Earthquake! Newspapers Record Destruction in California History

Introduction: Gena Philibert-Ortega is a genealogist and author of the book “From the Family Kitchen.” In this guest blog post, Gena shows how historical newspapers provide excellent coverage of disasters such as earthquakes, including detailed casualty lists helpful to genealogists.

Living in California as I do, earthquakes are a fact of life. Because of their suddenness and intensity, earthquakes can be a terrifying event to experience. When the shaking begins your mind starts racing, wondering when the earthquake will stop. Seconds feel like minutes. An automatic reaction to an earthquake is to run to safety. I remember during one trembler a few years ago yelling to my kids not to run down the stairs. Earthquakes can kill—so too can the panicked actions of those experiencing the earthquake.

It goes without saying that our ancestors experienced devastating natural disasters as well. My great-grandmother used to talk of the 1933 Long Beach earthquake when all of her china was broken. That 6.4 (on the Richter scale) earthquake cost millions of dollars in damage and killed more than 100 people. My guess is it must have been a terrifying experience for a young married woman with an 8-year-old child, as my great-grandmother was at the time. She was lucky that her only loss was the china.

When thinking of historic California earthquakes, many people think of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. The destruction caused by that earthquake and the resulting fires has been the subject of books, documentaries, and vintage photos. But that earthquake wasn’t the only one that resulted in heavy destruction for a California city. Lone Pine, a little town in the Eastern Sierra region of California, experienced an earthquake in 1872 so strong that it almost leveled the entire town.

It is easy to understand why the 1872 Lone Pine earthquake and the 1906 San Francisco earthquake (both believed to have measured over 7.0 on the Richter scale) caused so much damage in and around California. 19th century buildings in the West, mostly wood and brick structures, were not forgiving when the earth shook. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, that March 1872 earthquake destroyed 52 out of 59 homes and killed 27 people in the city of Lone Pine. The earthquake was felt as far south as San Diego and as far east as Elko, Nevada.

Historical newspapers give us a sense of what the resulting chaos was like when Lone Pine residents were rudely awakened at 2:35 that March morning. The Inyo Independent newspaper quoted one resident as yelling to his wife during the earthquake: “Get up; hell’s broke loose!” The newspaper’s front page headline for March 30 screamed: “HORRORS!! Appalling Times! EARTHQUAKES. Awful Loss of Life! 24 People Killed! Earth Opens! Houses Prostrated!!” Some people were crushed by the debris of their collapsing houses as they lay in their bed. This earthquake and the inevitable aftershocks must have made it seem like the world was ending.

The 1872 Lone Pine earthquake was reported in newspapers across the country. These earthquake reports reveal the sense of shock felt at the time of the natural disasters and also provide genealogists with practical information like causality lists.

For example this historical San Francisco newspaper article, reprinted by a New York paper, provides lists of the dead and the injured.

The Earthquake in California, New York Herald newspaper article 9 April 1872

New York Herald (New York, New York), 9 April 1872, page 7

The list of fatalities in this historical newspaper article also reports where the victims were from originally:

List of the Killed (in 1872 earthquake), New York Herald newspaper article 9 April 1872

New York Herald (New York, New York), 9 April 1872, page 7

Survivors of this terrifying California earthquake buried their loved ones. Earthquake victims without family members, mostly immigrants, were buried in a mass grave. The Inyo Independent reported that “a large grave was prepared on a little rise north of town. In this grave all of foreign birth were consigned the next day. Fifteen coffins numbered and contained sixteen bodies were all deposited in one huge grave.” Catholic and Protestant rites were said at the burial. A modern memorial marks the mass grave and lists the known names. For the victims whose names were not known, it says “…of French, Irish, Chilean, Mexican & Native American ancestry are known but to God.”

photograph of the historical marker for the 1872 Lone Pine, California, earthquake

1872 Earthquake Historical Marker. Lone Pine, California. © 2012 David Ortega

To read more about the history of the 1872 Lone Pine earthquake, consult the Historic Earthquakes page of the United States Geological Survey and visit GenealogyBank’s historical newspaper archives.

