I think there are several of us living today who will never forget the storm,
although it has been nearly fifty years since it came. When I first came
to Florida, I never hear the word HURRICANE, but the storm was called a
Southeaster, as it came from the Southeast. This hurricane was claimed to
be the worst we ever had.
At that time there were no radios to warn of their approach
and the weather forecasting was not as good as now.
Up to this time, Santa Rosa Island had acted as a bulwark to keep the angry
waters of the Fu;f of Mexico from Pensacola and vicinity. I do not remember
what happened in Pensacola, but I do remember what happened here.
At this time we were living at our home at Kelkerfield. Mr.
Crist was getting logs for Mr. Otis’ mill at Mulat and had a camp
on Wallace Lake on the Escambia River about twenty miles from here. I was
at home with three children, the oldest five years and the youngest fourteen
months. We were trying to build a home. I worked at home while he worked
away. We had a strongly built house, and I was not afraid of bad weather.
Mr. Crist came home Wednesday night and returned to camp Thursday
morning. It was very unsettled weather when he left and kept getting worse
but it did not bother me. That night I awoke after midnight and it seemed
as if the door would blow open, so I pushed some furniture against the door
and went back to sleep. It was so bad the next morn I never got up until
late. It was about 11 a. m. before I milked my cow and tended to the other
animals. Then I got breakfast and straightened the house and by this time
the wind had calmed some and it had almost quit raining, but looked dark
I felt so lonesome that I went to a neighbor’s who lived
about two hundred feet to the west and asked the lady if they would spend
the night with us. She said, “Mrs. don’t you know this is a
HURRICANE and Mulat is washed away!” She said her husband, Mr. Nathan
Land, had gone to Mulat to bring his brother, Mr. Joe Land and family, here.
She asked me to come with my children and stay with them. I quickly accepted
her invitation, as, I was really frightened, although the worse was over,
of which I was unaware. They lived in a large two-story house.
Mr. Land returned with his brother and family, and another
family, and a younger brother. A lady and her two children, who lived near
the bay, were there also. It was surely a full house.
There were several houses built near the bayou in which men
who worked at the mill at Mulat lived. The owner of the mill, Mr. Sim Otis,
lived in a very large house, strongly built. When the men saw the water
coming inshore, they began evacuating their families. Before they had gotten
them all out, the women and children were placed on top of the tables and
carried out on the men’s backs. I think most of the people went to
Mr. Otis’ house.
The water rose ten feet at Mulat. I think it covered the little
trestle across the Bayou. It stood two feel deep in Mr. Otis’ office
and lapped the kitchen in his home, which was some lower than the main house.
The bridge tender lived on the trestle with his wife and two
children. When he saw the weather getting worse, he wanted to take them
ashore, but his wife did not want to leave him. About eleven p. m. he decided
to go ashore as the weather was getting worse. His wife’s brother
was with them. Each man took a child in his arms and began to crawl ashore.
The husband looked back to see about his wife and saw a large wave which
washed her into the water. Then large waves knocked both children out of
the men’s arms into the water. The men reached shore. After the storm
the bodies were found at the head of the bay in the swamp.
The trestle was badly damaged. For several days the trains
could not cross it. One man who was working with Mr. Crist, came home with
him, but did not return. He, his wife and two children, lived in a house
on a point near the mill. His wife’s two brothers and their wives
were with them. He said they were watching the weather and when he saw the
water come in under the door, he timed it. It rose six in. in 10 minutes.
Then he put his folks in his row-boat and swam ashore, towing the boat,
as he was the only one who could swim. He lost his home and all his possessions.
He said if he had returned with Mr. Crist, he would have lost his family.
He told me never to let Mr. Crist put me close to the Bay,
but I enjoy living near the water.