Mid-August to mid-October is peak hurricane season for those living in the Texas Gulf Coast area and sadly, we are all too familiar with the havoc and heartache hurricanes have caused. As I drove to church in Baytown, on August 29th, the bumper to bumper traffic heading west, most bearing Louisiana tags, was a visual reminder of the devastation our neighbors were fleeing from. My heart was filled with mixed emotions, sorrow for what they were going through and relief that it was not us. In the past, whenever I have prayed to be taken out of the storm’s path, there was not a time that I did not feel guilt and shame, knowing if we were spared someone else would bear its wrath.
There have been many times we have not dodged the bullet, and I’m sure our Louisiana neighbors felt the same survivor’s guilt we feel today. During these times, one thing is for certain, whosever turn it is the other will rally to rush to the rescue with hands to serve, hearts to care, and pocketbooks to provide. That’s just how we roll here in the South.
Working at the museum in Wallisville I am acutely aware of the town it once was, filled with all the charm and amenities of a bustling little community nestled on the banks of the Trinity River. A town that at one time boasted of being the county seat complete with a beautiful stone courthouse. It had the typical mercantile stores, barber and beauty shops, churches, sawmill, logging train, shipyards, and even a skating rink. Schooners were a common site, as Wallisville was a main shipping port to Galveston. All this changed in a day’s time as the 1915 Hurricane systematically wiped out its former existence. All that remained at the end of the storm’s tirade was a handful of homes. Chuck Chandler, writer for the Baytown Sun, gave me permission to share the following excerpt from his newspaper article. It tells of the size and power of the storm and the eyewitness accounts that follow, allow you to visualize the terror and aftermath of the deadly storm, through their vivid testimony.
As devastating as the 1900 hurricane had been, the 1915 storm was way more powerful. If formed off the Cape Verde Islands and was first detected by the US Weather Service in the eastern Caribbean on August 10th. It continued a northwesterly track very similar to the 1900 storm and hit San Luis Pass as a strong Category 4 hurricane on Aug. 17. It carried a sixteen foot storm surge and packed sustained winds of 90 mph with gusts to 120. Houston reported the third lowest barometric pressure ever recorded in the world, exceeded only by the 1885 hurricane in the Bay of Bengal, India and 1889 Puerto Rico hurricane. Houston had the highest 24-hour rainfall on record at 7.18”, but a lot of rain failed to record because the high winds blew it right over the gauge. There is no official storm surge height at Galveston because the Army Corps of Engineers tide gauges were destroyed by the hurricane, but measurements of high water marks show the water level exceeded the 1900 hurricane.
All communication from Galveston was lost and for two days nobody on the outside knew whether the city had survived. Initial reports guessed that damage and loss of life would exceed the 1900 hurricane. All the bathhouses and fishing piers on the gulf side were destroyed and all the wharves and shipping on the bay side had much damage. The force of the waves dislodged 1-ton granite blocks from the beach and carried them over the seawall into city streets and even three 20-ton granite blocks from the seawall balustrade were washed across the street. Out of the 200 homes outside the protection of the seawall all but about 20 were destroyed. The four mast schooner, Dora Allison, was washed completely over the top of the seawall and deposited on the parade grounds at Fort Crockett where she broke to pieces in 10 minutes. People looking out the third floor windows of the Galvez Hotel had to look up to see the water crashing from the seawall but outside of a few broken windows, the building weathered the storm. The biggest single loss of life in the entire storm came when the dredge boat Houston sank. Three of the crew managed to make it to a life boat and when the boat finally landed near the mouth of Cedar Bayou, only a single crew member had survived.
All along the bay shore the water was eight to twelve feet higher than the 1900 storm. There was very little loss of life because almost everyone had evacuated.
Chambers County was devastated and over 30 people died there. During the storm, water was running ten to twelve feet over Smith Point for several hours. Anahuac was completely destroyed and at Wallisville only three houses were left standing where more than 300 people had taken refuge. All the small communities on Trinity Bay were destroyed and after the storm, the mail boat Eva made a run to Houston carrying a plea for aid from the Chambers County Progressive Society.
