Thomas ROBERTS(1-2) was born on 23 June 1898 in Tyldesley, Lancashire, England to John W. Roberts and Mary Tranter.(3-4) At six year old, Thomas emigrated on or about 7 December 1904 from Liverpool sailing on the Britanic.(3) In 1905 he lived with his family in Webster, Pennsylvania where his father was naturalized on 14 September 1906.(3) Thomas appeared in the census in 1910 in Kemmerer, Wyoming living with his parents and two sisters where his father was employed as a coal miner.(3-4) Thomas filled out WWI Draft Registration Cards on 24 August 1918 in Kemmerer where he was working for Will Louis in Fossil, Wyoming.(9) Thomas was described as short in height, medium build with blue eyes and light brown hair.(9) He appeared in the census in 1920 in Kemmerer, living with his parents and working as a laborer.(5) Thomas married Nellie Wilding.(3) He crossed from Quebec, Canada into the United States on 22 September 1920 traveling with his wife Nellie and mother Mary.(6) Thomas died in a gas explosion in Frontier No. 1 coal mine on 14 August 1923 at the age of 25 in Frontier, Wyoming.(1,7) He was buried on 17 August 1923 in Kemmerer, Wyoming.(7) On that fateful day, Thomas’ brother James had gone hunting chickens so Thomas make his round for James and then went on to do his own job inspecting shots.(2) The following description from the newspaper describes the recovery of Thomas’ body:
It was decided, when a council was held, after the large crew had become tired out, that the work would be abandoned for the day, but James Roberts, brother of the missing man was insistent that the search be continued and with three others he did so. The body was finally located after midnight yesterday morning in the 7th room of the 30 entry. It had been passed by many times by the searchers. This brought the total dead to 99.(10)
Thomas was working as a fire boss in the mine and it was his own brother who found him exclaiming, “Here he is! We have got him” (11) where upon the rescuers retrieved a stretcher and brought the body out from the mine.(2,11) From the coroner’s findings the verdict being:
The explosion was cuased (sic) by gas in No. 7 room 30 Entry, same being ignited by fire boss when relighting his safety lamp, all victims of the explosion thereby meeting death.(2)
The blame of the explosion was laid on Thomas Roberts, fire boss for the Kemmerer Coal Company, Frontier Mine No. 1.
1. Kemmerer Republican, (Kemmerer, Lincoln, Wyoming), 24 August 1923, page 1, microfilm; Lincoln County Library, 519 Emerald Street, Kemmerer, Lincoln, Wyoming 83101.
2. Sneddon Robert T. Inspector (Dist 1) & Robert V. Hotchkiss Inspector (Dist2), "State Coal Mine Inspectors Of Wyoming, Districts No. 1 and 2," year: 1923; report, 1923; , Wyoming State Archives on microfilm, Cheyenne, Wyoming.
3. Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2007., National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; NARA Series: Passport Applications, January 2, 1906 - March 31, 1925; Roll #: 921; Volume #: Roll 0921 - Certificates: 119000-119249, 20 Sep 1919-20 Sep 1919.
4. 1910, population schedule, Year: 1910; Census Place: Kemmerer, Uinta, Wyoming; Roll: T624_1747; Page: 10A; Enumeration District: 0128; FHL microfilm: 1375760, family of John W. Roberts; digital images, Ancestry.com (: accessed 11 February 2018); Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006..
5. 1920, population schedule, Year: 1920; Census Place: Kemmerer, Lincoln, Wyoming; Roll: T625_2027; Page: 14A; Enumeration District: 56, family of John Roberts; digital images, Ancestry.com (: accessed 11 February 2018); Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch..
6. "Border Crossings from Canada to U.S.," digital, National Archives at Washington, Ancestry.com (: online 11 February 2018), Thomas Roberts; citing The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Manifests of Passengers Arriving at St. Albans, VT, District through Canadian Pacific and Atlantic Ports, 1895-1954; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787 - 2004; Record Group Number: 85; Series Number: M1464; Roll Number: 404.
7. Thomas Roberts, death certificate file no. 1391 (14 August 1923), State of Wyoming, Wyoming State Archives, 2301 Central Avenue, Cheyenne, Wyoming 82001.
8. Border Crossings from Canada to U.S.," digital, National Archives at Washington, Ancestry.com (: online 20 July 2018), Thomas Roberts, Nellie Roberts & Mary Roberts; citing Record Group Number: 85; Series Number: M1464; Roll Number: 404.
9. U.S. World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918," digital, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005., Ancestry.com (: online 11 February 2018), Thomas Roberts; citing United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System. Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.:, Roll 2022241 State of Wyoming.
10. Kemmerer Republican, (Kemmerer, Lincoln, Wyoming), 17 August 1923, page 1, microfilm; Lincoln County Library, 519 Emerald Street, Kemmerer, Lincoln, Wyoming 83101.
11. Kemmerer Republican, (Kemmerer, Lincoln, Wyoming), 17 August 1923, page 2, microfilm; Lincoln County Library, 519 Emerald Street, Kemmerer, Lincoln, Wyoming 83101.
Accident of Reports of Kemmerer Coal Company 1915-1960
mine # Name date of injury time lost compensation
1 Roberts, Thomas 8-15-21 less than 7 days ----
remarks: 25 South entry 28 room, 3rd finger of right hand squeezed between a prop and some coal.
1 Roberts, Thomas 1-10-23 12 days $11.25
remarks: No. 1 rock dump, right foot squeezed caught between the car bumpers.
hand transcribed from the Kemmerer: Coal Company Records, located at the Fossil Country Museum, Frontier/Kemmerer, Wyoming