by Bucky Schriver
for The Frostburg Express
Albert Kirk Palmer
Relatives Face Separate Fates 68 Years Apart
Albert Kirk Palmer was born in Berkeley Springs, WV on March 1, 1897, to William Palmer and Sarah Myrtle Ann (Raigner) Palmer. By 1910, the Palmer brood was comprised of seven children. In June of 1918, after celebrating his 21st birthday, Albert was inducted into the military and served our country during WW 1.
In 1924, Albert married Barton, Maryland native Lora Marie Barnes in a Cumberland, Maryland ceremony. Lora was ten years younger than her new husband, having been born on March 5, 1907 to Sheridan and Sarah (Diehl) Barnes. In 1930, Albert and Lora lived in Gainesboro, VA, a few miles north of Winchester. Albert was working as a laborer in a sand mine. For reasons unknown, the couple moved to the Barton, area shortly thereafter, where Albert went to work in the Georges Creek coal mines. Perhaps the difficult economic conditions and the scarcity of jobs during the Great Depression forced Albert to seek employment in the underground coal mines of western Maryland, or maybe the lure of living closer to family drew them back to Barton.
At 10:30 am on Friday, September 28, 1934, Albert was working with his brother-in-law, Raymond Barnes, in heading No. 21 of the Campbell Coal Company's Hampshire Mine in the Mill Run section of Barton. Albert and Raymond started to take out the heading pillar, and had removed about 2-ft. of rock from the roadway in the room. Working and loading on the right side of the track, they had loaded two cars and were digging coal for their third. The two men were working under this 2-ft. of rock, three to four feet into the heading, when this roof rock fell. No timber had been set under this rock, which was undoubtedly loose when these men started to work. According to the Bureau of Mines accident report “If even a single prop had been set, it would have prevented this accident. This is the first fatal accident occurring underground in this mine since it was opened in 1916." Albert Palmer left behind his widow, Lora, and four children. He was laid to eternal rest in Laurel Hill Cemetery in Moscow, Maryland. Lora Palmer died on March 18, 1974 at Winchester (VA) Memorial Hospital, two weeks after celebrating her 67th birthday. She was buried in Potomac Memorial Gardens in Keyser, West Virginia.
Coal mining remained in the Palmer family blood. Ironically, Albert's grandson, Randy Fogle, was one of nine miners who were rescued from the Quecreek Mine near Sipesville, Pennsylvania, in 2002. The workers were trapped in the mine when the exit was blocked by flooding conditions. Randy and eight co-workers spent 77 hours in the mine, from July 24th until July 28th, while the entire country watched and prayed for their safety. They were all brought to the surface in a miraculous rescue. GPS technology and modern mine rescue methods saved Randy Fogle from the fate that had claimed the life of his grandfather, Albert Palmer, 68 years earlier.
The Coal Miner Memorial Statue Committee would like to thank Randy and Annette Fogle for their assistance in compiling this “Recollection.”
The Coal Miner Memorial Statue Fund is accepting contributions for the placement of a bronze statue that will honor all of our Georges Creek miners and name those who perished while mining. Tax-deductible donations can be mailed to
Foundation for Frostburg CMMSF
P.O. Box 765
Frostburg, MD 21532.
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