21 August 1915
Dear Mother: (Sarah White Jackson)
I will try and write you a few lines; we have went (gone) through the worst storm this country has ever known, it was just awful. We left our house and set up all night in the woodhouse, expecting every moment to hear our house gone over. It was pretty badly wrenched, couldn't hardly open or shut the doors and my barns is almost gone and if it had it would have killed every mule I had. Your house is all o.k. except windows and paper as everybody's house was about wet inside as out. I don't know how many cattle we have lost but I believe one-half to two-thirds all of our pasture fence is gone. Grass is dead. I was down as far as Smith Point yesterday. Water was about 12 to 15 feet deep there. All the drift is along the marsh in front of your house. It is so bad I can't tell how bad it is. Wednesday Ed sent me word the negroes had found a dead man just out and beyond the windmill and to go out and have him buried. John and I went out and found it was Mr. Robert's (Claude C. Roberts) little boy (Benjamin Thomas Roberts). We picked him up and put him in a nice dry good box and buried him in John's lot and I went out and found poor Hugh Jackson. He was in a bad condition, so I put him in the best coffin, came in and buried him just alongside of Asa John (Robbins). There is 3 more drowned from Hugh's house but I have been unable to find them. Guess they are under the drift which is from two to four feet deep. A man and his daughter and a little boy, the mother and wife of man, was saved by catching on a tree. Mrs. Slade and her daughter was drowned. They got afraid the house was going and tried to make it over to Mitchells and all of them came near drowning. Elton saved them, the man on Moody's place lost his wife and we found her yesterday and buried her last night.
We have lost our rice crops entirely. Water was from eight to twelve feet deep all over it. Washed our warehouse away. Floated our living house up near the canal. Washed our pump out. Manson (Smith) and crew had a narrow escape, but the house held together. Mr. Hilderbrandt came along in his boat, rescued them, and brought them out to Bud Mosses. Hugh's two boats is on the ridge across marsh. Logs and drift everywhere. We have not had a paper since last Monday. Don't know how much damage done in other places but hear it is great. People here are badly in need. Everybody lost what they had, and homes are badly wrecked.
Ed and Rodger (Jackson) started to town on Lotus and got her on a tree and sunk her. Red Standley's boat is across about Old River bottom side up in acorn patch. Buddy Standley's boat has not been found. Several other boats are in Anahuac prairie in the rice fields.
There is so many dead cattle right under our noses. Monte has not found but a few of our horses, about 12. There is 15 in our lot down about Pine Island. Cattle are found hanging in the trees in Pine Island. Ralph (Barrow) told me he cut three live ones out today, and they are stuck in the drifts everywhere. Monte has been busy getting them out but is hard work and lots of cattle are still dying yet from being bruised. Nobody knows how much they have lost. Asa Robbins says he don't think he has over 50 head left. Nearly all of our calves are gone. Ed's (Jackson) old ranch house is badly wrecked as water is too deep to get over there. I am broke so badly I don't know what I will do. Will see my creditors and put it up to them. Guy (Jackson) had better come home as there is plenty to do. Our cattle are scattered all over the country.
Wallisville is a total wreck. Only two houses left, Middleton (A.D.) and Mrs. (J.J.) Mayes. They are taking care of from two to three hundred people. We can't get anything out of Galveston and Houston is badly torn up, don't know if we can get help from there or not. The Judge is over there trying to get help. People here will be badly in need in a few days. Frost and Mary Wolf have about lost all they had in their store. I near lost much in the store, water was 8 inches deep in my store. This was from tide water. I was told that the water passed between Liberty and Devers and reached the river. I don't know if this is so or not. Poor old Joe Richie was out at Elm Bayou in his shack. It was turned over, he cut a hole in it and got out and the man at Scott Ranch found him over about East Bay Bayou. He got him over to the hotel (Seabreeze Hotel) and when the train came down that far, sent him up to Stowell to Monroe’s (White). Mr. Stough, wife, and baby had to go to the barn as water was three feet deep in the White's ranch and never had anything to eat until Wednesday. It has beat all the paint off of my house and also off of yours.
I haven't told you half and not half as bad as it was; to see it is the only way to know how bad it is. I will try and get this off as we have to send to Anahuac as the mail is not running.
