Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Fraterville Miners' Circle is located in Leach Cemetery in Lake City, TN (formerly the town of Coal Creek).
On May 19, 1902, there was an explosion in the Fraterville Mine. All 216 men and boys in the mine on that Monday morning perished. Fraterville Mine Disaster: www.coalcreekaml.com/Legacy4.htm
Eighty-nine of the Fraterville miners were buried in concentric circles in the Miners’ Circle at Leach Cemetery in Coal Creek, Tennessee. The town changed its name to Lake City when the Tennessee Valley Authority built Norris Dam in the 1930s. A monument at the center of the Miners’ Circle bears the names of 184 miners. The youngest miner buried in the circle was 12-year old Henry Whitton and the oldest was 55-year old William H. Slover.
184 of the 216 names are listed on this monument. Some of those names were left off because we don’t know them. Itinerant miners died in the disaster without anyone knowing their names.
These men and boys are buried in local cemeteries. Some have elaborate tombstones bearing their farewell messages, like those of John Hendren and James Elliott. Others are marked by simple fieldstones, like those of the itinerant miners who are buried beside the railroad siding in Fraterville. Many contain the inscription "Gone But Not Forgotten".
Some contemporary descriptions of the Coal Creek miners call them “poor, illiterate, mistreated, and abused”. If they were so poor, how did they afford these elaborate headstones and how could many of them own their own homes and land as they did? If they were illiterate, how did they write all those farewell messages before suffocating after the mine disasters? If they were mistreated and abused, and if being a miner was such a terrible job, then why did they literally go to war to protect their jobs during the Coal Creek War?