Quebec, QB Disastrous Rockslide, Sept 1889

Birth, Marriage & Death Records

Quebec CAN rockslide 1889.jpg

EFFECTS OF A ROCKSLIDE.

DETAILS OF QUEBEC'S AWFUL DISASTER.

TWENTY-FIVE DISFIGURED BODIES FOUND -- EIGHTEEN PERSONS WOUNDED -- DISTRESSING SCENES.

Quebec, Sept. 20. -- The work of excavating at the scene of the landslide is still going on. Among those who are missing and who are supposed to be beneath the ruins are MR. and MRS. CHARLES ALLAN, MRS. STEVENS, MRS. HENRY, RICHARD MAYBURY and wife, MRS. R. LAWSON, R. KEMP and family, MICHAEL B. LEAHY, and a number of children. The loss sustained by the surviving victims of the disaster is very great. Some of the workingmen who are deprived of their homes lost all their furniture and other effects, even their Summer earnings, and many are left virtually penniless at the commencement of a Canadian Winter. WILLIAM POWERS, wife, and child were saved by the men of B Battery, who, aided by a detachment of the cavalry school, effected quite a number of rescues.
The list of those killed and wounded, as far as known, is as follows:
Killed. -- THOMAS FARRELL and three FARRELL children; two children named BURKE; one child named BRADLEY; child of P. FITZGERALD; MRS. BRACKEN; MRS. STEPHEN BURKE; HENRY BLACK; WILLIAM BLACK; THOMAS NOLAN; MRS. READY.
Wounded. -- MR. and MRS. CARLSON; J. O'NEILL; MRS. LUKE KERWIN and child; THOMAS BERRIGAN; JAMES HAYDEN; WILLIAM STEVENS and son; NELLIE DEEHRY; PATRICK FITZGERALD; MARTIN READY; three children named MAYBURY; STEPHEN BURKE and his mother; MRS. FITZGERALD; THOMAS GRAHAM; WILLIAM POWERS, wife and child; MRS. THOMAS FARRELL; DENNIS BERRIGAN.
The members of the BLACK family were buried alive twelve feet below the surface of the debris. On being asked if they were safe MRS. BLACK answered: "My husband is killed at the door. The rest are safe, but we are suffering from wounds and bruises on our limbs." Shortly after MISS MAY CAULDWELL, a niece of MR. BLACK, was extricated from MR. BLACK'S house. Her limbs were so stiff from inaction that the least touch on them caused excruciating pains. The nex person brought out was THOMAS BERRIGAN, whose wife was taken out of the ruins dead. He was so disfigured that his friends could hardly recognize him. He was removed to the Hotel Dieu Hospital, muttering a prayer of thanks for his miraculous escape. The next to follow was an eight-year-old boy, also named BERRIGAN. His left leg was crushed to a jelly. Then came MRS. BLACK. Her bosom, neck, and face were dreadfully swollen.
The scene of the disaster is being visited by thousands, who block up the narrow street and make it a difficult task for any one to move in any direction. There being but one narrow street between the rock and the river, there is a complete stoppage of traffic, except by climbing over the debris. The shipping office in the Dominnion Government building has been turned into a temporary morgue, and over twenty bodies are lying in it. It is difficult to identify some of the bodies, so much have they been disfigured and crushed. A complete list of the injured cannot be made up as yet, as they were removed to different hospitals and to friends' houses as soon as they were taken from the ruins.
It is feared that a large part of the rock adjoining the site of the slide will come down, as large crevices have appeared and the rain is still falling, and may repeat the operations which caused last night's disaster. The people are moving out of the threatened houses. There has been no lack of volunteers for work at the mines, but there is a lack of intelligent directions, as there is no person in authority. Citizens are sending in money to relieve any immediate distress among the homeless women and children.
The site of the rockslide is almost identical with that of the one which occurred in 1841, when eight buildings were crushed and thirty-two persons were killed. The houses destroyed last night all stood on the other side of the roadway and were not thought to be in any danger, but the immense mass of rock swept clear across the roadway and over the brick buildings, demolishing them as if they were made of cardboard.
The mass of earth and rock moved is, roughly speaking, about 600 feet frontage by 80 feet in depth. Some of the masses of fallen rock must weigh nearly twenty tons, and there are so many huge blocks that it makes the work of clearance very difficult.
In addition to the list of killed given the bodies of RICHARD LEAHY, MRS. READY, and MISS LANE have been recovered from the ruins.
Preparations are being made for the funerals of the killed, who will be buried at the joint expense of citizens and the local Government.
Among those buried by the rocks are a young couple named NOLAN, who were married a few weeks ago. NOLAN could have escaped, but he lost his life in trying to get his wife out of the house.
It is thought that the King's bastion on the citadel will have to be removed, as it is now near the edge of the rock, with unsafe crevices in front of it. As a precautionary measure all communication with the bastion has been cut off and the morning and evening guns will no longer be fired from it.
About twenty thousand persons have visited the scene of the disaster during the day. It has been decided to use small charges of powder to break up the huge boulders covering the roadway, as it is certain there can be nothing living beneath them.
The horrors of this dreadful day are still succeeding each other. While the workers were busy clearing away the debris of the crumbled buildings, faint groans were heard at intervals from under huge piles of rocks. The efforts of the volunteers were concentrated to that point, and after three hours' hard work the bleeding body of JOE KEMP was extricated from the mass of rock. The poor man is in a most pitiable condition. Both legs are broken at the knees, the left arm is fractured above the elbow, and several ribs are fractured. He cannot live many hours. Two hours later his wife's body was taken out of the wreck. Her head was almost severed from her body.
Further away there was another hideous spectacle -- the corpse of a young woman (MRS. LAUSON) who had been admired in her lifetime for her beauty. Her body had been crushed almost flat. Shortly after viewing her remains her husband became a raving maniac. It is doubtful if he will recover his reason.
A man named MICHAEL BRADLEY, who had gone almost crazy when told that all his family had perished in the landslide, discovered, while working over the wreck of his house, his five-year-old daughter still alive. His joy was indescribable. It is thought the child will live.
Up to this time the number of corpses found is twenty-five and the number of wounded eighteen.
The city is thronged with strangers, coming from all parts of Quebec district to witness the effects of the terrible avalanche.

The New York Times New York 1889-09-21