The Loup City northwestern. (Loup City, Neb.) 189?-1917, June 06, 1902, Image 8

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To the Last, the Light-Hearted Population Refused to Believe There
Was Danger, Though the Warning Was Ample.
The special correspondent of the
New York Herald, writing from St,
Pierre. Martinique, says:
It is not so very long ago that I vis
ited this poor St. Pierre—this now
city of the dead. It had, I am told,
undergone but few changes until the
coming of that frightful day which
changed it so utterly.
Where all is now aching desolation
a chaos of ruined walls, blackened
stumps of trees and sickening stench,
there basked in summer sunshine a
little city splashed through with vivid
fall, tell of how short-lived the fright
was and how quickly the mercurial
population regained its buoyant spir
its. Some there were who looked
grave when ^hes, white and fine as
powdered n^mesia, began to sift
from the great cloud which hung over
Pelee's crest, but it seems that none
thought to connect these myriads of
floating particles with the deep, muf
fled rumble which had Just been
heard: none to trace the one to the
other—the effect to the cause. Their
minds were not grooved to such
color—red tiled roofs cutting sharp
lines on walls of creamy white, yellow
and orange and bird’s-eye blue, min
gled with the green of tropic verdure.
Built on a long undulation, which slop
ed to the sea, where it clustered in a
riot of color near the shore, its sub
urban spots could he picked out here
and there along the flanking spurs
and foothills which roll from Pelee’B
base, that great volcanic bulk whose
crest is ever shrouded in a veil of
Over the doomed city the morning
of May 1 broke in miracle splendor,
skies bright and blue, and foliage
washed to a tresher green by a hard
rain which had swept over the island
the night. But it was the
last fair day that St. Pierre was to
The market place, the first section
of the city to show life when a West
Professor Robert T. Hill.
(First Man to Penetrate to the Crater
of Mont Pelee and Report on the
Indian town awakes, was filling with
venders and purchasers, when the
first murmur of Pelee, the sleeping
giant, was heard—a deep-toned, jarred
growl, which instantly blanched the
faces of all who heard, for those bred
In the shadow of the volcano had long
since learned to dread its wrath, and,
growing up, these in turn had taught
other generations of the malevolent
ri that giant bulk. Startled eyes were
turned to the gloomy mountain,
and were reassured to see it still quiet
bo far as vision went, for its top was
hidden in a white mist, and there was
no sign of boiling lava and no fall
of hurtling rocks.
Those who by chance were in the
city that morning, and who by far
luckier hazard were out of it before its
analysis; they were too simile, too
West Indian for that. Sufficient that
the rumble had gone.
St. Pierre was gay that night of May
1. The municipal band played music
in the plana, as was :ts wont Thurs
day evening. This band night was
the one when youths and maidens
might mingle in public, and the young
gallants and mademoiselles, prome
nading around the square under tr.e
watchful eyes of fathers and mothers
and dueunas, talked lightly of Pelee
and that whitening fall.
Up near Morne Rouge, abode or bt.
Pierre’s well-to-do, there was a
lawn party that evening, which car
ried its gayety far into the night—
zitza3 tinkling in the tropic air, and
mantilla-draped girls dancing in the
moonlight to the click of castanets.
Friday, day of the evil omen, dawn
ed over St. Pierre. It was made
sombre by a thunderstorm, which
brooded over the mountains and from
whose dark clouds came Intermittent
flashes of lightning. The nervous
started at every thunderclap and anx
iously asked one another if that was
not Mont Pelee, while others sought
to trace the blinding flashes to their
source, to see if they were really the
mere play of lightning or volcanic
blazes from the time-worn crater,
which many believed, and all hoped,
was long ago extinct. Then a heavy
mist settled over the city and its sur
roundings, and under its depressing
influence the day wore Itself to a
Satu’.day, May 3! Just five days
to the obliteration, to death, utterly,
wholesale, sudden and tragic! And
yet St. Pierre went forth that day to
carnival doings, local celebration in
honor of something or somebody.
Facts a-e meager as to that one day
and those following, for it must be
remembered that nobody survived the
horror that was so soon to come. But
there were some who had spent days
in tne city just previous to the trag
edy—some who had left it only a
scant half-hour before the holocaust.
Grieving for their own lost dead and
with nerves unstrung by the narrow
ness of their own escape, It may be
that their overwrought minds are
coining visions now, but these tell ear
nestly of a column of smoke which
arose, black as a pall, from Pelee’s
white shroud to rear its billows of
crape into the form ot a great up
ended coflin. However that may oe,
there is evidence that all festival gay
ety went when showers of pebbles be
gan to rattle over the city, with now
and then a snower of sand, of grains
hot to the touch, despite their long
flight through the air.
