Personal Experience Articles
Details of the Overwhelming Tragedy
The Whole City Caught in the Death Trap
Personal Experiences of Those Who Escaped
First Reports More Than Confirmed
The centre of the West Indian hurricane, which had been predicted for several days, struck Galveston at 9 o'clock Saturday morning. At that hour the wind was in the north and the waters of the bay were rising rapidly. The Gulf was also turbulent, and the water, forced in by the tropical storm, rolled up the beach and gradually swept inland. About 2 o'clock P. M. the wind was rising rapidly, constantly veering, but settling towards the east and coming in fitful jerks and puffs, which loosened awnings, cornices, slated roofs and sent the fragments flying in the air.
The waters of the bay continued rising and creeping ashore, mingled with the waters from the clouds, and filled the downtown streets and invaded stores. Despite the danger from flying missiles, as the afternoon wore on, men ventured out in the streets in hacks, in wagons, in boats and on foot, some anxious to get home to their families, some bent on errands of mercy, and others animated by no purpose save bravado.
Gaining in velocity, the wind changed to the northeast, then to the east, and the waters rose until they covered the city. The wind howled frightfully around the buildings, tearing off cornices and ripping off roofs. The wooden paving blocks rose from their places in the streets and floated off in great section down the streets.
At 6.30 o'clock the wind had shifted to the southeast, still increasing in velocity. At that hour the wind gauge on the roof of the United States Weather Bureau registered eighty-four miles an hour then blew away. Still the wind blew harder and harder and even the most fortunate houses lost all or a part of their coverings. The storm reached its height at about 8.30 o'clock. At 9 o'clock the wind began subsiding and the waters to recede.
But the fury of the storm had not been spent until well into Sunday morning. At i o'clock the water had fallen until the streets were inundated no more than they would be by a big rain. Sunday morning broke clear, and the sun shone brightly on a scene of wreck and ruin, which verily beggars description.
The streets were piled with debris, in many places several feet high. Buildings were shorn of roofs, cornices, chimneys and windows. Stocks of goods were damaged by floods from below and rain from above. But it was the wind which had wrought the greatest havoc in every respect. The damage from waters of the bay was inconsequential when compared with that from wind. The eastern part of the city received the full force of the storm and suffered most, although no section escaped serious injury.
FRANTIC PEOPLE HUNTING RELATIVES
All along the beach for about four blocks back scarcely a residence was left. The beach district was shorn of habitations. Back of that houses and timbers piled up, crushing other buildings which lay in their path. Men and women walked through the slimy mud that overspread the streets, homeless. Men and women rushed around frantic, hunting their relatives. Dead and wounded men, women and children lay around waiting the coming of the volunteer corps organized to remove the bodies to improvised morgues and hospitals. There was no thought of property damage ; those who had escaped with their families, losing all else, felt satisfied and thanked their Maker.
Mr. A. V. Kellogg, a civil engineer in the employ of the Right of Way Department of the Houston and Texas Central Railroad in Houston, went down to Galveston Saturday morning on company business, leaving on the Galveston, Houston and Henderson train which departs from Houston at 9.45. Mr. Kellogg had an interesting tale of his experiences getting into Galveston, of the storm and its effects and how he managed to get out of the city and into Houston again.
" When we crossed the bridge over Galveston Bay going to Galveston, said Mr. Kellogg, the water had reached an elevation equal to the bottom of the caps of the pile bents, or two feet below the level of the track. After crossing the bridge and reaching a point some two miles beyond we were stopped by reason of the washout of the track ahead and were compelled to wait one hour for a relief train to come out on the Galveston, Houston and Henderson track. During this period of one hour the water rose a foot and a half, running over the rails of the track.
" The relief train signaled us to back up a half mile to higher ground, where the passengers were transferred, the train crew leaving with the passengers and going on the relief train. The water had reached an elevation of eight or ten inches above the Galveston, Houston and Henderson track and was flowing in a westward direction at a terrific speed. .The train crew were compelled to wade ahead of the engine and dislodge driftwood from the track. At 1.15 we arrived at the Santa Fe union depot. At that period of the day the wind was increasing and had then reached a velocity of about thirty-five miles an hour.
"After arriving at Galveston I immediately went to the Tremont Hotel, where I remained the balance of the day and during the night. At 5:30 the water had begun to creep into the rotunda of the hotel, and by 8 o'clock it was twenty-six inches above the floor of the hotel, or about six and one-half feet above the street level. The front windows of the hotel were blown in between the hours of 5 and 8. The roof was blown off and the skylights over the' rotunda fell in and fell through, crashing on the floor below. The refugees began to come into the hotel between 5:30 and 8 o'clock until at least 800 or 1,000 persons had sought safety there. The floors were strewn with people all during the night.
" Manager George Korst and the employees of the hotel did everything in their power to help the sufferers from the effects of the storm and to give them shelter. At 5 o'clock the wind was blowing from the northeast at a velocity of about forty-five miles an hour, and by 9 o'clock it had reached the climax, the velocity then being fully 100 miles. The vibration of the hotel was not unlike that of a boxcar in motion. I tried to sleep that night, but there was so much noise and confusion from the crashing of buildings that I didn't get much rest.
STREET SIGHTS WERE APPALLING.
" I arose early Sunday morning. The sights in the streets were simply appalling. . The water on Tremont street had lowered some eight feet from the high water mark, leaving the pavement clear from two blocks north and six or seven blocks south of the Tremont Hotel. The streets were full of debris, the wires were all down and the buildings were in a very much damaged condition. Every building in the business district was damaged to some extent but with one or two exceptions, and those, the Levy Building, corner of Tremont and Market, and the Union Depot, both of which remained intact and went through the storm without a scratch.
" The refugees came pouring down into the heart of the city, many of them had but little clothing, and scores of them were almost naked.
They were homeless without food or drink, a great many had lost their all and were really in destitute circumstances. Mayor Jones issued a call for a mass meeting, which was held Sunday morning at 9 o'clock and was attended by a large number of prominent citizens. Steps were taken to furnish provisions and relieve the suffering of the refugees and to bury the dead.
" Early in the morning it was learned that the water supply had been cut off for some unknown reason. I presume that it was caused by the English ship which was blown up against the bridges, cutting the pipes. At all events, the city is without water, and something should be done by the citizens of Houston to relieve this situation. People who had depended on cisterns, of course, had their resources swept away, and there are but few large reservoirs of rain water to be found in the business district.
"The scene on the docks was a terrible one. The small working fleet and the larger schooners were washed over the docks and railroad tracks in frightful confusion. The Mallory docks were demolished. The elevators were torn in shreds. Three ocean liners were anchored off the docks and seemed to be in good condition. The damage to the shipping interests is simply immense, the Huntington improvement being entirely swept away.
FRIGHTFUL CONFUSION EVERYWHERE.
" I tried to get out of the town as quick as I could, and succeeded in securing passage on the first sloop which sailed, which happened to be the 'Annie Jane,' Captain Thomas Willoughby, who afterward proved to be an excellent sailor. We sailed from the Twenty-second street slip at n o'clock, with seven souls aboard. When we got outside the harbor we found it was blowing a terrific gale and the sea running very high. Under three reefs and the peak down we set our course for North Galveston. As we passed Pelican Flats we could see the English steamer anchored off over toward where the railroad bridge should be, and came to the conclusion that she had evidently broken the water mains and cut the supply off from the city.
