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Ye people all both great and small, I pray ye will attend,
And listen unto those few lines which I have lately penned;
To hear my lamentation would cause you to grieve and wail,
It's about this awful cave-in in the mines of Avondale.
It happened in eighteen hundred and sixty-nine,
Them miners all they got a call for to work in the mine;
But little did they ever think that death was going to steal,
Their lives away without delay in the mines of Avondale.
To see the father and the son how they were filled with joy,
To see the men all going to work and likewise every boy;
That dismal sight in broad daylight soon made their cheeks turn pale,
To see the breaker burning o'er the mines of Avondale.
A consultation then was held to see who'd volunteer,
To enter in that open shaft to free their comrades dear;
Two Welshmen bold, without delay, their courage did not fail,
To enter in that awful shaft in the mines of Avondale.
'Twas down to the bottom they did go, they were in great dismay,
One got smothered for the want of air, the other did remain;
He gave them a sign for to pull him up for to tell the awful tale,
That all were lost forever in the mines of Avondale.
The next two that did go down of them they took good care,
And every opportunity they sent them down fresh air;
To see the father and the son 'twas arm-in-arm so pale,
Oh, wasn't that a heart-rending sight in the mines of Avondale.
Now to conclude and finish, the number I'll pen down:
One hundred and ten brave stout men were buried underground;
They're in their graves for their last days, their widows to bewail,
The orphans' cries will rend the skies through the mines of Avondale.
Collected in 1951 from John M. Curtis of Trepassey, NL, and published in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).
MacEdward Leach also collected a variant published as #106, The Mines Of Avondale, in Folk Ballads And Songs Of The Lower Labrador Coast by the National Museum of Canada (Ottawa, 1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.
A variant was collected in 1956 from Charlie Weeks of Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, and published as #60, Mines Of Avondale in Ballads And Sea Songs Of Newfoundland by Elisabeth Bristol Greenleaf and Grace Yarrow Mansfield (Folklore Associates, Hatboro, Pennsylvania, 1968).
From the glossary of the Reading Anthracite Company's History:
Breaker - building in which anthracite is sized and cleaned before shipment to market.
From the Labor Heritage Foundation's Inventory of American Landmarks:
On the east side of U.S. Route 11 in Avondale, Plymouth Township, Pennsylvania: Sept. 6, 1869, one of the worst disasters in the history of US anthracite mining occurred at the Avondale Mine. A fire, originating from a furnace at the bottom of a 237 foot shaft roared up the shaft killing 110 miners, 80% of whom were Welsh. On Sept 9, 1869, the last body was removed from the mine. The disaster also killed two boys, ages 10 and 14, who began working just that day.