Killed by Snowslide

The Ketchum keystone. (Ketchum, Idaho) February 21, 1891

On Friday of last week, at about 5 o'clock P.m. an accident happened at the Trapper mine, about 22 miles from town, by which B. Y. Hampton and Charles Spear lost their lives. Mr. Hampton was superintendent of the mine and Mr. Spear was the company's blacksmith. They had been in the mine together and had come out and started to the cabin when overtaken by a snowslide in which both were killed. The slide passed close to the tunnel and it is not probable the men had gotten more than 100 feet from where they left it when they were caught in the fatal slide. Two miners, named Roddy O'Ray and John Lynch, were at work in the tunnel, but no one witnessed the catastrophe. But on coming out of the tunnel they saw the track of the terrible avalanche, and thinking harm might have befallen their comrades they began looking for them. Their tracks in the snow were soon found and the fact discovered that they did not go beyond the snowslide. Realizing the worst they began sounding in the snow with their shovels and soon succeeded in locating the bodies, which were completely buried and only about twelve feet apart. Exhuming them as speedily as possible, the body of Spear was found to be warm, and they were at once removed to the cabin and every possible effort made to resuscitate them but of course to no purpose. Hampton's body was bruised and one of his legs broken. The body of Spear showed little external injury. The bodies of the dead men were kept at the cabin until Sunday morning when it being thought the storm had sufficiently abated to make a trip to town possible, Scott Collins, Ruddy O'Ray and John Lynch started to town to convey the sad intelligence to the friends of the unfortunates and procure help to bring the bodies in, leaving John Anderson, Hans Berndt, John McCann and Charles Brown to watch with the dead. The trip was a perilous one but was successfully made, the courageous trio reaching here about 11:30 Sunday night, having traveled about 22 miles over rough country, buried under three feet of fresh snow.

On Monday morning the sad news was gently broken to Mrs. Hampton and then sent broadcast over the town, carrying sadness to all. But then came the test. Men and teams were needed to go out to the mine and bring in the bodies. Danger lurked on every hillside between the town and the mine, and at almost any time on the whole route all who ventured might be entombed in snowy graves. Yet volunteers I were not lacking. From all over the country came men willing and eager to enter upon the hazardous journey, thinking only of their duty to their dead friends and coworkers. Preparations were made quickly as possible, and on Tuesday morning at about 9 o'clock a company of brave men numbering 18 or 20, and four teams, started to the mine. G. McPheters furnished 6 horses, J. F. Griffin 2, J. L Holman 4, Geo. Metzler 2, Clark & Tague 2, Gooding Bros. 2, Greenhow & Rumsey 2, Wm. McCoy 2. I. I. Lewis 1, Jos. Perkins 1, John Easley 3 and D. L. Newman 4, making in all 31 horses. Four sleighs, one of which was drawn by six horses, were taken. These were driven by G. McPheters, W. H. Reynolds, Ed Harrington and Sid Venable. At about 3 o'clock on Thursday afternoon the parties returned, without accident, having the bodies in charge, and as the train was waiting the body of Hampton was immediately shipped to Salt Lake city for interment, whither his wife and six children had already gone. The body of poor Charley Spear will be buried in the Ketchum Cemetery when the storm subsides. So ended in fearful tragedy two more human lives, beloved by their friends, contemned by the great world for the advancement of which they ventured and lost all.

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WE are indebted to James Shaw for the following facts concerning Charles Spear, whose death we have had to record this week:

He was born near Gardner, Maine, where he had two brothers living when he last heard from that place. He was, at the time of his death, about 40 years old and had been on the Pacific coast about 20 years, having lived first at Stockton, California. Leaving there in 1873, he went to Eureka, Nevada, coming from there to Wood River in 1881. Arriving here he helped to build the Muldoon smelter, and afterwards helped to put the machinery in the Ketchum smelters, since which he has worked at tool sharpening for the miners, at which he was an expert, being a natural mechanic; but he occasionally took a band in mining. He was blacksmithing for the Trapper mine and others when he lost his life. Poor Charley was of a most generous, genial, honorable disposition, and his friends were all who knew him. His funeral, which was to have taken place yesterday at 2:30 o'clock, was postponed on account of a snow storm prevailing at the time.

We have been unable to get particulars concerning the life of B. Y. Hampton, further than that he was from Utah where he was probably born, and where his parents now reside. He was a practical miner, and at the time of his death was superintendent of the Trapper mine. He leaves a wife and six children, whom his father has already taken to Utah, and whom it is pleasant to know, has been left in comfortable circumstances. Deceased was industrious, of good habits and a good citizen.

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