Cyclone At Hampton Beach
July 4, 1898
From the Chronicle, July 5, 1898Seven drowned, three killed and seventy five injured, was the work of a terrible cyclone that visited Hampton beach at 3:30 on Monday afternoon, which left death and desolation in its trail for a distance of half a mile. Without a minute's warning the wind lifted the old skating rink, a building 50x100 feet, with 250 people inside, and there was a horrible sight to behold five minutes later, when over seventy people were moved from the wreck. Thirty-one buildings were wrecked and seven of a party of nine people on a yacht in the harbor were drowned. Trees were torn up, barns unroofed and the cyclone left nothing but wreckage in its path. Many of the injured will die and total number of deaths at this hour is eleven.
A terrible catastrophe visited Hampton beach on the afternoon of July 4th which will never be forgotten by the thousands who were on pleasure bent at that place.
With scarcely a moment's warning a terrific cyclone swooped down on the Head and in less than five minutes had blotted out the lives of at least eight people, destroyed thousands of dollars' worth of property and left a wide path of desolation and waste.
It has been many a day since this section of New England has been the scene of such destruction, and to make it all the worse to have it happen on a holiday, when crowds of people thronged the beach in the direct path of the cyclone.
It was about three o'clock in the afternoon when a black ominous looking cloud rolled up from the west, but most of the people who saw it supposed it nothing more than an ordinary thunder shower. Old mariners and a few others shook their heads and were heard to mutter that there was wind, and lots of it, in those kind of clouds. It was only too true, and with a swiftness and suddenness that only served to make it all the more deadly, the storm broke.
First came several short gusts of wind and a few drops of rain, followed by a dead calm. Then with awful fury the wind tore down the beach, toppling over everything in its path and tossing houses and barns about like so much paper. Big trees were uprooted and thrown down, chimneys blown over and the air filled full of flying objects and debris.
With the first gust of wind the clouds seemed to open and then the water came down in torrents. For about three minutes it never rained harder and then came hail stones, some as large as hens' eggs, which broke out glass and did any amount of injury to the crops back further in the country.
The whole force of the storm seemed to center at Hampton beach and in no time it was a scene of desolation never to be forgotten.
At the skating rink a crowd of a hundred or more people had gathered to witness a kind of panorama representing the blowing up of the battleship Maine.
The building was completely razed to the ground in the twinkling of an eye, while from the ruins came the cries and groans of the injured and dying. It was a heart-rending scene, where men fought each other and trampled on the women and children in their endeavors to get out of the ruins.
But it was only for a few minutes that this pandemonium took place and then the better nature of the men asserted itself and the work of rescuing commenced. It was a terrible sight. Women were shrieking and fainting all around, while strong men were forced to turn away their heads at some of the sights.
Following close on this came the awful news of the loss of a family party of nine persons who were out sailing. This occurred in full sight of hundreds of people at another part of the beach.
Mr. and Mrs. William Barker of Kensington were celebrating the thirteenth anniversary of their marriage, and following their custom on this day, were enjoying a sail with a small party of friends, consisting of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Hodgdon, Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Janvrin and child and John Lamprey, all of Kensington, and Captain Frank Nudd of Hampton, who was the skipper of the party. When the squall struck the craft it capsized in a second, throwing the occupants into the water.
Captain Nudd went to the assistance of Mrs. Barker, but both went down and were seen no more. Mr. Barker and young Johnnie Lamprey succeeded in keeping afloat until assistance arrived and they were taken ashore more dead than alive. It took quite a while to get the water out of young Lamprey and when they did succeed in bringing him to, he was stark crazy and there is little hopes of his recovery. The rest of the party all found a watery grave.
It was a terrible and sad ending of a happy party, who little dreamed when they started out on that beautiful afternoon what was in store for them before they returned.
At the skating rink a gang of volunteers were hard at work getting out the injured and searching for any who might be dead.
Word was telephoned to Exeter and the surrounding towns for physicians and surgical aid. An ambulance and six physicians from Exeter were soon on the way and rendered valuable aid.
At midnight three of the injured people taken out of the rink had died; they were a man named Karlfern, who is a florist from Exeter; John Pressey of Bradford, Mass., a member of the Exeter band, and Mrs. Fred Williams, who participated in the scene of the blowing up of the Maine. She is better known as Mdlle. Mora, her stage name.
Ten seriously, although not dangerously, injured ones were taken to the Exeter hospital, while a number are still at the beach, being too badly hurt to be moved.
Editor J. D. P. Wingate of the Exeter Gazette was one of those badly injured and he was taken to Cutler's hotel, the physicians thinking it dangerous to remove him to Exeter.
A number of the Exeter band are among those injured the most, as they were in a position to get the most damage. Their instruments were beyond recognition when they were fished out of the wreck.
There were numerous other persons injured who were taken care of by their friends who happened to be on the outside of the building.
The skating rink was not the only place that received any damage or where any persons were injured.
Mr. and Mrs. Hutchins of Exeter, who have a cottage at the beach, were quite badly hurt by the wind ripping the front of their house out. They were cut about the head and face by falling boards and other flying articles. There were numerous other incidents, but they could not all be followed up before dark.
In all, there were counted thirty-one houses totally or partially wrecked along the beach.
The half dozen new cottages going up at the farther end of the beach were totally demolished.
At the New Boar's Head hotel the big piazza was blown down and hundreds of dollars' worth of property destroyed.
All along the water's edge was the evidence of the awful havoc made by the wind. Not a summer house or a bath house stood up under the blow. Another thing that showed the strength of the wind and that was the number of buggy tops seen blowing around, they having been lifted clean from the buggies.
Up at Hampton proper considerable damage was done also. The house of Herman Barrows was demolished and the roof of Nat. Johnson's barn was blown away.