"Another ocean liner could be seen off the shore of Texas City, in what would seem to have been about two feet of water in normal tide. We passed within a few hundred yards of where the Half-moon light house once stood, but could see no evidence of the light house, it being completely washed away. The waters,of the bay were strewn with hundreds of carcasses of dead animals. We had a very hazardous passage, going against a five mile tide running out, but managed to reach North Galveston at 1.35.
" At North Galveston we found that a tidal wave had crossed the peninsula, carrying destruction in its path. The factory building and the opera house were completely blown down and other buildings destroyed. While there were no deaths reported at North Galveston, there were many hardships endured by those who battled with the elements."
Dr. I. M. Cline, the chief of the weather bureau at Galveston, lived on the south side of Avenue Q, between Twenty-Fifth and Twenty-Sixth streets, in a strongly built frame house. It stood until houses all around it had gone down, and at last it had to give under the pressure of the wind and waves and other houses that were thrown against it, and with it about forty people went down, two-thirds of whom were drowned, among the number his wife. The first floor was elevated above the high water mark of 1875, and Dr. Cline though he was safe there.
He left his office and went to his home and family early in the afternoon. The office telephone had been in use nearly all the morning giving warning to the people who called up from exposed points along the beach to ask about the outlook. One man was posted at the telephone nearly every minute of the time, and to each inquiry the answer was sent over the wire, " The worst is not over yet."
Barometer readings of this tropical terror had not been taken since it left Havana and Key West, for the reason that it was traveling across the gulf and after barometer readings could have been taken nearer Galveston and reported here communication was shut oft". But the weather bureau knew the worst was not over, and so perhaps thousands along the beach had warning and sought safety in the center of the island before the storm broke here in its fury. This partly accounts for so many people who lived right on the beach, whole families in instances, being saved, people who lost everything but who saved their lives, while others who lived in stronger buildings nearer in, some of whom had t passed through the 1875 and other storms though of course they could weather it, and thus were lost.
When the waters rushed into Dr. Cline's home and began to rise rapidly he realized his peril, but it was then too late to escape. His brother, also of the weather bureau, Mr. Joe Cline, came to his rescue to help save the family or perish with them. Standing on his brother's front porch Mr. Cline motioned to the neighbors on the opposite side of the street to go north, meaning to get out, for no voice could be heard across the street in the teeth of that terrible northeaster.
This was the last warning that was given, and then the chief of the Weather Bureau, while with his devoted brother and their loved ones disappeared within their own homes to await their doom. It was not many hours coming. Higher and higher the water rose, and they mounted the second floor till the waves mounted higher, and buildings about them crashed and fell, adding to the number of inmates of the houses others who had been driven out and were seeking safety.
Finally, the building gave way beneath the pressure of the wreckage behind it. The Cline family was in the room and had resolved to go by threes. Dr. Cline had with him Mrs. Cline and their little 6-year-old girl, Esther. His brother, Joe, took charge of the two older girls. As the house went over Mr. Joe Cline and his charges were thrown through a window which they were near and they caught on the roof. A dresser pushed Dr. Cline and his wife against the mantle and his little one was knocked from his left arm. They were all pinioned beneath the roof.
FOUND IT WAS THE FOOT OF HIS BABY.
Dr. Cline, holding to his wife, prepared for death, but throwing his left hand above his head, felt something strike his hand. He grabbed the object and it proved to be one foot of his baby that had been knocked from his grasp when the roof fell in. The water had driven her little body to the surface through an opening, which, although in an almost dying condition, he realized. By some means he doesn't know how he was released from the timbers that held him down, and he, too, was sent up by the rush of water to the surface. With his feet and arms he reached for his wife, who had been torn from his grasp, but he could not find her, and so she perished. Their experience in drifting on debris was that of hundreds of others. For hours they were tossed about on the raging sea. Part of the time they think they were far out in the Gulf. They know they were out of sight of lights and buildings much of the time.
Mr. William Blair, a member of the Screwmen's Association, with a party of twelve, took in what he said to be the first boat that carried news from the mainland. The trip this party made was one of the most heroic on record. Mr. Blair said :
" We were caught in Houston in the storm, and Sunday morning as soon as the storm abated we resolved to get to our families and friends in Galveston, if such a thing was possible. A party of twelve of us left Houston on a Southern Pacific train. We got as far as Seabrook and there we found everything washed away, and dead bodies here and there. One lone house was standing. Clear Creek bridge had been washed away and the railroad track was turned over. We went back to Houston and waited there till 4.40 P. M., and took the Galveston, Houston and Henderson regular train and succeeded in getting as far as Lamarque.
"The whole country was under water, but we decided to get to Galveston any way that night. We pulled out towards Virginia Point, wading in water up to our necks, some times swimming. At one place it got so deep that we got a lot of drift together and constructed a sort of a raft and ferried over the places. I was about to forget to tell you that one of our party was a woman, a Miss Beach. She had a sick sister in Galveston at the infirmary and she had determined to get to her if possible. That brave and fearless women kept up with the men wading and swimming, and ' while others lagged and some dropped out along the way, she never once faltered, and I have never before seen her equal for courage and determination.
"There were six of us when we got to Virginia Point, others had turned out toward Texas City. We got as near to Virginia Point as we could, we found three railroad engines there, one of them turned over. There were some cars scattered along the rack and in one caboose were some injured people. A portion of our party stopped there to do what they could for them.
" We found dead bodies all along the track, three and four in a bunch, all women and children with perhaps the single exception of one man. These bodies were strewn from the Point to Texas City and they were there by the hundreds, it seemed to me bodies of people who had been washed and blown across the bay from Galveston. Some of the people who had made that terrible trip across the bay, driven by the force of the wind and the waves, were yet alive.
" There were all sorts of debris and wreckage piled up and washing along the mainland; furniture of every description, heavy iron, frames of pianos, fine plush-covered furniture everything was there to be seen. The remains of cattle and horses and chickens were there in heaps and piles, drifting boxcars had been driven three miles from their original positions and turned over and blown about.
" Monday, as soon as it was light enough to see, we started out looking for skiffs something to take us to Galveston. We did not find a skiff, all had been stove in. At last we found a Negro who had a boat. He had been crippled. Three of us, Miss Beach among the number, took passage on his boat, and I took charge of it. The remainder of our party stayed at Virginia Point until the arrival of a sailboat and brought a relief party to Galveston from Houston. A relief train had arrived, from Houston, bringing members of the fire department, the health officer and county officers, with provisions. They saw that there was no way for them to cross and so they remained and began the work of gathering and bringing the dead on the mainland.
"The concrete piers of the county bridge we found washed away in mainland and we saw a big steamer grounded in the West Bay. We saw a fine boat about thirty feet long that had made the trip without sailor or rudder from Galveston. In that boat I was told a drowning family took refuge. When they were nearly over a wave struck it and threw all its occupants out except one man, and he lauded in safety. Claude G. Pond, who was with Capt. Plummer's life boat during the storm, estimates that they saved 200 people in the east end from drowning.
"They began work Saturday afternoon at 2 o'clock and kept it up as long as they could do any good in the east end from First street to St. Mary's Infirmary. Capt. Plummer waded in water up to his chin, and in places was swimming, directing the movements of the boat, while Mr. Pond and Capt. Plummer's two sons manned the boat.
" Several places they extended rescue and the people declined to go expressing the belief that their peril was not so great, and preferring to remain with their property. Sometimes they would make the second trip to such places and sometimes the occupants would be saved and in other instances they had tarried too long. Their plan was to carry people into places where they could wade out and leave them, going back to bring others to shallow water and on the return again carrying them further in.