St. Pierre, it is now said, was in a
more sober humor that evening than
it has been within the memory of those
who tell disjointedly the tale of the
lays that ushered in its doom. And
| when on the next morning—Sunday,
that was—another growling note was
heard from Pelee and a small river of
hot, black mud, touched here and
there with red, was seen to come snak
ing down out of the mists screening
Pelee’s summit, to cascade over a
hundred-foot precipice and then to
follow the line of least resistance un
til it swirled about the Guerin factory,
setting that building ablaze and des
troying many lives, then apprehension
grew fhto fear and soon might have
lapsed into a panic, which doubtless
would have saved through flight the
lives of the thousands that were soon
to be sacriuced.
n was at tnis crisis uiai me nanu
of the government appeared. To Fort
de France, the seat of local authority,
had come reports of the uneasy feel- j
Ing of those dwelling in St. Pierre.
Martinique’s commercial theater. It
is thought that Gov. Mouttet honestly
believed there was no cause for alarm
and that a pan' in St. Pierre would ;
work disaster in many ways, interrupt j
iug commerce and injuring the whole
island as well as the threatened city.
He, if none other, realized that an
exodus from the place would be a
tacit acknowledgment of the danger
that lurked in the volcano, which all
in Martinique would have the world
believe W£s long ago extinct and never
to be restored to the list of still active i
nor yet classed with those that are
So it came about that the governor
saw fit to exercise moral restraint,
it not being within his province or
within that ot any ether man to use '
physical force in a matter of this j
In St. Pierre there were some gov
ernment employes, among these gray
beards who had spent years in vol- j
canic regions, and wuo knew some- |
thing of the preliminary warnings
which come from taese excitable
hills. When the lava streams came
pouring down from Pelee these at once
made hurried applications for leaves
of absence. The government sought
to make an example of the youngest,
and in a communication to him denied
the application for furlough, and said
moreover that if the applicant quitted
his post at the time his position
would be taken from him. This man
—unfortunately, names are hard to
obtain now- from Martinique’s hysteri
cal population—promptly decided that
his life was worth more than his place
and, packing up his belongings, went
with his family to some point inland,
just where no one seems to know-.
It seems teat the others were not
so hardy, or were more so, according
to one’s way of looking at It. At all
events, when the government’s dic
tum was known all the government
employes uecided to remain, and as
fear loves company no less than mis
ery does, these affected to make light
of the danger so as to better Induce
the others to remain.
Monday, May 5—Less than eighty
hours, and the 30,000 Iive3 of St.
Pierre are to be blotted out as quickly
as one snuffs a candle. Fear is rife
among the populace the morning of
tnis day and an unwonted silence per
vades the city—the hush that precedes
a great tragedy. Macaws and parrots
squawk discordantly from cages, foun
tains tinkle merrily, seas and skies
are blue, but pervading all is an air
of expectancy—of dread.
Few have yet left the city, but it
would now take little to turn every
street into a struggling stream of hu
manity fleeing panic-stricken from the
vicinity of that awful volcano. From
tales I have heard one can easily
conceive of what a trampling rush
might have followed some tocsin alarm
—such a mad rush for safety as theater
crowds are wont to make when the
cry of “fire” is heard.
But there was none in Martinique
to give needed warning—not even
Pelee. All that day and the next and
the next the volcano smoked, and*at
intervals emitted clouds of ashes,
finely pulverized pumice the chemists
say the ashes are composed of, but
the wind sent the smoke and ashes
away from the city, and while the roll
ing clouds were seen from far-off
points and while the ashes fell on
the ships half a hundred miles away
none in St. Pierre seems to have
known that the mountain was even
then pouring forth smoke and ashes.
What the residents did know was
that a commission of geologists had
been appointed by the government to
| survey Pelee and report upon it—
(Official Troncb (otvtaaitot cap of norQutatcxn Marttnfciu*. »Ub potataof pLlaf.lafauft atprtaaot lail.catol)
to say whether there was danger there
or not. Then, too, the governor was
coming, and, moreover, his family was
coming with him. Could there possi
bly be any danger where so eminent
and so important personages as these
were? Also a company of soldiers
from Fort de France were coming,
and while the St. Pierrans were talk
ing of their arrival the company ap
It seems singular that the presence
of this small band of soldiery should
have inspired a misplaced confidence,
but it was so, though none seems to
have asked what good the soldiers
could have done, or even the mighti
est army have effected against voi
canic Pelee.
The governor came, and with him
his family arrived from Fort de France
on the little steamboat Topaz. With
the governor came the geologists, the
wise men who were to sit in Judg
ment and to so fatuously misjudge.