With love and kisses to you all, I am
Your son, Claude
On August 15th, 1915, we (Nanny, Olga, and I) were living at 519 Colquit Street, Houston, Texas.
Nanny was seriously ill in the hospital, Olgamae was in Galveston with Mother. I was downtown at 3:00 p.m. when the Chronicle came out with the extra about the expected Galveston Storm.
On impulse of the moment, and without notice to anyone, I caught the Interurban train intending to go to Galveston to see Olgamae, then return and report everything OK and Nanny wouldn't be worried --- never dreaming of a Storm of such proportions.
There was a heavy Norther blowing and as we approached the Galveston causeway, the wind had broken the 'phone lines from the bridge to the dispatcher's office and as the conductor could not get an order of clearance to proceed, he refused to move.
While we waited a power line over the highway broke killing a pair of mules. About this time a barge had broken its tow line and was pounding against the wall of the causeway. As the wall broke, the rolling waves began washing the fill from under the railroad tracks. Five of us fellows insisted that we proceed to Galveston without orders and upon the conductor's refusal, we took control, ordered the motorman to proceed, and as he turned on the power, the wiring was wet and a short circuit set the under part of the car on fire. We put out the fire with wet sand -- we then tried again, but the motors were dead. We were then facing a walk to Galveston -- five miles away in the terrible rain and wind, or a mile back to Virginia Point and the shelter of a two-story hotel. We chose the latter.
A Mr. and Mrs. Stevens and their little boy and girl were with us. He was sick and weak. One of the men carried the boy and I the girl for a mile and a quarter to the hotel. At the hotel we finally got dried out and had supper. There were 85 of us on the train from 7:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. We just walked the floor, prayed, and worried. The wind began to blow harder and harder from the north. Then it began to come from the southeast. These people were assembled in the 2nd floor rooms. I had been for some time on the first floor where I saw the water spew thru wall cracks as the waves pushed up under the building. This I was sure would wash out the building foundation and wreck it. I then went upstairs, told the folks the conditions, and advised them to leave the hotel and take shelter in the concrete switch tower building. About that time the hotel owner and several of his friends grabbed me; told me to keep my mouth shut or they would throw me out the 2nd floor window into the storm. Just one of the crowd thought I was right and decided to go with me. We then asked the Stevens family to go with us -- Mrs. Stevens agreed to go but he refused, saying he was too weak to help with his children and didn't want to burden us with their care or endanger our lives that he would pray to God for their safety.
By this time the waves were rolling high and breaking over the front porch of the hotel. The porch was ten feet above the ground level and fifty feet from the railroad tracks, and a mad rolling sea between us and the tracks. As we were about to dive in, we saw a young chap 18 years old or so hanging onto a post and crying. We asked him to join us, but he refused. So, as my friend made his jump, I grabbed the fellow and pushed him in then followed him. As I entered the water the waves rolled me under, and I thought I was through. I would fight my way up to the surface to get a breath of air. For how long I fought, I don't know. The night was pitch dark and as I pulled myself out on the tracks, there was a lightening flash and there were my two buddies within a few feet of me.
The waves were breaking over the track with some two feet of water. The tower house was on the north side of the tracks and some six feet past the last track, so we lay in the water. We went feet first, from track to track holding with our hands until our feet touched the next one. We finally reached the last one, but in the dark, we could not locate the building. We went to the left for a long way, then decided to go back to the right and finally found the building. The steps were on the outside, and as I drug myself about halfway up some damn fool fired six shots from a pistol just over our heads and scared me back to the ground. (The guy was trying to warn the people in the hotel to come on over.) Just as we entered the upstairs the wind blew all the glass out of the tower windows. It was now about 2 a.m., and there were six other men in the tower who escaped from stalled autos.
Feeling sure the hotel would go down, we planned to rescue those in the hotel. We broke open the supply house, secured a lot of rope, and tying one end to the track, we attempted to carry the other end to the hotel. In the lea of the hotel where the wind was not so strong, we were able to get within a few feet of the hotel, then there came a most awful wave which threw us into a scramble for our lives. We returned then to just wait. At about 2:30 a.m. a man and two women came to the Supply Room where we had a fire going. They reported that the hotel had gone down and that they stepped out on the first floor porch roof just as it collapsed. Five or six of us then began in the face of a 135 mile wind to search for victims, and we found some 30, and one by one we helped them from the water and wreckage.
