Thursday, November 5, 2015

A Piece of Bad Luck

Daniel Matt Coor, oldest son of Rufus K. Coor and Mary J. Sones, died 17 Sep 1881, when the steam engine at his grinding mill blew up.[1] Daniel is not in my direct line. He is my first cousin four times removed. His grandfather, John Coor (1785-1838) was my fourth great-grandfather and his father, Rufus K. Coor (1825-1877) was the brother of my third great-grandfather, James Madison Coor (1833-1890).

Rufus K. Coor’s family remained in Copiah County, Mississippi while Rufus’ brother, James Madison took his family to Texas. So finding two newspaper articles about Rufus’ son, Daniel Matt Coor in the Daily Commercial, a newspaper from Vicksburg, Mississippi, was a nice find. This paper reprinted news from another newspaper called, Hazlehurst Copiahan.

This was not Daniel Matt’s first piece of bad luck. The previous month on 20 August, his gin and mill that was located near Copiah Creek on the Georgetown Road was destroyed by fire.[2]
Copiah Creek between Hazlehurst & Georgetown in Copiah Co.
The exact location of mill is not known.
He also lost two bales of cotton. He stated in the newspaper that he thought “the fire originated from friction.”
“Mississippi News,” Daily Commercial (Vicksburg, Mississippi), 2 September 1881, p. 2, col. 3
At this time, Dan Matt was just 24 years old, probably still living with his mother and four younger brothers, as he had been in 1880.[3] His father had died 1 March 1877.[4]

So on this day when the steam engine blew up, Dan Matt, knew something was wrong. The grinding mill was not operating quite right, so he shut down the engine by letting off the steam and putting out the fire. He examined the engine closely and then started it up again. According to the newspaper account:
“In a very short time after this his steam gauge registered one hundred pounds. This increased his anxiety so he watched every point and movement with greater vigilance and very justly too, for in a short time the crisis came … when in a moment’s time the whole machinery was blown into atoms, and two souls were launched into eternity.”
A total of twelve people were present at the accident and two people died, Dan Matt and Jack Wilson. Dan had been thrown some forty feet from the boiler and was found lifeless, but Hunter Garth resuscitated him. But after being taken to the house and the medical treatment given, his injuries were too severe and he died later that night. He had a compound fracture of the skull in three different places. Poor Jack Wilson, who had been right in front of the engine, was “mutilated beyond description.”  Though the newspaper did manage to describe it.

The force of the explosion was massive. Further description of the accident:
“…The shaft with one box and part of bed plate, hub of main wheel and excentric [eccentric axle], supposed weight five hundred pounds, were thrown a distance of one hundred and twenty feet. The remainder of bed plate, steam chest, cylinder, cross head and piston, weighing about eight hundred pounds, were thrown eighty-five feet. The hull of the boiler, wheel and running gear were literally torn into atoms. One piece of the boiler was driven through the limb of a tree at a distance of one hundred feet from the explosion. Other portions of the boiler were torn into strips and rolled up; the dome was found at a distance of four hundred feet, the ground was covered with the debris for two hundred yards around.”
Dan Matt Coor was buried in the Coor Cemetery, probably not far from his father. There may not be a tombstone for him.[5]

“Death Dealing Steam,” Daily Commercial (Vicksburg, Mississippi),
27 September 1881, p. 2, col. 3

[1] “Death Dealing Steam,” Daily Commercial (Vicksburg, Mississippi), 27 September 1881, p. 2, col. 3; digital image, : accessed 5 November 2015.
[2] “Mississippi News,” Daily Commercial (Vicksburg, Mississippi), 2 September 1881, p. 2, col. 3; digital image, : accessed 5 November 2015.
[3] Mississippi, Copiah, 1880 U.S. census, pop. sched., Browns Store, ED 27, p. 15, 282b (stamped), family 183, Mary P. Coor, Digital images, ( accessed 16 Mar 2011); citing National Archives and Records Administration, T9, roll 646.
[4] Mississippi Genealogical Society, editor, Cemetery & Bible Records Vol 1 (Mississippi: n.p., 1954.), p. 1, Rufus K. Coor.
[5] "Find A Grave," database and digital images, Find A Grave (, Memorial# 70127715, Coor Springs Cemetery, Copiah Co MS, Daniel M Coor; no tombstone photo.

Copyright © 2015 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, Mam-ma's Southern Family

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