" In cases where parents had been carried out to wading water and deposited, they would stand there instead of pushing on, looking back for their children, and it sometimes happened that the children and parents both went down while one waited for the other, when, if the parents had pushed on after they had reached wading water, all might have been saved.
" One of the last loads carried out was about to land in front of St. Mary's Infirmary, when a piece of falling timber struck the boat and capsized it. They had eight or nine people in the boat, and when they succeeded in righting it they could find only two or three.
" Mr. Mennis and a party of about forty people took refuge in a two-story grocery store at Forty-fifth street and Broadway. When the roof went over and the building went to pieces, Mr. Mennis and six others caught on drift. They were driven toward the beach into the gulf, and when the wind veered to the southeast and later south, they were driven across the bay and lauded on the mainland near Texas City. Of the seven who made this terrible voyage two died in the course of a day. Mr. Mennis lost his mother and two brothers.
" In the vicinity of Texas City sixty bodies supposed to be 'from Galveston have been buried. Nearly all were women. There was no means of identification, except possibly by jewelry, which was found on about one-half of the bodies."
Prof. Fred. W. Mally reached Houston three days after the storm, and in reply to inquiries related some thrilling experiences. He had been out at Booth, in Fort Bend County. He boarded the 7.15 P. M. Santa Fe train.
TREETOPS INTERRUPTED PROGRESS OF TRAINS.
" At Thompson," said Prof. Mally, " the train crew stopped to water and cool off a hot box, and by the time we started again the wind was blowing a gale. There is no wagon road along the windward side of the right of way from Thompson to Duke or Clear Lake. The result was that as we passed along we were kept in constant suspense of disaster by the treetops, which were being bent over so as to rasp the windows as the train passed on.
" At several places we had to stop and cut off the tops of all trees in order to get through. We finally reached Duke, which was out in the open and prairie section. Here it was impossible to proceed farther, and the train stopped to await the end of the storm. We remained here until about 3 o'clock in the morning and tried to get to Alvin. The first station out was Arcola. The dwellings in this locality were a complete wreck, and only the depot remained standing.
" At Manvel, the next station, the ruin seemed even worse. The depot had been completely demolished and was laying across the track. Not a house standing in good condition. We came down farther within three miles of Alvin and found the track washed out. The agent from Alvin and the section boss met us and stated that Alvin was in ruins and some killed. Not being able to get through, we backed up the road, hoping to reach Eichenberg.
" The sight of seeing men, women and children wading waist deep in water over a country where we were accustomed to seeing orchards and garden patches and to hear the cries for the dear ones missing is enough to unnerve the strongest. Returning to Duke we unloaded again those we had saved at that point from the storm.
" While our train of five passenger coaches was standing on the track at this point the house in which the agent was living was literally blown to pieces. His wife and three children were with him, and soon the furious wind was tossing and rolling women and children like footballs over the earth. Men from tae train faced the terrible gale and succeeded in getting all on the train in safety. This house stood within seventy-five yards of our train. About this time the depot, which was just opposite the car I was in, was unroofed and split apart in the middle.
WHOLE FAMILY SAVED BY TRAINMEN.
" Soon after a third house, 200 feet away, was blown to pieces and a man, wife and three children saved from the wreckage by those on the train. We reached the timbered section and were soon blocked by the wreckage of fallen trees across the track. Everyone who could wield an axe got one, set to work diligently to cut our way through. At the same time a large crew was working from Rosenberg down toward us. From Thompson to Duke large pecan, elm, oak and pine trees were encountered on an average every 100 feet.
"Arriving at Thompson, we found Slavin's store a perfect mass of ruin, the gin a partial wreck and many houses blown down. Here the first victim of the storm and train was placed on board. He had been knocked off the track the night before and had his leg broken. At Booth, Booth's store was badly wrecked, trees blown all over the land, several houses blown down. One Negro was killed in a falling house. At Crabb everything was blown down, and we reached Rosenberg at noon.
"We had many dire expectations all night, worked hard all morning and had nothing to eat since supper the night before. I reached Houston over the Macaroni in time to reach my nurseries and people at Hulen. I found only one house standing here intact, my large barn and packing shed are damaged but not wrecked. My large office building was blown from its foundation and considerably twisted, but left it so my manager can live in it with his family until something else can be provided for. None of my employees were hurt, and, in fact, no deaths or injuries at Hulen."
TERRIBLE TALES OF VANDALISM.
Passengers who arrived at Dallas told terrible tales of the work of the vandals in that city. According to them, men inflamed with liquor were roaming among the wreckage over the city rifling the hundreds of bodies of even the clothing and leaving them to fester in the semi-tropical sun. Much of this horrible deprecating, it is claimed, is being done by Negroes, who will not work and cannot be made to leave town. This was before the saloons were closed.
" Among those who arrived from Galveston was J. N. Griswold, division freight agent of the Gulf, Colorado and Sante Fe Railway. His story is as follows :
" There were many acts of vandalism. Fingers and ears that bore diamonds were lopped off with knives. Upon our arrival at Texas city I saw an old man who was drunk. Sticking out of a pocket in his pants was a bank deposit book full of bank notes. " I asked him where he got it. He said he found it on the bank." ' How much have you got ?" I asked him. "Oh, about twenty seven dollars,' was his reply. He must have had several times that amount at least.
" The darkies are doing most of the pilfering. Sunday morning before daylight they were breaking into warehouses and looting stores and saloons particular!y. The town was full of drunken Negroes Sunday morning at daylight.
" And the worst of it is that nearly all the soldiers were lost. Of the detachment stationed at Galveston I don't believe there are more than thirty left. At present the crying need of Galveston is water and ice and soldiers. The fresh water on the 'island was ruined by the brine from the sea. The ice is needed to prevent the decomposition of the corpses. The soldiers are needed to keep down vandalism. And along this latter line I want to say that the militia must come quickly. The Negroes should be sent to the cotton fields of north Texas. Those who will work can be kept there, but the others should be sent away just as soon as possible, for they merely eat up the supplies and are a constant menace. They should either be killed or made to get out, for one or the other is the grim necessity of the situation.
FLOATING BODIES IN THE BAY.
" As to the loss of life in Galveston, I can't figure it. We counted ninety-three floating bodies on our way from the wharf to Texas City. The prairies across the bay this side of Galveston are covered with piles of cotton and wreckage of all descriptions dead bodies and the like.
"I got to Galveston at 10 o'clock Saturday morning. My wife and I took a car and started to the beach. The water was rather high and we thought we would have a jolly good time splashing around. When we got within five blocks of the beach the motor man stopped his car and said that he could go no further. We came back downtown and got on another car. This time we could get within but seven blocks of the beach. This shows you how fast the water was rising.
"We got back to the Santa Fe ticket office about 11.30 o'clock. I made up my mind that I wanted to go over to the general offices, hut the water was in all the streets and I waited awhile, hoping it would get lower. But at noon it was between knee and hip deep in front of the Santa Fe ticket office. At 2 o'clock my wife and I waded into the Washington Hotel.
" From that time on the wind grew stronger. At 5 o'clock the water was six feet deep in the lower floor of the Washington Hotel. Why, it covered the telephone box in the office. The wind blew not less than ninety-five miles an hour from then until 9.30 o'clock.
" The first rise came from the bay, and the bay rise lasted until about 8 P. M. Then the tide from the Gulf met the rise from the bay and forced it back. That's when we had our highest water. And I want to say to you right now that but for those two forces meeting there wouldn't be a stick left on Galveston Island today.
