Wilmington, DE Dupont Powder Company Explosion - 30 Killed by Blast
THIRTY KILLED BY POWDER BLAST
Seven Others Injured in EXPLOSION at Dupont Plant.
VICTIMS BLOWN TO ATOMS
Wilmington, Del., Dec. 1. Thirty men, nearly all of them young, were killed and seven were injured when 80,000 pounds of black powder exploded in a packing house in the upper Hagley yard of the E. I. Dupont de Nemours & company, near here.
The cause, an official statement given out by the company says, is a mystery. However, there were rumors afloat that some outside agency caused the detonation of the powder. These speculations concerning the possibility of a plot to blow up the Dupont works were based largely upon posters recently put up near the powder plant warning Germans to get away not later that January 1.
The killed are: JAMES BAIRD, BENJAMIN BARBER, MARGE BRICOTTI, ELMER CUMPSTON, JAMES EGNER, HARRY ELLIOTT, ELMER FOX, NORMAN FISHER, JAMES GENNETT, NELSON NEWGATE, J. HABER, FRED JEFFREY, B, KELCHER, EDWARD KING, JAMES MALLOY, BRYAN O'CONNOR, HARRY PLACE, G. SYLVESTRI, PAUL SMACK, JOHN SMACK, WESLEY SIMPSON, E. SPRINGFIELD, ALLEN A. THAXTER (foreman), LESLIE TIMMONS, W. WEIN, ELMER MACE, PATRICK HANRAHAN, C. PLEASANTON, WILLIAM OLIVER and one other man thus far unidentified.
The injured are: Lewis Booker, Edward Davis, E. F. Ware, P. J. Sikes, W. H. Oliver, J. R. Meredith, all of whom are at local hospitals. MACE, a driver: HANRAHAN, a carpenter; CLARCENCE PLEASANTON, fireman, and W. OLLIVER, machinist, among the killed, were outside the packing house.
The explosion was so severe that only a hole in the ground marks the spot. The packing house was blown to pieces, as were other structures nearby. There were twenty-five men and youths from sixteen to twenty-one years at work in the packing house. None survived. They were all blown to atoms, not enough of any body being found to enable identification. The others killed were outside the building. For hours after the explosion, other workmen in the yards were busy with buckets and baskets picking up arms, legs, hands and remnants of flesh scattered over the surrounding country and hanging from trees over a quarter of a mile.
The only body identified among those known to have been in the packing house is that of ALLEN A. THAXTER, of Portland, Me., foreman in the mill. The trunk of his body was blown across the Brandywine creek and was identified by shreds of clothing that clung to the mangled flesh.
The men injured were at work outside the packing house or in adjoining mills.
The disaster was one of the worst that has ever occurred in the history of the Dupont company. Twenty-five years ago six mills in the same plant exploded and killed fourteen men and injured a number of others. The money loss will only be a few thousand dollars.
All of the injured were badly mutilated, some having their eyes blown out and limbs almost torn off. Some will die.
JOHN SMACK, one of the killed, only began work Monday. The scene about the plant was heartrending. Hundreds of relatives of workmen clamored for admission or screamed in anguish.
Just before the explosion occurred a car carrying several thousand pounds of powder was run along a narrow railroad track to the door of the packing house. This was drawn by two horses. One theory is that some of the powder spilled from the car, and falling on the tracks was ignited by the car passing over it. It is supposed this flash ignited the explosive in the car and caused the disaster.
The News, Frederick, MD 1 Dec 1915
Wilmington, DE Dupont Powder Company Explosion, Dec 1915
BLAST BLOWS 30 MEN TO BITS. INJURED BADLY MUTILATED AND MANY BUILDINGS WRECKED BY EXPLOSION. MAY NEVER KNOW CAUSE. ARMS, LEGS, HEADS, HANDS AND FEET FOUND ABOUT YARDS AT WILMINGTON, DEL.
Western Newspaper Union News Service.
Wilmington, Del. --- Thirty workmen were killed and seven fatally injured Tuesday in a terrific explosion of four tons of black powder at the Upper Hagley yard of the Du Pont Powder Company. It was the worst accident that has occurred in any of the company's plants in a quarter of a century. The cause of the blast is not known.
According to a statement issued by the company, the origin will probably always remain a mystery. Nevertheless a most severe investigation has been instituted by the officials of the company.
Reports have been current here for several days that notices had been found nailed to trees and fences along the roads leading to both the Hagley yards and the Carney's point plant of the Du Pont Company, warning all employees of Teutonic origin that they would imperil their lives by continuing to work at either place.
From every tree left standing in the neighborhood there was hanging either pieces of flesh or parts of clothing worn by the unfortunate men.
Twenty-six men were in the packing house when the powder went off, and not enough of any of them was left for identification with the exception of ALLAN A. THAXTER, the foreman, whose home is given as Portland, Me. He was torn to pieces and a part of his body was found hanging on a tree across the creek. It was identified by shreds of clothing that still clung to it.
Company officials said there were about 8,000 pounds of powder in the packing house at the time. The property loss, Du Pont officials said, was small.
Alamosa Journal Colorado 1915-12-02
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WAS THIS ELMER?
1880 United States Federal Census
Name Parent or Spouse Names Home in 1880
(City,County,State) Birth Year Birthplace Relation
Elmer E. Cumpston Albert R.,
Phebe Chariton, Lucas, Iowa abt 1871 Nebraska Son
1910 United States Federal Census
Name Parent or Spouse Names Home in 1910
(City,County,State) Birth Year Birthplace Relation
Elmer E Cumpston Jeannette R Portland Ward 7, Multnomah, Oregon abt 1871 Nebraska Head