Mt. Vernon IL Register-News (Tuesday, 6 December 1955, page 1):



Passing Ewing Motorist Sees Home of Mrs. Dallas Wingo Burst Into Flames.


Mother, One Daughter Flee in Burning Garments. Kerosene on Coals Causes Blast.

BENTON, Ill. -- Five young sisters perished today in an explosion and fire that destroyed their home and critically burned their mother and another sister.

Two brothers and the children's [sic] grandfather escaped through a window of the blazing three-room house.

The house was one of several that sprang up around the now abandoned Middle Fork coal mine, two miles east of Benton.

The dead were children of Mr. and Mrs. Dallas Wingo, who are separated. They were identified as Nancy, 15, Neva June, 8, Maria, 7, and twins Carolyn and Marolyn, 5.

Hospitalized with critical burns are the mother, Ruby, 48, and another daughter, Agnes, 14.

Mrs. Wingo's father, Charles Neunlist, 78, and the family's two boys, Muriel, 13, and Truman, 11, were unhurt. Neunlist told authorities he heard the explosion, roused the two boys sleeping with him and shoved them through a window to safety.

George Rose of Ewing, a passing motorist, said he saw the house burst into flames. He and a companion hurried to the scene and found Mrs. Wingo and daughter Agnes outside the house, their clothes and hair aflame. The two men rolled the victims in rugs to snuff the fire and hailed another motorist who summoned firemen from Benton.

Rose said he could hear the cries of the five young girls trapped inside. "Then the house just went poof," he said.

Coal Stove Explodes

Coroner Barney Browning said a coal stove explosion was the probable cause of the blaze. A kerosene can was found in front of the stove when firemen searched the ruins.

The fire occurred about 6:30 a.m.

Mt. Vernon IL Register-News (Wednesday, 7 December 1955, page 1 column 7):


Mother of Five Girls Who Perished Dies Today.

BENTON, Ill. -- The mother of five young girls who perished Tuesday in a fire that destroyed their three-room home near Benton has died of her burns.

The latset [sic] victim in one of southern Illinois' most tragic fires was Mrs. Dallas Wingo, 48.

Mrs. Wingo died late Tuesday in Franklin Hospital, Benton. She was the mother of six daughters and two sons. Five of the daughters died early Tuesday in an explosion and fire that leveled the Wingo home, two miles east of Benton.

The girls were Nancy, 15, Neva June, 10, Marla, 7, and twins Carolyn and Marolyn, 5.

Coroner Barney Browning said the charred bodies of the sisters wer [sic] found huddled on a rollaway bed. A coal stove in the room was the probable source of the blaze, firemen said.

Mrs. Wingo and another daughter, Agnes, 14, were found outside the house by George Rose of EEwing, [sic] a passing motorist and an eye witness to the blaze. Rose said he and a companion rolled the two in rugs to extinguish their flaming clothes and hair.

Agnes is still in critical condition but doctors in Franklin Hospital said she is expected to survive.

Charles Neunlist, 78, Mrs. Wingo's father, escaped the blazing house with the two Wingo boys who shared a bed in the house with him.

Neunlist said he pushed the boys through a window ahead of him and told them to run.

Parents Divorced

The Wingos were divorced. The father lives two miles from the scene of the fire.

Ina IL Observer (Thursday, 15 December 1955, page 1 column 2 (8 Dec 1955 issue missing from microfilm):

Raising Funds for Survivors of Fire

A campaign to aid the survivors of a fire near Benton last week which took the lives of six persons is under way in that city.

Killed in the blaze were Mrs. Ruby Wingo and five of her children, Nancy, Neva, Marla, Carolyn and Marolyn.

The fund is to aid Agnes Wingo, her brothers, Truman and Muriel, and their grandfather, Charles Neunlist, who escaped from the burning building.

The Wingo Family Fund had passed the $500 mark Monday. The Ina Freewill Baptist church contributed $50.

Contributions may be sent to The Wingo Family Fund at the Bank of Benton.