"Building after building was dismantled to check the progress of the flames, but all of no avail. We were fortunate to secure conveyances and fled to Nob Hill, from which we witnessed the indescribable drama. Block after block was devastated. The fires blazed like volcanoes, and all business houses, hotels, theaters—in fact, the entire business portion—lay in ruins, and two-thirds of the residences."
THRILLING PERSONAL EXPERIENCES—CONTINUED.
Hairbreadth Escapes from the Hotels Whose Walls Crumbled—Frantic Mothers Seek Children from Whom They Were Torn by the Quake—Reckless Use of Firearms by Cadet Militia—Tales of Heroism and Suffering.
For two weeks or more tragedy, romance and comedy crowded the lives of women and children survivors homeless in the city of ashes and in Oakland, across the bay, the city of refuge. In this latter place thousands separated from their loved ones were tearfully awaiting developments, and every hour in the day members of families were restored to each other who had been lost.
On record in the Chamber of Commerce at Oakland, which was the headquarters of the Oakland Relief Committee, some queer stories were told. Not a day passed but there were from two to eight marriages in that office. Homeless young couples met each other, compared notes and finally agreed to marry.
At the registry bureau in Oakland scores of women, young and old, worked gratis. One applied for work to relieve her mind. She said she had seen her husband and eldest son killed and had fled with her baby. During the rush of people she lost her baby.
One of her first duties was to copy names of the lost and found. In one of the lists she believed she recognized the description of her baby. An investigation was made and the child proved to be hers.
A grief-stricken mother came in crying for her child, which she had not seen since the day of the disaster. A member of the relief committee was detailed on the case and he found the baby. The same day, while walking on the street, he saw a woman carrying a baby in a pillow slip thrown over her shoulder. Two hours later he again met the woman. The pillow slip had ripped and the baby had fallen out unknown to the mother. When her attention was called to this fact the mother fainted.
Again the young man set to work and found the baby two blocks away, but upon returning could not find the mother.
One man escaped with his two babes as he saw his wife killed in a falling building. He seized two suit cases and placed a baby in each and started for the ferry. When he reached Oakland he found both smothered. He became violently insane and was put in a strait-jacket.
Hermann Oelrichs of New York, ten times a millionaire and husband of the eldest daughter of the late Senator Fair of California, arrived in Chicago on a scrap of paper on which was written a pass over all railroad lines. The scrap of paper was roughly torn, was two inches square, but upon it in lead pencil were written these magic words:
"Pass Hermann Oelrichs and servant to Chicago upon all lines. This paper to serve in lieu of tickets.—E. H. Harriman."
Mr. Oelrichs described some of his experiences after he was driven from his quarters in the St. Francis Hotel by the earthquake. He said:
"It was heaven and hell combined to produce chaos. I have a bad foot, but I forgot it and walked twenty miles that day, helping all I could. Mayor Schmitz had a meeting in the afternoon at the shaking Hall of Justice and appointed a committee of fifty, of which I was one. He gave me a commission as a member of the Committee of Law and Order, which, together with my policeman's star and club, I shall hand down to my son as heirlooms."
"I am proud of that," said Mr. Oelrichs. "That is the Mayor's own signature and he has proved himself every inch a man. Lots of people thought the Mayor was just a fiddler, but they think differently now.
"The regulars saved San Francisco. The militia got drunk and killed people. The hoodlums south of Market street were all burned out and they swarmed up in the swell quarter. The report was that they meant to fire the houses of the rich which had not been destroyed. Every night a west wind blows from the Pacific, and they meant to start the fire at the west end. That had to be guarded against."
Mr. Oelrichs had fitted up apartments in the St. Francis, packed with curios and rarities to the extent of $20,000. These were all burned.
The operators and officials of the Postal Telegraph Company remained in the main office of the company at the corner of Market and Montgomery streets, opposite the Palace Hotel, until they were ordered out of the building because of the danger from the dynamite explosions in the immediate vicinity. The men proceeded to Oakland, across the bay, and took possession of the office there.
Before the offices of the telegraph companies in hundreds of cities excited crowds of men and women surged back and forth the morning of the catastrophe, all imploring the officials to send a message through for them to the stricken city to bring back some word from dear ones in peril there. It was explained that there was only one wire in operation and that imperative orders had been received that it was to be used solely for company purposes, press dispatches and general news.
Mr. Sternberger of New York was on the fourth floor of the St. Francis, with his wife, son and a maid. After hurriedly dressing he and his family rushed into Union square.
"We had hardly got seated," said Mr. Sternberger, "when firemen came along asking for volunteers to take bodies from the ruins just above the hotel. There was a ready and willing response. It was a low building on which had toppled a lofty one, and all in the former were buried in the debris. We heard the stifled cries and prayers, 'For God's sake, come this way,' 'O, lift this off my back,' 'My God, I'm dying,' and others, nerving us to greater efforts.
"Finally we got to some of them. Bruised, bleeding, blinded by smoke and dust, terrified past reason, the poor fellows who fell in the street fell from utter exhaustion. Those that were penned away below we could not reach, and their seeming far-off cries for mercy and life will ring in my ears till death."
Henry Herz, a New York traveling man, after a terrible experience, made his escape and constituted himself a traveling relief committee. At Sacramento he organized a shipment of eggs. At Reno he set the housewives to baking bread, and in Salt Lake City he had raised a potato fund of $400. Mr. Herz crossed the bay in a launch. The boatman asked him how much money he had, and when he replied, with a mental reservation, $46.60, the boatman charged him $46.60 and collected the money in advance.
Worn by the exposure, hardships, and terrors of a two days' effort to escape from the stricken city, Mrs. D. M. Johnson of Utica, N. Y., and Miss Martha Stibbals of Erie, Pa., passed through Denver.
"The first that we knew of the earthquake was when we were awakened in our room at the Randolph Hotel by a terrific shaking which broke loose fragments of the ceiling," said Miss Stibbals. "There followed a tremendous shock which shook the building sideways and tossed it about with something like a spiral motion. When we reached the street people were running hither and thither.
"Fire was breaking out in hundreds of places over the city and the streets were becoming crowded with hurrying refugees. Where they were unable to procure horses, men and women had harnessed themselves to carriages and were drawing their belongings to places of safety. As we passed through the residence district where wealthy people lived we saw automobiles drawn up and loaded down before houses. Their owners remained until the flames came too near, and then, getting into the machines, made for the hills.
"We saw one man pay $2,000 for an automobile in which to take his family to a place of safety."
"I climbed over bodies, picked my way around flaming debris, and went over almost insurmountable obstacles to get out of San Francisco," said C. C. Kendall, a retired Omaha capitalist, upon his arrival home.
"I arrived in San Francisco the night previous to the earthquake. I was awakened about 5:15 in the morning by being thrown out of my bed in the Palace Annex. I rushed to the window and looked out. The houses were reeling and tumbling like playthings. I hurried on clothing and ran into the street. Here I saw many dead and the debris was piled up along Market street.
"I went to the office of the Palace Hotel and there men, women, and children were rushing about, crazed and frantic in their night clothes. The first shock lasted only twenty-eight seconds, but it seemed to me two hours.
"A few minutes after I reached the Palace Hotel office the second shock came. It was light, compared with the first, but it brought to the ground many of the buildings that the first shock had unsettled.
"Fires were breaking out in every direction. Market street had sunk at least four feet. I started for the ferry. It is only a few blocks from the Palace Annex to the ferry, but it took me from 6 a. m. to 10:15 a. m. to cover the space.
"Men and women fought about the entrance of the ferry like a band of infuriated animals.
"I made my escape—I do not remember how, for I was as desperate as any of them. As the boat pulled over the bay the smoke and flame rose sky high and the roar of falling buildings and the cries of the people rent the air."
J. C. Gill, of Philadelphia, told his experiences as follows: "Mrs. Gill and myself were in a room on the third floor of the hotel. We were awakened by the rocking of our beds. Then they seemed to be lifted from their legs, suspended in the air, and as suddenly dropped, while the plaster began cracking and falling. We arose and left our room after putting on a few clothes. We felt that with every step we were treading on glass and that the ten stories above us would fall, not allowing us to escape alive. But once outside the building and with our friends I began to realize what had happened.
"I made my way back to the room and carefully packed our suit cases. I came across a valuable necklace and pearls that my wife in her haste had left behind.
"With hundreds of others we roamed in the park in front of the hotel several hours. When we saw the fire was hemming in the lower part of the city we walked toward the outskirts. Early next morning we decided to leave the city, and started to the ferry. Policemen would stop us, and it was with difficulty and much trepidation that we walked through the burned district, and arrived at the wharf at 5:15, just fifteen minutes before the boat left.
"The scenes we passed through were sickening and indescribable. I fancy that scores of men, wharf rats, who had looted wholesale liquor houses and were maudlin drunk, were burned to death without being the wiser, because of their condition."
"I had been stopping at the Metropole in Oakland," said Frederick Lemon of New York, "and Tuesday night went to Frisco, where I stopped at the Terminal hotel, at the foot of Market street. The first shock threw all the loose articles around my room and I attempted to run unclad from the hotel. Just as I walked out the door I was struck by some heavy beams. I was stunned and while I lay there some one from the hotel brought me my clothing.
"At that time the streets were like bedlam. Soldiers were in control, and while the regulars were almost perfect in their attempts to maintain order the militia men lost their heads. They shot some men without provocation, and never thought to cry 'halt' or 'who comes there?'"
