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Civil War Blog

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John Powell – Killed in Powder Explosion at Kalmia Mine, 1877

Posted By on May 17, 2017

John Powell, who was born in England about 1844, enrolled in the 3rd Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery on 26 January 1864 at Philadelphia.  Although the above Pennsylvania Veterans’ File Card from the Pennsylvania Archives states that he did not muster into service until a year later, other records indicate that the card is in error and he was mustered in the same day he enrolled.  At the time of his enrollment he gave his occupation as miner.  He stood nearly 5 foot 6 inches tall, had dark hair, a dark complexion, and had grey eyes. He was honorably discharged on 9 November 1865.

While no Pension Index Card has been located for this John Powell, a card was found in the Headstones Provided database on Ancestry.com.  According to the card (shown above), John Powell died on 30 August 1877 and is buried in the Odd Fellows Cemetery (or Union Cemetery) in Lykens, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania.

His grave marker has been located and photographed at that cemetery (above).  A Findagrave Memorial has been created for him, but there is minimal information there, at the time of this writing, only from the Headstones Provided database.

Also in Lykens, his name appears on the Lykens G.A.R. Memorial as a veteran who was not a member of the Heilner Post there.

A search of Newspapers.com produced only one result, shown above, for the time period around his death.  The information from the Harrisburg Telegraph, 10 September 1877, states:

John Powell, of Williamstown, was injured by a powder explosion in the Kalmia mine on Tuesday Last.  He died on Wednesday evening.

The date of 30 August 1877 actually fell on a Thursday.  However, it would not be unusual for a death to be recorded a day later than it actually happened, particularly if it occurred late in the evening on Wednesday.

Was this miner who was killed as a result of the explosion at the Kalmia Mine the same person as the Civil War soldier who served in the 3rd Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery?  It likely is the same person, since no other person of that name and occupation has been located on or around that same death date.  Unfortunately, there are no copies of the Lykens Register that have survived from around that date, so there is no local story available about the mine explosion.  Whether other newspapers covered the explosion (newspapers not on Newspapers.com), is not known.   Perhaps a reader of this blog is aware of some other report of this mining accident which took the life of someone named John Powell.

A John Powell, a miner, born in England about 1844, was located in the 1870 Minersville, Schuylkill County census.  Was this the same person? He appears to be married, but there are others of the same surname in the household who could be his siblings.  And, where did John Powell live in 1860 and why did he enroll at Philadelphia?

So, questions still exist about this Civil War soldier, who is remembered in Lykens, and these questions should be answered.  Hopefully someone can provide the missing information so his story can be better told!

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