Anyone who’s lived in Miami for more than a year or so has undoubtedly heard about the Great Miami Hurricane of 1926. The disaster is trotted out every year at the beginning of each hurricane season when the media begins its mass-hysteria campaign, and after a few years you get sort of numb to all the hoopla and warnings of dire consequences that might be coming our way.
Then one day you come across an actual first-hand account of the disaster in a long-forgotten publication and you realize that things were very different for people
in Miami back in 1926…
THE DEAD –List of Casualties
The following is the official list of the dead taken by morticians at Miami.
Ayres, Thomas B., 3260 MacDonald Street, Coconut Grove.
Bain, Ralph; negro.
Baker, Mrs. Edith, 35 Seventy-fifth Street, at north side.
Ballou, Miss Anna, Dayton, O.
Been, Carolyn Ruth, and child, 410 N. E. Nineteenth Street.
Berrien, Drucilla, negro, Hialeah.
Best, Isaac Edward; negro.
Brinson, Mrs. Mattie.
Brookshire, Lydia, 5222 N. W. Fifty-ninth Street.
Bynum, Tullie Hays, 28. 123 S. W. Seventh Street.
Calcutt, Aubrey S., 32, 620 Leon Avenue, Miami Beach.
Carter, Venetian, 7-months-old baby, Hialeah.
Comer, John H., Jr., East Hialeah.
Cracraft, Mrs. Josephine.
Edwards, John H., 77, N. W. Twenty-fourth Avenue and Forty-first Street; wife, Georgia Dunlap Edwards.
Egan, John J.. 65, N. W. Twenty-second Avenue and Sixty-second Street, carpenter; wife, Margaret Egan.
Estey, William W., 60, Miami Shores.
Fisher, Little Doc, 39, 1109 N. W. Twenty-first Street.
George, “Shorty,” negro.
Gill, Thomas, 48, body found on Venetian causeway.
Glover, Ammer, 50; body found at Miami Beach.
Godwin, Mrs. Mary G., N. W. Twenty-third Avenue and Eighty-first Street.
Green, Bill, 26, negro.
Hamilton, Leroy, 17, Hialeah.
Hargraves, Ralph. 40.
Harrison, A. D., White Belt Dairy.
Harrison, Mrs. A. D., same address.
Harrison, Mrs. Ella. 42, same address.
Hopper, Mrs. Mary A., 67, 7336 N. Miami Court.
Hoskins, W. J., Owensboro, Ky.
Houston, Sam, 35, Liberty City, negro.
James, Martin, Hialeah.
Kirby, Dorothy, Little River.
Kusta, Edna, 6, Red Road, Hialeah.
Leet, Georgia Dfae, 34, Hialeah; father, George W. Leet.
Lehman, Tilson K., Fifty-first Street, Palm Avenue, Hialeah; father, A. O. Lehman; mother, Mrs. Ula Mae Heil.
Little, Alton Bush, secretary-treasurer Miami Beach Beacon.
McGinley, Kathleen, 15-months-old baby, Hialeah.
McGinnis, 10 years old, Sigmund Boulevard.
McGinnis, Sr., Mrs. J. W., 26, Sigmund Boulevard. McKenzie, Frank, 32.
McKinney, Arthur and wife, N. W. Twelfth Street and Third Avenue, negroes.
McKinnon, Leon, N. W. Twentieth Street and Third Avenue; husband, Arthur McKinnon, negro.
McLeob, Georgia, 34, Hialeah.
Murphy, John Joseph, 19, Miami Beach, killed at Hialeah.
Neal, Harper, 35, 1821 N. W. Fifth Court, negro.
Norma, Mrs., South Miami.
Petty, John, 18, Coral Gables Terrace.
Rader, Mrs. Mabel, 54, Hialeah.
Raiford, two children, Miami Shores.
Rexford, Louise, Miami Shores.
Rexford, Jr., Miami Shores.
Roberts, Mrs. Tahila A., Fifty-ninth Street and N. E. Second Avenue.
Roberts, Mrs. Victoria, Fifty-ninth Street and N. E. Second Avenue.
Robinson, Meddow, 21, 1967 N. W. Fourth Court, negro.
Rogers, A. G., 36, Hollywood.
Rogers, J. E., 40, Hialeah.
Sawyer, Randolph, about 40.
Schachter, Isadore, Atlanta, Ga.
Schoenback, Jules, 42, 56 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach.
Schwartz, Frank A., 27, 1028 S. W. Twenty-seventh Court.
Schote, , Hialeah.
Shutts, Fred, 1738 S. W. Eighth Street.
Smith, Jennie, 40, Hialeah.
Snow,???, Biscayne Park, at north side.
Sutherland, John, 28, Liberty City, negro.
Tuley, John, 42, Thirty-third Street and Washington, Hialeah.
Additional 23 men, 2 boys, 1 girl and 1 woman unidentified.
KILLED AT HOLLYWOOD
(D is for Dania)
Bjorkland, A. P.
Brown, Gordan, and wife.
Brown, Muslean. Corley, Anie, D., colored.
Crorey, Mrs., D.
Crorey, Marjorie E., D.
Churchill, Edna Allen.