" About 9 o'clock the water commenced to fall rapidly, and at 10 o'clock the wind had subsided fully 50 per cent. The damage had all been done. At daylight we got out and went down to the beach. From the beach back for four or five blocks it was just as clean as this floor. Up and down the island there was wreckage as high as this ceiling. This had something to do with breaking the force of the water. And that wreckage was full of dead bodies. The only way to get rid of it is to burn it with the bodies in it, for they can never be taken out.
"Monday at noon we left the wharf on the sailboat 'Lake Austin' in company with five others. We paid $100 for passage to Texas City. The names of those in the party were, J. A. Kemp, of Wichita Falls ; Henry Sayles, of Abilene ; A. W. Boyd, of Houston ; W. A. Frazer, of Dallas, and myself and my wife. Mrs. Griswold was the first woman to leave the island after the disaster. We lauded at Texas City at 2.30, caught the Texas Terminal Railway to a junction with the Galveston, Houston and Henderson. From there we walked for a mile to where they were repairing the track, and caught a freight train into Houston, arriving about 10.30 at night.
" The buildings in Galveston that are not totally wrecked are damaged in such a manner that I believe it will cost as much to repair them than , it would to build new ones outright. There is not a church left standing. The general offices of the Santa Fe are badly wrecked. On the floor next to the top some of the inside door casings are forced out of the frames, and the entire building will have to be replastered before it will be safe to occupy. The train sheds are gone.
" On the Mallory wharves is a conglomerated pile of boxcars and boats and cotton wreckage of every description. The Mallory liner 'Comal' arrived there just after the storm, and, thank goodness, the crew has sense enough to stay on board the boat. Dead bodies are in all the wreckage under the wharf just like dead rats. The Santa Fe officials and the heads of the different departments in the general offices, so far as reported, are all safe. The families of a good many of the clerks have been lost entirely, and in other instances partially so.
"The Blum family came to the Washington Hotel at daylight Sunday morning with nothing on them but shreds. They h?d lost everything. When they left home they had thousands of dollars worth of diamonds on their persons. These were all lost in their battle with the elements. Their bodies were a mass of bruises.
"There is scarcely a stock of goods in Galveston that isn't a total loss. But the Sealy residence, standing even as it does, where it seems as if the slightest breeze would strike it, hasn't a scratch on it.
"The brother of John Paul Jones, the general agent of our road, lost his entire family. Will Labatt, assistant ticket agent of the Santa Fe, lost his entire family, with the exception of his wife, who is visiting in the North. He turned up Sunday morning at 6 o'clock more dead than alive and covered with bruises and cuts.
"John Paul Jones, the general agent of the Santa Fe, succeeded in saving his family. His wife was very sick, but he saved her by swimming across the street with his child on his head and his wife between himself and another person.
"Mr. Crane, chief rate clerk to the general freight agent of the road, spent the entire night with his wife on the roof of his residence. His wife had been confined about six weeks ago, and in addition had an abscess on her leg, which bent it nearly double. They were saved. He was a mass of bruises. His heel was crushed.
" I don't see how any man who passed Saturday night in Galveston can stay there and make it his home."
W. A. Fraser, of Dallas, general deputy of the Woodmen of the World of Texas, arrived in Dallas from Galveston where he had been for several days. He stated that complete as are the reports published in "The News," the half has not been told of the terrible calamity that has visited the coast country. " On the approach of the storm," he said, " I tried to leave on the International and Great Northern Railroad at 1.30 o'clock, but found that the bridges had been washed away and the water had risen to such an extent that it was impossible for me to get away from the depot, where I took shelter with about 150 other persons who had sought the same place of refuge.
One depot was badly damaged, but no lives were lost there, although bodies were floating in every direction and the cries from the dying could be heard almost constantly. When daybreak came Sunday morning the sights presented were something terrible. It was hardly possible to walk along the streets without tumbling over dead bodies, and the only thing, in my estimation, that saved the city from being completely wiped out was the fact that the wind blew from the bay during the first part of the night blowing the water up through town, in some places as high as fifteen feet and the wreckage from destroyed houses was piled up along the Gulf front to a height of forty or fifty feet. When the wind changed and blew from the Gulf this wreckage acted as a breakwater and kept the waves from washing everything into the bay.
' As soon as daylight appeared the work of rescue commenced, but it was soon found that after several vacant stores and all the undertaking establishments had been crowded with the dead, that it would be impossible to handle them in this way. Barges were employed and into them the wagons unloaded the bodies, which were taken to the bay and there deposited. It can be safely said that there is not a single house in the entire town that has not been badly damaged in some way and there are whole families who will never be heard from again.
" Looting and vandalism are rife upon the island. The few soldiers they have are exhausted and unable to properly guard the city, and in my estimation the State troops should be sent there at once. Cases of where the fingers of women had been cut off so as to deprive them of their rings and their ears cut to get the earrings are common. It is a hard matter to get a Negro to assist in any way in burying the dead, as they all seem to be very much interested in accumulating all the wealth they can possibly get from the dead and from the wreckage.
WHITE MEN AND NEGROES PLUNDER TOGETHER.
"They are not alone in this, but I am sorry to say that white men are side by side with them in their damnable work. Women could be seen on the first morning after the flood with baskets over their arms taking everything they could possibly pick up, without regard to whom it belonged to or what its value might be. What the city needs most, in my estimation, is pure water, food and able-bodied men who are willing to work, so the bodies can be removed from the wreckage and carried from the island and the carcasses of animals be burned or disposed of as quickly as possible. Whatever is to be done should be done at the earliest possible moment, as provisions are scarce and it is next to impossible to get fresh water. The sewerage system is also chocked, and this combined with the stenches from decaying animal matter makes it almost impossible for people to exist for many days.
" Immediately on my arrival here a meeting of the Woodmen was called and $200 in cash subscribed and turned over to me, and about $300 more pledged to be placed in my hands on demand. All camps throughout the State are requested to immediately call meetings and forward such subscriptions as they may see proper to me at Dallas. This will be used for the benefit of Woodmen and their families, many of whom are in absolute want and distress, and we hope to raise at least $30,000, which is less than $1 each from our members."
From Houston came the following heartrending news of the Galveston horror two days after it occurred :
" The dreadful fatality of Galveston is looking worse, in the face of facts brought out to-day. Three men, who reached here this morning, tell of so and so many dead bodies being found in a single house or yard or on one block, that the conclusion is almost irresistible that a greater number than 1000 has been lost. They tell that twenty or forty or a hundred were lost by the collapse of a single large house, they having gathered there for safety, but they are unable to say anything about the hundreds of small houses that were swept away, some vacant, of course, but many occupied, but without a mark, a sign or a memory to recall the lost.
NAMES OF DEAD WILL NEVER BE KNOWN.
"The outline of the terrible disaster is now known over the United States, and even farther. The details are wanting; no list of names approaching completeness can be had for weeks, and it is almost sure that a complete list will never be found. As time wears along the names of different persons will be recalled by those who were neighbors, and they will be set down on the death roll that will be made up ; but where neighbors do not know neighbors, the names will never be called, and the identity of the lost will pass with eternity without recall or remembrance.
"This city and her people are devoting themselves assiduously to relieving the unfortunates. Her business men are losing not a moment. They thoroughly realize that seconds are valuable. Last night large wagons jostled along the streets with boxes of prepared food to load them on boats and cars. The
Mayor has sent out calls to the large cities of this and other States for immediate help, and everybody here feels that the response will be generous and speedy. These people know the justness of their demand, and hence their confidence in getting the answer.