They pondered long, and then gave
fatal assurance that all was well. The
people read the assurances which the
papers printed, drew a long breath of
relief and then turned their attention
to other things, to affairs of business
and pleasure and all that goes to
make up the indolent, happy life of
the pleasure loving natives of this
isle. And that night—the night of
May 7—the wise men hastened hack
to Fort de France.
Tne governor and his family were
to have followed the next day, the
French cruiser Suchet having been di
rected to leave her anchorage at Fort
de France at 7 o'clock for the purpose
of bringing home the governor and his
That plan, if carried out, would
have brought the cruiser to her doom,
and her crew will never cease to
thank their saints and bless the blun
dering mechanic who broke something
in the engine-room as the vessel was
about getting under way, which acci
dent delayed her departure and proba
bly saved the lives of all on board.
Wednesday night—eve of horror!
There are none left alive to tell
what the city was like that night, but
just around a little promontory at
its southern edge nestles the little vil
lage of Carbet, a pretty town of some
six or seven hundred people. And
not one of them was hurt, the town
having been screened by the high
ridge which lay* between it and St.
Pierre and runs sheer to the sea.
Its northern wall was precipitous
and built close up to it was the south
ern section of St. Pierre, a thickly
populated district whose houses left
strange qnfet of the racked earth.
Thomas T. Prentiss, United States
consul at St. Pierre, was sitting on
the veranda at his home fn the early
hours of the following morning. A
friend came driving by in a buggy.
“You had better get out of this,”
he railed to fh<? consul. “I am getting
out, and getting out as fast as l cam.”
“Oh, you are just merely a little
scared.” Mr. Prentiss replied. “There
is no need of anyone going away."
“It is better to be safe than sorry,”
retorted tne citizen as he whipped up
his team and hastened on.
It is from this man. who witnessed
the disaster a short time later from
a neighboring elevation, with a few
who survived the wreckage in the of
fing, and the few who looked on the
cataclysm from distant points, that
Governor Mouttet.
(Martinique Official Whom Scientists
Hold Was Responsible for the Great
Loss of Life - rom the Eruption of
Mont Pelee.)
the only eye-witness versions can be
The hour of the disaster is placed
at about 8 o’clock. A clerk in Fort
de France called up another in St.
Pierre and was talking with him at
7:55 by Fort de France time, when
he heard a sudden, awful shriek, and
then could hear no more.
The little that actually happened
then can be briefly, very briefly told.
It is known that at one minute there
lay a city smiling in the summer
morning; that in another it was a
mass of swirling flames, with every
soul of its 30,000 writhing in the
barely enough room for streets, the
buildings huddling close to the steep
and wooded acclivity, as If seeking to
escape on the otiier side of the ridge.
The intervening distance was short.
By the broad, finely graded, bridge *
and tunneled highway which connect
ed city with village, one would judge
that a five minutes’ brisk walk would
be amply sufficient to reach the one
from tae other.
But none sought safety by that
road—at least none escaped by it.
The heart breaking pity of it all is that
safety was so near—at the end of
one’s fingers almost. For just over
the ridge the grass and palms are
everywhere as green as any in the
tropics to-day, while up to the very
crest of its northern slope are the in
effaceable marks of ruin and disaster,
as if some sea of flame had brimmed
to the very crest of the ridge, to suck
back again before overflowing on the
other side.
So it is the the village folks of Car
bet that one must turn for the last
act in this horrible tragedy.
Night fell, the villagers say, with
an unnatural, unearthly quiet. Not a
breath of air to stir tne palms fring
ing on the shores; not a ripple to
break the mirror-like clearness of
still waters. It was as if the hush of
death lay everywhere. True earth
quake weather, more than one of the
villagers observed as they noted the
oppressive stillness of the air and the
throes of death. One moment and
church bells were ringing Joyous
chimes in the ears of St. Pierre's 30,
000—the next the flame-clogged bells
were sobbing a requiem for 30,000
dead. One waft of morning breeze
flowed over cathedral spires and
domes, over facades and arches and
roofs and angles of a populous and
light-hearted city—the next swept a
lone mass of white-hot ruins. The
sun glistened one moment on spark
ling fountains, green parks and frond
ed ponds—its next ray shone on fusing
metal, blistered, flame-wrecked squares
and charred stumps of trees. One
day and the city was all light and
color, all gayety and grace—the next
its ruins looked as thouga they had
been crusted over with twenty cen
turies of solitude and silence.
