The Fraterville Mine exploded on May 19, 1902, killing all 216 miners. Poignant farewell messages were found on the bodies of Jacob Vowell, Powell Harmon, John Hendren, Harry Beach, Scott Chapman, James Brooks, R.S. Brooks, George Hutson, Frank Sharp, and James Elliott.
The tragedy was exacerbated by the fact that male members of entire families perished including five Dezern brothers, Peter Childress and his three sons, John McKamey and his three sons, and Bannister Vowell and his three sons. Only three adult males were left alive in the town and it remains the South's worst mining disaster.