" W. O. Ansley, a well known cotton man of this city, received a letter this morning, brought by private messenger, from A. W. Simpson, a cotton man at Galveston, saying:
" It's awful. Not a complete house in the city. Help urgently needed. Thousands are homeless. Food is being distributed to the destitute, but lots more will be needed. "
MISSING ONES SWELL DEATH LIST.
A newspaper writer who got through from Galveston, made the following statement : " The condition at Galveston is heart rending in the extreme for the injured, and it grows worse momentarily. The list of the dead will not be fully known for weeks ; the list of the missing will swell rapidly as soon as the people have begun to report their losses to the authorities, and gradually this list of missing will change into the list of dead as the bodies are recovered from the ruins in the city or are picked up on the beach of the mainland, where many of them now lie, it is believed. A meeting was held Sunday morning at the Tremont Hotel, and at this meeting measures were considered for the relief of the stricken.
" The conclusion was quickly reached that the citizens are not equal to the task, notwithstanding their willingness, and an appeal for aid was made to the President and the Governor. The messages have already gone to them, and will probably be made public all over the country by this afternoon. But no tardy aid will suffice. It is present necessity that must be met."
H. Van Eaton, who travels for a Dallas firm, arrived from Galveston, where he spent the perilous hours during the storm. He reached that city Saturday morning and was unable to cross to the mainland until Sunday afternoon.
"Just after it started to rain," he said last night, " several of us thought we would walk down to the beach, but on seeing our danger decided to return to the hotel, which we succeeded in doing by wading in water waist deep. Inside of a few minutes the women and children began to come to the hotel for refuge. All were panic stricken. I saw two women, one with a child, trying to get to the hotel. They were drowned within three hundred yards of us.
"After the worst was over in Galveston we went over to Virginia Point, which cost us $15 each. When we got over there we found a caboose and an engine chained together with some twenty five people in it. While we were in the caboose three bodies, two men and a child, drifted against the car and we tied them to one end to keep them from floating away. We saw fourteen bodies there, all having floated across the channel and all more or less disfigured from coming in contact with so much wreckage. Most of them were women and children.
" We walked six miles from Virginia Point, swimming at intervals, in order to catch the relief train, which could not come in further from washouts. We met people coming and going. A party of twelve persons, including one woman, had built a raft and were intending to cross to Galveston. We saw three launches six miles inland, north of Virginia Point on the bald prairie. Only one of them seemed to have anyone in it. We reached Houston at 3.30 this morning. There are only two houses in anything like perfect condition between Houston and Galveston. From Houston up to Hearne things were badly torn up. The whole east end of Galveston and the entire west end are completely gone."
Not a House in Galveston Escaped Damage
Young and Old, Rich and Poor, Hurried to a Watery Grave
Citizen with Guns Guarding the Living and the Dead.
The all-absorbing story of the great flood is continued in the following pages, with new and thrilling incidents. Best informed residents of Galveston who have been over all portions of the city estimate that from 1200 to 1300 acres were swept clear of habitation. It can be said that not one Galveston home escaped without some damage.
Galveston's great open-air show-place was the Garten Verein. There were various structures devoted to recreation which stood on about seven acres of ground that had been brought to a degree of perfection in gardening lordly credible when the foundation of sand was remembered. Hundreds of oleander trees and flowerbeds adorned the park. The Garten Verein was wiped out of existence. Among the debri; have been found many bodies.
SLOWLY RECOVERING FROM THE STUNNING BLOW.
Galveston is now beginning slowly to recover from the stunning blow of last week, and though the city appears to-night to be pitilessly desolated, the authorities and the commercial and industrial interests are setting their forces to work and a start has at least been made toward the resumption of business on a moderate scale. Plans for rebuilding the city are also discussed. The presence of the troops has had beneficial effect upon the criminal classes, and the apprehensive brief but desperate reign of anarchy no longer exists.
The liquor saloons have at least temporarily gone out of business, and every strong-limbed man who has not his own humble abode to look after is being pressed into service, so that, first of all, the water-service may be resumed, the gutters flushed and the streets lighted.
The further the ruins are explored the greater becomes the increase in the list of those who perished as their houses fell about their heads. On the lower beach a searching party found a score of corpses within a small area, going to show that the bulwark of debris that lies straight across the island conceals many more bodies than have been accounted for.
Volunteer gangs continue their work of hurried burial of the corpses they find on the shores of Galveston Island at the many neighboring points where fatalities attended the storm. It will probably be many days yet, however, before all the floating bodies have found nameless graves.
MANGLED CORPSES WASHED ASHORE.
Along the beach they are constantly being washed up. Whether these are those who were swept out into the Gulf and drowned or are simply the return of some of those cast into the sea to guard against terrible pestilence, there is no means of knowing. In any event, the correspondent, in a trip across the bay yesterday, counted seven bodies tossing in the waves with a score of horses and cattle.
The city still presents the appearance of widespread wreck and ruin. Little has been done to clear the streets of the terrible tangle of wires and the masses of wreck, mortar, slate, stone and glass that bestrew them. Many of the sidewalks are impassable. Some of them are littered with debris. Others are so thickly covered with slime that walking on them is out of the question.
As a general rule, substantial frame buildings withstood better the blasts of the gale than those of brick. In other instances, however, small wooden structures, cisterns and whole sides of houses are lying in streets or backyards squares away from where they originally stood.
Here and there business men have already put men to work to repair the damage done, but in the main the commercial interests seem to be uncertain about following the lead of those who apparently show faith in the rapid rehabilitation of the island city. The appearance of the newspapers to-day, after a suspension of several days, is having a good effect, and both the News and Tribune are urging prompt succoring of the suffering and then equal promptness in reconstruction.
It is difficult to say yet what the ultimate effect of the disaster is to be on the city. Many people have left and some may never return. The experience of others still here was so frightful that not all will remain if they can conveniently find occupation in other cities.
WONDERFUL COURAGE AND HOPE.
The bulk of the population, however, is only temporarily panic stricken, and there are hosts of those who helped to make Galveston great who look upon the catastrophe as involving only a temporary halt in the advancement of the city.
The decision of the transportation lines will do more than anything else to restore confidence. Big ships, new arrivals, rode at anchor to-day in front of the city. They had just reached the port and found the docks and pier damage so widespread that no accommodations could be given to them.
The losses to the charitable institutions of the city were very heavy. Sealy Hospital, the gift of the late John Sealy, was one of the largest institutions of Texas. Very serious damage was sustained. Almost the first work of restoration begun on any public structure was at the Sealy Hospital.
The medical department of the University of Texas included what is known as Brackenridge Hall. This hall was the gift of George W. Brackenridge, of San Antonio. It was seriously damaged. The Old Women's Hospital is a complete ruin. St. Mary's Infirmary, on Tenth and Market Streets, was entirely destroyed. The Ursuline Convent and the Ursuline Academy were partially demolished. The convent is now a haven of refuge of 500 houseless people.
The Catholic Orphans' Asylum disappeared, leaving but slight traces in the form of ruins. It was supposed that the inmates, some ninety-nine sisters and little children, had been swept out into the gulf when the waters receded. Within the past few days bodies of several of the victims at the asylum have been found.
It appeared that when the sisters found the waters rising all around the asylum their only thoughts were for their little charges. They tied the children in bunches and then each sister fastened to herself one of these groups of orphans, determined to save them or die with them. Two of these groups have been found under wreckage. In each case eight children had been fastened together and then tied to a sister.