Henry Kohn of Chicago told of a horrible experience he had. "I had a room on the fifth floor of the Randolph Hotel, Mason and O'Farrell streets," he said. "The first quake threw me out of bed. By the time I reached the second floor the building had ceased shaking, and I went back, got my clothes, and went into the street. In the building across the street twelve persons were killed. About 11 o'clock in the morning we were in the public square, with about 1,500 other refugees, when a severe shock was felt. People became panic stricken; some prayed, women fainted, and children shrieked and cried.
"The stream of people going up Nob and Telegraph hills all Wednesday was a pitiful sight. Many were barefooted and lightly clad. There was nothing to eat or drink."
Sol Allenberg, a New York bookmaker, was with Kohn at the St. Francis Hotel. "I was sick in my room when the shock struck us," he said, "and my friend helped me out to a boarding house on the hill. There I had to pay $7 for a room for the rest of the day.
"It was two miles from the fire and I thought I was safe enough when I got into my bed at noon, but about two hours later they awoke me to tell me that the fire was only two blocks away, and we got out only a short time before the house went up in flames.
"No exaggeration of the horrible scenes on the street is possible. There was one poor fellow pinned to earth with a great iron girder across his chest. It in turn was weighted down by a mass of wreckage that could not be moved. He could not be saved from the flames that were sweeping toward him, and begged a policeman to shoot him.
"The officer fired at him and missed him, and then an old man crawled through the debris and cut the arteries in the man's wrists. The crowd hurried on and left him to die alone."
THROUGH LANES OF MISERY.
A Graphic Pen Picture of San Francisco in Flames and in Ruins—Scenes and Stories of Human Interest where Millionaires and Paupers Mingled in a Common Brotherhood—A Harrowing Trip in an Automobile.
Among the most graphic and interesting pen pictures of scenes within and without the stricken city were those of Harry C. Carr, a newspaper photographer and correspondent of Los Angeles. This is his personal narrative:
I started from Los Angeles for the stricken city on that pitiful first train whose passengers were nearly all San Francisco men trying frantically to get back to their wives and children, whose fate they could only imagine.
All one terrible day I walked about through the lanes of the charred ruins that had once been San Francisco. I was one of the hungry who robbed grocery stores for their food; one of the parched thousands who eagerly drank water out of the gutter leakage of the fire engines.
After hours of discouraging failure, of being turned back by the sentries, with the sound of dynamited houses ringing in my ears, I managed at last to join the long caravan of homeless families carrying all the property left to them in the world in sheets.
Sometimes I walked with the daughter of a Van Ness avenue millionaire lugging a bundle over her shoulder, and again with a Chinaman moaning piteously over the loss of his laundry.
I came out of San Francisco on that broken-hearted first train carrying refugees, whose faces streamed with tears as they took the last look from the Pullman windows at the weirdly beautiful red fringe of fire creeping along the ridges of the distant hills, burning the remnants of San Francisco.
An hour after the first word reached Los Angeles on that fateful Wednesday morning our train pulled out of the depot. There was an ominous number of reservations for Santa Barbara on the chair car. Most of the San Francisco men came on board there.
Beyond San Luis Obispo, two big freight trains were stalled by a cave-in caused by the earthquake. They crawled out just in time—before every one went mad.
At Salinas, about dark, the conductor came back, shaking his head; a freight train ahead at Pajaro had been completely buried by a mountain of earth hurled in the quake.
The men said it was likely to be a week before any train went through.
Three or four of us hurried into the town looking for an automobile. One of the passengers on the train was Mrs. Robert Louis Stevenson, and the news had been kept from her until this delay.
Strange to say, there were a number of automobiles in town, but none were to be had. One man was hurrying through from Los Angeles in his own touring car with his three boys to find his wife, their mother, who was somewhere in the burning city.
We were getting ready to hire saddle horses when the twin lights of an automobile came glaring down the street. There were two New England spinsters aboard. They had been in the Palace Hotel when the clerk telephoned to their rooms to tell them the city was burning and that the hotel was about to be blown up by dynamite by the soldiers of the Engineer Corps.
They hired an auto to San Jose at an outrageous price and paid $75 to be taken from there to Salinas. Had it not been for a bridge which kind Heaven smashed, I guess they would have been going yet. As it was, we persuaded them that the train was the place for them and managed to hire the automobile back to San Jose. The cost was $20 a seat.
Men came to us and begged like frightened children to be taken; but we dared not risk a breakdown and had to refuse. But never shall I forget the look that was in their eyes.
We started at 10:30 and rode all night. It was bitterly cold and we suffered terribly, not having overcoats. The chauffeur had been using his auto all that morning taking medicines to the demolished insane asylum at Agnews.
His story of the scenes there was horrible. Scores of dead were lying stretched on the lawns and others were walking about hideously wounded. Amid this scene an insane woman was wandering, blithely singing little songs of her own improvision about the earthquake and the killing.
One giant maniac had broken his shackles and rescued one of the guards from the building. He had just one sane moment; long enough to be a hero. Then he fled howling into the hills.
It was just dawn when we got to San Jose. Sentries from the militia and special officers were patrolling the streets. A dead line had been established to keep persons away from wrecked buildings. There were jewelry stores whose fronts had been entirely torn off; these would have been plundered.
All through the city we saw people seated on beds on their front lawns, their houses having tumbled. On the front lawn of the Hotel Vendome was a bonfire about which were gathered twenty or thirty people. Every guest of the house had spent the night there with a blanket apiece.
We were just in time to catch the first train to go through to San Francisco. All along the route through such towns as Palo Alto and Belmont, we saw shattered buildings, warehouses with whole sides neatly cut off as though with a knife. One big warehouse of brick had completely buried a freight train standing on a siding.
During the night we could see the dull red glow that came from the burning city. Now we could see the huge copper-colored clouds that almost hid the sun. As we came nearer the city we could hear the distant explosions of the dynamite with which the soldiers were wrecking the buildings. They came to us in dull but quick thumps.
The train got no further than Valencia street. As soon as we got off we saw the first stragglers of the great army of the homeless and ruined.
Sentries stopped us before we had gone a block, so a cheerful good-looking young fellow, who had seen first his home and his tailor shop utterly destroyed that morning, offered to be our guide.
He took us past the Hotel Valencia, which was the worst sufferer from the earthquake. The big building had been literally poured out into the street in a stream of splintered wood. No one knows how many people perished in it.
On the corner next the Valencia was a new set of three-story flats, just completed, and most of the flats not yet occupied. As though some one had struck it on top with a giant hammer, the entire building had sunk one story into the ground; you could walk right in at the second story.
Turning down into Steiner street, we were caught in the flood of the strangest tide the world ever saw. There never was anything like this before.
These were people warned to leave their homes from some district newly doomed to the Fire God.
They were trekking, in a long, motley procession, to find some park not already crowded to overflowing.
One of the first that I met was a little family beginning life over again. What they had been able to rescue before the flames came was packed in a little express wagon. The elderly husband was drawing this. Behind him came his wife. With the forethought of a woman, she had either bought or stolen two packages of breakfast food—all that stood between them and starvation. They looked drawn and anxious; and were rather peculiar in this regard.
Most of the refugees leaving their homes were cheerful.
I saw a pretty "tailor-made girl" meeting her friend on the street. One of them had a little bundle of things tied in a handkerchief.
"That's everything I own in this world," she said, grinning—positively grinning.
"That's nothing," said the other girl, smiling back, "I haven't a rag to my back or a cent of money, and I've lost track of my family somewhere in this crowd."
"Oh, well, what's the use of worrying?" And with that they parted.
Another touching little group was led by the father, who carried a sheet tied up with what he could carry. The young mother was dragging a child's express wagon laden mostly with provisions. Behind her trooped two sweet little girls. One was wrapped up in a big shawl (this was just after sunrise.) A kitten, which she held in her arms, was poking its nose protestingly out from the shawl. Bringing up the rear was the other little tot, hugging a doll under each arm.
A fine looking young fellow in khaki trousers and a fashionable coat was packing an enormous clothes bundle. His young wife was clinging to his arm. It was everything they had left in the world, probably out of years of hard saving, but they were both almost going along with good spirits.
A little further up the street, I saw a refined looking young girl cooking breakfast in the gutter. She wore a handsomely made but badly torn skirt and had a remarkably fine bracelet on one wrist. Her oven was made of two bricks and a toasting grill. A young man was bringing her bits of fire wood and they were consulting together over the frying of bacon.
Further on were two other women doing the same thing and having fun out of it between themselves.
"Is it so very much farther?" was the only complaint that came from one tired little woman who looked ready to faint. She was staggering under the weight of a huge bundle. She looked unused to work and her lips were white and trembling with exhaustion. She rested just a minute, then staggered on without another word of complaint.
Men spoke kindly to her, but none offered to help her, because Woe was the great leveler and all were on the same footing. All the day I spent in San Francisco, I only heard one person speak unkindly to another. I wish I had that young man's name, just as a curiosity. He had been hired by a woman to drag a big Roman chair filled with treasures up the street.
"There," he said, insolently, "I have earned all the money I got for that; now take it along yourself."
Without a word, the woman took the chair from him and wheeled it on herself.
One rather amusing group was wheeling an immense and very handsome dining-room table. The young man who was pulling from the front was protesting vigorously; but the two young girls who shoved from behind, digging their stubby fashionable little oxford ties in the dirt for foothold, urged him peremptorily on. Following them was a half-grown hobbledehoy boy, strong enough to have packed an ox, who was doing his heavy share by carrying a little glass vase.
In a doorway half way up the hill, I saw an old Chinaman sitting with his bundle, which was all he had been able to save. He was just saying, "Oh, oh, oh," in a curious, half-sobbing moan that never seemed to cease.
The young tailor with me said the Chinaman had lost his laundry and was terror-stricken lest the white people should make him pay for their clothes.
