Pause in Blog


Come on over to my 2 updated blogs, ancestry details continue at Three Family Trees,

Alchemy of Clay and Living in Black Mountain NC, the scenery and my potting life are combined.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

In honor of the hurricane survivors of my family

Sept 8-9, 1900.  Galveston, Texas.  Hurricane.

I'll share the life of one of my great-great aunts who raised my great grandmother.


Elizabeth Pulsifer Granger Sweet was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts in 1833.  She was the sister of my great-great grandmother Mary Granger Phillips who died just as the Civil War broke out.

Elizabeth was called Lizzy in Mary's letters from Beaumont, Texas to her, telling of her children's births, and various domestic interests, while Lizzy was living in Galveston, Texas.  I think she also raised Mary's daughters, Zulie and Ada Phillips, after she married Sidney Sweet, from New York.  They had 2 children and by the time the oldest was around 10, Elizabeth (Lizzy) was widowed (1875.)

Elizabeth Sweet (age 69) was living at 1709 Winnie St. in Galveston, as of the June 7, 1900 census, with her son Chauncey Sweet, (age 37) his wife Ada Phillips Sweet, (age 34), nephew Lucian Chamberlain, (3) nieces Ada Swasey (14) and Stella Swasey (12).
(NOTE: Ada Phillips Sweet will be honored on her birthday Sept. 15 here on my blog.)

Sept. 8-9, 1900 was the worst storm to hit that island within recorded history.  This was before storms were given names, but it was known by my grandmother, Ada Swasey Rogers and her family as the Storm of 1900.   And they would say, "Nineteen Ought."

There's a book that I was given by my grandmother about the storm, about some of the people and about the buildings, A Weekend in September by John Edward Weems (1957.)  What is interesting is the difference from today's vacation town and the city of Galveston that was then a boom town, that had become a major port connecting the western US by rail and shipping with the East.

So when a storm killed 6000 people (estimated, there were 4200 listed names) and the rail was knocked out by the storm, the survivors had to deal with the same lack of food, transportation, sanitation, and clean water that all storm survivors deal with, as well as disposal of the bodies of the dead on an island.  Horses and wagons were the standard mode of travel following the storm. The book isn't particularly enjoyable reading, and I had to steel my guts to approach it, and read it through as fast as I could.

My father's parent's families all lived through the storm.  I never heard them say a word about it.  When I asked my grandmother, she just gave me the book.  She married 5 years after the storm, so was a teen during it...(she's listed as Ada Swasey (14) in the 1900 census).  All these people that survived such an event probably had great respect for survivors of other major storms.  But they had already faced their own fears, hadn't they?

I'm sharing today's story with others on Sepia Saturday this week.  Come over there to see many other interesting photos which are sepia (or not.)




16 comments:

ScotSue said...

You told such a moving story of a terrible event. Thank you for sharing it.

Kristin said...

A truly horrifying storm.

Postcardy said...

I hadn't heard of that storm before. It's hard to imagine so many people dying in a storm.

Wendy said...

We were out of power for over a week with Hurricane Isabel. But we had it pretty good by comparison to what others have suffered in such devastating storms like the one your ancestors survived.

Bob Scotney said...

Living in the UK it's hard to imagine a storm as devastating as this. To live through it must have been terrifying.

Alex Daw said...

I had only heard of Galveston in that Glen Campbell song from the 60s. That was a terrific storm. Some say the biggest in American history. Thank you for opening my eyes to some really important history.

Rosie said...

Very strong people your ancestors...

Sharon said...

I agree with others - it is hard to imagine such a storm. How horrific it must have been and no wonder they did not want to talk about it.

Deb Gould said...

I read a wonderful novel about this storm, but I've never had such a factual story as this! Amazing!

Karen S. said...

Oh my goodness I guess they did. I can't imagine how any other new upcoming storm could bring it all back. So much like the fear a few dogs of mine have had, just sensing a storm is brewing! Thank you for retelling us this story.

Boobook said...

Goodness! I wonder why they didn't want to talk about it.

Jackie van Bergen said...

What an amazing loss of life - it must have been a huge percentage of the town at the time.

Little Nell said...

A good thing you did read that book though, enjoyable or not; it must have been illuminating.

Liz Needle said...

I had never heard of this horrifying storm. We don't have such bad ones in Australia and I am always shocked by the extreme weather you get in USA and the aftermath of such devastating events.

Anne Young said...

Thank you for sharing. I am glad survival rates from hurricanes are so much better these days. A horrific experience. Thanks for sharing.

L. D. said...

It was an awful storm. I have seen different clips about it on PBS. I think even This Old House visited and shared the history of the storm of the past. Interesting to read, thanks.