Letter: Ancestor’s ship struck by Texan tornado

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My grandfather, Captain William Storm Harrison, came from Robin Hood’s Bay.

On one of his voyages he came to Swansea, South Wales, where he met my grandmother and made Swansea his home.

With the hurricane in Texas in the news I thought you may be interested in this part of his memoirs. Galveston Disaster 1900, September 1: “Joined S/S Roma at Cardiff loaded coal for St Vincent (Cory’s coaling station).

“Then to Galveston, Texas to load grain for Le Havre, France.

“This vessel was given up as a total constructive loss by Lloyd’s through the big tornado which struck Galveston on the above date.

“Ship torn from her moorings and after both anchors and cable broke she was blown inland six miles to a farmer’s field over three railway viaducts. About 12,000 people were killed and drowned. We rescued 84 persons during the night floating about on various parts of furniture.

“The town was put under Marshall law and some men were shot by American soldiers for looting dead bodies.

“All available manpower was put in force to try and avoid epidemic (cholera).

“Was paid five dollars a day for burning dead bodies. I got home by joining another vessel of the same company that called at New Orleans to load mules for South Africa.”

The captain of the S/S Roma was William Storm also from Robin Hood’s Bay and a cousin.

My grandfather said that there were three storms in Galveston that day – two onboard and one outside! Also he was only 17 years old at the time, quite an experience for a very young man.

After Galveston Captain William Storm was called Roma Will and the cottage he lived in in Robin Hood’s Bay is still called Roma cottage today.

Jackie Gruffudd


South Wale