 

 

Breaking News: More newspapers added to GenealogyBank

GenealogyBank adds another 13 million records – obituaries, news articles and more. More than 1,800 newspapers were updated and new titles added.

That’s too many titles to list here – but here are some of them:
Alabama, Mobile
Mobile Register. 1980-10-16 to 1983-05-30

Arkansas, Little Rock
Arkansas Gazette 1838-01-02 to 1871-11-25
Arkansas, White Hall
White Hall Journal* 10/2/2009 to Present

Arizona, Casa Grande
Casa Grande Dispatch* 6/19/2010 to Present
Arizona, Kearny
Copper Basin News* 6/10/2010 to Present

Colorado, Colorado Springs
Gazette-Telegraph 1904-01-17 to 1922-04-11

Connecticut, Hartford
Hartford Daily Courant. 1863-12-31 to 1866-06-27
Hartford Daily Courant. 1874-01-01 to 1876-05-27

Georgia, Augusta
Augusta Chronicle. 1843-06-12 to 1878-03-29

Hawaii, Kaunakakai
Molokai Dispatch, The* 3/1/2010 to Present

Idaho, Kellogg
Shoshone News-Press* 4/6/2007 to Present
Idaho, Sandpoint
Bonner County Daily Bee* 3/2/2004 to Present
Idaho, Twin Falls
Twin Falls News. 1919-06-20

Indiana, Aurora
Journal-Press, The* 5/13/2010 to Present

Kansas, Coffeyville
Vindicator*. 1904-12-23 to 1906-02-09
Kansas, Kansas City
Topics* . 1895-05-16 to 1895-12-07
Kansas, Parsons
Parsons Weekly Blade. 1900-03-02
Kansas, Topeka
Kansas Sentinel*. 1960-07-07 to 1960-11-26
Kansas, Topeka.

Kansas Watchman*. 1905-05-25 to 1905-11-17
Kansas, Wichita
Wichita Protest . 1920-08-20

Louisiana, Bossier City
Bossier Press-Tribune*. 2/4/2010 to Present
Louisiana, New Orleans
New Orleans Tribune. 1864-08-02 to 1869-02-14
Louisiana, New Orleans
Times-Picayune. 1848-01-04 to 1886-12-02 and 1973-10-02 to 1978-08-15

Massachusetts, Andover
Andover Townsman*. 4/20/2010 to Present
Massachusetts, Gloucester
Gloucester Daily Times*. 5/12/2010 to Present
Massachusetts, Greenfield
Greenfield Gazette. 1792-11-08 to 1809-07-31
Massachusetts, Newburyport
Daily News of Newburyport, The*. 5/13/2010 to Present
Massachusetts, Northampton
Hampshire Gazette. 1786-09-20 to 1843-03-28
Massachusetts, Springfield
Springfield Union. 1964-05-16 to 1969-02-20
Massachusetts, Worcester
National Aegis. 1821-01-10 to 1854-10-04

Michigan, Jackson
Jackson Citizen. 1868-10-06 to 1870-05-31
Michigan, Jackson
Jackson Citizen Patriot. 1865-07-01 to 1868-12-09

Minnesota, Virginia
Mesabi Daily News*. 3/17/1999 to Present

New Hampshire, Concord
New Hampshire Observer. 1825-01-03 to 1826-12-29
New Hampshire, Concord
New Hampshire Patriot . 1879-06-12
New Hampshire, Exeter.
Freeman’s Oracle . 1788-01-18

New Jersey, Englewood
Northern Valley Suburbanite*. 1/21/2010 to Present
New Jersey, Fort Lee
Fort Lee Suburbanite*. 11/5/2009 to Present
New Jersey, Midland Park
Midland Park Suburban News*. 10/11/2009 to Present
New Jersey, Montclair
Montclair Times, The*. 4/1/2010 to Present
New Jersey, Trenton
Trenton Evening Times. 1883-07-22 to 1885-08-02