As the building collapsed the victims were under the roof and that is why so many drowned – nearly all of the survivors were badly scratched and torn by the nails in the wreckage. As the building was torn piece by piece, the wreckage was washed upon the Santa Fe track thus forming a breakwater and an escape for the survivors. One fellow had lost all his clothes and was crazy as a loon; thought we were the devil and we had to force him into the shelter.
We found Mrs. Stevens about daylight, and she was seriously scratched and torn on her arms and legs. When the crash came Mrs. Stevens took the boy and her husband had the girl. She never saw her daughter and husband alive after the crash. She said that as she and her son were fighting the waves that one time a large timber separated them. She then found him, and then she again lost him, never to find him. When we found her, she was under a section of wreckage with the waves still breaking over her.
The next morning, we found the body of the little girl near the tower. The boy’s body was found at Texas City and the father’s a mile or so from the point. The other 42 bodies were found up along the coast.
We were marooned here from Monday 6 p.m. until Wednesday noon with no food and only partially salty water from the tower tank. Tuesday evening a large fat hog came up to the supply house, and we promptly killed and dressed it. We cooked the meat over a charcoal fire in a forge. This we ate with salt, pepper, and bread, and like it I assure you. Wednesday at noon a group of U.S. Cavalry came to us with a goodly supply of Campbells Soup and hard tack. The soup we warmed, and I don’t remember anything ever tasting so good. The soldiers had a large rowboat and took the injured to the Texas City Hospital. The rest of us were picked up by boat from the causeway in late afternoon.
Wednesday about 8 a.m. as we sat awaiting rescue, I remarked that out in the water about where the former saloon stood that there must be a lot of good whiskey. One young man, I can see him yet as he waded out in neck deep water feeling with his bare feet as I directed him to what I thought was the spot. Then his head went under and up he came with a fifth of brandy, and he insisted that I take the first drink. I did just a swallow and it nearly knocked me out. There was then a rush to the bar and the boys had plenty to drink.
I arrived at Mother’s about 5 p.m., found them all safe and well. Olgamae was glad to see me. Thursday, I made my way via foot, boat, auto, and streetcar, to Houston. I went to see Nanny and had a hard time convincing her that Olgamae was really safe.
Arriving home just before dark, as I was passing thru my neighbor’s yard my mule driver was returning from the store with his arm full of groceries and as I approached, he dropped the groceries and exclaimed “Great God boss, I thought you were dead.” Since I had not contacted my friends in Houston, they assumed that I was dead.
My home was blown to pieces and my household goods scattered to the four winds.
This was for me an awful experience and in a few weeks my hair started to turn gray and for months I would have nightmares and see again and again the awful tragedy, hear the screams of the wind, and see the tremendous waves come rolling in. Had it not been for the sea wall, Galveston would have been washed away: thousands of people drowned, and millions in property damage.
During this terrible time, I really earnestly and sincerely prayed for God to help me in my prayers. Why he did not hear the prayers of the many others, I do not know but I will always feel that he did answer mine. In this group was a Minister and he spent the whole time in prayer. Yet he was drowned. I believe in prayer, but I also believe that God expects each of us to help ourselves as far as our knowledge and ability will go.
Yours for always,
D. B. Wallis
The residents of Wallisville suffered greatly. All but eight homes were destroyed as the water raged. Around 2 a.m., the Beauregard LaFour family of Wallisville began evacuating their home. The elder LaFour tried to get his son and three daughters across the street to the two-story Davis Hotel. Beauregard carried his daughter Oma, while his 14-year-old son Elmer carried another daughter Nona. They left a third daughter, Nina. Upon reaching the hotel with the two girls, Beauregard and Elmer were both exhausted and did not know how they would get Nina across the street. After swimming back across the street to their house, they knew they did not have the strength to carry her to the hotel through the current. After returning to the hotel, Beauregard left to find a boat to rescue his children. Prompted by his sister’s desperate cries for help, Elmer found a telephone wire and tied one end to a post. He swam back to his sister with the other end in hand. Once on the other side, he tied the wire to the tree Nina was in. With Elmer’s encouragement, he and Nina made it back across to the hotel safely. The hotel began breaking up room by room.
