1906 letter about the San Francisco
Addressed to J. H. Jones, Waukon
April 19, 1906
Well, I suppose that you have heard by this time the
offel calamity that has befallen San Francisco. The
town is doomed to destruction, so I managed to get
out today, thankful that I got out with my life.
I thought I had a pretty narrow escape.
They do not know yet how many people have been
killed, but they place it up in the hundreds,
The fire has been burning now for two days and a
night and is still raging.
People look for the whole city to be annihilated.
All the business district and a great part of the
residential portion has been destroyed.
The worst of it all is that the firemen have no means
of fighting it. There is practically no water.
The earthquake shock was the cause of it all.
Immediately after the shock, fire broke out in half a
dozen different parts of the city. You see that the
earth-quake busted and pulled the water mains apart.
That way it rendered the city absolutely helpless.
The only thing about the fire-men could do was to
dynamite buildings ahead of the fire and raise them
to the ground. But that didn't seem to check the
flames in the least.
All the people could do was to climb to the hills and
watch the fire burn up their homes. It is certainly
an offel sight. From here this evening a great bank
of smoke is seen hanging over the city which looks
like a great black thunder cloud.
People have given up any hope and are fleeing from
the city by the thousands. They will all flock in
here in a few days and in the rest of the neighboring
towns about the bay.
Other towns will have to keep them.
Oakland is doing all she can. There was a shock here
but it was not near so severe.
People thought that their time had come. I know that
It took place about 5:10 in the morning before most
of the people were out of bed.
Iwas in bed at the time. The first thing I knew the
house begin to rock like a cradle. The bed was turned
over with me, the dresser came tumbling down. Looking
out the window I saw chimneys tumbling over, glass
flying around me, expected every minute to go through
the floor to the basement. I ran out in my shirt
By the time I got out in the hallway and half way
down the stairs it was over.
I went back to the room gathered up my clothes as
quick as I could and got out. When I reached the
street, fire was started in five or six places.
I was lucky to be in a frame building.
The brick buildings suffered the most. That is where
most of the people were killed.
Well, I guess I will close for this time. I will
write more in my next. I could write a week about
I will send a paper from here.
Idon't know just what I will do yet. They don't any
one know yet. Some the people are almost starving,
havn't got anything. Only what is on their backs. The
rich as well as the poor.
I am lucky to get out without a scratch. I lost about
$25 in wages due me and clothes.
~transcribed by the contributor from the
original letter; typed exactly as written
~contributed by Jeannie Hegeman for the Allamakee co.