by Bucky Schriver
for The Frostburg Express
Beemans Killed in Mine, Lost in 1924 Flood
The Georges Creek Coal & Iron Company was chartered in 1835. After the mid-1850s, the company constructed the Georges Creek Railroad to connect with the B&O at Piedmont, West Virginia. Following the cessation of iron production in Lonaconing in the 1850s, the company focused on coal production. They later changed their name to the Georges Creek Coal Company.
Georges Creek No. 1 began as two separate openings in the Pittsburgh or Big Vein seam. Identified as Georges Creek No. 3 and No. 4, they were located in a draw, a half-mile west of the Old Coney Cemetery. By 1881, when the mine first appeared in the records of the Mine Inspector's Annual Reports, the two openings were interconnected, and the company combined them under the name Dug Hill Mine. After the turn of the century, the mine operated under a number of aliases, but was generally known as "No. 1 and Cutter."
David Beeman, Jr. was born in Lonaconing on October 26, 1879. Growing up, he had most likely heard stories about his uncle William Beeman, who was killed in Lonaconing's New Detmold Mine in 1875, and was surely beginning to comprehend the danger that lurked in underground mines. David's mother, Elizabeth (Crowe) Beeman, died in 1883, leaving his father, David Beeman, Sr., with four sons and one daughter. The eldest was 11 years of age.
In 1909, David, Jr. married Margaret Ross. Margaret, born in Lonaconing in March 1882, was the daughter of Charles and Jeanette Ross. David made his living in the tunnels of the Georges Creek Coal Company's No. 1 Mine in Lonaconing.
On Thursday, January 8, 1920, 41 year-old David, Jr. suffered serious head injuries from a fall of roof rock at Mine No. 1. He remained unconscious for five days, but revived sufficiently on the following Tuesday to warrant hope that he would survive. A relapse followed however, and David died the following day, on January 14, 1920. Like his mother before him, David, Jr.'s premature death left his spouse to raise four sons and one daughter.
On March, 29, 1924, four years after David's death, tragedy struck the family again. Five members of the family drowned in a flood on the Potomac River in Kitzmiller, MD. David Beeman, Sr., 75, his son Samuel, Samuel's wife Margaret "Maude" (Simpson) Beeman, and thier children, 9 year-old James and 11 year-old Leila, clung to a tree to escape the rapidly rising flood waters after their house had been washed away. The force of the water was too great, taking the tree and the five members of the Beeman family.
According to the April 7, 1924 edition of the Cumberland Evening Times: "at about 7:15 a.m., old Beeman went down the river. At 7:45, Sam Beeman, his wife and two children, a boy and a girl, went down together with three unknown persons. At 11 a.m. the next morning, the Beeman girl was found 300 yards down stream, and her brother was found another 1/2 mile farther down. Mrs. Beeman was found a mile downstream at 7:10 a.m. on April 1st. Sam Beeman was found seven miles east of town, and old "grandpa" Beeman was found six miles east the following day." The five members fo the Beeman family were buried in the R.D. Dean Memorial I.O.O.F. Cemetery in Kitzmiller.
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.
We welcome updated information and encourage your participation.
Contact Polla Horn at email@example.com
Bucky Schriver at firstname.lastname@example.org
to share your thoughts and stories. Be on the lookout for future Miner Recollections.