Milton Press Gazette

Feb. 22, 1952

It Was Really Cold Here in ‘Big Freeze’ of 1899

EDITOR’S NOTE: When the talk gets around to cold weather, the main item of comparison is the “big freeze” of 1899. Here is a vivid account of that legendary period.

By Mrs. Annie L. Deen-Crist

I saw in the paper where the weatherman said the records show the freeze of Feb. 12, 1899 was the coldest weather Pensacola had on record. I had just closed my school at Allentown in January a few days before and had returned to Uncle Charlie Deen’s home, where I lived. We were having very pleasant weather. The children had picked blooming flowers in the school yard, just before school closed.

Saturday morning, Feb. 11, Mr. Crist’s sister had sent for me to spend a few days with her. It was a pleasant day. The next morning, Feb. 12, when we awoke, everything was white with snow and still snowing. It did not fall in flakes. It was granulated. Looked something like granulated sugar. Everything was frozen.

The Crist's had a very deep well, but the pump had to be thawed before they could get water. (This Live Oak Park is the same place.) All we could do that day was stay by the fire. Mr. Jack Bonifay was there at the time.

Monday morning, Mr. Crist took his fish net and, with Mr. Bonifay, walked up the beach to a place called Bass Lake. It is where the first bridge on U. S. 90 crosses the bay. Frozen fish were all along the beach. The fish in the water had sunk to the bottom, as the top was frozen. Mr. Crist caught a large number of different kinds of fish, and there they met Mr. Elmer Guernsey and his brother Charley with a large number of fish in a boat, among which were many red fish. Mr. Crist and Mr. Bonifay came home with a sack full of fish, and shared them with the neighbors.

Mr. Guernsey lived several miles from the bay and had to for a creek. The creek was frozen. They fixed the mules’ feet so they could walk on the ice and drove them across the creek. The bay had an eighth of an inch of ice all the way across from the Crist’s place and Floridatown to the other side.
At that time the woods were full of lightwood knots and other fat wood which made very hot fires. Some of the houses were not built for cold weather, and there would have been greater suffering without the plentiful wood free.





Then and Now


Logging Industry

The Big Freeze


Hurricane of 1906

Crist Reunion



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