Here’s my researched story of another miner who died in the 1877 Pit Disaster. The Gold family members time in Blantyre was short lived and extremely tragic.
John GOLD was born in 1849 in Old Cumnock, Ayrshire, the 6th child to John Gold senior and Lillias Swan Clarkston. The large family lived at 22 Craig Row in Cambusnethan during the 1850’s and into the 1860’s.
At the young age of 11, John left his schooling and became a coalminer in Cambusnethan, like his older brother James and dad. His young age would have meant he was capable of crawling into small spaces within the mines, although some more sympathetic coalmasters may have given him other duties like minding pit ponies. However, the 1861 census clearly describes him as a “coalminer!”
On 7th April 1871, John married Mary Anne Roberts in Bothwell. (We’ll come back to the tragic life of this woman in a moment.) The couple lived at Cambusnethan during the early part of the 1870’s and a family soon followed. A son and daughter William and Jeanie in 1871, son John in 1873, then Mary, then a son Benjamin born on Hogmanay in Cambusnethan on 31st December 1876.
Seeking employment in the relatively new Dixon’s Collieries, John Gold came to Blantyre in early 1877, like his brothers, working on the mines. His family came with him, renting a home at Larkfield, near Barnhill. His time in Blantyre would be short lived.
On the 22nd October 1877, the terrible explosion ripped through Dixon’s Pit 2 and 3 in High Blantyre killing over 200 men and boys. Amongst them was John Gold, age 28. His elder brother James (33), younger brothers Andrew (22) and Benjamin who he had named his baby after (24) also died.
John was one of the first miners to be retrieved from the depths. His widow Mary Gold (nee Roberts) signed the death certificate on 31st October 1877, just a week later. John and his brothers Benjamin, Andrew and James are all buried in the Cambusnethan Churchyard.
Mary’s life must have been absolutely shattered. The terrible thing about this tragedy is she not only lost her husband John in the pit disaster, but she had also lost 3 brother in laws AND 4 of her own brothers in the Roberts family! On that horrible morning, Mary lost 8 members of her family, something I’m not sure how she ever managed to get through.
Life immediately after the disaster would have been most difficult and with a large family it is not surprising that on 21st March 1879, she remarried, this time to Andrew Waddell. The couple, along with Mary’s children had already been living together at Annsfield, a building formerly located at Larkfield (and not to be confused with a later building of similar name on Glasgow Road)
Mary went on to have a further 6 children with Andrew, 11 children in her lifetime.
Young Benjamin Gold was only 10 months old when his father John died in the Pit Disaster. He was brought up by his mother Mary and stepdad Andrew Waddell and is pictured here with them around 1910. Looking into Mary’s eyes in this photo, even 30 or so years on, you can see the pain on this woman’s face and can only imagine her hatred for coalmining and the lasting grief for losing 8 people. Mary lived a long life until she was 90 years old, passing away in 1941 during WW2.
Young Benjamin would emigrate to the USA and died in Indiana in 1953. This family was large and I’m in no doubt there are many people alive today who are related in some way to John Gold and Mary Roberts.
John Gold was only 28 when he died and appears to have spent only a few months ever in his life in Blantyre. Life dealt him cruel blow. Coming to Blantyre was a path that placed him in peril and had a deep and long lasting impact on all his immediate family. He is remembered here in this article.
Featuring Blantyre Project Social Media with permission. Strictly not for use by others on or offline, our visitors said:
Dolores LandeckEmelie GamacheDick DunkelbargerJanice FjellmanPenny Gamache CoffmanLinda EpachBob LandeckJanet Gallagher!! So many familiar names captured here!
Dolores Landeck I had no idea that Mary Gold bore so many children.
Jessie Caldow Thank you for reminding us of the hardships of life that many families endured in those days, and for the research you do so well.
Blantyre Project thanks Jessie. Thats nice thing to read.
Betty Brown Paul, no talk of the woman working in the mines,,they were called slaggers, that was ma mum job.
Dolores Landeck Becca Mason Karen Ford Ingrid Behnke—your Grandma Landeck’s father, Ben Gold, and his parents
ngrid Behnke Thank you for sharing! This is amazing and the girls and I have been talking about all of our relatives that were from different countries!
Karen Ford Thank You for sharing!!! Lauren was doing a family tree a couple of weeks ago and it really had me thinking that I know very little!
Blantyre Project How fantastic that there are people on this page from all over the world, recognising and are related to these mining stories. Brilliant. Makes this all worthwhile.
Dick Dunkelbarger Thank you Dee Dee, Scotland is on my bucket list
Linda Epach We were very fortunate to meet Paul Veverka and his wife when we showed up at there home. They were very gracious and spent a couple hours talking about Blantyre and the mine disaster.He also took us around to different spots of interest .Gave us 3 of his books .He was wonderful to people who he did not know and just showed up on his doorstep. Will never forget this experience!
Elizabeth Begley Some place we need to explore next time we go to Scotland. Thank you Betty
Eric Gold Great-Great Grandparents, amazing research! Thank you!
Jamie Adler My sister, Tammy Adler Stern, and I visited Blantyre in 2011 and saw the memorial for the 1877 mining disaster. We are the great-granddaughters of Benjamin Gold. It’s so interesting to learn more details about their lives!
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This was my Great Great Granddad on my mother’s side of the family.
Paul, Thank you so much for this. It means a lot to us.