While his own tailor shop was burning, the young tailor said that he was out trying to rescue the trapped victims in the burning Hotel Brunswick.
He could only get hold of one living man. He seemed to be caught in the wreckage, the smoke being too thick to permit one to see just how. Strong hands caught his feet and pulled desperately. When they dragged him out at last, they found that he had been caught under the chin. In pulling him out they cut his throat almost from ear to ear.
As we gained the top of the hill on Steiner street, a San Francisco man who came in with me on the train stopped dead still. "My God; look there!" he said, his voice catching with a sob.
Through the rift of the buildings we caught our first glimpse of the dying city.
"That was Market street," said the San Francisco man, softly.
He pointed across a vast black plain, hundreds of acres in extent, to a row of haggard, gaunt specters that did seem to be in two lines like a street.
"There's the City Hall," he said, tremulously, pointing to a large dome surmounting a pile of ruins and surrounded like some hellish island with vast stretches of smouldering ashes and twisted iron girders.
The San Francisco man found a tottering, blackened pile of wall that he said was Mechanic's Pavilion, and a sort of thin peak of brick that he said was the new Bell Theater. He would go over the town from the top of the hill and torture himself trying to locate San Francisco's splendid landmarks in these acres of ash heaps.
Down in the middle of the city I found two young men in a violent argument over the location of Market street in the ashes.
At the pretty little park, Fell and Steiner streets, we came upon one of the strange little cities of refugees. I should pronounce this one of the most select residence districts of San Francisco now. It is the only home of hundreds upon hundreds of once well-to-do San Francisco people now ruined.
It was heart-rending to see the women tidying things up and trying to invent new ideas for attractive homes—trying to make their homes look better than their neighbors', just as they did before.
Some women made odd little bowers of two blankets and a sheet tent.
I passed one tent where a young mother was lying at ease with her little girl, under a parasol. Just as I was going by, the little girl demanded "another." The mother laughed happily and began, "Well, once upon a time——"
As though one of the stories of all the ages was not going on down the hill below her!
To one of the groups on the lawn came a young man grinning all over and positively swaggering. He was received with shrieks of joy. He had six cans of sardines. He brought them to people who would have been insulted at the idea two days ago.
The San Francisco man invited me into his house, where we saw the wreck of his cut glass and library. But he forgot it all over a rare piece of good fortune that had befallen. The maid had managed to get a whole tea kettle of water. It was vile and muddy; but it was water.
The young tailor told me that he had gone from daylight until 11:30, parching for a drink. The saloons were closed by order of Gen. Funston, but he managed to get beer from a saloon man.
In some parts of the city there is plenty of water. But I saw people rushing eagerly with buckets to catch the water out of gutters where it had leaked from a fire hose. In the first terrible water famine, the firemen broke into sewers and threw sewer water on the fires.
The dramatic moments came as one neighborhood after another was told to pack up and move out. It was the sounding of doom. I saw several of these sorrowful dramas.
One was in an old-fashioned street where old southern houses with iron dogs planted about the lawns had been pressed in upon by lodging-houses and corner groceries. It seemed mockery to think how the people in the aristocratic old houses must have raged at the intrusion of the corner stores. How futile it seemed now!
Came a dapper young cavalry lieutenant into the street. From their porches people watched him with pathetic anxiety. They could see the sentry's heels click together and his carbine snap down to a present. With a few words the officer would hurry on.
Making a megaphone of his hands, the sentry would turn and bawl these words up the otherwise silent street: "This street is going to be dynamited; if you want anything in the grocery store, go to it!"
The balance of his remarks, if there were any, would be lost in a shout of applause from the crowds that seemed to smell such things. A rush for the grocery store would follow.
Men would come out laden to staggering with loot—canned goods, flour, bacon, hams, coffee—as much as they could possibly pack.
I saw one little girl not over four. This was the day she always had been dreaming of. Hugged to her heart was an enormous jar of stick candy, big enough to give her stomach-ache for the rest of her life. She could hardly lift it; but she put it down to rest, then went panting on.
At the warning of the sentry, the whole family in each house would rush back through the front door to rescue whatever treasure lay nearest their hearts. They only had four or five minutes. Men would come dragging bureaus and lounges. Often a man would be pulling along the family pride, the woman shoving from behind.
In one thrilling rescue I had the distinction of participating. An elderly woman grabbed me excitedly by the arms and gasped, "Catch it."
She pointed to a dejected canary perched on a window sill. I shinned gallantly up the side of a dead wall; just touched the canary bird with the tips of my fingers. It flew and a lady caught it triumphantly like a baseball as it came down. She went away "mothering" it.
Presently, the sentry would shout another warning and the people would scurry away, peeking out from behind safe corners. As if by magic, the streets would be thick with soldiers. The engineers would place the dynamite and they would all hurry out of danger.
Bang! And the grocery store would go scattering into the air.
It must be confessed that the dynamiting did very little good. It seemed to provide fine splintered timber as kindling for fiercer flames which jumped the gap supposed to check them.
The sound of the explosions was to be heard all day long almost like minute guns.
Let a word be interjected here about those splendid boys in blue uniform hurried into the city from the forts about San Francisco. They make one proud of the army. No more superbly policed city ever existed than the burning and stricken San Francisco.
Soldiers seemed to be everywhere. Almost at every street corner with fixed bayonet and ominous cartridge belt. Infantry, cavalry (some mounted infantry) and engineers, all doing sentry duty.
Gen. Funston was in personal command—not from his office, either. He went plowing around the most perilous streets soaked to the skin from the fire engines.
San Francisco in this time of panic and distress was more quiet and orderly than ever before. I saw not a single disturbance of the peace. With it all, the soldiers were polite, and seemed to try in every way to show courtesy and consideration. When they had to order people back, they did it in a quiet and gentlemanly way.
I met men who claimed to have seen men shot down by the soldiers for defying orders for unlicensed looting. Also there is a story of a negro being shot dead by a policeman for robbing a dead body.
One story I would like to believe—that a poor wretch pinned in among the blazing ruins roasting to death begged to be shot and some cavalry trooper had the moral courage to send a bullet through his brain.
Although I walked probably fifteen miles back and forth through the city, I saw very little unlicensed looting. Many grocery stores which did not seem to be in immediate danger, were thrown open; one very oddly. The proprietor nailed up one window with slats about four inches wide. He made the refugees line up, and each was privileged to take all he could reach through the window slats.
Some grocers and tradesmen were not so charitable. In other places I saw them demanding from people in danger of starving, 75 cents a loaf for bread.
Bread was the scarcest article except water.
The last of the tragedy that I witnessed was not only the most dramatic but the most tremendous.
It should be called the "Exodus," for it was a Biblical scene. It was the headlong flight of those who were most terror-stricken to get out of the doomed city.
All day long a procession of almost countless thousands was to be seen hurrying with all the possessions they could carry. There were people with bundles, packs, laden express wagons, hacks bulging with plunder, brewery wagons pressed into service, automobiles, push carts, even fire hose wagons.
I happened along at a crucial moment. One of the lieutenants whose peculiar and melancholy function seemed to be to pronounce the doom of one section after another, had just sent warning to Nob Hill, the center of fashion in San Francisco.
For hours I had been working my way toward the Oakland ferries. As a last hope, some one told me I might get there by going over these hills and following the line of the water front.
I got there after the warning had been given. It was San Francisco's wealthiest and most exclusive society who had to pack and sling their bundles over their shoulders.
And they did it with just as good grace and courage as the others. All were making a frantic attempt to hire expressmen with any kind of vehicle that would move, and most of them were failing.
During the first of the fire, some young society women with very poor taste, went autoing around the stricken districts as though it were a circus. They were stopped by a sentry and were made to get out of their car and hand it over to a posse of special officers being hurried to some district in new peril.
As I gained the top of Nob Hill and turned to look back, it was clear why the warning had been given. In one direction, hospitals were burning south of Market street.
In the center distance the big car barns were on fire and roaring with flames. Ordinarily this would have been a sensation of a week. Now it wasn't even considered worth while to send fire engines and nobody stopped to look as they walked by.
The main streets, where the business part of the city had been, were black with an immense throng of people who were walking up and down among the ruins.
Looking toward the ferries, I could count nine big skyscrapers, all crowned with fire, outlined in a lurid row against the sky line. The flames were creeping slowly, but with deadly persistence, toward Nob Hill, with several lesser fires blazing in between.
It was high time Nob Hill was moving.
One old man had chartered an express wagon, and was on top of the wagon frantically interfering with the work of removing the goods from a big, aristocratic-looking house.
"The books!" he shrieked, "Why in heaven's sake don't you bring the books?"
A swagger young woman came to the door with a handsome mantel clock and walked calmly down the stairs. "Please put this in some especially safe place, please," she said, as composedly as though this were nothing more than any ordinary moving day.
Down the street I saw a woman with the bearing of a patrician shoving at the rear of a push cart, loaded with all of the few things she could save; a servant was drawing it.
Behind came a young girl, who half turned for a last look at the house, and burst out crying. Her mother left the load for a moment and comforted her. "Never mind, dear," she said. "Don't cry! See, mamma isn't crying."
"Mamma" knew that in a few minutes her home and all the property she had in the world would die in the fire just as her husband's business had already done; but mamma wasn't crying.
On the corner of Van Ness avenue and Broadway, I saw a girl well dressed, who had evidently been driven out from there. All she had saved was a bed tick filled with something. As it was very hot, and she was very tired, she had spread it on the pavement, and was watching the throng from under her parasol.
I saw another girl in a trig outing suit and little patent-leather shoes, toss a bundle, done up in a sheet, over her shoulder and walk away in the procession with the most fascinating nonchalance.
