Memorial and Funeral Services

photograph taken August 2018

Volunteer Grave Diggers
In response to the call for grave diggers early yesterday, several hundred men working in relays or shifts, have be engaged in the difficult task of preparing the graves to receive the 99 coffins that are to be placed in mother earth, in whose bosom the spark of life left the bodies the grim boxes contain.  The work was extremely difficult, rock and a hard clay being  encountered.  Most of the graves are built to hold eight coffins each, although a number of single graves have been provided where the survivors made arrangements.  The workers were provided with hot coffee all day and all night, as well as with food.  It is a gruesome sight at the City cemetery, this morning, with a hundred rough, boxes awaiting the coffins this afternoon.  Great credit is due the volunteer grave differs, most of whom are fellow-workers of the dead.
The Kemmerer Republican, Friday, August 17, 1923.  

Friday Service Was Impressive
63 of Mine Victims Interred That Day, and 17 the Following Day
All Kemmerer bowed its head in sorrow last Friday and Saturday as the victims of the mine explosion were tenderly laid at final rest, and it was a great relief to all when the last body, the last reminder of the awful tragedy, was laid away.  It really was a three-day funeral, as nine caskets were lowered Thursday, the second day after the explosion, 63 Friday, the day of the community services; 10 were shipped to out-of-town points, and 17 were buried Saturday.

It was a solemn and impressive ceremony Friday.  At noon, two hours before the beginning of the public services in Triangle park, the streets were filled, while automobiles were parked all around the Triangle and for several blocks in each direction there from.    At 2 p.m., when the services began, the Triangle was thronged with people anxious to participate in the obsequies--a funeral that it seldom falls to the lot of anyone to attend. 

A solemn Procession
When the services began, motor trucks bearing caskets were assembled around the Triangle, and soon afterward began moving toward the cemetery.  In the solemn procession marched members of the several societies and lodges with which man of the deceased were affiliated during life.

Here and there in the crowd stood members of the families of the departed, with others standing by endeavoring to console them in their grief, and many pathetic scenes were enacted.

The Evanston Choir began the services with the hymn, "Lead, Kindly Light," which was followed by a prayer by Bishop P.G. Matthews, also of Evanston.  Bishop Jensen of Diamondville gave the scriptural reading and Harry Fox and James Morgan, labor union officials delivered funeral orations.  Rev. Tashima, Japanese minister gave a prayer, and the funeral sermon and benediction was given by Rev. T. H. Evans of Kemmerer.  The choir rendered several selections.

Floral Token Profuse
It was dusk before the last of the 63 interred Friday were finally laid to away.  The line of trucks bearing the caskets which were laden with flowers extended almost from the cemetery to the city.

Flowers were profuse, the U.M.W of A. alone providing dozens of beautiful sprays and wreaths, while individual floral tributes were bestowed for every victim.  Services in every burial were held at the cemetery by ministers, lodges and societies.

It was a funeral different.  The soul of the community seemed enshrouded in grief, and many tears were shed not only for the departed, but for their grief-stricken windows and children, who presented a pitiable sight.

The Kemmerer Republican, 24 August 1923, page 1.

Coal Company Paid All Burial Expense
The Kemmerer Coal Company this week settled the funeral bills for all of the miners killed in the disaster of August 14, 99 in all, checks having been issued from the company offices to the Kemmerer undertakers.  Although the total amount was not given out, total will be over $10,000.

Under agreement the coal companies of this region pay $50 to the families of each miner killed in the mine while at work, and the plan always has been for the local union to assess the members enough money to defray the remainder of the funeral expense.  In the case of the explosion victims, however, a mere handful of members were left, and it was impossible for this rule to be carried out in the case of the 99 victims.

The company has made up the difference paying slightly over $100 for each victim's funeral.  In many of the cases the bodies were completely embalmed and prepared for shipment, but the families have borne this extra expense.

The Kemmerer Republican, 7 September 1923, no pagi.

Impressive Services
The bodies of John A. and John W. Zumbrennen, cousins, were shipped to Montpelier, Ida., two days following their untimely death in the mine explosion, where funeral services were held.  It was one of the largest funerals ever held in the Idaho city, and the caskets were smothered with flowers, one wreath representing a wagon wheel with a spoke missing.  Mr. and Mrs. H.A. Bahem took the widow and six children, of John W., the oldest of whom is only 10 years, to Montpelier in their car Friday morning.  Three speakers extolled the virtues of the departed.
The Kemmerer Republican, 24 August 1923, page 1.

Bodies to Denver
Four bodies of Japanese, victims of the mine disaster, were shipped to Denver for cremation, preparatory to being sent to their native land.
The Kemmerer Republican, 24 August 1923, page 1.

Many Bodies Shipped 
Many of the bodies of miners who lost their lives in the Frontier mine disaster were shipped from Kemmerer to other places throughout the  United States for burial.  The Kemmerer
Frank T. Navarra, 40, Mexican to Rawlins
George Womer, 55 to Philipsburg, Pennsylvania
J.A. Zumbrunner, 24   to Montpelier, Idaho
J. W. Zumbrunner, 39 to Montpelier, Idaho
Tom Sanchez, Mexican, Weston, Colorado
J.A. Walton, 32 to Cokeville, Wyoming
K. Baba, 29, Japanese to Denver, Colorado
K. Masaki, Japanese, to Denver, Colorado
S. Kawase, Japanese, to Denver Colorado

24 August 1923 no pagi listed.

Memorial Services
The Methodist Episcopal church will hold a memorial service in the church next Sunday.  The public is invited to attend and pay additional homage to the 99 dead miners who lost their lives in Frontier mine early last week.  A comprehensive program has been arranged, with special music as a feature.
24 August 1923 no pagi listed.
Other Arrangements
 It is almost certain that a band from Rock Springs (Wyoming) will be here today.  Tony Radaij, International Board Member of the State Mine Workers having left last night to secure this music.  Union officials who will be present at the services include President Fox of the State Federation; Vice-President George Young and Secretary James Morgan of the Mine Workers.

Following the ceremony at Triangle park this afternoon at 2 o'clock, the largest, saddest and most impressive cortege that ever was formed in Kemmerer will follow the victims of the explosion to their last resting place. 

All business houses will remain closed this afternoon from 1 until 4 o'clock as a mark of respect to the departed miners, the bulwark of the industrial life of Kemmerer.

Following is the program that has been arranged for this afternoon at Triangle park, beginning promptly at 2 o'clock:

"Lead Kindly Light," by the Evanston Choir.
Prayer, Father Szymanski
Musical Selection, Evanston Choir
Scriptural Reading, Bishop Jensen.
Selection, Evanston Choir
Remarks, President Harry W. Fox, of the Wyoming State Federation of Labor
Remarks, James Morgan, secretary of the UMW of A
Prayer, Rev. Tashima
Selection, Evanston Choir
Funeral Sermon, Rev. T.H. Evans
"Nearer, My God to Thee," Evanston Choir
Benediction, Father Szymanski

The Kemmerer Republican, 17 August, 1923, page 1.

Two Bodies Shipped
The body of George Womer, pumpman, was one of those shipped out of the city, leaving Wednesday evening for his old home in Phillipsburg, Pa., and being accompanied by his widow and son, W.W. Womer.  He had only worked at the mine a few months, and was in charge of the pump at the 15th level, where the explosion spent its force when a trip of six cars was wrecked.  He was suffocated.  His was the first body found by the rescuers.  The body of John Zumbrennan also was shipped early this morning to Montpelier, where funeral services and interment will take place.
The Kemmerer Republican, Friday, August 17, 1923.