Galveston's school buildings, public and private, were unsurpassed for solidity and architectural finish. An examination of the' public school buildings shows that scarcely one is fit for use.
Houses of worship suffered severely, although most of them were quite substantial. St. Patrick's Cathedral, the Baptist Church, Trinity Episcopal, the Fourth Presbyterian, St. Mary's Cathedral, St. John's Methodist, the Seamen's Bethel and two other churches on Broad Street, between Twenty-first and Tremont, sustained either total destruction or such damages that they must be rebuilt. Grace Episcopal Church, in the west end, which was one of the many benefactions of the late Henry Rosenberg, escaped with slight injury.
BUSINESS HOUSES SUFFER GREAT LOSS.
One of the most notable buildings of the city was that of the Improvement Loan and Trust Company, at Post Office and Tremont street. The damage sustained was not serious. The E. S. Levy office building, on Market and Tremont streets, cost $135,000. It contained 150 offices, and was considered a marvel of the town. This building withstood the storm and the occupants escaped by staying in their offices.
The Marx and Blum Buildings, Twenty-fourth and Mechanic Streets, was one of the large commercial structures. It was occupied in part by the Galveston Hat and Shoe Co. The damages to the building and the stocks are placed now at $75,000. The Clarke and Courts Building sustained a loss to building and stock of $40,000. The Galveston Cotton and Woolen Mills suffered to the amount of $75,000. The Galveston City Railroad powerhouse was demolished, and it is estimated that $100,000 will be required to restore the plant.
The business structures did not suffer the total destruction that occurred in so much of the residence section, but many are so badly damaged that they will have to be torn down.
LARGEST ELEVATOR BADLY DAMAGED.
Galveston had a gigantic elevator interest which had developed with the port's growing grain trade. Elevator " A " at Fourteenth street, on the Bay side, was one of the largest in the world. Its capacity was in excess of 1,500,000 bushels of wheat. All the upper works of the elevator are gone.
One of the remarkable things about the force of the storm was that it tore from their moorings several large steamships and carried them in diverse directions. For example, the Kendall Castle an English ship, was swept from Pier 33 across Pelican Island and landed on the shore at Texas City. That was a course almost due north. Possibly a dredge may be able to cut a channel which will let the Kendall Castle out of the shoal part of the Bay, where it lies high in the water.
The Norwegian Gyller, a steamer of considerable tonnage, now lies stranded between Virginia Point and Texas City. Its course varied considerably from that of the Kendall Castle. A channel would have to be cut so far to float out the Gyller that there is doubt whether it would be warranted by the amount at stake.
One of the most serious results of the storm has been the "damage to the electric light and street car plants. The city has 'been in absolute darkness for several nights, and only a few concerns who operate their own illuminating services are enabled to do business. Nearly every residence has gone back to the primitive candle. The absence of street lights drives all who have no imperative business on the streets to their homes at nightfall, but the work of the patrol system is made more difficult thereby and the opportunity for looting greater.
The motormen deserted their cars when the fury of the wind and the rush of the water made it no longer possible to operate them. Attempts are being made now to get the cars in shape again. The great destruction of live stock has climated the carriages and cabs as a means of transportation.
The work of relief continues energetically. Mayor Jones and his associates are bending every nerve to open a direct line of transportation with Houston by which he may be enabled promptly to receive the great quantity of provisions which are now en the way to the city. The Relief Committee is striving to systematize its work. On Tuesday an ordinance was passed authorizing rescuing and burying parties to set fire to wrecked buildings and burn them. In these funeral pyres hundreds of corpses were cremated.
CARING FOR HOMELESS REFUGEES.
Houston now is the haven of the unfortunate people of Galveston. Trains have already brought in between 500 and 1000 of the survivors, and a motley crowd they are. Men bareheaded, barefooted, hatless and coatless, with swollen feet and bruised and blackened bodies and heads were numerous. Women of wealth and refinement, frequently hatless, shoeless, with gowns in shreds, were among the refugees. Nearly all of those who came in have suffered the loss of one or more of their family. It is remarkable, however, there is no whimpering, no complaining.
The refugees are being housed and fed, and those in need of medical attention are placed in the hospitals. General-Manager Van Vleck, of the Southern Pacific, says the damage to the wharves is fully eighty per cent. The Southern Pacific, he says, expects to begin work on the bridge within two days. It is expected that ' trains will be run into Galveston within forty days.
John J. Moody, a member of the committee sent from Houston to take charge of the relief station at Texas City, reports as follows;
" On arriving at Marque this morning I was informed that the largest number of bodies were along the coast of Texas City. Fifty-six were buried yesterday and to-day within less than two miles extending opposite this place and towards Virginia City. It is yet six miles further to Virginia City and the bodies are thicker where we are now than where they have been buried. A citizen inspecting in the opposite direction reports dead bodies thick for twenty miles."
" The residents of this place have lost all, not a habitable building being left, and they have been too busy disposing of the dead to look after personal affairs. Those who have anything left are giving it to others, and yet there is real suffering. I have given away nearly all the bread I brought for our own use to hungry children."
" Every ten feet along the wreck-lined coast tells of acts of vandalism. Not a trunk, valise or tool chest has escaped rifling, We buried a woman this afternoon whose fingers bore the mark of a recently removed ring."
WASHED ACROSS THE BAY FROM GALVESTON.
B. F. Cameron, a lumber dealer of Stowell, Chambers County, says that the relief party which went from Stowell to Bolivar, reported to him that there was over 1000 dead bodies on the beach at Bolivar, Yeast Bay, and in sight of the salt marshes which line the bay. The party succeeded in burying only forty of the corpses. The others are lying in the water and on land, decomposing in the heat. Many of these bodies were evidently swept across the bay from Galveston.
In view of the completeness with which Galveston has been destroyed by the storm, many believe the city will never be rebuilt. The argument is that from its very location the city is ever in danger of a similar visitation, and capital will be fearful of investment where the danger is so constant.
There are many, however, who take the opposite view and say that in no other place on the Gulf can there be found a location so advantageous, and therefore, no matter if the risk be great, capital will seek investment in Galveston, and the city will soon resume her importance as a shipping port.
This sentiment is reflected in telegrams and verbal utterances, some of which are here printed :
Dallas, Texas, Wednesday.—Much serious thought has been given to the question of the future of Galveston by the best informed men of Dallas since the calamity of last Saturday and Sunday. The outlook, to their minds, is not a bright one. The expression of judgment most frequently heard is "Galveston is doomed." Men reason that to the perils the population have ever to face from nature's elements the timidity of capital must now be added.
In the great storm of 1875 little of private or public capital ran the risk of destruction. The great wharves, elevators, compresses and railway and steamship systems had taken but slight foothold in the island city. The federal government had built jetties and general harbor improvements and coast defenses, at a cost of more than $10,000,000 of public money. All these millions of public and private wealth have been put into Galveston enterprises since 1875.
CAPITAL WILL BE SHY HEREAFTER.
Capitalists will scarcely venture again in the near future to invest their money in a place where it is likely to be wiped out at a ratio of from $5,000,000 to $10,000,000 to one equinoctial storm. And when the Federal Government contemplates costly brand new coast defense fortifications, such as Fort Sam Houston, shattered by wind and waves, and ninety per cent, of the garrison killed, it will not consider the place where these ventures were made a safe one for their duplication. A harbor to be safe must be land locked.
