Simply identified as Carterville Miners. (COURTESY OF ALFRED JENKINS)

Old News

From the 3rd floor
of the Webb City Public Library

Despite newer, superior lamps, some miners still prefered to use Sunshine lamps

Webb City Area Genealogical Society

Alfred Jenkins donated this week’s photo to the Webb City Area Genealogical Society with the simple label, Carterville Miners.

Note that some of the miners were still using Sunshine lamps, which used paraffin wax and mineral oil. I wick was inserted into the inner tube of the spout and produced an open flame. These lamps were used from 1850 to 1920. 

The other miners were using carbide lamps. The carbide lamp was patented in 1900 and was widely used until around 1918, when battery powered lamps came into use because of their superior light, safety and run time. 

Even with the advance in technology we still see carbide lamps in our mining photos well into the 1930s. Carbide lamps were powered by the reaction of calcium carbide with water. The reaction produces acetylene gas, which burned a clean, white flame.

An account from the Oct. 27, 1915, Webb City Register reported an injury from the use of a carbide lamp.

“B. Ryason, while stooping over a can of carbide at the John L. Mine north of this city about 5:30 yesterday evening, ignited the gas with the light on his cap. An explosion followed and he was burned about the face and chest.

His eyes were badly burned but according to Dr. L. C. Chenoweth, who attended him, he will not lose his eyesight. Ryason was taken to his home on 13th Street in the ambulance of the Steele Undertaking Co.”

Two lamps used by miners – the early Sunshine lamp (left) and the carbide lamp.

Sentinel bound volumes are now in the Genealogy Room

The WCAGS has accepted ownership of the complete collection of bound volumes of the Webb City Sentinel, from 1983 (after the fire) until the final issue on Dec. 30, 2020.

Those issues can also be viewed on microfilm, along with much older issues.

Webb City Area Genealogical Society

WCAGS members staff the Genealogy Room on the third floor of the Webb City Public Library. Current hours are noon to 4 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. Meetings are held at 6 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month in the Geanealogy Room.

Everything you want to know about Jasper County Missouri Schools is available at a site compiled by Webb City Area Genealogical Society member Kathy Sidenstricker.

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