Nitroglycerine Blast Takes Life of Foreman on Lease at Allentown
Three others injured in explosion Friday afternoon; Men were shooting oil well.
Transcribed from Olean Times Herald, June 19, 1937.
Wellsville- William Shannon aged forty-five, field supervisor for the R.B. Moore company of Bolivar, was instantly killed and three others were injured shortly before five o'clock Friday when a quantity of nitroglycerine exploded on the Moore Oil lease at Allentown.
The injured men are Edward White, Ceres, and Angelo Tower, Bolivar, both drillers, and Vincent Matthews, of Ceres, a tooldresser, all employed by Repp and White, drilling contractors.
The accident occurred as Jack North of Bolivar was engaged in shooting an oil well at a spot known as White Hill.
According to reports made by the survivors, North had placed sixty quarts of nitroglycerine in the bottom of the well and had sent down several squib which failed to ignite and explosive. He then prepared a "sand head," a shell filled with about four quarts of nitroglycerine, and sent it down the hole. The "sand head", it was explained, is designed to be released from the cable when it reaches the bottom of the hole.
The survivors told authorities that Shannon, his son Billy, Jr. fourteen, and the three injured men were in the rig when the "sand head" was lowered. North, they said, jerked the cable several times to release the shell but apparently the mechanism did not work. They said North started the winch to reel in the cable and that as it was being hauled up the men heard the rattle of the "sand head" against the casing and realized that it had not been released.
Shannon, they said, then told the men and his son to find a place of safety and to notify North to stop the winch. The four fled and the blast came a few seconds later.
The men said it was probable that Shannon stayed in the rig in an attempt to catch the "sand head" as it came out of the hold to try and avert an explosion.
The force of the explosion completely demolished the drilling derrick and Shannon, standing beside the well, was killed instantly Tower was blown thirty-five feet and the other two men were knocked to the ground. North was standing near his truck some distance away and escaped unhurt.
At Wellsville Hospital doctors said that the legs of Tower and Matthews were peppered with small stones and debris and that White suffered similar but deeper wounds in his body, several stones just missing the kidneys, all were reported suffering from shock.
Shannon is survived by his wife, three children, William, Jr., John and Teresa; his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Foster of Olean.
He was a member and past commander of Kenyon Andrus post no. 77, American Legion, and served overseas during the war with the 112th Infantry. Co. H.
The funeral service will be conducted at nine o'clock at the home and a half hour later at St. Mary's Church the Rev. E. J. McCaffery officiating. Burial will be in St. Mary's cemetery.