The Great Galveston Disaster, Containing a Full and Thrilling Account of the Most Appalling Calamity of Modern Times Page: 365
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AN ISLAND OF DESOLATION. 365
They told me with sad humor that what I had seen was as nothing
to what I could have seen had I been here Sunday and Monday
mornings. I am glad, then, that I did not come sooner, and I am
sorry that I ever came at all. What I have seen has been sufficient
to make me miserable to the longest day of my life, and what
I have heard that I could not see and could not have seen had I
been in the storm, will haunt me by day and night as long as my
I am telling an incident repeated to me by one of the most
prominent and distinguished citizens of Galveston. On Monday
seven hundred bodies had been gathered in one house near the
bay shore. Recognition of a single one was impossible. The
bodies were swollen and decomposition was setting in rapidly.
Indeed, the odor of death was on the air for blocks. What disposition
should be made of this horrifying mass of human flesh was
an imminent problem.
IMPOSSIBLE TO DISPOSE OF THE DEAD.
While the matter was under discussion, the committee was
informed that there was no time to waste in deliberation, that some
of the bodies were already bursting. It was impossible to bury
them, and they could not be incinerated in that portion of the city
without endangering more life and more property, as there was no
water to extinguish a fire once started. It was decided to load the
bodies on a barge, tow it out to sea and sink them with weights.
That was the only thing to be done.
Men were called to perform this awful duty, but they quailed
at the task. And who could blame them ? They were told that
quick action was necessary, or a pestilence might come and sweep
off the balance of the living. Still they were immovable. It
was no time for dallying.
A company of men with rifles at fixed bayonets were brought
to the scene, and a force of men were compelled, at the point of
the bayonet, to perform this sad, sad duty. One by one the dead
were removed to the barge, everybody as naked as it had come
into the world-men, women and children, black and white, all
Here’s what’s next.
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Lester, Paul. The Great Galveston Disaster, Containing a Full and Thrilling Account of the Most Appalling Calamity of Modern Times, book, 1900~; (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth26719/m1/423/: accessed May 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .