Swarthmore College Peace Collection, 500 College Avenue, Swarthmore, PA 19081-1399, USA


NARRATIVES (PROBABLY BY SCHOOLCHILDREN) RE: A CYCLONE THAT HIT DOUKHOBOR COMMUNITY ON ST. HELENA ON AUGUST 27TH [YEAR UNKNOWN]
Transcribed Sept. 2001 (spelling & grammar mistakes are those of the original writers)

 

"A Story of the Storm" by Venus (?) Singleton

On the night of August 27th it began.

The 26th was Sunday and it rained all the day long.

When it became evening the wind rose higher the tide was coming up about 7 o'clock the tide was in our cotton field but we thought it was rain water, must be.

About nine oclock it was high up in the hard then we tasted it and sure enough it was the tide.

After dark we shut up the house and were listing to the rain and wind.

A little while after the corn house fell over we looked out, and the tide was up to cows' sides.

Father and cousin went into the water and cut them loose and they went swimming. Then the tide came into the porch. Mother had a sick sister in the house and father and cousin went out to get a cart to take her out of the tide. Then the cart went for the spiritual mother of the place Aunt Keturah and her family and carried her to another house. When it came back it could not reach us and so some brave hearted men swam in and came up to us.

We all were upstears and they came to the stair window.

My uncle swam with me my mother took my mother and my cousins swam with my sick aunt. My other uncle swam with my aunty's daugter. The first bushes we came to we rested up there till the tide turned. I heard some strange talking round the bush, and there were many strangers from Ocklands. When morning came I saw our house.

It was moved aways and I did not know that it was our own house the porch was gone and everything else round the house.

Some of our clothing swam out but not all.

We had to stay with Uncle Harry Johnson three weeks till our house was fixed up so that we could stay in it.

Auntie was so dashed by the storm that she died before we moved back.

That morning I heard a great crying and they said all on Wassa were drowned.

We heard after that fourteen were dead one was my darling cousin Julia Gardener and others were my cousins too.

I was glad that I was saved by the mercy of the Lord, and no one of our house was lost in the water.

 

"A Story About the Storm" by Virginia Sor____ [name illegible]

On the 27th of August there was a heavy storm which destroyed the houses and killed many people and my story is about that.

It destroyed many little babies' lives, also the cows, horses, poultry.

But we that are left have to be thankful for our spared lives that God has blessed us with, for we were never expecting to see the next day but God had put it so, till we have one more chance on this earth.

The cyclone came to us just like death. That Saturday night the wind began to blow, but not very hard and none of us knew what was to come, so we kept on doing what was to be done, preparing for church.

That Sunday, as soon as day clean came it looked like rain. Maria Williams and I were going to church together so I went up to her place to find out if she was going again. But the wind blew so hard that when I started to come home, I could hardly get back and the wind almost took my breath away. I said "This is a hard storm" and sat down and began to read my book.

Then it blew harder and we all of us sat watching and I saw the cotton and the sugar cane leaning down to the ground. When the sun went down the weather came on an it began to roar and all of us seven and none could move or break a breath, we were so scared. I cried[?] to myself "There is a God in heaven and He will not forsake us."

I began to pray, but the harder I prayed, the harder the wind raised, and it seemed as if Christ Jesus was angry with us, and our prayers were nothing that night. About eight oclock the house began to shake and tear and give way, and I felt the tears falling on my cheeks. Then the chimney went down, and brother John said "Come let us all go to Fenwick's house." We could have no light, so when we started I could find only a shawl to carry with me.

I run and cry until I reach his house and when I reached there I met mother at the chimney and we all went in and sat there that long long night asking the Lord to have mercy on us.

When the day appeared how glad I was and I was so out aware[?] that I could not keep my eyes open. When I got up they told me all of our house was down, nothing left. I said "What are we going to do?"

 

"The Cyclone" by ???

It was a dull, cloudy day in Augut: Gusty and rainy was the morning, a fog hung over the sea, wild swept the wind over the ocean bringing the fog from afar.

The day went down with drizzling rain, on came the tempest with a mighty rushing and beating of rain against the house.

All hope was going as fast as the storm was coming, there was no way to seek refuge, it was all down in a little while.

If one started to speak, you could hardly hear him be he ever so close.

The wind seemed to blow the shore away.

The night all I could hear was the bitter helping of the dumb beasts.

O! just to hear the poor beasts cry would almost break the heart of the most breavest man on earth.

They all seemed to cry to us for help, poor things, if they only did know it, we were not able to help ourselves.

Many of my dear friends died trying to help each other, but I hope that the dear Lord had, as He said, a place where those weary ones are at rest.

Many of our lives were spared, I must say, by the mercy of the Lord, because I never dreamed of seeing the next morning.

Sometimes when the breakers came it seemed as if they would dash us in every direction out of the little boat in which our father put us.

Once we heard as it was the sound of a trumpet, but the wind was so angry, the breakers so furious that we could not clearly tell what it was.

I supposed that it was the wind yet it was the sound of some thing strange and mournful. Some people said that it was Gabriel's trumpet, some said it was the noise of the cyclone. We not knowing what it was until some days afterward, we found out that it was the bitter groan of the steamer "City of Savannah" as it went awreck on the shore of our island.

But I cannot describe the great distress of the poor people on St. Helena.

 

By Isabella Green

On the night of the storm my father mother myself and a little nephew of mine were at home.

The storm came on first with pouring rain then the tide began to rise. Now our houses are on a sort of an island and when it becomes very high tide we are quite surrounded by water so that we thought that like all other tides it would soon turn back, not knowing that it would cover the whole place.

So the rain pour[?] the wind blew and the rain fall. My two little sisters were gone to church early that morning and now we were uneasy about them for now they couldn't get to us as we were surrounded by water.