“We would stay in one room until we saw it was going and then we would go to another room until there was only one room left,” Nona said.
Elmer eventually broke out a window for his sisters to escape through. Even though he cut his hand in the process, he continued. One by one the girls jumped onto a raft of drift, but Oma fell off and was suddenly swept away with the current. Elmer jumped in after her and managed to put her in a tree only ten feet away from her sisters. Elmer, exhausted by his heroic effort, could not make his way back to the raft.
“He started to come back but just then the hotel broke loose and the drift carried him under,” Nona said. “But just before he was drowned he looked up and saw that we were all safe, and then with a smile on his lips, he sank to come up no more.”
The girls waited in the water for five hours before they were rescued.
Chester Knight and Landon Kilgore saved several residents of Wallisville. Knight searched for survivors in a skiff, while Kilgore used Archie Middleton’s boat, Lucille, which had broken loose and floated past Kilgore’s window. They took the survivors to the homes of J.J. Mayes and Archie Middleton. It was estimated that they housed two to three hundred people in such manner.
B.C. Hines, the manager of the Cummings Sawmill on the west side of the Trinity River, and his family also had a close call. They were rescued from the mill and taken to the Middleton house. There was a bridge connecting the second floor of the Hines house to the sawmill. When the water began flooding the first floor of the house, the family crossed over to the mill. Afterwards, they could only watch in horror as their home came apart. They stayed in the mill for two days before being rescued and taken to the Middleton home. After the storm, the Hines family moved to Houston. The Cummings sawmill was completely destroyed by the storm.
“I remember the storms of 1867, 1875, 1886, 1900 and 1915,” W.B. Gordon of Wallisville said, “and I am sure the last one was the worst of them all.”
Damages totaled over $50 million. It was estimated that between 12,000 to 15,000 head of cattle in Chambers County were lost. In a letter to his mother Sarah immediately after the storm, John Claude Jackson said the Jackson Ranch lost between half and two-thirds of its cattle. Throughout the coastal country dead and live cattle were seen in treetops.
“We have just went through the worst storm this country has ever known. It was just awful,” Jackson wrote. “It is so bad I can’t tell how bad it is . . . to see it is the only way to know how bad it is.”
Jackson lost all eight hundred acres of his rice crop. But more disturbing than the property damage were the deaths. Mrs. Frank Kirkland, whose husband maintained the nearby ranch of Judge Hugh E. Jackson, survived the hurricane, but her husband, daughter, and niece did not.
The Kirklands and others took refuge in Hugh Jackson’s well-built ranch house at High Island. Most folks believed it was invincible. On Monday evening waves began to tear apart the ranch dwelling that they had taken shelter in. The house had a foundation of concrete piers with wrought iron rods imbedded in them. The timber was bolted to the foundation. The house withstood the 1900 storm, but not this one. As the house was pushed off its foundation, Mrs. Kirkland was swept into a nearby tree alone. The next morning, she saw the bodies of her family floating directly below her. She spent two nights in the tree with the wind and rain and the knowledge of an unspeakable loss before being rescued around noon on Wednesday.
Water rose ten feet above the normal tide level in Anahuac during the worst part of the storm. The hurricane destroyed both of the town’s lighthouses. The Progress estimated August 27, 1915 that $10,000 worth of boats had been swept to the northern shore of what was then Turtle Bay. Fred W. Lotz estimated that he lost $10,000 in property, including his sawmill and lumberyard. Lotz said his warehouse, which housed his vehicle, some furniture, and lumber, “floated away like an ark.”
Hundreds of storm victims washed ashore at Galveston where they were quickly buried before they could be identified. Joe Beazley, a resident of La Porte at the time of the storm who later moved to Anahuac, recalled piles of debris and bodies washing ashore for days.
Ernest Stephenson, who lived on the Bolivar Peninsula, remembered seeing dead mules from the Army base at Texas City wash ashore on near his home. Stephenson could al-so remember a solider who floated to shore unhurt on a bale of cotton.
