
Two Die On Lonaconing Inclined Plane
In February of 1875, William Beeman, Martin Sexton, and William Douglas were employed at The Maryland Mining Company's New Detmold Mine. The mine was located just south of Lonaconing at the end of the George's Creek and Cumberland Railroad's west branch. Beeman was employed as a car trimmer at the bottom of the inclined plane. Sexton and Douglas were working as dumpers at the tipple.
The workings of the New Detmold Mine reached the tipple by means of a steep inclined plane. The plane consisted of two tracks, which intersected at a switch near the top of the grade. The cars coming up and down the plane took opposing tracks and were controlled by a wire cable connected to a motorized drum at the entrance to the mine.
On February 11th, two loaded cars were descending the plane when the foremost car derailed, dumping most of the load. Beeman, Sexton, and Douglas went up the plane to the derailment. They removed the remaining coal from the car, set it back on the track, and reloaded the dumped coal. The three miners decided to ride the cars back down the plane to their work stations. Beeman was standing on the bumper between the cars, and Sexton and Douglas were on the rear car. When the engine at the mouth of the mine was restarted, a cog or some part of the machinery broke, sending the loaded cars down the plane at a frightening pace. As the speeding mine cars reached a curve near the dump house, the cars jumped the track and fell to the trestle below. Beeman and Sexton landed in a gondola car, where a loaded mine car fell on top of them. Beeman was killed instantly. His body was found crushed and mangled when taken from benneath the car.
Martin Sexton was alive, but was grievously injured and died two days later. William Douglas, the only one of the three who survived, was able to jump from the car onto the trestle, but fell to the ground below, breaking his leg and suffering other injuries. One year after the accident that killed William Beeman and Martin Sexton, The Office of the Mine Inspector for Allegany and Garrett Counties was created, in an effort to improve safety in the mines.
Martin Sexton was born in Ireland in 1832. He was a private in Company A of the 21st Regiment, New Jersey volunteers, from August 24, 1862, to July 19, 1863. On May 26, 1866, he married Scotland native Janet Hotchkiss. The couple had four children: Janet, Mary Ann, Martha, and Elizabeth. Elizabeth was only an infant when her father lost his life at the New Detmold Mine. Martin was buried in St. Gabriel's Catholic Cemetery in Barton.
William Beeman was born in Lonaconing on June 19, 1841, the son of George and Barbara (Loar) Beeman. By 1850, the Beeman family consisted of nine boys and three girls. Like Martin Sexton, William Beeman was also a veteran of the Civil War. He was mustered into service with Company D of the 5th Maryland Infantry, along with two of his brothers, Moses and Charles Henry, on September 19, 1864. The three brothers were honorably discharged on June 14, 1865.
William Beeman left a wife, Eleanor (Platter) Beeman and a son, William Thomas Beeman. Eight months after his death, Eleanor gave birth to a daughter, Ida Mae Beeman. Eleanor later married Daniel Timney. Daniel was the only father Ida Mae ever knew. She was commonly known as Ida Timney.
William Beeman was laid to rest on February 19, 1875, in the family cemetery, beside his father, George, who had passed away only four weeks earlier. The cemetery is now known as the George and Barbara (Loar) Beeman Cemetery. William Beeman is the great uncle of Baseball Hall of Fame inductee, Lefty Grove.
The Coal Miner Memorial Statue Fund is accepting contributions for the placement of an educational memorial near the crossroads of state Route 36 and the National Road in Frostburg. A bronze statue will honor all of our Georges Creek miners and name those who perished while mining.
Tax-deductible donations can be mailed to the
Foundation for Frostburg CMMSF
P.O. Box 765
Frostburg, MD 21532.
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