Paschal McNeir, great grandson of Major Ridge and brother of Forest W. McNeir, describes his experience during the 1900 Galveston storm. Paschal's original letter is at the Rosenberg Library in Galveston. The letter was transcribed recently by Forest McNeir, grandson of Forest W. McNeir.
Sarah Ridge's 2nd husband Charles Pix, was killed during the storm when a wall fell on him.
"Courtesy of the Rosenberg Library, Galveston, Texas"
Galveston May 3, -`53
I notice in Friday's News (May 1st) a letter to you from
Charles Thurston of
Butte, Montana. Whatever he drinks surely must not be coffee.
In the first place, cane sugar from India to New York, surely
would not be
routed via Galveston by Steamship or likely transshipped from the west coast
through Galveston. In the second place no ship master would have left
Galveston on Sept 8 1900 in the face of such a gale. My vessel the sloop
"Cora Dean" was the last boat to enter Galveston on that day at eleven o'clock
a.m. It was then blowing 55 mph. and as I came thro' Bolivar Roads there were
only two steamers there at anchor.
A large "whaleback" vessel with her deck houses and
pilot house raised on
steel posts above the hull. The other, an ordinary cargo ship which dragged
her anchor up the bay that night thru Redfish pass, nearly touching Redfish
Lighthouse. Then veering to the North as the Hurricane shifted to the south
around midnight, then as she grounded aft turned around and drove head into
the bluff at Cedar Point.
The "whaleback" rode out the hurricane where she
was, the only vessel in
Texas to hold her own at anchor, with giant waves washing all over her lower
hull beneath her houses.
She was there next day when I went up the bay to my home at
Smith's Point in
Any vessel four miles out of Galveston with here fives out
would have gone on
the beach most assuredly. Besides, the Island wasn't under water until
several hours after I got into Point. I'll admit it was a rather poor haven,
- probably the worst in the world that day. but the only one I could make.
The whole Thurston canard sounds to me like a pipe dream. He talks as if the
storm came up hurriedly. When those of us who went thru it know that it
built up for twelve hours or more before it reached hurricane force.
From 5 o'clock P M on the 8th until after midnight it ranged
from 100 to 150
miles per hour. The "anemometer," or wind gauge, on the roof of the "Trust"
building was uprooted at 5 P M showing 100 miles then. From then until 10
o'clock, many times it reached 150 miles I am sure, from S.E. to S.
I went aloft about 8:30 or 9 P M to clear two schooner's
mastheads that were
tangled, and my first would come loose from the rigging and I would hang out
horizontally like a pennant until the gust passed by then go on climbing
until another gust.
I was 23 years old next day, but it was a sad one, with many
of my friends
lying dead among the debris.
George Paschal McNeir