Wednesday, April 18, 2007

San Francisco Earthquake - April 25, 1906

Today, April 18th, is the anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. The articles below tell of the experiences of two Whitley County men who were in the area at the time.

Columbia City Post, Wednesday April 25, 1906

Ancil Brown, son of Alvin Brown of this city, was in Berkeley, California, at the time of the earthquake and had an experience he will not soon forget. The following letter to his father gives his experience in detail:

Berkeley, Cal., April 19, 1906. My Dear Father: - - Great Horror and loss of life has come to the people in San Francisco and Berkeley and in fact all towns along the Pacific coast. This panic is in the form of a terrible earthquake and fire.

At 5:13 a.m. yesterday, April 18th, there was a great shock which tumbled the brick chimnies of nearly every home and totally wrecking a great many. Our home (Aunt Ella's) was shaken up badly, knocking down all the chimnies and springing the house in such a shape that it is impossible to close the doors or raise the windows and cracking the plaster in nearly every room. The china on the shelves and the vases on the tables were knocked off and broken. We all woke up immediately and ran out of the house so badly frightened it was some time before we regained our senses, the seemingly breaking of the timbers and shaking of the house made us think every minute the house would collapse upon us.

The fire was all over in San Francisco, none in Berkeley. I was over to the city all day yesterday and today and the sights are awful - many blocks all a mass of blaze and the dead and dying being carried from the ruins by the hundreds. It is estimated that a thousand people are killed. The ruin by fire will probably cover a distance of 25 blocks in length and 19 blocks wide right through the business part of town and many blocks in the best residence portion burned to the ground.

The fire was caused by the shock knocking down stoves and throwing fire from fire places, the people running from fright of the shock and paying no attention to the fire, and, too, the water mains were broken in the ground and they could get no water. I will send you the papers giving the details of the catastrophe. They are all O K and they think the shocks are over but still there has been several small ones since the first heavy shock. We are all sleeping out in the yard for fear there may be some more severe quakes, all the people in the city are doing the same.

Columbia City Post, Saturday April 28, 1906

Mr. and Mrs. Joe Archer, of Thorncreek township, received a postal card Wednesday from their son Earl who is now at Potter's Valley, California. They were exceedingly glad to hear from him and to learn that he was safe. He has been on the Pacific coast for over a year and spent the winter at Mercedes, going to Potter Valley recently. It is about 40 miles from San Francisco. The shock was distinctly felt there, but no damage was done. The following card from him to the publisher is interesting:

Potters Valley, Cal., April 20, 06. Due to effects of earthquake at about 5 o'clock Wednesday a. m. April 18, the city of San Francisco is a total ruin from the sea front to 24th street. The jar caused the large stone and steel structures to collapse and the earth to sink away from six to eleven feet. The settling away of the earth destroyed all of the water pipes. Fire broke out and consumed everything that withstood the first shock. As the water supply was cut off entirely dynamite was used in an effort to stop the conflagration. Magnificent steel and stone 14 story buildings were blown up without effect.

Pandemonium reigns, thousands are left without shelter or food and are sleeping under the shrubbery of Golden Gate Park and other out of the way places. those who have money are fleeing to neighboring smaller towns. City is under military law and entrance cut off; necessities of life are very high. Meals that were from ten cents to twenty-five are now fifty and one dollar, a loaf of brad fifty cents, water 10 cents a cup. Death loss over one thousand. Papers published of disaster sell for $1.50 a piece. E. D. Archer.

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