Sunday, April 18, 2010

104 Years Later

On this day in 1906 a major event happened that not only changed my ancestors lives but also brought a major city to its knees: the San Francisco Earthquake.

"The night of the earthquake, we had spent the night at Grandma Nielsen's [in Alameda, across the Bay from San Francisco]. It took two weeks before we had word of my father. He had sent messages through the Red Cross but we never got them. Father had to live at Golden Gate Park. From Alameda, you could look over to San Francisco and see all the flames. We lived in Alameda a long time [after the earthquake], 3 months at least." - My Great-Grandmother, Gladys V. Healey

She and her parents (Lauren Everett and Katherine) lost everything in the earthquake and subsequent fire.  All that her father was able to save was one of Gladys' dolls. 

In addition to Gladys' family, her grandparents and countless cousins, aunts and uncles lived in San Francisco at the time.  Comfort G. Healey and his wife Mary G. S. Mott (Gladys' grandparents) were there as was Mary's sister, Essie (whose memoir I've been transcribing).  I will write more on Essie's later years once I finish transcribing but suffice to say, this event was just one of many setbacks and tragedies she experienced in later life.  Across the Bay my Bergers in Oakland and Nielsens in Alameda were witness to everything that happened.

Comfort was living at 608 Shotwell (2nd Floor) on the 1905 directory.  Lauren is listed in the directory as living at 103 Welsh (2nd Floor).  A year after the quake in the 1907 directory, Comfort is at 3322 Twentieth (just up the street from where he used to live), while Lauren is at 142 Townsend (which is roughly two blocks from PacBell ATT Park).

I wish I knew more about what happened to my ancestors during and after the quake.  As far as I know no lives were lost in my family, though Lauren and his family had to start over from scratch.  I am glad that they stayed in the city after the quake while so many others left for good and many doubted whether San Francisco could be rebuilt.  In their own small way, I think they (and countless others) helped rebuild the city by staying and going on with their lives. 

Head over to The Research Journal whose author has written two great articles concerning the 1906 earthquake.  Hacienda Circle also has an article up on the quake.

2 comments:

  1. How nice to have the words of your great-grandmother as she recalled the events of the 1906 earthquake. About 40 years later, I too was living in Alameda, for 10 years. I had a quick laugh about the dolls, because I once recall playing paperdolls, and a mild earthquake knocked them down. Love your blog.

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  2. I hadn't been thinking about the SF earthquake until someone sent me a youtube video of SF taken just 4 days before the quake. You can see it here if you want: http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=NINOxRxze9k. And then I saw your blog post and the links to several others. I can't imagine having been there. How good that your family stayed and helped revive the city after the devastation.

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