One woman I saw going away in an elegantly-fitted private carriage. It was drawn by two horses with tails about two inches long and soaring; so she must have been near the top of the Upper Crust.
She, too, joined in the flight. Just as she got to the bottom of the hill she had the driver stop. I saw her turn and take a last wistful look from her carriage window at her doomed home. She was not attempting to take anything with her. Like many others, she had simply locked her door and gone.
Many of these people, rich one day, are practically paupers on the morrow. Many of them slept outdoors in the parks under a blanket, afraid to sleep in their own palatial homes.
What I call the "Exodus" fled down Van Ness avenue to the water front, thence along the Barbary Coast and tough water front by an enormously long detour to the ferries; it was the only way, the town streets being on fire and closed by the military.
The farther you went along the more conglomerate the throng became. The inhabitants of the foreign quarters began pouring out to join the flight.
I was so tired with a long day spent walking about the burning city that it seemed an impossibility that I should keep on. Every step was actual physical pain.
Twenty passing cabs, returning from the ferries, I stopped and tried to charter. The drivers, after bigger game, would wave me aside and say "Nothin' doin'."
One cabby said that he had to hurry out to the other end of the city to rescue his own family who were in danger. Another young autocrat on the cabby's box took a long puff on his cigarette before he replied to my appeal.
"Fellow, you couldn't hire this hack for a million dollars," he said.
There was one amusing feature in the terrible procession. She was a haughty dame from Van Ness avenue. All that she could save she had stuffed into a big striped bed tick. She was trying to drag this along, and at the same time trying to maintain the dignity of a perfect lady. Candidly, it was not a success. One can stick pretty nearly everything into a striped bed quilt, but not dignity.
All along the way were women who had dropped out from exhaustion and were sitting there with their bundles in utter despair.
WHOLE NATION RESPONDS WITH AID.
Government Appropriates Millions and Chicago Leads All Other Cities with a Round Million of Dollars—People in All Ranks of Life from President Roosevelt to the Humblest Wage Earner Give Promptly and Freely.
The fiery destruction of the beautiful city and the pitiable plight of the survivors who escaped annihilation from quake and fire only to face death in the equally horrible forms of starvation and exposure touched the heartstrings of humanity. The response to the needs of the stricken city and its people was so prompt, so universal and so generous that forever it will appeal to the admiration of mankind. It was a response that did not wait to be asked but in the moment when the need became known voluntarily turned the tide of the abundance of the unstricken to the help of the unfortunate before they had even breath to voice their need.
All over our own land, from every state and city and hamlet, from the president and the assembled congress, dropping all else to turn the nation's resources generously to the rescue, through all grades of the people the response broke forth spontaneously, generously, warmly, without stint and with such practical promptness that relief for unexampled distress was already on the way before the close of the first fateful day.
From all the seeming sordidness of daily life one turns to this as proof incontestable that humanity is at heart infinitely kinder and better and less selfish than it esteems itself. Even other lands and other peoples when the horror of the calamity became known to them, added to the stream of gold, which had its beginning in the sympathetic hearts of the American people and its ending in the stricken and despairing city. Once more were the lines of the geographer and politician obliterated and there was in the lurid light of the awful hours no north, no south, no east, no west. Once more did those in charge of the coffers of the municipalities raise high the lid and contribute to relieve the woe.
And Chicago, as became the Queen City of the Lakes, and which once in an almost equally dire calamity was, herself, the recipient of generous aid, was among the very first which recognized the need of prompt and generous aid. Almost as soon as the news of the direful plight of the city by the Golden Gate had been flashed over the wires, the Merchants' Association of Chicago telegraphed to the authorities of San Francisco that it would be responsible for a relief fund of $1,000,000, and that any portion of that sum could be drawn upon at once. Then Mayor Dunne issued a call for a special relief meeting at which a big committee of the leading men of the city was formed and immediately went to work. Fraternal organizations, the newspapers and the clubs became also active solicitors for aid.
For several days the streets of the city presented a peculiar appearance. Upon the street corners stood boxes showing that funds deposited within would reach the homeless of the Pacific coast. Smaller boxes stood in the hotels that the strangers in the city might have an opportunity to contribute. Within the large stores in the business center were other boxes that the shoppers might have an opportunity of displaying their sympathy in something more tangible than words. Upon other corners stood the men and women of the Volunteers of America and the inscriptions above their boxes told that all pennies, nickels and dimes would eventually find their way to the stricken of San Francisco.
But while Chicago was the first of distant cities to pledge a big contribution, other cities throughout the country were not far behind. In Faneuil Hall, Boston, a meeting which overcrowded that historic temple of liberty was held, and Bishop Mallalieu of the Methodist church, at the close of an eloquent address, had a motion enthusiastically passed that the state of Massachusetts raise $3,000,000 for the relief of the earthquake and fire victims of the Pacific coast. In the meantime the city of Boston had already pledged $500,000 of that amount.
The city of Philadelphia at a formal meeting of its council voted $100,000, while the relief committee of the people there had secured $125,000 for the sufferers of the stricken city.
And the congress of the United States, as became it, was prompt in action. In the lower house a bill appropriating $1,000,000 was introduced and passed at once, and a few days later a similar measure of relief was adopted, making the contribution of the government $2,000,000 altogether. This was about one-third as much as was required to care for the thousands who were made homeless by the Chicago disaster of 1871. President Roosevelt also sent a message to congress urging a further contribution of $500,000, and in an address to the public urged that they send contributions to the National Red Cross society as the readiest means by which the afflicted could be reached. Governor Deneen of Illinois also issued a proclamation to the like effect. Secretary of War Taft, in his capacity of President of the American National Red Cross society, issued a proclamation in which he announced that the necessary work of organization to feed and shelter the people was placed in the hands of the Red Cross society, under the direction of General Funston, Commander of the Department of the Pacific. In this way matters were made systematic and authoritative and assurances given that the contributions of the nation would be honestly and economically distributed to those in need. Among other states and cities not already mentioned, whose contributions were generous enough to deserve permanent record, were the following—and the amounts named may be in most cases set down as somewhat below the real final figures:
Texas $100,000 Connecticut 30,000 St. Louis, Mo. 100,000 Sacramento 100,000 Seattle, Wash. 90,000 Victoria, B. C. 25,000 Spokane, Wash. 30,000 Milwaukee 30,000 City of Mexico 30,000 Des Moines 10,000 Jacksonville, Fla. 10,000 Los Angeles 200,000 Cincinnati 75,000 Omaha 10,000 Providence, R. I. 20,000 Davenport, Iowa 20,000 Stockton, Cal. 20,000 Portland, Ore. 130,000 Sacramento, Cal. 100,000 Columbus, O. 20,000
Among individuals in this and other countries who promptly sent in their contributions were the following:
Russell Sage $ 5,000 London Americans 12,500 Clarence H. Mackay 100,000 Mrs. John W. Mackay 5,000 Robert Lebaudy 10,000 W. W. Astor 100,000 President Roosevelt 1,000 Senator Knox 500 C. J. Burrage, Boston oil dealer 100,000 President Diaz, Mexico 100,000 E. H. Harriman (for his railroads) 200,000 Andrew Carnegie 100,000 Charles Sweeney, New York 10,000 W. K. Vanderbilt 25,000 "Friend of Humanity," New York 25,000 H. C. Frick 10,000 Gordon Blanding 10,000 H. M. Bowers, Boston 10,000 Robert Schandy, France 10,000
Among the corporations and organizations which lost no time in going to the rescue of the afflicted and helpless were the following:
Bank of Commerce, Toronto $ 25,000 Columbus Board of Trade 20,000 National Carpenters' union 10,000 United States Steel Corporation 100,000 Kuhn, Loeb & Co., New York 25,000 United Mineworkers of America 1,000 Standard Oil Company 100,000 North German Lloyd Steamship Company 25,000 Wisconsin Masons 5,000 Carnegie Hero Fund 25,000 Heidelback-Ickleheimer, New York 10,000 National Park bank, New York 5,000 New York Stock Exchange 250,000 Citizens' Relief Association, Philadelphia 100,000 Detroit Board of Commerce 10,000 N. K. Fairbank Co. 1,000 National Biscuit Co. 5,000 Hamburg-American Steamship Line 25,000 Canadian Parliament 100,000
ALL CO-OPERATE IN RELIEF WORK.
Citizens' Committee Takes Charge of the Distribution of Supplies, Aided by the Red Cross Society and the Army—Nearly Three-Fourths of the Entire Population Fed and Sheltered in Refuge Camps.
President Roosevelt inaugurated the organized and systematic relief work through the National Red Cross Society. Before the embers of the conflagration had cooled he issued the following statement:
Washington, D. C., April 22.—The following statement was issued from the White House this afternoon:
"To the public: After full consultation with Secretary Taft, the president of the American National Red Cross Association, who also as secretary of war is controlling the army work and the expenditure of the money, probably two millions and a half, appropriated and to be appropriated by congress for the relief of San Francisco, I wish to make the following suggestion:
"Contributions both in money and in kind are being given most generously for the relief of those who have suffered through this appalling calamity. Unless there is a proper organization for handling these contributions they will in large part be wasted and will in large part fail to reach the people to whom it is most to be desired they should reach.
"The American National Red Cross Association has sent out to take charge of the relief work Dr. Edward Devine, general secretary of the Charity Organization Society of New York, whose experience has been large in work of this kind. Dr. Devine will work in conjunction with Judge Morrow, United States Circuit judge of the Ninth circuit, and the head of the California Red Cross Association. Gen. Funston already has been directed to co-operate with Dr. Devine, and has advised the secretary of war that he will do so.