Craft, Mrs. J. H.
Coleman, Roy G.
Evans, Henry, colored.
Frost, Mrs. Sheridan, D.
Fross, Mrs. Geo.
Head, Mrs. Sarah E.
Helm, Leon. D. Helm,
Lorena, D. Hickman.
Netty, D. Torden, J. J.
Luther, Henry G., D.
McAllister, John W., D.
McFarland, Andrew, D.
Moore, Mrs. R. W., and baby, D.
Poole, L. P., and wife.
Priess, Mrs. R. L.
Rogers, Albert G.
Smith, J. R.
Tenall, James, D.
Yeager, Mrs. Effie D.
KILLED AT CORAL GABLES
Cochraft, Mrs. Josephine.
Little, Alton Bush.
McGinnis, Mrs. J. W., and boy.
Crowley, R. D., and wife.
Gamble, P. E.
Telhner, W. A., wife and children.
Thompson, Mrs. Anna, and infant.
KILLED AT LAKEPORT
Beck, Mrs. George, daughter and 2 grand-daughters.
KILLED AT MOOREHAVEN
Bowman, Mrs. Vinnie, and 5 children.
Barnes, Mr. and Mrs. F. C.
Cottrell, Mrs. J. S., and daughter.
DeAgrella, Mr. and Mrs. J., and 5 children.
Futch, W. W., and child.
Fisher, M. W.
Grilla, D. F., wife and 5 children.
Goble, A. E.
Grilla, J. D., and baby.
Horn, Mrs. W. J.
Henderson, Mrs. D. J., and 3 children.
Irminger, Mrs. Edward.
Jacobsen, Mrs., and daughter.
Kumesig, Mrs. Adolph.
Lundy, Mrs. J. B., and 2 children.
Norris, Mr. and Mrs. R. A., and 5 children.
Riesberg, Mr. and Mrs. Roberts, Mr. and Mrs.
Rowes, Mr. and Mrs.
Roams, Mrs. A.
Seely’s child, Joe
Sullivan, T. G.
Strum, Joseph, and 2 children.
Smith, E. C.
Williams, Joseph, and 2 children.
Youngblood, Mrs. Clarence, and 5 children.
Unidentified : 1 man, 3 women, 3 children
In this age of weather satellites and NOAA aircraft that track a hurricane’s every move right on our TV screens, it’s easy to overlook what a frightening experience it must have been to endure a Category 5 hurricane eighty years ago when there was no advanced warning of a storm’s intensity. Here’s a first-hand account written shortly after the hurricane by an unknown author who apparently was in Miami at the time. (Note how this writer attributes the second wave of destruction after the eye of the hurricane passed to “it circled and struck again”)
How the HURRICANE Did Its TERRIBLE DAMAGE
Out of the blue expanses of the South Atlantic on Friday and Saturday, September 17th and 18th, a whirling, howling wind-fury swooped mercilessly upon the gayest, brightest playground in all the world-that sixty mile wide strip of Florida’s lower east coast with Palm Beach at one extreme and Miami at the other-and lashed it into a battleground of the elements, strewn with death and ghastly debris.
The fiercest and most inescapable of all elemental disturbances, the West Indian hurricane that destroyed the jewel-like resort communities roared out of the sea and wrought its dreadful havoc under a canopy of storm clouds. Then, when terrified thousands thought its fury spent and were about to begin the work of counting its toll, it circled and struck again with redoubled intensity completing the devastation of its first blow and leaving vaster ruin in its wake.
In the sixty-mile swath it cut on Florida’s seacoast, the hurricane took a toll of 220 dead and 6,328 injured and caused damage that has been variously estimated at from $30,000,000 to $100,000,000 with the most likely approximations hovering close to the last figure.
After smashing the seacoast city of Miami with its adjacent communities of Miami Beach, Hialeah and Coral Gables and the beautiful resort towns of Fort Lauderdale, Pompano, Dania and Hollywood, the hurricane swirled through the Everglades to the northwest.
Its path through the unsettled Everglades country is marked with a great swath of destruction. Millions of trees were uprooted and destroyed and the loss in wild life was heavy. Even bands of Seminole Indians in the fastnesses sought safety in flight.
The blast swept on through unsettled country until it struck the little Everglades towns of Moorehaven and Clewiston on the edge of Lake Okeechobee. There, as in the cities and towns of the lower east coast, it whirled houses crazily to pieces, flattened staunch business buildings and killed 150 persons. The toll of injured in the Everglades towns was 50.
So complete was the ruin wrought in Miami and its sister communities that nearly 24 hours elapsed before the first word of the disaster reached the outside world. The stricken cities began their own feeble attempts at checking the toll and righting the damage before the rest of the world knew their loss.
No clearer evidence of the awful force of the wind and the havoc wrought by the terrific pressure of the 100-mile an hour blast and the towering tidal wave that crashed in from the sea with it can be given.
And in what is truly an amazing story of survival, a young girl lived through this car wreck in the middle of a hurricane, then gave birth to her child on the Causeway.
With the incessant hype we’re all bombarded with these days, there isn’t much that impresses me. But I have to say that from everything I’ve read, the Miami hurricane of 1926 must have been a bitch.