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(CALIFORNIA.) Wilhelm, Thomas. Detailed report on the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. 10 mimeographed pages, clasp-bound in one corner, signed on final page; folds, wear and soiling on final page with loss of a few letters. Oakland, CA, 29 April 1906
A riveting account of the earthquake, fire, and aftermath written by a National Guard major, Thomas Wilhelm (1839-1922), on the scene 11 days after the quake. It was published in the 29 May 1906 issue of the Army & Navy Register, but was also apparently printed in this form for private distribution, perhaps to aid in fundraising. On page 4 he describes Italians on Telegraph Hill saving their homes with red wine: 'Surrounded by billows of fire, the little band of fire fighters were slowly driven to the very top but were not ready to quit. They were of all nationalities, but they were all San Franciscans and they fought on. At one of the most critical moments the pump sucked dry and the water in the well was exhausted. Then the Italian residents crashed in the doors of their cellars and calling for assistance began rolling out barrels of red wine. Sacks were dipped in the wine and used for beating out the fire. Beds were stripped of their blankets and these were soaked in the wine and hung over the exposed parts of the cottages.' The desperate effort to save the United States Mint by a band of loyal employees is also described—'one of the few massive structures in the heart of the city which has survived.' Major Wilhelm concludes by noting the relief pouring in 'from warm-hearted Ireland to the great southern continent Australia, from Japan to South Africa. It is as it should be, for San Francisco is a most cosmopolitan city, sheltering all nationalities.'
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