Free Classics: The Complete Story of the Galveston Horror by the Survivors and edited by John Coulter

Every Friday, Marilyn Knapp Litt, who blogs at, brings us her recommendation of a free classic book to discover (or rediscover) on Kindle. Find more of Marilyn’s recommendations at her blog,, a guide to the best free and inexpensive classic literature for the Kindle. You can also get Marilyn’s blog on Kindle and I recommend that you “Like” the Classic Kindle Facebook page as well so you don’t miss anything. Here’s Marilyn’s post:

The Complete Story of the Galveston Horror by the Survivors and edited by John Coulter. We are in the middle of hurricane season and in a post-Katrina society, hurricanes make us very uneasy in the states.

This is the story of the Galveston hurricane of 1900, the same hurricane chronicled in Isaac’s Storm. (108 years later, the island and city of Galveston was devastated by Hurricane Ike.)

The situation in the stricken City of Galveston is portrayed day by day exactly as it existed, and is not the product of imaginings of writers who put down what the conditions should have been; the storm has been followed from its inception, just south of the island of San Domingo, to Galveston, through Texas and then along its course until it disappeared in the broad Atlantic off the Eastern coast; the horrors of the gale, the cruel killing of thousands by the winds and waters, the wrecking of thousands of buildings and the drowning of helpless men, women and children, are all given in graphic and picturesque language.

So, let’s see if that is true . . .

Wednesday evening the regulars shot forty-nine ghouls after they had been tried by court-martial, having found them in possession of large quantities of plunder. The vandals begged for mercy, but none was shown them and they were speedily put out of the way. The bandits, as a rule, obtained transportation to the city by representing themselves as having been engaged to do relief work and to aid in burying the dead. Shortly after the first bunch of thieves was executed another party of twenty was shot. The outlaws were afterward put out of the way by twos and threes, it being their habit to travel in gangs and never alone. In every instance the pockets of these bandits were found filled with plunder.


More than 2,000 bodies had been thrown into the sea up to Wednesday night, this having been decided upon by the authorities as the only way of preventing a visitation of pestilence, which, they felt, should not be added to the horrors the city had already experienced. Tuesday evening, shortly before darkness set in, three barges, containing 700 bodies, were sent out to sea, the corpses being thrown into the water after being heavily weighted to prevent the possibility of their afterwards coming to the surface. As there were few volunteers for this ghastly work, troops and police officers were sent out to impress men for the service, but while these unwilling laborers, after being filled with liquor, agreed to handle the bodies of white men, women and children, nothing could induce them to touch the negro dead. Finally city firemen came forward and attended to the disposal of the corpses of the colored victims. These were badly decomposed, and it was absolutely necessary to get them out of the way to prevent infection.

We need to acknowledge all the history. Jim Crow did not end with death.

Some of this will be familiar to students of Galveston history, as this is obviously a valuable source; but as you can tell from the snippets, it stands on its own as a history told in the words and sensibilities of that time, disclosing more than the editor realized.

Oddly enough, not all hurricanes are unwelcome. San Antonio, and much of Texas, is in perhaps the worst drought in our history. We would welcome a hurricane – which would travel across miles of dusty ranch land, doing little damage and much good, and reach us as a rainy fading tropical storm.

Download your free copy of “The Complete Story of the Galveston Horror” by the Survivors and edited by John Coulter here >>>

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