(Received October 15, 2005)


An "O'Hara letter" from San Francisco, April 18, 1906

    The following thrilling letter, describing the sensations experienced by a sufferer from the San Francisco earthquake, was received by Mr Hugh O'Hara-Monan, of 32, Waverley Ave, Fairview, Dublin, from his brother, who was in the city at the time of the earthquake:

San Francisco California USA

 18th April 1906.

My dear Hugh

    A terrible earthquake has occurred here, followed by a disastrous fire, which is burning the whole town. Thousands are killed. I narrowly escaped with my life from the earthquake. I may not fare so well with the fire, which is something terrible. Everything is so miserably dreadful that I cannot describe it. It is fearful. It will take me quite a long time to survive the shock. It is another Pompeii. I am sending you the papers.

    Every building was wrecked; churches were overthrown; & streets twisted into all kinds of shapes. The people are starving, & no food is to be had until relief trains come in. One has to sleep on sidewalks. And everything is so awful, fearfully dreadful; the shock is still "Ringing in My Ears". Millions of property has been destroyed. But you can read every­thing for yourself in the papers, which I will mail to you as soon as possible.

    I am absolutely homeless now. The earthquake was felt all over the states. All the surrounding towns are a total wreck. San Francisco is a town about the size of Dublin. The population is almost 500,000, two-thirds of which are a1ready homeless. I have lost everything in the fire: the town is all in darkness and looks like a graveyard.

    Everything is at a standstill, and the people will soon starve if relief does not come soon.

    The earthquake started at 5 -15 o'clock in the morning. I was tossed in the bed like a boat in a rough sea. The shock lasted forty seconds. The fire is fierily raging all around me as I write, and soon will demolish the place in which I am writing this letter. I cannot say anything about the future and for the present I must only allow myself to be governed by circumstances. Hoping you are well. I remain

                                                                your affectionate brother B. ­

       P.S. - This letter was written on a empty sardine - box

    The recipient of the San Francisco letter is Mr Hugh Monan 32 Waverley Ave, Fairview ... Regarding the O'Hara connection - my cousin Val told me there was some family disputes within the family and they renounced the family name, even though in my Mother's family address book my great grandfather signed his name O'Hara - Monan.

    Best wishes,

    Barbara Best

Email: bpb117@ntlworld.com

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