The longest such journey was that made by sixteen-year-old Minnie Florea, who was washed away from the Velasco Coast Guard Station. She was recovered alive on Galveston Beach, 60 miles away. Her uncle read an account of it in the newspaper, and hurried to Galveston. He had assumed his niece was dead. When he asked her how she survived, Florea replied “I never could stand to swallow salt water or get it in my eyes, so I kept my eyes and mouth closed and the wind just blew me in.”
Lloyd Wilborn’s parents, Elwood and Elma Wilborn, gathered driftwood from the hurricane and used it to build a barn in Double Bayou. The couple married Sept. 15, 1915, and put the lumber to use.
“They built the barn before they built the house because they wanted somewhere to put the lumber,” Wilborn said.
During the hurricane winds reached 125 mph. The force of the wind was demonstrated at Galveston, where two 16-ton blocks of granite had been placed near the bathhouses along the seawall to commemorate its construction. During the 1915 hurricane, they were blown 50 feet away. All 200 of the concrete benches that lined the seawall were blown away as well. In Anahuac, boats were tossed into the rice fields.
The flooding left its toll on the Gulf Coast. Swarms of mosquitoes plagued the area. Graydon Barrow and his family lived on the Barrow-White Road east of Anahuac. He remembered wearing newspaper under his clothes to combat the insects. In his book, Home on the Double Bayou, Ralph Semmes Jackson said the mosquitoes killed many cattle, especially calves.
“The mosquitoes covered the bodies of the cattle until all the color of the cattle was obscured,” Jackson wrote. “Red, black, or white cattle all appeared to be a dark gray, as they were constantly covered with a swarming mass of mosquitoes.”
Jackson said that the cowhands searched the pastures for missing cattle after the storm. After the rides, the horses would be bleeding from mosquito bites. After trips to Double Bayou, the Jackson’s Model T Ford would be covered with mosquitoes.
“It was possible to scoop the mass of mosquitoes off with a gloved hand into a washtub until the tub was entirely filled with mosquitoes clinging together in solid balls,” Jackson said.
The 1915 hurricane dealt a serious blow to the Gulf Coast communities. Lives were lost, crops and livestock destroyed, and homes washed away. The Progress reported that all homes in Smith Point were washed away. Local phone lines in Anahuac were still out August 27, 1915. Liberty sent three wagons full of food and supplies to Wallisville. The newly formed Chambers County Progressive League also sent supplies to Wallisville. With help and determination, the towns gradually recovered and rebuilt.
Danni Hill was a May 2001 graduate of Texas A&M University and majored in Journalism and History She is the daughter of Sam and Peggy (McManus) Hill of Anahuac.
‘Twas nineteen-fifteen when the wind
Swept in from the West Indies,
And the puny efforts of mankind
Were naught to the angry seas.
Along the Gulf and Galveston Bay
The waters surged and swelled,
And beat with fierce tempestuous play
Which dire disaster spelled.
An interurban car was caught
And held on the causeway’s end;
In haste the frantic passengers sought
What safety the land would lend.
Into the Causeway Inn they fled,
(Built close to the water’s edge)
Huddled within in fear and dread
And awe of the tempest’s rage.
Women and children huddled there,
Big men in terror’s grip
Uttered many a mincing prayer
As the building rocked like a ship.
Calm in the group stood a man of God,
Calm in his hope and faith.
It was with a smile and a nod
And words of cheer faced death.
“Fear not, for God is with us all;
Trust Him and all is well.”
What thought the trembling inn should fall,
His courage breathed a spell.
Higher and higher the waters rose
Pouring into the shack.
“God, can we make it, do you suppose,
To the tower upon the track?”
Out of the windows, out of the door,
Lept they in desperate haste;
Vain the attempt—but two of a score
Across the dark turbulence passed.
Daylight came, and the waters fell,
Displaying its awful greed.
Alone stood the tower, what story to tell,
When the waters should all recede.
What of the minister—his prayer?
God called him home, ‘twas done.
All of his earthly task, and there
God took him with His Son.