"Secretary Metcalf, who is on his way to the Pacific slope, will at once put himself in touch with Dr. Devine, as well as with the judge, the governor of California, and the mayor of San Francisco, to see if there is anything else the administration can do, and he will assist in all possible ways the effort to systematize what is being done.
"I recommend that all charitable and relief organizations and individuals who desire to contribute do so through the Red Cross Association, and that where provisions and supplies be sent they be consigned to Dr. Devine, Red Cross, San Francisco, and that Dr. Devine be notified by telegraph of the consignments. At the same time Jacob H. Schiff, the treasurer of the New York Red Cross Association, in New York, may be notified that the consignments have been sent to Dr. Devine, or else the notification can be sent to Charles H. Keep, assistant secretary of the treasury, Washington, D. C., and treasurer of the American National Red Cross Association.
"I also suggest that all contributions that already have been forwarded be brought to the attention of Dr. Devine by telegraph, which telegram should state the name and address of the consignee and the amount and nature of the consignment. It is better to send all moneys to Mr. Keep or Mr. Schiff; they will then be telegraphed to Dr. Devine as the money is needed.
"The White House, April 22, 1906. Theodore Roosevelt."
* * * * *
At the time the foregoing was issued the President was not aware that the Citizens' Committee of San Francisco headed by ex-Mayor James D. Phelan was completely organized for relief work and was at the time directing the succor of the victims.
Upon learning this fact he speedily endorsed the committee and its work, and instructed the Red Cross Society to co-operate with the Citizens' Committee.
President Roosevelt aroused criticism in some directions by declining aid from foreign countries. The first tenders of aid from abroad came from foreign steamship companies and later several foreign governments expressed a desire to contribute. The President took the ground that the United States was able to provide all the relief necessary. The justification for his attitude was expressed in an address by General Stewart L. Woodford, former minister to Spain, speaking with the authority of the President. He said:
"The President, in the midst of the horrors of San Francisco kindly but firmly declined the assistance offered by the other nations, and especially, through St. George's society, the assistance of England. The President meant simply that, bowed as the American people were under their load, it was his wish that the American people show to the world that under such an adversity the United States would take care of its own; would rise equal to the terrible occasion; would feed their own hungry, would clothe their own naked, and, spurred on by the indomitable courage which this people always have exhibited under stress of distracting calamity, set up their flag and move to the assistance of 'the city that once was,' and build a new city, even though the earth shook beneath its foundations.
"In doing this—in refusing your great beneficence, the President still feels that he is greatly honored, as the American people are, in that England and the other great nations not only sent messages of regret, but offers of substantial material aid. He felt that the nation, as a nation, would set an example to other nations."
All funds and supplies were dispensed through the Citizens' Committee or general relief committee as it was known, with the co-operation of the army and the Red Cross. Money, food, shelter and clothing poured in from every quarter. On the Monday succeeding the fire the food problem had been solved and its distribution reduced to a system. The people were fed thereafter in a thoroughly businesslike manner. From the water front, where the boatloads of provisions docked, there was an endless procession of carts and drays carrying food to the scores of substations established throughout the city and the parks. At these stations food and drink, comprising bread, prepared meats, and canned goods, milk, and a limited amount of hot coffee, was served to all those who applied. About 1,500 tons of provisions were being moved daily from the water front.
The food supply committee had fifty-two food depots in operation. Plain food of every description was plentiful.
The troops who dispensed the food played no favorites. Sometimes it took two or three hours to get through the lines, and with three meals a day a man living in the parks passed a good part of his time standing for his food.
The Red Cross saw that weak women and children were provided for without waiting in line. Even the people living in houses had to take their chances with the rest of the crowd in the parks near by.
Fully 30,000 refugees were fed by the government at the Presidio and North beach. Provisions were bountifully supplied to all who made application, and there was no suffering from hunger. Over 10,000 tents were given and the authorities distributed them as long as the supply lasted.
Barracks were erected in Golden Gate Park to accommodate 15,000 persons. The buildings contained thirty rooms, in two room apartments, with kitchen arranged so as to suit a family or be divided for the use of single men.
By great luck a lot of lumber yards along the water front escaped. Their stock was appropriated and used for barracks. Two or three lumber schooners arriving from the northern forest country were seized and the stocks used for the same purpose.
Further, the Red Cross, with the approval of Funston, went through the standing residence district and made every householder give over his spare room to refugees. Here, generosity was its own reward. Those residents of the western addition who took in burned out friends or chance acquaintances on the first day had a chance to pick their company. Those who were selfish about it had to take whomsoever the Red Cross sent, even Chinese and new arrivals from Hungary.
The Red Cross people enjoyed the grim joke of this. They trotted ten refugees up to the door of a Pacific Heights residence. The woman of the house came to the door. The sergeant in charge made brief explanation.
"Heavens," she said, looking them over. "You have brought me two of my discharged cooks."
"See that the guests are quartered in the parlor," said the sergeant briefly to his high private.
What with tents, barracks, the exodus to other parts of California, the plan of concentration in the standing houses of the western addition, there was shelter for everyone.
The water supply improved every day. Nearly everywhere the order to boil drinking water was enforced.
All vacant houses in the unburned district were seized. Many vacant flats were taken where the homeless are housed and the sick found good accommodations. Churches, and other buildings, including schoolhouses, were turned into living rooms for the homeless.
In some of the provisional camps established for refugees near the foot of Van Ness avenue and near Fort Mason it was difficult to distinguish men from women. The supply of women's clothing had been exhausted, and many women could be seen dressed in ordinary soft shirts and overalls. In that garb they walked about their tents unconcernedly.
It was no time for false modesty and those who were able to make themselves comfortable in any sort of clothing were indeed fortunate.
Within a week conditions had improved so rapidly that there was enough water in the mains to justify the removal of the restrictions on washing. Up to that time the only way to get a bath was to dip into the bay. Lights, only candles, of course, were allowed up to 10 p. m.
An idea of the Titanic task of feeding the refugees may be gained from the figures of the number of hungry people fed in one day. Throughout the city rations for 349,440 persons were distributed. At one point provisions were given out to 672 people in an hour for ten hours.
Two thousand persons were fed daily at St. Mary's cathedral on Van Ness avenue, a relief station organized by the Rev. Father Hannigan and headed by him as chairman of the committee. This was perhaps the best organized and most systematically conducted private station in the city. The committee has a completed directory of the fifty square blocks in the district, and so perfect was the system that there is no duplicating and wrangling. Nine substations gave out orders, and it was arranged for those stations to give out food also. Fourteen members of the clergy were in charge of the various branches of the work.
The emergency hospitals were well organized under direction of army medical officers, and there were plenty of doctors and nurses after the second day.
The only complaint that really existed at that time was the lack of bedding. Though the army and navy were called upon for blankets, quilts, and the like, the supply furnished by those departments was not enough to relieve immediate needs.
Only 30 patients were quartered in the territory that comprised the park emergency hospital at the end of the first week. Considering that over 500 injured people received attention at the park during that time the record was remarkable.
More than 100 physicians and attendants were serving in the park within forty-eight hours after the first shock.
Among the many pathetic scenes connected with the work of relief were others that illustrated the saving sense of humor which keeps people from going insane in times of great calamity and mental stress.
In the vestibule of a church they were giving away clothes. One shivering woman was being fitted out. "Here, dear," said the woman in charge, "here is a nice, good warm waist." "Oh, I couldn't wear it," she answered. "You know, I'm in mourning."
Another girl near by said: "Yes, please, I want a waist. I want pink and white, you know; they're my favorite colors."
Quite suddenly the smile died on our lips. A little mother came up. "I want clothes for my baby; it's cold," she said.
They took the baby from her, and a man near by said to another: "The child is dead."
We went down to Broadway to look for friends. Some people were so dazed they would make no effort to reach the homes of their friends. On the corner was a dapper youth whom we have long known.
A helpful feature of the relief work was the establishment by the Southern Pacific company of a chain of information kept by bureaus, which was served by relays of pony riders carrying the latest bulletins and instructions relative to transportation facilities, provided to relieve the congestion in San Francisco.
A committee sent by the Japanese consul, representing the Japanese relief society, cared for many of the stricken Japanese who still remain in the city. They rendered assistance to white people wherever required. They wired to every large city on the coast asking for supplies to be sent by the Japanese.
It was the desire of President Roosevelt that the work of the Red Cross in alleviating the distress in San Francisco should be done wholly without regard to the person and just as much for the Chinese as for any others.
OUR BOYS IN BLUE PROVE HEROISM.
United States Troops at the Presidio and Fort Mason Under Command of General Funston Bring Order Out of Chaos and Save City from Pestilence—San Francisco Said "Thank God for the Boys in Blue"—Stricken City Patrolled by Soldiers.
"Thank god for the Boys in Blue!" was the ardent and praiseful exclamation of the people of San Francisco during and after the terrible days that rent by shock and consumed by fire their beautiful city. And as their courage and devotion to save and protect, and their tenderness towards the dying and the dead became known the entire country re-echoed the tribute. For it was the soldiers of Uncle Sam, untiring and unafraid amidst horrors and dangers seen and unseen, that stood between half-crazed refugees from the quake and the fire and downright starvation and anarchy.