New York, Albany
Albany Evening Journal. 1856-09-15 to 1876-12-29
New York, New York
New York Herald-Tribune. 1878-01-19 to 1896-12-07
New York, Penn Yan
Chronicle Express, The*. 3/27/2010 to Present

North Carolina, Clinton
Sampson Independent, The*. 4/18/2010 to Present
North Carolina, Pilot Mountain
Pilot, The*. 3/27/2010 to Present

Ohio, Canton
Repository, The*. 10/1/1999 to Present
Ohio, Cincinnati
Cincinnati Daily Gazette. 1868-09-07 to 1871-01-17
Ohio, Cleveland
Plain Dealer. 1858-11-02 to 1866-09-11 and 1971-01-31 to 1981-10-20

Oregon, Portland
Oregonian. 1969-09-01 to 1972-09-15

Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
Aurora General Advertiser. 1797-01-02 to 1797-12-30
Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
Philadelphia Inquirer. 1829-06-01 to 1849-12-31

Rhode Island, Pawtucket
Pawtucket Times . 1920-01-10 to 1921-02-08

Tennessee, Sweetwater
Advocate and Democrat, The*. 12/8/2009 to Present

Texas, Dallas
Dallas Morning News. 1980-07-23 to 1980-12-19
Texas, Fort Worth
Bronze Texan News*. 1969-05-02 to 1969-10-16

Virginia, Alexandria
Alexandria Gazette. 1821-04-12 to 1852-06-30

Vermont, St. Albans
St. Albans Daily Messenger. 1870-02-25 to 1898-07-02 and 1869-07-16
Vermont, Windsor
Vermont Republican . 1809-01-30

Washington, Seattle
Seattle Daily Times. 1957-10-06 to 1984-04-17

Wisconsin, Ashland
Daily Press, The*. 1/2/1999 to Present
Wisconsin, Hartford.

Times Press*. 3/29/2010 to Present
Wisconsin, Madison
Wisconsin Free Press*. 1984-05-10 to 1990-01-12
Wisconsin, Mukwonago
Mukwonago Chief*. 3/28/2010 to Present
Wisconsin, Oneida
Kalihwisaks*. 3/27/2010 to Present
Wisconsin, Wauwatosa
Wauwatosa NOW*. 3/27/2010 to Present

48 More newspapers added to GenealogyBank

GenealogyBank adds 48 more newspapers
Search GenealogyBank now!