Warehouses, Wharves, and Lumber Yard Washed Away – Bulkhead Damaged
Wallisville Almost Entirely Destroyed – 1,400,000 Feet of Lumber Floated Off
Chambers County suffered seriously from the ravages of the storm of August 16 and 17. Besides the damage in the destruction and wreck of buildings the loss of stock and crops is considerable.
At Anahuac the wharf buildings were completely swept away, four-fifths of the Anahuac Canal Company warehouse was ripped off, leaving the rice cleaner and engine only slightly damaged, the Farmer’s warehouse was floated bodily off its blocks into Turtle bay and totally destroyed, the lumber yard of F. W. Lotz was swept out and the sawmill badly wrecked, the foundation at the flume torn out. The damage to the pumping plant building and machinery is slight.
The bulkhead constructed by the Trinity River Irrigation District is washed away in two places on the east side of the lock and on the west side a greater portion of it is destroyed. The lock, which was the most difficult and expensive to build, remains with only small damage. It is reported that the levees on the north bank of the river, which were built to prevent the overflow of salt water into the reservoir formed by the bulkhead, are almost intact.
The dancing pavilion, just completed and to be opened in grand style on the 19th, was totally destroyed.
None of the main buildings of the ton of Anahuac, situated on an elevation of 22 feet, were destroyed. The tin roof of the Anahuac hotel was ripped off and the interior of the building flooded, a few barns, fences, and outhouses were blown down, some window lights broken and roofs slightly damaged.
Water reached a depth of ten feet above ordinary tide and the islands to the west were deluged, forming a vast gulf, with rolling waves. Most of the buildings that were washed away went between the hours of 5 and 7 a.m. Tuesday. The foundations of these structures were on a level with the wharves and it was the force of water that carried them away.
The north shore of Turtle Bay is strewn with the wreckage of boats and buildings and it is estimated that ten thousand dollars worth of boats are stranded there.
The heaviest individual loser at Anahuac is F. W. Lotz, estimated at ten thousand dollars. In the warehouse, which floated away like an ark, were his automobile, some household furniture, and lumber.
The lines of the Chambers County Telephone Company are out of commission over the whole county. The line to Beaumont via Winnie was hurriedly repaired in order to get connection with the outer world, but local lines are still out of order and being put into condition as rapidly as the weather will permit.
The drowned at Anahuac were the two little children of L. P. Thompson, keeper of the lock. Mr. snd Mrs. Thompson and the children were washed out into Turtle Bay. The children were drowned, but the father and mother drifted to shore and were saved. Dad Chapman, a fisherman, went down.
The government snag boat No. 1, which was working in the Anahuac channel, lies stranded high up on the north shore of Turtle Bay. None of the crew was lost. Capt. Nelson and Engineer Kirk were here Tuesday in regard to recovering the boat. The boat is obstructed with a mass of wreckage and driftwood, and they propose to place it on rollers and move it up the river at Wallisville, going over the public road a distance of two miles. The boat is not materially damaged.
The Katie M., owned by Alvin Horton, the Mayflower, by J. E. Broussard, Capt. Eli Hill’s boat, Bob Ingersoll’s boats, and several small motor boats and skiffs are within the pile of wreckage on the north bank of Turtle Bay. Most of the large ones are beyond recovery.
One of the Double Bayou light houses is gone and both of the Anahuac lighthouses are absent. The mouth of the old Trinity River which recently filled up by the snag boat Trinity, is now open again and the old river now flows majestically with renewed vigor.
Wallisville was almost entirely washed off the map, only eight houses left standing. The store of the Wallisville Mercantile Co. was completely destroyed, the building containing the stock of merchandise of F. H. Holmes survived the storm but the merchandise was ruined. The remaining houses are those of W. F. Mayes, W. P. T. McManus, Mrs. B. Murphy, F. R. LaFour, Clint Mayes, W. R. Sherman, and Doc Shelton, all more or less damaged.
The stock of lumber belonging to the C. R. Cummings Export Co., consisting of 1,400,000 feet, was scattered promiscuously over the country in a territory where it will be difficult to recover it. The mill is badly wrecked.
Water at this point rose to a height of 20 feet, the highest ever known.
