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The following article was researched, transcribed & submitted by Mary Rhodes.
Wellsville Daily Reporter
April 12, 1910

Tragic Death of Charley Key, Shooter for the DuPont Powder Co. – Man and Team Go Up with 800 Quarts of Nitro-Glycerin.

An explosion that shook the country for miles around occurred at the Fulmer Valley magazine seven miles from Wellsville Monday afternoon at 3 o’clock, and Charley Key, the well known oil well shooter of this town, who had just driven to the magazine with a team of horses were hurled into eternity.  Nothing is left of man, team or wagon except a few pounds of flesh, picked up at a great distance away, and a few small pieces of twisted iron, while an immense hole twenty feet deep and sixty feet wide marks the place where formerly stood the little magazine.  800 quarts of nitroglycerin are said to have been stored there and the force of the explosion was so intense that the woods surrounding the place and  covering nearly two acres of land were swept off clean.  As in all such cases, it will never been known what set the glycerin off.  The cause is always a mystery; the results are inevitable.

C. P. Key was a young man thirty years of age, and had been employed by the E. I. DuPont Powder Co. for several years, in charge of their plant here.  He was one of the most careful workmen ever engaged in this most treacherous business.  Key left Wellsville Monday morning, stopping at the magazine on the Duke farm and taking on 100 quarts of glycerin, drove on to the Fulmer Valley field to shoot a well for Tom McAndrew.  After the well was shot, Key came back to the Fulmer Valley magazine, evidently to leave the empty cans before returning to town, and thus avoiding a longer trip to the magazine on the Duke farm.  Shortly before three o’clock, a young man, Arlo Babcock, working the field nearby, saw Key drive his team down the road and turn into the narrow roadway leading up to the magazine.

Twenty minutes later there was a deafening explosion and Babcock was hurled to the ground.  When he came to, the woods around the magazine had been swept away and a heavy smoke hung over the immense hole where once stood the magazine.  Windows were shattered in houses for miles around, especially at Hallsport, and many neighbors rushed to the scene of the explosion, but nothing could be found of the man or team except a few pounds of burned flesh and these were carefully saved and later brought to Wellsville, to the undertaking rooms of Earl Jones, to await disposition of the coroner and friends.

No one will ever know the cause of the explosion,  Mr. Key was a most careful man and had he only gone to the magazine to leave a few empty cans, he would have remained but a few moments.  The fact that it was twenty minutes after he had turned in to the magazine that the explosion occurred, it is presumed that Key was perhaps making some changes in the stock stored there, and as the glycerin was said to have been frozen and nothing had been used from this magazine for several months, he might have started a fire to thaw it out.  It is only a matter of conjecture, and the awful truth may never be known.

The explosion was heard by many people in Wellsville, but no definite news was received until 4:30 o’clock, when many went to the scene of the explosion.  But little additional information could be secured.  There was nothing left to tell the story, but the yawning hole in the ground.

Later in the evening F. H. Herple, secretary of the DuPont Powder Company’s main office at Bradford PA., arrived in Wellsville to look after the details of the explosion.  Mr. Key drove a valuable team from the Satterlee livery, while the wagon belonged to the company.  Today Mr. Herple, accompanied by several Wellsville people, drove to the scene of the accident and a few more pounds of the remains of shooter Key were found and brought to Wellsville.

Coroner Ayers of Alfred is expected here this afternoon and will give the necessary burial permit, and the remains will probably be taken to the west for interment.

C. P. Key was a young man thirty years of age and unmarried.  He had been employed here by the DuPont Powder Co. for several years and was an experienced and careful shooter.  For the past three years he has been making his home with the family of F. L. Knowles on Martin street.  Mr. Key is survived by a mother and one sister living at Urbana, Ohio; and two brothers, one living in Virginia and another, James Key, a resident of Butler Pa.  The latter is expected in Wellsville tonight.

Genial, jovial Charley Key met Monday afternoon the almost inevitable fate which ultimately awaits the glycerin shooter.  While some may follow this business for years and escape yet those who have followed it continuously and died natural deaths are indeed few and far between.  Mr. Key first came to Wellsville about six years ago to assist Burt Harder who was then superintending the DuPont Powder Company’s business in this section.  When Mr. Harder resigned in 1906,  Mr. Key was appointed to the position which he has since so acceptably filled to the satisfaction of his company and their patrons alike.

In the days that are past many rumors were afloat in Wellsville on dishonesty and glycerin stealing or the shooters, but no such stigma was ever attached to the name of Charley Key.  His honesty and integrity were unquestioned and every well owner knew that weather present or not to see his well shot, with Charley Key in the rig he was getting good measure and his money’s worth every time.  Mr. Key was a sportsman of the highest type and was especially fond of hunting and when as often happened he issued invitations to a game supper there never were any vacant seats at his table.  His pleasant, whole souled manner made it impossible for anyone to know this man without liking him.

The DuPont Powder Company has lost his faithful employee, the village of Wellsville a good citizen, and his many friends and all who knew him will forever regret his untimely taking off.

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