These are the views of thinking men who have studied the situation. The question then arises, What will supersede Galveston. Some predict that Houston, fifty miles in the interior, on Buffalo Bayou, through the agency of a ship canal built at the expense of the federal government, is the coming metropolis of Gulf.
Others say Texas City, ten miles from Galveston, will now be developed as a grand maritime successor to the unfortunate island city. Others say Clinton, on Buffalo Bayou, six miles below Houston, because of its facilities to furnish water and rail terminals, will be the Texas seaport of the near future.
Very few expect unfortunate Galveston to rise again and reassert herself the mistress of the Gulf. A Galveston man illustrated the problem very aptly to-night, when he said:
" Fully one-half of the population of Galveston will never go back there to live if they be got off the island alive this time. My opinion is that Galveston has had her rise and fall."
AUSTIN PREDICTS NO DESERTION OF THE CITY.
Austin, Texas, Wednesday.—In the first shadow of the awful calamity which has befallen Galveston the thought of many is that Galveston City will have to be removed to the mainland or deserted. Nevertheless, calmer opinion is that the city will not be moved. There are too many interests concerned, too much money invested and too many possibilities to think of moving the city.
Property losses, while great, are not beyond repair. The city may not for many years regain the popularity it enjoyed up to last week, but it is believed that with the passage of time and the allaying of public fear the place will begin to revive.
Millions are invested there in harbor improvements that would be useless were the island deserted. Millions more invested in business weathered the storm, save as to windows and roofs, and these can be easily repaired.
Wharfing interests representing millions will cost money to get back into shape again, but the belief is general that it will be done. The business interests of Texas demand a port such as Galveston, and while the town may not regain within five or six years the resident population it had, it is not probable that it will be depopulated.
When the storm of 1875 swept the island it did considerable damage, and it took several years for the public to shake off the fear of a residence there. They did so, however, and went back, and it is believed that they will do so again.
Prominent citizens of Galveston to a man say that no thought of moving the city to the mainland or a more protected spot can be entertained, as there are too many interests in Galveston that cannot be transplanted, and that have not been so badly affected by the storm as to render them useless.
Railroads are already reconstructing bridges across the bay, and trade will be moving through the port within a fortnight.
To protect the city of Galveston from the ravages of future cyclones would be almost as costly as to re-establish the city on a new site.
This is the opinion of eminent engineers in Washington. To insure the maintenance of the channel it has been necessary to erect jetties which have cost more than $6,000,000. These jetties, however, do not furnish an obstacle of any importance to the invasion of the sea when behind it is a force such as a West India cyclone exerts.
Because of the effect of storms upon the Gulf coast, it has been customary for engineer officers stationed at Galveston to report yearly upon the appearance of atmospheric disturbances of more than usual intensity, and Captain Rich, the engineer officer who is believed to have lost his life, said in his report for 1899 that storms which occurred during April, May and June, 1899, "carried away nearly all that remained of construction trestle and track and caused more or less settlement of the jetties."
GREAT NEED OF A SAFE HARBOR.
The need of a safe deep-water harbor on the Gulf of Mexico has long been appreciated, and in 1899 Congress passed an act directing the Secretary of War to appoint a Board of three engineer officers of the army to make a careful and critical examination of the American coast of the Gulf of Mexico west of 93 degrees and 30 minutes west longitude, and to " report as to the most eligible' points for a deep harbor, to be of ample depth, width and capacity to accommodate the largest ocean-going vessels and the commercial and naval necessities of the country."
The Board consisted of Lieutenant-Colonels H. M. Robert, G. L. Gillespie and Jared A. Smith. It is reported that Galveston was the most eligible point for a deep harbor, but also called attention to the harbors at Sabine Pass and Aransas Pass as being worthy of consideration.
In New York the views of railroad men concerning the future of Galveston as a shipping point are far from gloomy. A. F. Walker, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad, says he expects the city to be re-built within three months.
"Of course," said Mr. Walker, "it is a serious blow to Galveston, and with the city covered with mud and wreckage it is easy to prophesy evil for its future, but two weeks will suffice to clear the wreckage and clean the streets, get the dead buried and make a careful estimate of the actual loss. This loss is tremendous, there can be no doubt, but it has very likely been grossly exaggerated."
" Galveston will rebuild, and quickly, because the site combines the greatest natural advantages as a Gulf port and has solid commercial backing. It is imperative that we have a port on the Gulf—the extent of shipping demands it. Galveston offers, in spite of the real handicap of her low position, the best site, and I see no reason why it should not be rapidly rebuilt."
BELIEVES CITY WILL BE REBUILT.
Vice-President Tweed, of the Southern Pacific Railroad, said this morning that he felt sure that his road would repair the damage done to its properties at Galveston, and go on with further improvements planned.
" I take it for granted," Mr. Tweed declared, " that the directors of the Southern Pacific will keep up the work they started there. I do not think that this disaster, though certainly serious, will kill Galveston as a shipping port. No definite reports have been received as to the extent of our losses there. The two piers already completed on the property of the Southern Pacific were certainly badly damaged. ' Any estimate of the amount of damage would be only a guess, but I should say that it would fall below $400,000. Three hundred and fifty thousand dollars had been spent on the piers, and $75,000 paid for a short line from Galveston to Houston, which was destroyed."
Concerning the suggestion that Galveston will not be rebuilt, but that another city will be established in a safer place on the Gulf, an serve as a shipping port, Mr. Henry Mallory, of the Mallory line of steamships, said:
" Texas naturally seeks an outlet through a Texan harbor, and there is none other in Texas equal to the harbor of Galveston. All railroads centre there. If the city were wiped out some man with money would begin to build there. Locally, Galveston has suffered great loss, against which there is no insurance. But that does not rob the city of its pre-eminent valve as a port."
Asked if it would be practicable to rebuild the city on an inner shore of Galveston Bay, Mr. Mallory said that it would not. " There is no better location," said he, " for the city. It is not our purpose to abandon Galveston. We have ten steamships—nine in commission and one building—and we expect to remain in the Texas service."
A CHANGE FOR THE BETTER.
A correspondent, under date of September the 14th, wrote:
" So far as the actual presence of death is concerned, nobody would know, from a glance at the streets to-day, that a terrible tragedy had been enacted here. Human corpses are out of sight. They have either been buried, taken out to sea or burned."
" But the horrors have not been obliterated by any means. The danger of pestilence still remains. While the human corpses have been disposed of, those of animals—horses, cows, dogs, etc.— have been permitted to remain above ground. There was no time and no means to remove them. Their putrefying remains lay where the waves left them—there to emit a stench that is simply unbearable.
" Lime with which to consume these carcasses is all that will save Galveston from epidemic."
" With corrupt flesh and bad water, or no water at all, Galveston is already in the grasp of typhoid and other virulent fevers. The diseases have not yet become epidemic, but if unchecked for twenty-four hours there is no doubt they will become so."
" Appreciating the situation, Adjutant-General Scurry yesterday succeeded in getting gangs of laboring men organized. The progress made is remarkable and to-day it was much greater. Large piles of refuse were gathered and burned, and the work of cleaning up proceeded in a systematic manner. Heretofore there has been no system, everybody working for the public good in his own way."
PEOPLE HURRYING TO ESCAPE.
" The exodus from the city was heavy to-day, and hundreds more were eager to go who were unable to secure transportation. Along the bay front there were scores of families with dejected faces, pleading to be taken from the stricken city, where, in spite of every effort to restore confidence, there is a universal feeling of depression."
