Peeking into the Past: Pittston Historical Marker commemorated 58 men entombed in Twin Shaft Disaster of 1896

Peeking into the Past

Judy Minsavage


In 1952, what 24-hour jobs were Pittston area residents asked to consider volunteering for ?

1952 – 63 years ago

Eleanor Duke, 10, cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony for the first Pittston playground established at Sullivan Park. Chris Schultz, vice president of the playground committee, gave the welcome address followed by speeches by Anthony D’Iorio, president of the association, Thomas Hennigan, member of the Pittston School Board, and John Alardyce, Pittston mayor. A match up between the Avoca VFW and Narvid’s Little League teams followed the ceremonies.

Henry Rich, of 89 Lambert St., Pittston, “had probably one of the most beautiful array of roses in the valley” according to the Sunday Dispatch. Starting in 1945, Rich planted the Blaze and American Beauty Roses and, by 1952, some branches had as many as 38 blooms. His garden also included 4 o’clocks and tulips. According to, a mature “Blaze, introduced in 1935, can grow from 10 feet to 15 feet, blooms are 2 to 3 inches and the fragrance is mild and fruity.”

1962 – 53 years ago

The Sunday Dispatch Inquiring Photographer asked, “Wrecking crews are removing the Flatiron Building, a landmark in Pittston for years. How do you feel about seeing this part of Pittston history passing?”

John Soska, of Harding, answered, “It is a great thing and a fine improvement. It might have taken a long time to put up that building but it sure is going down fast.” Joseph Mullarkey, of Pittston, added, “It’s a shame to see a landmark removed, but it will mean progress. I wonder what people who live out of town will think when they return home.”

Hughestown added four teams to the local Little League roster. After an opening-day parade, teams put on an exhibition game for residents. It was reported “the only things missing were the shirts and caps that did not arrive on time.” The first ball was tossed by Ken Davis, president of the new league. Team managers were David Evans, Robert McDonald, John Hensley and Warren Jenkes.

Dedication of the new WPTS radio station just off Parsonage Street was also part of the station’s ninth anniversary celebration. The U.S. Marine Guard raised the American Flag and tribute was paid to station owners, Mr. and Mrs. Angelo Fiorani.

Marilyn O’Malley was selected as queen of the Avoca Little League. Theresa Bilaski and Deborah Gaskowski served as her attendants.

1972 – 43 years ago

Life in the Wyoming Valley and beyond was far from normal in the days following the Agnes Flood. Cooperation between boroughs and towns, the U.S. and state governments, state and local police and fire rescue as well as thousands of volunteers would, as stated in the Sunday Dispatch, “Go down in the annals of history as a noble gesture during tragic times.”

George Bone, of Pittston, piloted a plane that allowed the Dispatch staff to snap photos of the condition of Greater Pittston. Bone had to stay clear of rescue helicopters while flying over the flooded areas.

Paul Cadden, manager of the State Bureau of Employment Security in Pittston, was relieved the flood waters did not reach the bureau office building which contained thousands of residents’ employment records. Unemployment claims were being given priority and the usual waiting week was expected to be waived.

1992 – 23 years ago

An official state historical marker commemorating the Twin Shaft Disaster of 1896 was unveiled. The marker, erected on the west side of North Main Street, Pittston, opposite the foot of Union Street is approximately 300 yards from the site where 58 miners were entombed. Thirty-two of the miners killed in the disaster were members of St. Mary’s Help of Christian Church where a memorial service took place. Due to the efforts of Grace O’Brien Flintermann, great granddaughter of M.T. Lynott, foreman of the mine, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission agreed to install the marker. Victims of the disaster are as follows: M.J. Langan, M.T. Lynott, Alex McCormack, Thomas Tenpenny, Michael Hughes, Cornelius McGuire, John Gill, Thomas O’Brien, Thomas Carden, John O’Boyle, James Golden, James McDonald, Edward Delaney, Peter Martin, John Kehoe, James Wall, Sylvester Doover, Peter Joyce, Anthony Gordon, Michael Ford, Daniel Ward, Thomas Wall, Michael Gaughan, Patrick Kelly, Martin Kilbride, Frank Kehoe, Robert Haston, M.J. Burke, James Burke, Edward Gildea, Joseph Zerinda, Andrew Slovinski, Thomas Gaffney, John Highstrick, Andrew Zmoiden, Patrick Ruane, Simon Mosock, Frank Shevskie, Anthony Teleskie, Peter Zavatskie, James Daly, John Hart, Michael Connell, Patrick Bolin, Dominick O’Malley, Thomas Barrett, Anthony Kane, John Gaffney, Owen Lee, Timothy Derrig, Thomas Duhig, John Cadarnis, Matt Teleski, Thomas Murphy, Joseoph Costello, Anthony Caveloski, Anthony Nohenskie and Peter Bukoskie.


In 1952, the local Ground Observation Corps joined with other groups throughout the country advertising for volunteers. The civilian observation groups were called to assist the Air Force acting as plane spotters. Members were required to scan the skies 24 hours a day for planes that might filter through the sparse coastal radar system. With the United States and Russia deeply entrenched in the Cold War, it was believed the United States was more apt to be attacked in the summer. The observation program, which began in World War II, expanded in 1952 to Operation Skywatch with over 750,000 volunteers. After the installation of an improved automated radar network, the program ended in 1958.

Reach Judy Minsavage call 570-991-6403 or email

comments powered by Disqus