Photo by: Dolores Riggs - 1958


On Sunday morning at seven o'clock on August 14, 1932, four men entered the Croaton Coal Company Mine at Lyburn. The mine was empty, and they were cleaning up slate so Monday's shift could start on time. At approximately ten o'clock that morning a dust explosion was set off by a shot, and coal caught fire six thousand feet from the slope bottom.

Okey Hatton and Joe Crum were on their way out of the mine, and had almost reached the entrance when the explosion occurred. The force threw them against the bank, but they didn't require medical attention.

Noble Crosong, age 30, a motorman, and Luther Merritt, age 26, a brakeman were killed when fire rolled through the mine with a mighty force. The clothing was burned off both bodies, and only one shoe remained on one of the men.

Noble Crosong was employed at the mine for a year, and had lived in Logan County for seven years. He was a native of Virginia, and was married to former Katherine Ashley from West Hamlin. They had no children. The Logan Banner stated Crosong went to grade school, but had little education. His funeral was held at home, and Rev. Dingess of Henlawson officiated. He was laid to rest in Rich Creek Cemetery at Rita.

Luther Merritt was a native of Beech Fork in Wayne County, and lived at Lyburn for two years. He was married to the former Lily Ramey for five years, and they had a daughter, Lillian and a son, Luther, Jr. Services were held at home on Beech Fork, and burial was just across the Lincoln County line in a family cemetery.

Harris Funeral Home prepared both bodies for burial.

NOTE: I am sometimes amused, and always astonished when doing research from old newspaper files. A death didn't have to be violent to be front page news, and they often printed the funeral arrangements at the end of the story as they did in this case. However, I think it was thoughtless to mention the lack of Noble Crosong's education. Dolores Davis


Poem by: Archie Conway

One fatal Sabbath morning
About half past eight o'clock,
The little town of Lyburn
Received an awful shock.

The very mountains trembled
And people held their breaths,
While in the mine a wall of fire
Burned two young men to death.

The powder dust exploded,
And flames began to roll.
They didn't have a fighting chance.
They died like rats in a hole.

The rescue party reached them,
And carried them to the light.
Their bodies burned and broken
Was a very dreadful sight.

They had left their homes at seven.
Each kissed their wife goodbye,
But neither one suspected
How soon they were to die.

But cruel fate o'er took them,
In a mine turned into Hell.
And it broke the loving hearts
Of those they loved so well.

We'll miss them for we loved them.
They died at awful cost,
But God called them to Heaven
Where souls are never lost.

I found this graphic poem when I was researching the Mamie Thurman story in the Banner files. Rev. Conway was the pastor of the Dehue Community Church in the early sixties, and I have three books of his poetry. Rev. Conway died at age 82 on May 10, 1982. After reading this poem I found the following story of this dreadful mining accident


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