Lina Cobb Fyke
A VERY DISASTROUS EXPLOSION
One Woman Killed and Three Men
J.H. Bruce, of Field Township, was in the city this morning and gave the Register
the following particulars of the explosion at Ben Padgett's saw and grist mill at
Divide yesterday afternoon, by which Mrs. Granville Fyke was instantly killed and
William Purdue, William Padgett and Granville Fyke seriously wounded.
The mill was a portable one and had been located at Divide, but a comparatively short
time, although it had been in operation at various points in the vicinity for a year
or more. Although owned by Ben Padgett, it was leased and operated by Granville Fyke,
who utilized the engine for both sawing lumber and grinding grist, and for the accommodation
of his customers devoted certain days in every week to each class of work. For some time
the water in the pond, used at the source of supply for the mill, has been getting low and
Mr. Fyke had been uneasy for several days, fearing that its muddy and impure condition would
be disastrous and yesterday morning began to haul water for the purpose of making steam.
Yesterday afternoon Mrs. Fyke, who lives about a quarter of a mile away, walked down to the
mill for a short visit with her husband, little dreaming of the awful fate in store for her.
About 3:30 o'clock she was in the engine room engaged in conversation with Mr. Fyke, William
Purdue and William Padgett, when without warning, a terrific explosion occurred which wrecked
the building and instantly killed Mrs. Fyke, and it is believed fatally wounded Purdue, in
addition to seriously injuring William Padgett and Mr. Fyke. The boiler was blown entirety through
the mill, entering the northwest and coming out of the southeast corner of the building, completely
wrecking the structure.
Mrs. Fyke's neck was broken, in addition to one of her shoulders and arms, besides other in juries.
It was at first believed that Purdue had also been killed, as he was insensible and apparently dead
for some time, but consciousness returned, although his wounds are thought to be fatal. Padgett was
thrown entirely across the street, a distance of thirty feet, and escaped with no more serious injury
than a broken wrist. The character of Mr. Fyke's wounds could not be learned, although they are
understood to be quite serious. The mill was of sixteen horse power and had been used for some time,
but had never been considered unsafe with an ample supply of good water for use in the boilers.
Mrs. Fyke was Miss Lina Cobb before her marriage. She leaves a family of six or seven children to
mourn her untimely end. The funeral and interment took place at Jordan's Chapel in Field township,
one mile and a half east of Dix at 2 o'clock this afternoon.
Mr. Fyke is a son of Mrs. Phoebe C. Maxey, who lives two miles north of this city and is a brother
of Professor John Fyke of East St. Louis.
Some idea of the force of the explosion may be gained from the statement made by Mr. Bruce, that
a wagon loaded with corn, which was standing near the mill when the concussion occurred, was
completely destroyed and its contents scattered over the ground for a distance of a hundred feet
or more. This is one of the most deplorable accidents that has ever taken place in Field township
and the Register tenders its sympathy and commiseration to those afflicted by its occurrence.
--Mount Vernon, Illinois
Date: Dec. 31, 1896
Source: The Daily Register
Submitted by: James L. Fyke