Prof. Robert T. Hill, United States
government geologist and head of the
expedition sent out by the National
Geographical society, has just come
in from a daring and prolonged in
vestigation of the volcanic activity in
Prof. Hill chartered a steamer and
carefully examined the coast as far
north as Port de Macouba, at the ex
treme edge of the island, making fre
quent landings. After landing at Le
Precheur, five miles north of St.
Pierre, he walked through an area of
active volcanism to the latter place
and made a minute examination ol
the various phenomena disclosed.
State Commissioner Bassett Wants it
LINCOLN. Neb., June 2.—State
Tood Commissioner S. C Iiaesett will
make an effort to secure an amend
ment to the present food law when
the next legislature conwmes. The;
law gives the food commissioner
control, only over dairy products and
vinegar The farmers are said to be1
well satisfied with the regulation of
the sale of dairy products. Hereto
fore the grocers have opposed a gen
eral food law, but now scores of them
express a desire to have such a law
passed for their own protection. Re
tail grocers as well as wholesale gro
cers have been heard from. The ar
gument is used that surrounding
states have a pare food law, but Ne
braska, being without such regula
tions, the state becomes the dumping
ground for adulterated articles. Much
complaint is heard on account of
short weight and measure. One
brand of baldng powder which In
Minnesota is sold as a substitute or
“impure," is said, in Nebraska as
genuine. As a result of an Inspection
bytthe food commissioner of vinegars
sold in the counties of Gage, Pawnee,
Otoe Richardson and Nemaha, a con
siderable quantity of vinegar has'
been condemned and either destroyed
or reshipped to the parties from
whom it was purchased. The con- c
demned vinegar was ail from Iowa, *
Missouri and Kansas concerns.
Prisoner Just Sentenced to the Pen
itentiary Gets Away.
VALENTINE. Neb., June 2.—The.
jury returned a verdict finding Har
mon Cchwabero.w guilty of grand lar
ceny. In the afternoon a sentence of
five years in the penitentiary was fm
posed by Judge Harrington. During
an evening session of court the sher
iff came rushing into court with the)
announcement that the convited man.
had broken jail. Couriers are now'
scouring the country in every direc
It is feared that Schwaberow has
crossed the line and is upon the
Sioux reservation in Dakota or iB ly
ing concealed in some nearby canyon.
He is said to be a desperate char
acter, aged forty-one years, six feet
tall, weight two hundred pounds, very
dark complexion. In 1898 he was sen
tenced to a five years’ term in the
Nebraska penitentiary for cattle steal
ing, but was pardoned out about two
years later, and has since been a
mail carrier. The sheriff is In hot
pursuit and offers $500 reward for hia
Commencement Program for State
University Given Out.
LINCOLN, June 2.—A reduction in ^
railroad passenger rates from all
points in Nebraska will be a new in
cidental feature of the forthcoming
annual commencement of the Univer
sity of Nebraska. It wras announced
at the administration office of the uni
vertisy that all railroads had agreed to
a rate of one fare and a third for
round trip tickets to and from Lin
coln. The tickets will be on sale
from June 5 to 11, inclusive, and will
expire on June 1C. It is expected that
upward of 210 degrees will be con
ferred on commencement day. Of
this number approximately 130 will
be given to graduates of the academic
colleges and about sixty-five to grad
uates of the law department. Be
tween fifteen and twenty master’s de
grees will be conferred. i .
Assaulted His Divorced Wife.
LINCOLN, Neb., June 2.—William
F. Knight, formerly of Tecumseh, but
now a resident of Lincoln, murder
ously assaulted his divorced wife.
With a heavy pocketknight he cut
tw'o vicious slashes in her left cheek,
and was aiming a third blow at her
heart when his arm was stayed by
Night Captain Ireland of the police
force, who chanced to be passing on
his way home. Jealousy Is given as
the cause of the trouble. Knight was
arrested and placed in a solitary cell.
Mrs. Knight will recover, and it is
said she is not Inclined to prosecute.
Small Smashup on the Elkhorn.
FREMONT, Neb., June 2.—In a mi
nor rear-end smashup at Arlington a
way car on the Elkhorn road was
broken to pieces and the running gear
on two stock cars rendered useless.
Creamery Station to Reopen.
STERLING, Neb., June 2.—The Be
atrice Creamery company has circu
lated hand bills announcing that they
will reopen the skimming station at
this point today.
Declare the Checks Bogus.
NEBRASKA CITY, Neb., June 2,
A man giving his name as Hanv
Carrol! came to the city and succeed
ed In passing a number of checks
declared to be bogus. One he pass
ed on Mrs. G. W. Anderson for $7,
one on Bader Bros, for $8.50 and an
other on A. S. Paradise for JS.75. His
plan was to go Into the stores or
places of business and after making 'i
a purchase tender the check In pay