Taken altogether, with the loss of life and the property destroyed, it was one of the most destructive cyclones that has ever visited the New England states.
From the Chronicle, July 6, 1898
What was thought to be another body was seen floating in the water a short distance out, but by the time boats reached the spot it was too dark to see anything. Arrangements were made to have the beach patrolled all night in the hopes that the bodies of Gertrude and Ralph Hodgdon might come ashore.
Coroner Rider took charge of all the dead and held an inquest during the day. He impanelled the following jury: E. L. Guptill, Portsmouth; Charles Shaw, Hampton, and Frank Batchelder of Exeter.
They returned a verdict of death by accidental drowning concerning the victims of sailboat tragedy, and accidental death to the skating rink victims.
During the afternoon, two straw hats and a bicycle skirt came ashore and were picked up by the patrol.
They did not belong to any of the party taken out by Captain Nudd and it is thought that there are a number of others who met a watery death during that awful blow.
All day Tuesday crowds upon crowds of sight-seers and curiosity seekers thronged the beach, coming from miles around to view the ruins.
Amateur photographers were very plentiful. The work of repairing chimneys and clearing away many of the wrecked buildings progressed rapidly with such means as were at hand.
Too much cannot be said in praise of the Exeter Street railway company for the part they took in the affair. Everything possible was done by them not only in caring for the big crowds but in taking the injured to Exeter and bringing aid to the sufferers. Their baggage car was turned into an ambulance and was used to carry scores of the injured to their homes.
It was at the upper end of the beach that the full effects of the storm was felt and where the most damage was done. Here a number of new building's were being constructed or had been recently finished and out of them all, not one escaped the terrible fury of the wind.
At least six of the new cottages were leveled to the ground while the rest were twisted and damaged beyond any resemblance of a place of habitation.
At the Kearns cottage, a large two story house, some fifty people had sought shelter from the storm. The first gust of wind took part of the roof off and the whole side of the building out. By great good luck not a person was injured.
John W. Locke, postmaster at Seabrook, has three cottages and two stables destroyed.
Mr. Beach, the prominent soap manufacturer of Lawrence, was forced to take refuge in his cellar to escape being killed.
The cottage of John Little of Exeter was blown down.
The cottage of Mrs. Rollins of Exeter will prove a total loss as will the Babcock cafe.
Brown's cafe was partially destroyed. Hurlich's cafe on the Ross estate is a total loss.
A number of fishing boats are lost while all along can be seen the masts of sail boats sticking out of the water where they sunk at their moorings.
Long stretches of wire on the Exeter street railway line are down and in numerous places the road was completely blocked by large elm trees that were uprooted by the wind.
There was a score of other incidences that could be recorded where it was by a miracle only that the people in the houses that were totally demolished escaped with only a few scratches.
At Thomas Nudd's livery stable some fifteen transient teams were blown all over the beach like so many thistle blooms. A top buggy was lifted clean over the house, one wheel striking the ridge pole on the way over, taking that along with it. The buggy has not been seen since.
The stable, outbuildings and summer house of Charles R. Mason were blown flat and the barn and outbuildings of U. S. Carter destroyed. The laundry building at Cutler's was blown into kindling wood and distributed along the beach.
A barn at the Dodge cottage was demolished and one horse killed. The Lawrence house is a total wreck as is the Rollins house.
The Williams cottage and the Connors house are among those completely ruined.
Fernald's cottage is a total wreck and the family narrowly escaped death in the ruins.
The Singleton and Little cottages were partially destroyed and the Jenkins cafe also suffered considerably.
The list of injured in addition to those printed Tuesday morning, so far as known, is as follows:
George W. Stacey, Exeter; injured internally, will recover.
E. Forest Purinton, Exeter; left leg and nose broken.
Daniel Tewhill, Exeter; hip bone broken, injured internally.
An infant, cannot possibly live.
Charles Davis, Exeter; badly injured about the head, probably will recover.
William Hutchins, Exeter; fractured collar bone and injured about the head.
Mrs. Henry Hubbard, Exeter; scalp wound.
Miss Nora Sheehan, Exeter; badly hurt about the head.
Garrett Drislane, Brockton, Mass., injured internally.
Granville Rollins, Exeter; injured hip.
James D. Wingate, Exeter; scalp wounds.
Charles Larrabee, Exeter; injured about the head.
Carl Walker, Exeter; injured internally.
Fred D. Bundy, Boston; injured about the head.
L. A. Fredericks, injured internally.
Miss Carrie Carver, Exeter; injured about the head.
Miss Nettie Smith, Exeter; hurt about the head.
Thomas Carter, Exeter; back injured.
Wallace Tilton, Exeter; head injured.
B. W. York, Exeter; injured in kidneys.
Mrs. Mary Prescott, Kensington, arm broken, internal injuries.
Samuel Comett, Kensington, back broken, cannot live.
J. S. Pennington, Exeter, broken nose and thigh.
J. W. Carter, Exeter, internal injuries.
Agnes McDonald, Exeter, back injured.
Katie Donovan, Exeter, back and side injured.
P. K. Eastman, Exeter, skull fractured.
Charles Davis, hurt about the head.
Mr. Stacey, hurt about the chest.
Alfred Scott, one of the party who was with the ill fated sailing party, is now a maniac, his mind having given away under the strain.
Ralph C. Gould was an eye witness of the horrible affair.
All kinds of rumors were going around and one had it that 400 people had been killed.
A horse and team belonging to Curtis DeLancey of Hampton and being driven by a young lad, was blown over the bluff. The boy received a number of cuts and bruises.
The shrieks of the injured and dying were heart-rending and will never be removed from the memories of those who witnessed the terrible scene. It was a sight never to be forgotten. The wrecking of the telephone and telegraph lines made it impossible to summon medical assistance.