And the harder the wind blew the higher the tide rise and harder the rain fall, now we were no longer surrounded by almost afloat. The weather was so rough no end could reach us here and now we would have to leave the house for it would [illegible word] float, but my father was a wise and brave man and he brought his boat within reach, so we had to get into the boat and he managed to tie it fast to a little shrub.

There we sat amidst foaming breakers.

We could see the house when it start[?] we could see our poultry in every direction and the cry of them was most exciting; even the hogs swam around the boat until the breakers washed them off and our cow came and put its nose on my shoulder to keep its mouth out of the water. Still each of us was saved.

When the tide did go down and the weather ceased a little we started for our neighbor's house in search of fire and dry clothing. On reaching it we found they were not there and the house almost in pieces. We started for the second two folks were drowned and no house could be seen; feeling that no one was alive we started for the third, finding the family alive we join them in wet clothes no fire, and in the dark room on some wet bed we lay down to sleep -- which seem to turn from our eyes - and we bitterly thought of the morrow which seemed to be many nights off, but would come with nothing to eat neither to wear and many friends and kindred dead.

But the Lord has provided for us.

We thank our [illegible word] friends kindly for their kind attention to us and hope the Great Spirit will reward them on heaven as I know that He will.

 

"The Cyclone" by E.M. Grant

On the twenty-seventh day of August thee was a great cyclone, which drove the sea nearly all over the land. It began that Sunday evening about three o'clock, and at nine that night, a great many houses were blown down. The people about that time were getting very excited because the majority of them never saw such high tides before. Some of the people were wise enough to get to their relatives houses before the tide got too high.

But the most them were Chistianized so they staid in their houses and said that they trust a God once and they were going to trust Him again.

That terrible storm swept the land more than any person, woman or man from seventy five to eighty five years, can give account of. Some of the people on the river side, had to save their lives by taking a boat and putting all of their family in it, and pulled for the road side where there was no tide.

At twelve o clock that night, the wind shifted, from east to southeast, and the tide stood still, about thirty minutes at that time, about half of the number that died during the whole cyclone were drowned. The way the marsh sedge was on the land I think that if it was day more people than that would get drowned, because Eustis place was in the state that the Atlantic ocean is now in, when the wind blows.

At eight o clock that morning the wind ceased and about thirty minutes after that, reports were coming from the eight directions of the Island, about what happened during that night.

My friends if any one of you were living on our pretty St. Helena and were away and came back there that morning you would be scared to see it.

I myself thought that I was in a new world, because the only thing that you could find looked green on the whole of St. Helena was few potato leaves.

The only thing that would make me believe that it was not a new world because I myself am a Christian so I said, "If this is the world that I was praying for, the Bible must be in it still."

I hope that God may not send such a severe cyclone upon His people any more.

 

"The Storm Sufferers" by Robert Jenkins

This story which I am now going to tell you is concerning my eldest brother Julius Jenkins and his family. On August the twenty seventh night on Sunday evening, the wind blew hard but my brother he went to bed about eight o clock.

About nine he was aroused by his wife to hear the splashing of water against the house. He got up, opening his door when the waves began to come in.

His wife said, "Come, let us get to some hill."

He answered, "We are surrounded already, if we leave this house, some of us must drown, so let us trust the Lord and His promise and pray.."

After some time the floor boards began to lick out and the chimney fell, he put his wife and six children up stairs, but he staid down stairs and watched.

The things were carried off by the waves, and he tried to save his clothes and his trunk as they drifted past. He was down stairs till all of the boards were beaten off one side and corner and the water was about three feet deep before he went up stairs. The only thing he carried up stairs was his axe, and two chairs and the reason he carried them with him was for this.

If his house drifted off he would break the roof and make a raft to save them all.

About middle night the winds shifted from east to south east and the tide stood still.

Just after the wind shifted the upper story of the house blew off and jumped ten feet with my brother and all of them but caught in a fig tree. The first thing he said was,

"Mama, is baby alive" for they had no light to see by. She said, "Yes, sir." Then he thanked God and took his axe and cut a hole through the gable, and watched till he saw the cotton stalks begin to show and came out and sounded the water.

He said, "Come let us try to go to the old man Moses' house." That was on the hill, which was about fifteen acres away.

After taking his wife and children through the hole, he started, taking his youngest boy, which was about four years old in his arm.

His wife took the little girl in her arm the other four children some was holding him some to each other. The tide was to the waist when they leave the house in some places higher still.

They tried to traveled through the wood, but the trees were falling so they had to burn back, and bog through the field and his wife felt very weak. The wind and rain were so cold until it gave her the cramp, and she fell down, with her little girl in her arms.

Her oldest daughter of eleven years said "Mother give me baby, let me try to help you." They came to crossing a pond and his next oldest daughter said, "Oh Pa, I am going to drown," and when he caught her back the tide had her gong. Then he said they could not cross the water alone.

So he took up the four children on his shoulder and in his arm and said to his wife, "You and Mamie must stay here till I see if I can get over this pond, then I will come back for you." The pond was not wide but very deep and when he reached across he had drinked so much salt water until he could hardly stand on his feet. He put his children down upon a pile of wet marsh grass, and he looked back at his wife and two children on the other side, but he could not walked back, he had to pull off his coat and swim. When he reached there he took his little girl in his arm and said to them, "Mamie you hold on me. Sue, you hold on tight" so they get across some way, but the water was to the top of their heads.

And when he reach back to his poor little children which he left on the pile of wet trash, all was fast asleep they were so tired out.

They traveled from there to the old man Moses Bolles house in which he received them with great honor. They did not save anything and they suffered in those wet clothes for many days.





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