When the catastrophe occurred Major General A. W. Greely, in command of the military department of the Pacific, was on his way east to attend the marriage of his daughter, and so the command of the troops and of the department devolved on Brigadier General Frederick Funston; and as on previous occasions when pluck and wise decision were required he showed himself equal to the emergency. The first thing that was done was to divide that portion of the city where order and protection were most needed into six districts, four of them being guarded by the military, one by the marine and one by the navy. Other portions of the city were patrolled by the National Guard and by the city's police force. Because of these arrangements there was thereafter but little trouble, and practically no more looting. During the fire General Funston established his headquarters at Fort Mason on the cliffs of Black Point, and at once it became the busiest and most picturesque spot in San Francisco. There was an awe-inspiring dignity about the place, with its many guards, military ensemble and the businesslike movements of officers and men. Few were allowed to enter within its gates, and the missions of those who did find their way within were disposed of with that accuracy and dispatch peculiar to government headquarters. Scores of automobiles rushed in and out of the gate, and each car contained an armed guardsman in the front seat furiously blowing a sentry whistle to clear the roadway. At the sound of that tremolo the crowds scattered as if by magic. San Francisco was virtually under martial law, and order was wrought from chaos.
After the quake the President and Secretary Taft were chiefly concerned at first with getting supplies, and that work was performed with extraordinary expedition and thoroughness. At the same time they were rushing troops, marines, and sailors to guard the devastated city.
The marvelous work done by the soldiers, from General Funston down to the newest recruit, won the admiration and congratulations of the entire country. The sentiment everywhere was and is that the army has demonstrated its splendid capacity not only to preserve peace in the face of armed resistance, but to take charge of affairs in a stricken city at a time when intelligent discipline was more needed than everything else.
Secretary Taft expressed the belief that congress would have to give him absolution for the violence he had done the constitution in those terrible days. He ordered General Funston to take complete command of the city, to put martial law into effect, and to enforce sanitary regulations without regard to the wishes of the people.
The war department had been morally responsible for the unhesitating way in which the troops shot down looters and the people who refused to understand that great situations must be controlled without regard to law.
It was the soldiers apparently who brought order out of chaos. They headed the unfortunate refugees farther and farther on ahead of the flames, until finally they had located the vast homeless mob in the Presidio, in the Golden Gate Park, and in other wide expanses. General Funston had not exceeded his orders. He was given full discretion to employ his forces as he saw fit. He turned loose the soldiers under him with general instructions to act as their own good sense dictated, and it is to the eternal credit of the noncommissioned officers and the privates that every report sent to the war department and all the descriptions in the press reports indicated that the army had saved the situation in San Francisco.
When a sturdy sergeant brought down the butt of his musket on the counter of a bake shop where they were beginning to sell bread at 75 cents a loaf, and announced that bread thereafter in that concern would be sold at 10 cents a loaf or there would be one less baker in the world, he was guilty of an act which in any other time might have landed him in prison.
If he is punished for it now, it will only be after the Secretary of War and the President are impeached, because he was only obeying the spirit if not the letter of their instructions to General Funston.
Soldiers guarded the water wagons, which were driven about the streets, and this show of force was necessary, so that the scanty supplies might be distributed with even-handed justice. In the same way, when General Funston issued orders as the result of which the soldiers compelled citizens to dig graves for the temporary interment of the dead, he violated the law most flagrantly, but he acted as the emergency demanded, and the incident contributed with other things to make the army organization of the United States a little bit the most popular thing in the country in these days.
When the army was reduced at the close of the Philippine insurrection, the machinery was left intact. In this way, although the quartermasters' stores in San Francisco were wiped out of existence, it was possible to hurry supplies to San Francisco. They began arriving there promptly and the danger of famine was averted.
It is the purpose of the war department to continue practical martial law in San Francisco.
It is believed the greatest work of the soldiers, in which term of course are to be included the marines and sailors as well, was in the prevention of pestilence. Practically all of the house to house sewage system of San Francisco had been destroyed. An army of two or three hundred thousand men encamped in the suburbs of a great city would ordinarily die like flies unless it provided itself with proper facilities for the removal of garbage and the general sanitary cleansing of the immense camp. Even with trained soldiers under strict discipline it was an extremely difficult thing to enforce sanitary regulations.
Immense supplies of medical necessities already had been forwarded from the bureau at St. Louis, and General Funston organized at once a series of camps on military lines. The refugees were compelled to live up to sanitary rules whether they liked it or not. Those who refused felt the pick of a bayonet.
Furthermore, out of the tens of thousands of homeless people the soldiers forced as many as were needed to go to work for the common good, putting up shelters, erecting tents, devising store-houses, and, above all, creating the necessary sanitary appliances and safeguards to prevent the outbreak of pestilence.
It required the utmost vigilance on the part of the army officers and the most constant attention by the medical corps to prevent an outbreak of typhoid, dysentery, and the ordinary train of nearly fatal diseases which are common to large military camps, and which are almost inevitable when dealing with an unorganized and unintelligent mob.
Efforts were made to compel every man, woman, and child to obey constantly the strict sanitary regulations which the army provides for its own protection.
Every medical officer and every man in the hospital corps within a wide range of San Francisco had been ordered to report at once for duty under General Funston. With the flames practically under control and with millions of army rations on the grounds or actually in sight of the people, the efforts of the War Department became directed to the preservation of health and in a secondary degree to the location and registration of the dead, the wounded, and the saved.
Following close upon the heels of the rations and the tents there came tons upon tons of disinfectants unloaded at Oakland and every possible device was being employed by the medical bureau to make as good a record in this regard as the quartermaster and commissary departments had already produced in supplying food and shelter.
Meanwhile the ever-ready American private soldier and his splendid executive officer, the American noncom., were really the rulers at San Francisco. They defied the law every minute, but evidently they acted with characteristic good sense. The price of bread was kept down, the mob was being systematized and taught to respect authority, and enough thieves had summarily been shot in San Francisco to render looting a dangerous and an unprofitable avocation.
People who went through the great fire at Chicago in 1871 remember that when Gen. Sheridan brought in regular soldiers he established order within a brief period of time, and there was a feeling of relief when men under his command began to blow up houses in the vicinity of Wabash avenue and Congress street.
The laws of the United States had been violated every minute. Supplies were purchased in the open market, government property had been handed out without receipts to anybody who seemed to have authority to receive it, and the distribution of supplies had been wholly free from the slightest suspicion of red tape.
In spite of these facts, the President and Secretary Taft felt proud of the fact that the army organization had proved itself able to withstand the sudden strain put upon it, while the enlisted man showed his ability to act at a distance from his commissioned officer with an intelligence and an initiative which would be impossible in the European armies.
As during the days of disaster and terror stricken San Francisco was absolutely under the control of General Funston, a few facts about his career will be appropriate here. Red-headed, red-blooded; a pygmy in stature, a giant in experience; true son of Romany in peace and of Erin in war—the capture of Aguinaldo in the wilds of North Luzon and his control of affairs in San Francisco fairly top off the adventurous career of Frederick Funston, fighter.
General Funston was born in Ohio, but when he was two years old his family moved to Kansas. After passing through the high school he entered the University of Kansas. His father had been a congressman for a number of years. His ambition was to enter West Point, but he failed to pass its examination. He later broke into the newspaper business, but his career in that field was short. In 1900 his father secured him an appointment as botanist in the Department of Agriculture. After a trip to Montana and the Dakotas he was attached to the party which made the first Government survey of Death Valley, the famous California death-trap. Seven months were spent in this work, and Funston is the only man of the party alive and sane today.
In 1891-92 the Government sent him to make a botanical survey of certain parts of the Alaskan coast, and in 1893 he returned to the Arctic and made a similar survey of the Yukon. He negotiated Chilkoot Pass, then an untrodden pathway. After trying to start a coffee plantation in Central America and to fill a job with the Santa Fe railroad, the torch of the Cuban revolution became a beacon to his adventurous spirit. He joined a filibustering party which the Dauntless landed at Camaguay in August, 1896. He was assigned by Garcia to the artillery arm of the insurgent service.
Twenty-three battles in Cuba was his record with his guns. Once he was captured and sentenced to death, but escaped. Later still a steel-tipped Mauser bullet pierced his lungs. This healed, but the fever struck him down, and compelled his return to the United States. As he was preparing to return to Cuba the Maine was blown up and in his certainty that war with Spain would result he awaited the issue. Governor Leedy, of Kansas, telegraphed for him, and he became Colonel of the Twentieth Kansas. He went with General Miles to Cuba in June, 1898, and sailed with his regiment for Manila in October. Three weeks before he sailed Colonel Funston met Miss Ella Blankhart of Oakland. As impetuous in love as in war he wooed and won her, the marriage taking place the day before the transport sailed.
Of his daring risks and feats in the Philippines and of his capture of Aguinaldo the general public is so familiar as not to need recapitulation here. Of his qualities as a fighting man pure and simple, there can be no two opinions. Says General Harrison G. Otis: "Funston is the greatest daredevil in the army, and would rather fight than eat. I never saw a man who enjoyed fighting so much." Another friend of his once said that Funston was a sixteenth-century hero, born four hundred years or so too late, who had ever since been seeking to remedy the chronological error of his birth.
IN THE REFUGE CAMPS.
Scenes of Destitution in the Parks Where the Homeless Were Gathered—Rich and Poor Share Food and Bed Alike—All Distinctions of Wealth and Social Position Wiped Out by the Great Calamity.
Next to viewing the many square miles of ruins that once made San Francisco a city, no better realization of the ruin can be gained than from the refugee camps located in the districts which were untouched by the flames. Golden Gate park was the mecca of the destitute. This immense playground of the municipality was converted into a vast mushroom city that bore striking resemblance to the fleeting towns located on the border of a government reservation about to be opened to public settlement.
The common destitution and suffering wiped out all social, financial and racial distinctions. The man who before the fire had been a prosperous merchant occupied with his family a little plot of ground that adjoined the open-air home of a laborer. The white man of California forgot his antipathy to the Asiatic race and maintained friendly relations with his new Chinese and Japanese neighbors.