" Shipping men say to-day that the damage to the wharves is by no means as serious as at first supposed. More hopeful reports were received to-day touching the water supply. The company is placing men all along the mains, plugging the broken places and thereby assisting the flow. It was serving some of its customers to-day, and hopes gradually to increase the service. The water continues to run by gravity pressure."
" The only difficulty the people are having is in carrying supplies to their homes or places of business. The ice supply continues bountiful, and at many corners lemonade is being served at five cents for as many glasses as you can drink at one time."
" The work of disposing of the dead continues. Several hundred bodies are still buried beneath the wreckage. Thirty-two sand mounds, marked with small boards, attract attention on the beach, near Twenty-sixth street, and tell the story of where seventy-five bodies have been laid to rest. In the extreme western part of the city sixty bodies were cremated with wreckage of the homes of the unfortunate victims."
" A conflict of authority, due to a misunderstanding, precipitated a temporary disorganization of the policing of the city yesterday. It seems that when General Scurry, Adjutant-General of the Texas Volunteer Guard, arrived in the city with about 200 militia from Houston, he conferred with the chief of police as to the plans for preserving law and order."
"An order was issued by the chief of police to the effect that the soldiers should arrest all persons found carrying arms unless they showed a written order, signed by the chief of police or Mayor, giving them permission to go armed. The result was that about fifty citizens wearing deputy sheriff badges were arrested by the soldiers and taken to police headquarters."
FREE USE OF DEADLY WEAPONS.
" The soldiers had no way of knowing by what authority the men were acting with these badges, and would listen to no excuses. After a hurried conference between General Scurry and Sheriff Thomas it was decided that all deputy sheriffs and special officers shall be permitted to carry arms and pass in and out of the guard lines. The deputy sheriffs and special and regular police now police the city during the daytime, and the militia take charge of the city at night."
" More than 2000 dead bodies have been identified, and the estimate of Mayor Jones, that 5000 perished in Saturday's great hurricane, does not appear to be magnified. The city is being patrolled by troops and a citizens' committee, and a semblance of order is appearing."
" At a conference held at the office of City Health Officer Wilkinson it was decided to accept the offer of the United States Marine Hospital Service and establish a camp at Houston, where the destitute and sick can be sent and be properly cared for. The physicians agreed that there were many indigent sick in the city who should be removed from Galveston, and Houston was selected because that city had very thoughtfully suggested the idea and tendered a site for the camp. Acting upon the suggestion to establish a camp and care for the sick and needy, a message was sent to the Surgeon-General, at the head of the Marine Hospital Corps, asking for 1000 tents of four-berth capacity each ; also several hundred barrels of disinfecting fluid."
"The health department is calling for 100 men with drays to clean the streets. The plan is to district the city and start out the drays to remove all refuse and dead animals and cart all unsanitary matter from the streets. It is anticipated that by Saturday the work will have advanced to cover the greater portion of the business district and part of the residence section."
"Prior to the hurricane Galveston was one of the richest cities in the world, per capita, and the surviving millionaires who made their money here have read with displeasure the telegrams that the city would never survive the terrible blow it suffered. They insist that the city will be rebuilt and will be another Chicago, rising superior to the calamities that palsy the ordinary people."
" The determination to rebuild the city received a strong impetus to-day, when it was learned that G. W. Boscheke, assistant engineer of the Southern Pacific Railroad, had received orders by wire from New York to prepare plans at once for a double-track steel bridge across Galveston Bay ten feet higher than the old one, and to proceed with all the force possible. Engineers are already at work making a survey and running lines preparatory to the resumption of work."
NEW SURVEY WILL BE MADE.
" A telegram from New York says that Colonel H. M. Roberts, of the Engineering Corps, United States Engineers for the southwest district, said to-day that a survey will be made of the wrecked Galveston forts and works. Captain Richie has submitted a report, in which he says the foundations which were built on piling withstood the ravages of the storm much better than the foundations without piling. In the future it is proposed to use piling Inclusively."
" Congressman R. B. Hawley, who was in Washington at the time of the storm, has arrived in this city."
"' Work of vast importance is to be undertaken here,' said he; 'work on different lines from that which has been our habit heretofore."
"' There are storms elsewhere. If the people in other parts of the country built as we build, their cities would be down and out nearly every year; but they build structures to stay, and we must rebuild our city on different lines and in a different manner, that will resist the gales as they do. The port is all right. The fullest depth of water remains. The jetties, with slight repair, are intact, and because of these conditions the restoration will be more rapid than may be thought."
MORTALITY LIST IS ENORMOUS.
In fact, while the mortality list of the city grows larger every hour, the prospects of Galveston grow brighter. An investigation shows that industries that were supposed to be wrecked forever are only slightly damaged, and business in them may be resumed any day.
" J. C. Stewart, the grain elevator builder, after careful inspection of the grain elevators and their contents, said the damage to the grain elevators was not over two per cent. The wheat will be loaded into vessels just as rapidly as they come to the elevator to take it. Ships are needed here at once. Mr. Stewart said he would put a large force of men to work clearing up each of the wharves, and the company will be ready for business within the the next eight days. The wharves have been damaged very little outside of the wreckage of the sheds. With the wreckage cleared away, Galveston will be in good shape for business."
" At a meeting of the general committee last night the need of sprinkling the streets with a strong dichloride solution and taking other sanitary precautions was discussed, and after adjournment of the general committee, the committee on correspondence sent the following telegram :"
" Our most urgent present needs now are disinfectants, lime, cement, gasoline stoves, gasoline, charcoal furnaces and charcoal. Nearby towns also may send bread. For the remainder of our wants, money will be most available, because we can make purchases from lime to time with more discretion than miscellaneous contributors would exercise. We are bringing order out of chaos, and again offer our profound gratitude for the assistance so far received.'"
Surveying the situation, one of our great journals bestowed these words of praise : " Another good day's work was done yesterday in behalf of the Texas sufferers. There has been no abatement in the generous giving of supplies and money. The fearful plight of the thousands who outlived the terrors of the storm has touched every heart profoundly. In Galveston alone, where the cyclone swept inland with fiercest fury, 25,000 persons are homeless. Half the population of what a week ago was a prosperous city, in a single day was left dependent upon charity.
DANGER OF AN EPIDEMIC.
" The danger of an epidemic now threatens the survivors. Many of the people are giving way to physical exhaustion. They have been compelled to subsist upon unwholesome food, drink polluted water and breathe the foul air of their unsanitary surroundings. In spite of all that has been done for the relief of the stricken Texans, the death roll is still growing. As many as possible must be removed from the scene of destruction to more healthful conditions."
" What Philadelphia has done should go far to alleviate the immediate distress, yet this is only a drop in the great flow of charity. An additional $10,000 was sent to Governor Say res yesterday, making $25,000 in all that has been forwarded by the Citizens' Permanent Relief Committee. And more subscriptions are daily flowing in. A number of physicians and nurses have volunteered their services and are only awaiting a reply from the Relief Committee on the ground. There will be work for them if sickness becomes prevalent, as is now feared."
" Many of our citizens who wished to make donations of food, clothing and other supplies have again had recourse to the special trains that are being sent forward. Last night a second special of four heavily-laden cars was sent to Galveston. In addition to this, many subscriptions of money have been made and will be forwarded to the authorities in Texas."
[Source: "The great Galveston disaster: containing a full and thrilling account ..." By Paul Lester and Richard Spillane.
Transcribed and contributed by Barb Ziegenmeyer]