The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 496
Southwestern Historical Quarterly
than 37,000 people, its businesses and wharves challenging Houston for primacy
as Texas's principal port city. Galveston's leading citizens were distinguished by
their unbounded optimism and aggressive boosterism. But this was also a city
built atop a low-lying island along a strip of Texas coastline that had been hard
hit by at least two destructive hurricanes in previous decades. In their accounts,
survivors questioned the site of the city, noting that only "strong," well-built
houses (p. 113) or houses raised on brick foundations several feet thick (p. 126)
survived in neighborhoods otherwise swept clean of homes by the storm. Big
houses stood damaged, while "little houses are gone ... covering no one knows
what horrors beneath" (p. 40). Some neighborhoods, especially those along the
shoreline and in the newly built Denver Resurvey subdivision lowlands, simply
disappeared. Some survivors admitted how they foolishly had not heeded advice
to leave the island in advance of the storm (p. 140).
Before the storm, Galveston was a city that publicly prided itself on relatively
harmonious race relations. Survivors' accounts, however, reveal a different story.
Residents were quick to blame African Americans for a range of offenses, from
house servants' sullen behavior and acting "daft" (p. 33), to looting the dead
and "threatening to burn the town" in reprisal for being "made to work without
pay" (p. 34). The hurricane thus restructured the community, baring racial di-
vide and revealing how "suffering" in the wake of disaster was understood in so-
Through a Night of Horrors provides excellent primary accounts of the 1900
storm and will likely appeal to a general audience as well as to students and
teachers who desire intimate views on how such a disaster is understood by those
who lived it.
Califorma State Universzty, Long Beach NANCY QUAM-WICKHAM
Tales from the San'tone Raver Bottom: A Cultural History. Volume One: Origins. By
Louise S. O'Connor. (Victoria: Wexford Publishing, 1998, Texas Coastal
Bend Series no. 2. Pp. xvii+254. Foreword, preface, epilogue, glossary,
tellers of the tales, photographs, maps, notes, selected bibliography, index.
ISBN 0-9624821-1-0. $49.95, cloth.)
"The San'tone River meant life to people," recalled Milam Thompson, one of
many precious voices recorded in this inestimable volume of oral history and life
experiences in the Coastal Bend of Texas. "It was life for the body and life for
the soul. River bottoms are like goin' home" (p. 5). Here is a heartfelt collection
recalling the Indian, Mexican, European, Celtic, and African American people
that have lived in this unique area from colonial times to the present, all of
whom were caught up in "the spell of the river" called "the San'tone." Here are
tales about a typically rustic, even frontier way of life, where some twenty-six
closely-knit (now largely extinct) communities, like Anaqua, Hall's Point,
Maudelowe, Lewis's Bend, and Carlos Rancho, interacted and depended on
each other in the hinterland of Goliad, Refugio, and Victoria Counties. "There
were lots of characters," said Paul "Beans" Rigby; "It was a slower way of life" (p.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003, periodical, 2003; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/m1/564/ocr/: accessed December 5, 2016), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.