The society belle of the night before the fire, a butterfly of fashion at the grand opera performance, assisted some factory girl in the preparation of humble daily meals. Money had little value. The family who had foresight to lay in the largest stock of foodstuffs on the first day of the disaster was rated highest in the scale of wealth.
A few of the families who could secure willing expressmen possessed cooking stoves, but over 95 per cent of the refugees had to do their cooking on little camp fires made of brick or stone. Kitchen utensils that a week before would have been regarded with contempt were articles of high value.
Many of the homeless people were in possession of comfortable clothing and bed covering. The grass was their bed and their daily clothing their only protection against the penetrating fog of the ocean or the chilling dew of the morning. Fresh meat disappeared the first day of the catastrophe and canned foods and breadstuffs were the only victuals in evidence.
Not alone were the parks the places of refuge. Every large vacant lot in the safe zone was preempted and even the cemeteries were crowded.
A well-known young lady of social position when asked where she had spent the night replied: "On a grave."
Throughout the entire western portion of the peninsular county of San Francisco these camps were located.
Major McKeever of the United States Army was appointed commandant of the camps and, with his staff of assistants, brought system and order out of the chaotic situation. His first thought was to supply food and water and then to arrange sanitary measures. The throngs of people who crowded elbow to elbow in the open lots and fields without conveniences that are naturally demanded were constantly threatened with an epidemic of disease.
Good order and fellowship prevailed in these impromptu settlements and the common ruin and poverty made all of the unfortunates akin.
In buildings close to the camps the police stored available foodstuffs and bed clothing for convenient delivery. No distinctions were drawn and but few favors shown in the distribution of supplies.
Although efforts of the various relief committees were bent to appease the gnawing hunger of the destitute thousands—efforts that were in a large measure entirely successful—there were many persons without sufficient food or entirely without it.
The government officials took charge of every grocery store in that part of the city still standing and gave out foodstuffs to all those who were hungry. Broad lines were established at Fillmore and Turk streets, at Golden Gate park and at the Presidio and every person who stood in line was given a whole loaf. The line at Fillmore and Turk streets was four blocks long all one afternoon and those at the parks were even longer. A large supply of milk was received from Oakland in the morning and this was distributed to women and children whenever they were found in need. A great deal of this milk was used for the exhausted women.
The breadlines at the parks furnished striking instances of the absolute patience and fortitude that has marked the behavior of the people throughout their trying experience. There were no disorders when the hungry thousands were told to form a line and receive their bread and canned goods. All were content to wait their turn. Silk-hatted men followed good naturedly behind Chinese and took their loaves from the same hand.
Soup kitchens were established in the streets of the unburned section, no fires whatever being allowed indoors, and many hungry persons were fed by these individual efforts.
At the ferry station there were some pathetic scenes among the hungry people. When the boat came in from Stockton with tons of supplies a number of small children were the first to spy a large box of sandwiches with cries of delight. They made a rush for the food, seized as much as they could hold and rushed to their mothers with shouts of "Oh, mamma, mamma, look at the sandwiches!"
Seated around the ferry buildings sat hundreds of people sucking canned fruits from the tins. Some were drinking condensed cream and some were lucky enough to have sardines or cheese. At several places along Market street scores of men were digging with their hands among the still smoking debris of some large grocery house for canned goods. When they secured it, which they did without molestation from anybody, they broke the tins and drank the contents.
At Filbert and Van Ness avenue at 6 o'clock at night a wagon of supplies conveyed by soldiers was besieged by a crowd of hungry people. They appealed to the soldiers for food and their appeals were quickly heeded. Seizing an ax a soldier smashed the boxes and tossed the supplies to the crowd, which took time to cheer lustily.
Owing to the energetic efforts of General Funston and the officials of the Spring Water Company the sufferers in all parts of the city were spared at least the horrors of a water famine. As soon as it was learned that some few mercenaries who were fortunate enough to have fresh water stored in tanks in manufacturing districts were selling it at 50 cents per glass the authorities took prompt action and hastened their efforts to repair the mains that had been damaged by the earthquake shocks.
The work of relief was started early on the second day of the disaster. A big bakery in the saved district started its fires and 50,000 loaves were baked before night. The police and military were present in force and each person was allowed only one loaf.
The destitution and suffering were indescribable. Women and children who had comfortable, happy homes a few days before slept—if sleep came at all—on hay on the wharves, on the sand lots near North beach, some of them under the little tents made of sheeting which poorly protected them from the chilling ocean winds. The people in the parks were better provided in the matter of shelter, for they left their homes better prepared.
Instructions were issued by Mayor Schmitz to break open every store containing provisions and to distribute them to the thousands under police supervision.
At one time bread sold as high as $1 a loaf and water at fifty cents a glass, but the authorities at once put a stop to the extortion.
Among the many pathetic incidents of the fire in San Francisco was that of a woman who sat at the foot of Van Ness avenue on the hot sands on the hillside overlooking the bay east of Fort Mason with four little children, the youngest a girl of three, the eldest a boy of ten.
They were destitute of water, food and money. The woman had fled with her children from a home in flames in the Mission street district and tramped to the bay in the hope of sighting the ship, which she said was about due, of which her husband was the captain.
"He would know me anywhere," she said. And she would not move, although a young fellow gallantly offered his tent back on a vacant lot in which to shelter her children.
Among the refugees who found themselves stranded were John Singleton, a Los Angeles millionaire, his wife and her sister. The Singletons were staying at the Palace Hotel when the earthquake shock occurred on Wednesday morning.
Mr. Singleton gave the following account of his experience: "The shock wrecked the rooms in which we were sleeping. We managed to get our clothes on and get out immediately. We had been at the hotel only two days and left probably $3,000 worth of personal effects in the room.
"After leaving the Palace we secured an express wagon for $25 to take us to the Casino near Golden Gate park, where we stayed the first night. On the following morning we managed to get a conveyance at enormous cost and spent the entire day in getting to the Palace. We paid $1 apiece for eggs and $2 for a loaf of bread. On these and a little ham we had to be satisfied."
Mr. Singleton, like thousands of other people, found himself without funds and he had difficulty in securing cash until he met some one who knew him.
To allay the fears of the refugees in the various camps Mayor Schmitz issued the following proclamation which citizens were instructed to observe:
"Do not be afraid of famine. There will be abundance of food supplied. Do not use any water except for drinking and cooking purposes. Do not light fires in houses, stoves or fireplaces. Do not use any house closets under any circumstances, but dig earth closets in yards or vacant lots, using if possible chloride of lime or some other disinfectant. This is of the greatest importance, as the water supply is only sufficient for drinking and cooking. Do not allow any garbage to remain on the premises; bury it and cover immediately. Pestilence can only be avoided by complying with these regulations.
"You are particularly requested not to enter any business house or dwelling except your own, as you may be mistaken for one of the looters and shot on sight, as the orders are not to arrest but shoot down any one caught stealing."
The refugees numbered all told about 300,000. At least 75,000 of them made their way to Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda, Benicia and neighboring cities while many more fortunate and prosperous succeeded in reaching Los Angeles.
The work of caring for the homeless in the refugee camps was splendidly managed under the direction of the citizens' committee, the military authorities and the Red Cross.
The people were fed in a thoroughly businesslike and systematic manner. From the water front, where the boatloads of provisions docked, there was an endless procession of carts and drays carrying food to the scores of substations established throughout the city and the parks. At these stations food and drink, comprising bread, prepared meats and canned goods, milk and a limited amount of hot coffee, were served to all those who applied. About 1,500 tons of provisions were moved daily from the water front.
Large supplies of blankets, tentings and other material to provide coverings for those who were scantily supplied theretofore reached the supply stations rapidly. Barracks were erected at several points and in those many people have found comfort and shelter against the inclemencies of the weather.
The situation in the congested districts such as Golden Gate Park and the various public squares throughout the city, was considerably relieved by the departure of many people for points on the other side of the bay, as soon as access was had to the ferry building. The exodus continued daily from the time the fire broke out until every one who wished to get away had departed.
The greatest hardship experienced by the homeless refugees was on the first Sunday night following the fire.
From midnight Sunday until 3 o'clock Monday morning a drenching rain fell at intervals, while a high wind added a melancholy accompaniment, whistling and sighing about the ruins of the buildings in the burned district. Five days before when the fire catastrophe was in its infancy this downpour would have been regarded as a mercy and a godsend.
When it came it could be regarded in no other light than as an additional calamity. It meant indescribable suffering to the tens of thousands of people camped upon the naked hills and in the parks and open places of the city.
Few of them were provided with water-proof covering. For the most part their only protection from the wet was a thin covering of sheeting tacked upon improvised tent-poles. Through this the water poured as through a sieve, wetting the bedding and soaking the ground upon which they lay.
When it is understood that thousands upon thousands of delicately nurtured women and infants in arms and old and feeble people were in this plight nothing need be added to describe the misery of their condition.
What could be done was done by the guards in charge of the camps to relieve the distress. Whenever covering could be had for the women and children it was taken advantage of. They were housed in the chill and cheerless churches, garages and barns, and those who had been fortunate enough to save their homes were called upon to take care of these unfortunates. With few exceptions these people responded readily to the new call made upon them and where they did not the butt ends of Krag rifles quickly forced a way through inhospitable doors.
Of individual instances of suffering the whole number is legion, but one will tell the story of them all.
About 4 o'clock, when the rain had been falling heavily for an hour, a middle-aged man, white-faced in his distress and fatigue, appeared at the headquarters of the general committee. He had walked two miles from his camping place in the park to make an appeal for his suffering wife and little ones. As he told of their distress the tears welled up in his eyes and coursed down his cheeks.