Kodiak Daily Mirror (Kodiak, AK) Death Notices: 02/01/2010 – Current
Birmingham Times (Birmingham, AL) Death Notices: 04/01/2010 – Current
Pinal Nugget, The (San Manuel, AZ) Death Notices: 05/14/2010 – Current
Midway Driller (Taft, CA) Death Notices: 10/05/2009 – Current
Oakland Post, The (Oakland, CA) Death Notices: 03/28/2010 – Current
Milford Beacon (Milford, DE) Death Notices: 10/23/2009 – Current
Times-Herald, The (Newnan, GA) Death Notices: 10/02/2009 – Current
Abbeville Meridional (Abbeville, LA) Death Notices: 10/02/2009 – Current
Rayne Acadian-Tribune (Rayne, LA) Death Notices: 10/06/2009 – Current
Richland Beacon-News (Rayville, LA) Death Notices: 10/08/2009 – Current
Hanson Express (Hanson, MA) Death Notices: 05/06/2010 – Current
North Attleborough Free Press, The (North Attleborough, MA) Death Notices: 10/03/2009 – Current
Coldwater Daily Reporter (Coldwater, MI) Death Notices: 10/02/2009 – Current
Jefferson Post (West Jefferson, NC) Death Notices: 10/05/2009 – Current
Atlanticville (Long Branch, Oakhurst, NJ) Death Notices: 12/29/2009 – Current
East Brunswick Sentinel (East Brunswick, NJ) Death Notices: 01/20/2010 – Current
Examiner (Millstone, Englishtown, Allentown, NJ) Death Notices: 03/08/2010 – Current
Hub, The (Red Bank, NJ) Death Notices: 01/05/2010 – Current
Independent, The (Middletown, Hazlet, NJ) Death Notices: 01/05/2010 – Current
North-South Brunswick Sentinel (North Brunswick, South Brunswick, NJ) Death Notices: 01/13/2010 – Current
Suburban (Old Bridge, NJ) Death Notices: 01/06/2010 – Current
Tri-Town News (Howell, Jackson, Lakewood, Plumstead, NJ) Death Notices: 01/16/2010 – Current
Daily Sparks Tribune, The (Sparks, NV) Death Notices: 11/12/2009 – Current
Cooperstown Crier, The (Cooperstown, NY) Death Notices: 04/21/2010 – Current
Courier, The (Bath, NY) Death Notices: 10/02/2009 – Current
Journal-Register, The (Medina, NY) Death Notices: 03/17/2010 – Current
Long Beach Herald (Long Beach, NY) Death Notices: 04/01/2010 – Current
Lynbrook – East Rockaway Herald (Lynbrook, NY) Death Notices: 03/28/2010 – Current
Riverdale Press, The (Bronx, NY) Death Notices: 10/02/2009 – Current
Villager, The (New York, NY) Death Notices: 10/02/2009 – Current
Antlers American, The (Antlers, OK) Death Notices: 03/27/2010 – Current
Express Star, The (Chickasha, OK) Death Notices: 03/17/2010 – Current
Daily Press, The (St. Marys, PA) Death Notices: 10/02/2009 – Current
Dispatch, The (Walterboro, SC) Death Notices: 10/02/2009 – Current
Blount Today (Maryville, TN) Death Notices: 12/23/2009 – Current
Morgan County News (Wartburg, TN) Death Notices: 04/22/2010 – Current
Bay City Tribune, The (Bay City, TX) Death Notices: 10/03/2009 – Current
Greenville Herald-Banner (Greenville, TX) Death Notices: 10/02/2009 – Current
Northeast Herald (San Antonio, TX) Death Notices: 10/18/2009 – Current
Journal Press, The (King George, VA) Death Notices: 10/02/2009 – Current
Shenandoah Valley-Herald (Woodstock, VA) Death Notices: 10/02/2009 – Current
Valley Banner, The (Elkton, VA) Death Notices: 10/02/2009 – Current
Warren Sentinel (Front Royal, VA) Death Notices: 01/16/2010 – Current
Progress-Index, The (Petersburg, VA) Obituaries: 10/31/2001 – 08/29/2005 Death Notices: 11/05/2001 – 08/29/2005

Statesman-Examiner (Colville, WA) Death Notices: 10/08/2009 – Current
Brookfield-Elm Grove NOW (Brookfield, WI) Death Notices: 10/04/2009 – Current
Kettle Moraine Index (Dousman, WI) Death Notices: 10/02/2009 – Current
Oconomowoc Enterprise (Oconomowoc, WI) Death Notices: 03/27/2010 – Current
Sussex Sun (Hartland, WI) Death Notices: 10/03/2009 – Current
.

Census – Vital Records – Washington State; England; Mexico

Washington State Census, Birth Records, Marriage Records, Death Records; Mexico 1930 Census; and England & Wales Census of 1841 & 1861 are now online.

It’s a great day for Genealogy.

Washington State
Washington State Digital Archives has now put Washington State & Federal census records from 1847 through 1910. Click here to see the list of census records online.

