Picture of the Great
San Francisco, the beautiful "City of the Golden West," the "Paradise of the
Pacific," is no more. This was this message wafted around the remnants of
what was one of the most beautiful, most picturesque, most generous of
I, like all the rest of my stricken brethren, stood and watched the home,
which contained treasures that neither time nor money can ever
replacethe home dearest of any spot on earth, around whose walls clustered
memories of blissful by-gone days,yes, I stood on the loft
eminence overlooking the tranquil water of the mighty Pacific, and
watched and watched, and watched, and waited, and watcheduntil I
saw my home, which had been a part of my very life, within a few feet of
the hungry, angry flamesand then, oh then! My poor heart
throbbed wildly with pain, and the repressed tears fell and I, with my loved
ones wept as we had never done before. Frail, human intellect cannot
comprehend the awful anguish endured by the stricken ones of San
Francisco since Wednesday morning, April Eighteenth. Hunger and cold
were as naught compared with the thought that one was forced to stand idly
by and witness the destruction of our beautiful homes, our precious
belongings. Never while memory lasts can I forget the distressing
heartrending scenes in the doomed city. Space will not permit enumeration,
suffice it to say, that through it all the people acted nobly and well. All
honor to these heroes, fathers, sons, husbands and brothers, who guarded
the tottering footsteps of their loved ones, encouraging them onward to
places of safety, while on the verge of collapse and starvation themselves.
With my folks and a few belongings we could save, we left our home on
Broadway and Mason on Thursday morning, April Eighteenth, and trudged
over hills and rocks until we reached an apparently safe spot. There with
but food or covering we camped for the night. Oh! the terrors of the night!
All around us was one roaring, crackling furnace of flames. The people
watched and waited, until warned by the soldiers of certain death should
they remain, moved onward, where they knew not.
It was two o'clock! Still the flames raged, still we wended our weary way,
until we reached Fort Mason and there we camped beside
twenty-five decaying bodies. Oh, it was terrible, terrible! No food, no
water, nothing! Still the fierce flames leaped toward us, each new report
that reached us was more dreadful than the preceding, till, at last, ill from
hunger, exposure and the odor from the dead bodies, and as a last desperate
means of delivery from an awful fate, we decided to tramp to Golden Gate
Parkoh, thanks to our merciful God, relief came.
An acquaintance whom we had not seen for years came and asked us if we
wished to board his sand scow, which was bound for Vallejo. We could
scarcely believe itanything, anywhere, as long as we could escape
from the terrifying scenes around us. Nothing was ever more
welcomebut for Captain Murphy's forethought and generosity, I with my
loved ones would be lying dead at Fort Mason.
For two nights we slept on sand, planks and rocks, with no covering save
the blue studded heavens, but we thanked God with all the fervor and from
the very depths of our souls.
Sunday morning we attended mass at Vallejo's Catholic church, and prayed
for our poor friends in the domed city, and thanked God for His mercy to
After a light breakfast on board the scow, we knew not where to
gowhen my brother, who had been searching for his fellow Knights of
Columbus, returned and informed us that a home awaited us in Vallejo.
These noble, generous, brave hearted Knights of Columbus came to our
aid, and to them do we owe our present safety. They have provided
everything for us and for our comfort. How can we, homeless wanderers,
ever repay them? Oh, who can realize the anguish, the sorrow that is ours?
We have never been in a position to give and to give freely, but
now-but God has been with us. He will not desert us now.
To Mr. Lynch, Mr. Folmer, Mr. Cunningham and family and Mr. Jones,
together with all the Knights of Columbus whose names are unknown, to
Captain Murphy, of the "Two Brothers" scow, to you all, noble hearted
men, do we owe a debt of gratitude, which with God's help we shall son be
able to repay.
The past our tears cannot undo, but the future is ours, and as old Father
time carries us farther down the stream of life, we shall never forget the
men who came so nobly to our rescue.
We have naught to offer now but our thankful hearts and fond prayers.
May every kindness you have shown us, oh, Knights of Columbus, be
showered a hundred fold on you and yours, and may your deeds of charity
be sparkling jewels added to that crown of eternal life, which our God has
promised His faithful followers.
Rose M. Quinn.
Vallejo Daily Times
April 27, 1906
This article was a gift to the Museum from Rosemary T. French of San
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