4 Members of the Muir Family Killed in Scofield, Utah Mine Disaster

John Muir (August 14, 1852 – May 1, 1900)

John Muir was my husband’s 2nd Great Grandfather. He was born in Scotland in 1852 and immigrated from Scotland to Utah via Wyoming. He was married to Janet Wilson Muir. I don’t have a lot of information on him or Janet prior to the 1900 Scofield Mine Disaster and what I have found is conflicting information.

I have an 1851 Census from Scotland that shows the following:

  • Janet Wilson – 8 mos.
  • Born: Dalziel, Lanarkshire, Scotland
  • Residence in 1851: Motherwell, Lanarkshire, Scotland

I believe the 7 children of John & Janet Wilson Muir to be:

  • Margaret Muir – 1876 – 1939 b. Wyoming
  • John Muir – 1878 – ? b. Wyoming
  • Isabella Muir – 1880 – 1966 b. Utah
  • George Muir – 1883 – 1900 b. Wyoming
  • Jannet Muir – 1884 – 1890 b. Wyoming
  • Daniel Muir – 1885 – 1900  b. Utah
  • Ellen Muir – 1889 – 1890 – Utah

The Scofield Mine – Carbon County, Utah

The Scofield Mine was opened in 1878 and was owned by the Pleasant Valley Coal Company which owned many mines in Utah and Wyoming at that time. They mined approximately 60% of the coal coming out of Utah in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. The early workings of the mine was done by mule teams and later on the railroad was built. The Winter’s Quarters settlement at Scofield mine in 1900 was a booming little town. They had just started on a new Navy contract at Scofield to produce 2,000 tons out of the mine per day on the very day of the explosion. Men were arriving to get work and bring in their families. A small pox quarantine had just been lifted and the children were celebrating Spring and May Day. At approximately 10:25 a.m. On Tuesday morning, May 1, 1900 an explosion deep in the mountain rocked the Winter’s Quarters settlement. Approximately 300 men and young boys had gone into the mine’s shafts that morning and only 100 of them survived. Estimates of how many perished are around 200, however one account states it was slightly more than 200. At the time of the explosion it was the worst mining disaster in U.S. History and today it is considered the 5th worst mining disaster of all time in the U.S. The Scofield Mine was closed in 1923 and today the town of Scofield, Utah is a deserted ghost town. Supposedly ruins of the mine explosion can still be seen today.

This is a snipit of the lengthy account of the disaster posted on the U.S. Department of Labor web site. I found it interesting that there was an account of Isabelle going in to hysterics at the Thistle train stop when the coffins of her newlywed husband of 3 months, Gunnar, her father and her young brothers were transferred to the train going to Richfield for burial.

From the U.S. Dept. of Labor Website – Scofield Mine Disaster
Coffins waiting for trains – Utah Historical Photos – Public Domain

Members of the Muir Family killed in the Scofield Mine Disaster – Carbon County, Utah – May 1, 1900.

  • John Muir –  47 years old
  • George Muir – 17 years old
  • Daniel Muir – 14 years old
  • Gunnar Bjarnason – 20 years old, son in law – (newlywed husband of daughter, Isabelle. Gunnar immigrated from Iceland) – *I am not sure if Gunnar was buried in Richfield Cemetary. His name is on the family headstone.

The June 28, 1900 Census shows that Janet and Isabelle were still living at the Winters Quarters Camp in Carbon County approximately two months later in a rental house. (Lines 3 & 4) Other tidbits of info in the census records show that Janet had 7 children with 2 children still living. It indicates that she and Isabelle were both widowed and that Janet had resided in the United States for 28 years. *Note – Bjarnason is misspelled.

June 28, 1900 Census – Winter’s Quarters, Carbon Co., Utah

The Muir Family is buried in the Richfield City Cemetery in Richfield, Utah. Find a Grave Index indicates that the following names on on this headstone. John & Janet W. Muir, Gunnar Bjarnason (husband of Isabelle), George & Daniel (sons), and Jannet N. & Ellen (daughters). *The daughters Jannet & Ellen died only a few months apart in the later part of 1890.

John Muir Headstone – Richfield Cemetery, Utah – From Find a Grave Index
Gunnar Bjarnason & Isabelle Muir – circa 1900 – added to Ancestry.com by Garnette_Doonan

There is a lot of written history and photography from the Scofield Mine Disaster. All you need to do is enter it in your search engine and you will find a wealth of information on it.

Additional Resources:

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