|Johnstown, before the 1889 flood.|
This article from the August 5, 1879, edition of the New Bloomfield Times gives an extremely graphic account of a gruesome accident which occurred in Cambria County.
A Frightful Accident
A terrible accident occurred at the Rod Mill, at Johnstown, Cambria County, on the 19th ult., which resulted in the horrible death of a promising young man. The victim's name was Richard O. Jones, and he lived with his step-father, Wm. S. Jones, on Market Street, between Main and Vine.
The accident happened at the Rod Mill, where he was employed as "sticker-in" at the finishing rolls, his work being to catch the end of the wire rods as they came through the rolls and guide them through the last pass before they are wound upon the spindle at the north end of the building. At quarter after 5 o'clock Saturday morning, only fifteen minutes before the usual quitting time, one of the long red-hot rods, whose end he had just inserted in his part of the rolls, became twisted as it was guided along the iron floor behind him by a boy names James Bingham. The rolls were running at a rate of four hundred and fifty revolutions per minute, and the twist caused the wire to curvet through the air, one of the loops falling over young Jones' body, just below the ribs, and drawing him down on his knees with his back against the rolls, through which the wire sped with lightning rapidity.
A fellow workman named John Devine was standing within a few feet of the victim, but was powerless to render any assistance. John Rowley seized an ax and with one blow severed the wire, but not before it had cut and burned its way through the body of the victim. The left arm was severed between the elbow and shoulder, the right between the elbow and wrist, and a portion of the backbone was all that held the mutilated body together. His bowels were cut into small pieces and fell out in a mass on the floor. Death is supposed to have resulted almost instantaneously. There was a slight quivering of the muscles half a minute afterward, but that was all.
(view original newspaper here)