They were, he said, without covering other than a sheeting overhead and were lying on the naked ground and their bodies protected only by a quilt and blanket, which of his household bedding were all he had managed to save. These had quickly been soaked, and while unwilling to complain on his own account he had been unable to listen to the wails of his little ones and had tramped all the way from his camping place to the committee headquarters in the forlorn hope that there he might find some means of getting his family under shelter.
The condition of the 5,000 people or more camped in Jefferson Square Park was something terrible. Not more than 5 per cent had even an army tent and the makeshifts were constructed of carpets, bed sheets and every imaginable substance. They were totally inadequate to keep out the heavy rain.
The 400 soldiers of the Fifth and Sixth California National Guard were requisitioning.
Glenn A. Durston of the Spanish War Veteran's relief committee, had charge of the relief work.
The spirit and courage shown by the sufferers in the face of their misfortunes was wonderful. An aged, crippled woman lying on the dirt floor of patchwork, bed sheets, carpets and tin roofing made a remark which was a sample.
"I am the widow of a union soldier," she said. "The sufferings related by my husband at Vicksburg were as nothing compared to mine. I am very comfortable, thank you."
Many temporary emergency hospitals were established in and near the refugee camps. The St. Paul Lutheran church near Jefferson square was one, but the big hospital at the Presidio, the military headquarters of the government, provided for the greater number of cases.
A temporary detention hospital was also established in the basement of the Sacred Heart school, conducted by the Dominican Sisters at the corner of Fillmore and Hayes streets, and the first commitment since the earthquake was made on the Sunday following the fire. The sisters of the Sacred Heart kindly turned over a part of the already crowded quarters to the insanity commissioners, and a number of patients made insane by the fire were cared for there.
At the general hospital the wards were soon full of patients, but few were suffering from severe types of sickness. There were many cases of tonsilitis, colds and such ills.
Within a week after the fire thousands of people left the refugee camps and found homes with friends in nearby places. One week after the disaster the authorities estimated that the number of campers on the grounds had been reduced to less than 8,000, where over 30,000 people had camped.
Temporary structures were erected in Golden Gate Park for the housing of 40,000 people, who had been sleeping out of doors for nearly a week and they were moved into comfortable quarters. About the same time a supply of blankets and bedding was received.
Within a week from the beginning of the disaster the refuge camps were converted into comfortable places of residence, with adequate sanitation, and the homeless at least had temporary homes. All this was accomplished with a minimum of suffering and illness that speaks volumes for the courage, energy and common sense of the American people.
RUINS AND HAVOC IN COAST CITIES.
San Jose, the Prettiest Place in the State, Wrecked by Quake—State Insane Asylum Collapsed and Buried Many Patients Beneath the Crumbled Walls—Enormous Damage at Santa Rosa.
Outside of San Francisco the earthquake did immense damage for fifty miles north and south of the Golden Gate City. San Jose, the prettiest city in California, sustained the severest shock, which killed a score of people and left the business section a pile of ruins. The loss in this one city alone amounted to $5,000,000.
The State Insane Asylum at Agnews near San Jose collapsed and buried upwards of 100 patients beneath its walls.
Among the buildings wrecked in San Jose are St. Patrick's church, the First Presbyterian church, the Centella Methodist Episcopal church, the Central Christian and South Methodist churches.
Every building on the west side of First street from St. James park to San Fernando street either went down, toppling or was badly cracked. The Auzerias building, Elks club, Unique theater and many other buildings on Santa Clara street went down to the ground.
On Second street the six-story Dougherty building and several adjoining blocks were destroyed by fire. A new high school in Normal Park was a complete wreck.
The Nevada & Porter building on Second street, the Rucker building on Third and Santa Clara streets were also ruined.
The annex to the Vendome Hotel was completely wrecked, and one man was killed therein.
Sheriff William White, of Los Angeles, who was in San Jose at the time attending a convention, thus describes the scenes following the quake:
"San Jose, which was the prettiest city in California, is the worst-looking wreck I ever saw. When I left there nineteen dead bodies had been recovered and there was a possibility that others would be found. I reached Agnews Asylum a few hours later in an automobile and was one of the first on the spot. There I helped to carry out sixty corpses. At noon, when I arrived at San Jose, it was believed that fully 100 bodies were still in the ruins.
"The shock came to San Jose exactly at 5:12:45, according to the clock in the St. James Hotel, which was stopped. Supreme Court Clerk Jordan, my young nephew; Walter Jordan and myself occupied apartments on the fourth floor of the St. James Hotel. The shock awoke the three of us, but only seemed to disturb my nephew, who commenced calling out.
"There was not a brick or stone building of two stories or over in San Jose that was not leveled to the ground or so badly damaged it will have to be torn down. Some fires started after the quake, but the fire department soon had them under control.
"I secured an automobile at 7 o'clock and left for Agnew, where the insane asylum was located, with two or three of the visiting sheriffs. The sight there was awful. The walls were standing, but the floors had all fallen in.
"Scores of insane persons were running about in the grounds, unwatched and uncared for. I helped to take out the body of Dr. Kelly, the assistant superintendent of the asylum, who had been instantly killed. A nurse who was also taken out of the ruins by me died a little later.
"After getting away from San Jose I saw evidences of the earthquake at Niles and even as far as Livermore in the shape of fallen chimneys and broken glass."
The main building of the State Hospital collapsed, pinning many of the patients under fallen walls and debris. The padded cells had to be broken open and more dangerous patients were tied to trees out on the lawn in lieu of a safer place. The doctors and nurses stuck heroically to their posts and 100 students from Santa Clara College went over in a body and assisted in succoring the wounded.
State Senator Cornelius Pendleton, who escaped the earthquake shock at San Jose, thus narrated his experiences:
"We were all at the Vendome Hotel. The shock of the earthquake was so severe the floors and walls of the building collapsed at once and those of us who escaped made our way as best we could out of the ruins. On the side of the hotel where my room was there was a large tree. The side wall of my room fell against this tree, which also sustained that portion of the roof, preventing it from falling in on us.
"My room was on the second floor, but when I picked myself up I was in the basement of the building. I crawled up and out over the debris and escaped through a window on a level with the ground. After getting out I found this was one of the third story windows. Those of us who were uninjured at once set about assisting the less fortunate. I saw one dead woman in the hotel. We carried her out. The remainder of the dead were in various parts of the town. The residence district was not badly damaged. Martial law had been declared in the city when we left.
"Among the large buildings that were totally demolished were the Hall of Justice, the First Presbyterian Church, the Catholic Cathedral, the Hale Block, and the Vendome Hotel. Fire broke out following the earthquake in several quarters, but fortunately the water mains were uninjured and the spread of the flames was checked."
At Salinas the immense plant of the Spreckels Sugar refinery was completely destroyed, and the loss of property aggregated $2,000,000.
The estimated loss of life and damage in California cities outside of San Francisco is as follows:
Oakland, $500,000, 5 lives; Alameda, $400,000; San Jose, $5,000,000, 19 lives; Agnew (state hospital for insane), $400,000, 170 lives; Palo Alto (Stanford University), $3,000,000, 2 lives; Napa, $250,000; Salinas, $2,000,000; Hollister, $100,000, 1 life; Vallejo, $40,000; Sacramento, $25,000; Redwood City, $30,000; Suisun, $50,000; Santa Rosa, $800,000, 40 lives; Watsonville, $70,000; Monterey, $25,000, 8 lives; Loma Prieta, 10 lives; Stockton, $40,000; Brawley, $100,000; Santa Cruz, $200,000; Gilroy, $500,000; Healdsburg, $25,000; Cloverdale, $15,000; Geyserville, $12,000; Hopland, $10,000; Ukiah, $50,000; Alviso, $20,000; Niles, $10,000; Hinckley Creek, $10,000, 9 lives; Deer Creek Mill, $10,000, 2 lives; Santa Clara, $500,000; Pacific Grove, $50,000; Wrights, $75,000; Delmonte, $25,000, 2 lives.
The beautiful city of Santa Rosa was a terrible sufferer from the quake, both in loss of life and property:
The entire business section was left in ruins and practically every residence in the town was more or less damaged, fifteen or twenty being badly wrecked. The damage to residences was caused principally by the sinking of the foundations, which let many structures down on to the ground.
The brick and stone business blocks, together with the public buildings, were all thrown flat. The courthouse, Hall of Records, the Occidental and Santa Rosa hotels, the Athenaeum theater, the new Masonic Temple, Odd Fellows' block, all the banks—everything—went, and in all the city not one brick or stone building was left standing except the California Northwestern depot.
It was almost impossible for an outsider to realize the situation as it actually existed there. No such complete destruction of a city's business interests ever before resulted from an earthquake in America. The very completeness of the devastation was really the redeeming feature, though, for it put all upon exactly the same basis, commercially speaking. Bankers and millionaires went about with only the few dollars they happened to have in their pockets when the crash came, and were little better off than the laborers who were digging through the debris. Money had practically no value, for there was no place to spend it, and this phase of the situation presented its own remedy. Almost every one slept out of doors, being afraid to enter their homes except for a short while at a time until repairs were made.
There were plenty of provisions. Some were supplied by other towns and much was brought in from the surrounding country. Two entire blocks of buildings escaped being swept by the flames, which immediately broke out in a dozen places at once as soon as the shock was over and from the tangled ruins of those buildings complete stocks of groceries and clothing were dug out and added to the common store. Then before the fire gained headway several grocery stores were emptied of their contents in anticipation of what might follow.