a a from it Yesterday And Today-Glen Rogers Mine Blast In 1923 By SHIRLEY DONNELLY The burial of George McClung, 72, on Aug. 25, occasioned a trip to Hill Top Cemetery midway between Oak Hill and Glen Jean. It is an ancient burial ground, in use since 1867. The first person buried in this graveyard was C l a r k Blake. The late Edward L. Hill (April 13, 1851- June 29, 1937) used to tell me about digging Clark Blake's grave. Hill was 16 at the time he prepared the tomb of the ill- fated man who was killed when a log fell on him while he and others were building a tobacco barn near where the cemetery is. Soon the Hill Top Cemetery will observe its centennial and it is possible Ulysses S. Argenbright, who operates it, may make something of the event if he is still living. There are possibly 2,000 persons -- a wild guess -- interred there, many in unmarked graves. Until the coming of High Lawn Memorial Park at Oak Hill, the Hill Top Cemetery was Fayette County's most populous city of the dead. High Lawn has 3,500 or more buried in its 40 green acres, about a thirteenth of its extent. HARD BY WHERE McClung was laid to rest stands the hickory tree beneath which the dust of dark Blake reposes. Standing at the McClung grave a marble marker was noted, along with the name of the dead and the melancholy inscription at the base of the upright section of it. It is only a few feet from the McClung plot. It reads "Howell Samuels. Nov. 25, 1897- Nov. 6, 1923, Killed by a mine explosion at Glen Rogers. W. Va." By this unfortunate young man are buried his father and mother. "John Samuels, April 3, 1856-March 20, 1928" and "Mary Samuels, May 10, 1866- March 6, 1944." THE PATHETIC legend on the tombstone of Howell Samuels brought to mind the story of the Glen Rogers coal operation in general and its mine explosion of Nov. 6, 1923, in particular. In that holacau-st, 27 men lost their lives, the largest mine disaster death toll in this area since the Layland explosion on March 2, 1915 exacted a toll of 112 persons. After that came the tragedy at Benwood April 28, 1924, when 115 miners died. IT WAS ON A TUESDAY morning that the mine in Wyoming County let go, killing the 27 men. There were 36 miners employed in another section of the working but they were unhurt by the mishap. All the victims were in the same entry and none escaped in that portion of the mine. All the 27 were killed outright, either by force of the explosion or by gas. Rescue parties entered the mine in two hours and by nine o'clock that night, all the bodies had been recovered. There were 17 white men and 10 Negroes. All were Americans. The mine employed but little foreign labor. Most of tie victims were married. THE EXPLOSION occurred about 7:30 a.m., about half-an- hour after the mine inspectors had left the pit. There was no dust in the mine and the only possible cause advanced was the unexpected opening of a large pocket of gas that was ignited by a spark flying from the arching of the commutator of a dangerous electric drill. Glen Rogers was a new the first coal having been shipped from there in June, 1922. Large sums of money been spent to make it a model mine. Every safety precaution had been taken but a coroner's jury, following the 1923 explosion placed the blame on the company. Carl Scholz, a noted mine man, had opened the mine for the owners and was superintendent of the operations. Much water was encountered. Water would seep/through and ruin concrete before it could harden as the walls of the shaft were being poured. To hold water-in check several car loads of beans and oats were forced the crevices. These were swelled by the water and held back the flow until the concrete in the walls got set. It was novel but it worked. KILLED IN THAT explosion were Thomas Holley, the fire boss; W. A. Cook and David Hill, both of Beckley; Billy Bowden, Eula Aliff, Robert Shurm, James Stewart, Tom Sims, Oscar King, C. E. Johnson, Rufus Turiety, Robert Glair, Harry Isaac, Virgil Sturm, mine foreman's son; Clarence Puckett, Paul Tatts, Ernest King, William Stokes, Emil linger, S. Currant, Harry Wright, Joe Gurock, James Doyle, William Harrington, James Robertson, and Howell Samuels, the 28- year-old man buried in Hill cemetery. Samuels was a veteran of World War I and the figure the flag is sandblasted into the stone that marks his last resting place.