Elmer LaFour perished after saving his sister whom he placed in the top of a tree.
Chester Knight and Landon Kilgore were the life-saving heroes of the night. Landon, under difficulties, succeeded in starting the engine of Archie Middleton’s boat, and Knight, with a skiff, gathered up the people and loaded them into the launch. There were then carried to safety in Archie Middleton’s house on the hill half a mile from the town. Repeated trips were made until all were rescued. But for the work of these two men probably the death toll of Wallisville would have been 100.
W. F. Mayes was the only occupant of his home at the time of the storm and he took refuge upon a big log, fearing that the house might go down. Mr. Mayes reports a thrilling experience and that the water robbed him of $100.
In the Double Bayou portion of the county the water rose to a depth of from 6 to 10 feet and the loss of property, crops and stock is appalling.
The house of A. L. Beason, occupied by A. G. Comstock, mail carrier, was badly wrecked. Mr. Comstock lost everything.
J. W. Frost’s store and residence are a total wreck.
Judge Watson’s residence and Willie Watson’s shipyard are wrecked completely.
Forest Watson’s home gone; lost everything.
Sam Cochran’s home is a total wreck.
E. L. Crone’s places are badly damaged and he lost 100 head of sheep.
The “Select Farm” at Eagle, owned by E. C. Mull and managed by his son, Arthur, suffered seriously. In point of modern improvement this farm was the pride of the county. The chicken ranch is a total wreck and 500 chickens were lost. The result of four years of patient, hopeful work was obliterated in a night.
The store of Mrs. Mary Fritshe was washed away.
E. H. Wilson suffered the loss of his crops.
Charley Morgan’s warehouse was badly wrecked.
The new school at Graydon, uncompleted, was scattered over the prairie.
George Johnson lost his crops and a large quantity of seed and fertilizer.
Dick Measles lost everything.
J. C. Hale washed out of stock and home.
Four feet of water came up in the store of J. C. Jackson and the stock was ruined.
Paul Lipp, A. J. Hedberg, Jno. Hoagland, D. Rambone, Charley Nelson, G. B. Rayner, Lars Hanson, C. M. Nelson, and others lost heavily in crops and equipment. In fact, nearly all the inhabitants of that part of the county were damaged more or less.
A number of families without bedding and scantily clad are huddled uncomfortably within the buildings left standing.
Those drowned at Double Bayou were Mrs. J. C. Slade and daughter, Bessie.
John Jackson of Double Bayou gave his check for $250 for the relief of the flood sufferers in that vicinity.
At Smith Point all the homes were destroyed and the residents barely escaped with their lives.
At Hankamer the damage by wind to residences, barns, and outhouses was on an average with other places. Charley Harmon’s house was badly wrecked and roof of I. A. Hankamer’s store was torn off, damaging the stock of goods somewhat.
Winnie and Stowell were damaged only slightly.
It is reported that the cattlemen of the county have lost from 12,000 to 15,000 head.
Wilfred Cochran, son of Sam Cochran, was lost in the San Louis life saving station. Will Kraus, also at that station, who had been married three weeks, lost his wife.
Hugh Jackson of Beaumont, who was at his ranch in the northeast part of the county, was drowned. Also his nephew Claude Roberts.
Jesse Albritton ~ 1889-1915
While walking along the shore of East Bay near High Island Friday, Henry Hildebrand found the body of Jesse Albritton, age 26, who was one of eight persons who lost their lives at Jackson’s Ranch during the Texas coast storm last August. A letter dated August 16 from Liberty, and addressed to his sister Emma, was found in the dead man’s pocket, thus establishing his identity.
The following note was found on Ancestry: Elam and his son Jessie and his daughter Emma all drowned in the hurricane of 1915 that came across Galveston Island. Affidavit of Elbert Barrow 1930
Bodies of Attorney and Grandson Found in Galveston Bay
Wilmington Morning Star ~ 21 August 1915
Beaumont, Texas, August 20 – Two more deaths were added to the list of victims when the bodies of Hugh Jackson, an attorney and wealthy land owner of Beaumont, and his grandson, C. C. Roberts Jr. were found floating in Galveston Bay near Jackson’s ranch.
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