Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA


May 11, 2006

Coal mines in the Rathbun area


New Enterprise Coal Co. began a mine in 1932 using the same rail spur going west of town as the Fowler and Wilson Mine No. 1. This mine took in 25 acres toward the north of the tipple and lasted until 1949. In 1930 Joe Kauzlarich, age 27, was killed in the New Enterprise Mine. He had been oiling the fan which pumps air into the mine and got caught in the fan. Maintenance of the air fan could be a very hazardous operation because of the high speed and power of these large fans.

Rudie Blozovich, age 91 recently showed me the location and scanty remains of Fowler and Wilson Mines No. 1 and No. 2 as well as several of the other mines in the area. Rudie had started in the small Water Lily Mine (1932-1942) S.E. of Rathbun. His father, Tom Blozovich, had come from Yugoslavia in the 1890’s.

It seems there were an abnormal number of fatalities and serious accidents in the mines in the Rathbun area, but it was not always possible for me to determine from the news clippings exactly which mine in Rathbun these fatalities occurred. Thee fatalities are as follows: In 1898, Philip Swab, an immigrant from Austria, died from injuries sustained two years earlier in a Rathbun mine.

In 1904, George Nevill, age 60, died from heart failure in a Rathbun mine. This type of accident could happen anytime anywhere. In 1910 Paul Batterstone, age 36, died under a fall of rock in a slope mine in the Rathbun area. This is probably the most common cause of the many fatalities in the coal mines.

In 1913, Joe Pavlich, a 19-year-old Austrian lad, died after being crushed by a mine car in some way. This might be after the car got loose or ran off the rails. There are many ways that a miner could be killed by a fluke accident. Joe Buhanik was killed riding the rails and falling off. His legs were cut off by the train wheels

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The Iowegian wants readers to think about the solicitation ordinance that will prevent groups or individuals from entering a roadway to solicit money. The Centerville City Council in June by a 5-0 vote passed the first reading of just such an ordinance. Public pressure and during a subsequent special meeting, the council voted 3-2 to table the ordinance. A second special meeting to discuss the solicitation ordinance is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 7 at City Hall. So, the question of the week is, "Do you or do you not support the ordinance to prevent solicitation of funds in city streets?"

A. I support the ordinance
B. I do not support the ordinance
C. Not sure
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