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The Mining Death of John Sturmer, Jr.

March 23, 2013

John Sturmer, Jr. in his U.S. Army uniform

John Sturmer was the oldest child of John and Barbara Clara (Barthen/Barton) Sturmer and the brother of my great-grandmother Dolly Sturmer. He was born July 21, 1854 in Beetown, WI. His first wife, Sarah Jane Mayne died from enteritis and after that he moved to Joplin, Missouri. There he married Olive Clementine Rule and had three children. He died on this day in 1897 from a mining accident and was buried March 24 in the Thurman Cemetery in Saginaw, MO. Here is an account of the accident from the Joplin Daily Glove, March 24, 1897.

Killed by Bad Air

John Sturmer the Second Victim of the Potter Shaft

The Potter shaft, on the O’Keefe land just east of the city, claimed its second victim within a fortnight yesterday morning. The victim was John Sturmer. The shaft is being sunk and had reached a depth of 90 feet. Monday morning it was noticed that the air was bad in the bottom of the hole, and one of the owners of the mine suggested to Sturmer that a sail should be put in. Sturmer rather resented the suggestion and intimated that he knew his own business the best. Yesterday morning at 7 o’clock Sturmer went to work. When he reached the bottom of the shaft his light went out. He saw the air was very bad and gave the signal to hoist him. When the hoister had gone up some 6 or 8 feet he evidently lost consciousness and fell out of the tub. When Sturmer fell out of the tub the hoisterman knew at once what was the matter and miners from near by came over. A light was let down in the shaft but it refused to burn. A sail was procured and this replenished the air so that men could go and bring Sturmer to the surface but it was apparent that the hour’s stay in the foul air had been fatal. Dr. Claycomb was on hand, but he could not, of course, render any assistance, as the man was dead. Matt Coyle and a Mr. Thompson took the remains to Undertaker Fletcher’s and Coroner Whitely was notified. The coroner came down and held an inquest just before noon. The verdict of the jury was as follows: “We the jury, find that John Sturmer came to his death by reason of bad air being in the shaft where he was working, and that, in our opinion, no blame is attached to the owners of the mine.” Sturmer was 43 years old and leaves a wife and three children in poor circumstances. They reside south of town on the road to Reding’s mill. He has relatives living in Wisconsin and his brother-in-law, A.H. Mills lives in East Joplin. The shaft where he was killed is the one where C.G. Potter met his death by being struck with a falling tub about two weeks ago. The funeral will take place from the residence this afternoon at 2 o’clock. Interment will be in Thurman cemetery.

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