Washington State Birth Records for: Adams County 1893-1907, 1910-1915, (several delayed birth returns: 1942); Benton County 1905-1907; King County 1891-1907; Spokane County 1890-1907; Whatcom County 1891-1907; Whitman County 1890-1907

Washington State Marriage Records for:
Adams County Marriage Records; Asotin County Marriage Records; Benton County Marriage Records; Chelan County Marriage Records; Clark County Marriage Records; Columbia County Marriage Records; Ferry County Marriage Records; Franklin County Marriage Records; Garfield County Marriage Records; Grant County Marriage Records; Grays Harbor County Marriage Records; Island County Marriage Records; Jefferson County Marriage Records; Kitsap County Marriage Records; Kittitas County Marriage Records; Klickitat County Marriage Records; Lincoln County Marriage Records; Mason County Marriage Records; Pacific County Marriage Records; Pend Oreille County Marriage Records; Pierce County Marriage Records;
Skagit County Marriage Records; Skamania County Marriage Records; Snohomish County Marriage Records; Spokane County Marriage Records; Stevens County Marriage Records;
Thurston County Marriage Records; Walla Walla County Marriage Records; Whatcom County Marriage Records; Whitman County Marriage Records; Yakima County Marriage Records.

Washington State Death Records for:
1860 Mortality Schedule; 1870 Mortality Schedule; 1880 Mortality Schedule; Adams County Death Return; Brinnon Cemetery – Jefferson County 1895-2003; Cowlitz County Death Returns 1898-1907; Ferry County Register of Deaths 1899-1911; Odd Fellows #1 Memorial Park Cemetery and Mausoleum Listings; Spokane County Death Returns 1888-1907; Washington State Death Records; Whatcom County Death Returns, 1891-1907; Whitman County Death Returns 1891-1907.

GenealogyBank has long runs of Washington State newspapers online including:
Bellingham Herald (Bellingham, WA). 10/2/1903 – 12/30/1922. Variant titles: Fairhaven Herald.
Bellingham Herald (WA). 9/4/1999-Current
Chinook Observer (Long Beach, WA). 8/15/2002-Current
Chronicle (Centralia, WA). 10/31/2002-Current
Columbian (Vancouver, WA). 5/27/1994-Current
Daily Herald (Everett, WA). 8/16/2005-Current
Daily Record (Ellensburg, WA). 10/23/2006-Current
Eastside Journal (Bellevue, WA). 12/4/1999-1/13/2003
Hokubei Jiji (Seattle, WA). 10/14/1916 – 2/28/1918
King County Journal (Bellevue, WA). 1/8/2003-1/20/2007
Morning Olympian (Olympia, WA). 3/15/1891 – 12/31/1922. Variant titles: Daily Olympian; Morning Olympian Tribune
News Tribune (Tacoma, WA). 1/1/1992-Current
Olympia Record (Olympia, WA). 5/13/1902 – 12/31/1922
Olympian (WA). 3/12/2001-Current
Seattle Post-Intelligencer (WA). 1/1/1986-Current
Seattle Times (WA). 1/6/1985-Current
Skagit Valley Herald (Mount Vernon, WA). 8/2/2007-Current
South County Journal) (Kent, WA). 12/3/1999-1/11/2003
Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA). 7/3/1994-Current
Tacoma Daily News (Tacoma, WA). 8/25/1890 – 12/31/1898
Tri-City Herald (Kennewick, WA). 2/21/2006-Current
Wenatchee World (WA). 4/2/2006-Current
Yakima Herald-Republic (WA). 12/11/1997-Current


International – Mexico; England & Wales
FamilySearchLabs has now added the 1841 Census of England & Wales (complete); 1861 Census of England & Wales (complete) and the 1930 Census of Mexico (17% complete).

FamilySearchLabs has the index to the 1841 Census of England & Wales and 1861 Census of England & Wales online for free – but the links to see the images take you to a pay site – FindMyPast – where you need to sign up to view the census page images. The Family History Library has similar arrangements with other providers where the indexes are free but there is a charge for the page images. See FamilySearchLabs for the details.
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