Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA


August 3, 2006

Liberty Coal Co., Drum and Monkey Mine

In the past several weeks I have discussed the towns and coal mines on the Milwaukee Railroad going west from Moravia through Mystic and Diamond in 1886. The next railroad mine on this route was the Liberty Mine. The Liberty Coal Co. was located near the center of Section 25 of Johns Twp., about a half mile north of Hwy. No. 2. It was commonly known as the Drum and Monkey Mine because of a visit by an itinerant salesman who had a monkey that played the drums.

There were 95 acres undermined. At that time there were about 20 houses and a service road coming in from the east. In 1928 Fred Kauzlarich, father of Leon, was running the grocery store.

There was a fatality in this mine in 1916. Paul Butkovich, aged 25, an unmarried Croatian miner living at Brazil was killed instantly when he came in contact with a bare strip in the electric wiring at an electrical mining machine. He and his two comrades, his brother Valentine Butkovich and Fred Powell had come back from lunch following the noon hour, three men being required to operate the machine. No one saw the accident as the other two men happened to have their backs turned at that moment. Paul’s brother, upon turning around saw him lying in a huddled position across a wire, and when he got to him, life was almost extinct.

Mr. Butkovich’s companions called for assistance and the victim was removed from the mine. Doctors Tillmont and Harris were called from Centerville, as was Coroner Miller. Late in the afternoon, an inquest was held. An examination of the body showed no burned spots as is usually evident, and it was thought that Mr. Butkovich’s heart may have been affected beforehand and may have been the cause of death. To settle the question, the three physicians performed an autopsy revealing that his heart and lungs were in sound condition. Later it developed that the unfortunate man showed some signs of apoplexy. It was said that the wire carrying 220 volts should not have caused death in itself, many workers with mining machines having experienced such shocks without serious result.

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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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