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Title: [Jim Keenan?], San Francisco, to The Keenan Family, [Ireland?]
CollectionIrish Emigration Database
FileKeenan, Jim/5
SenderKeenan, Jim
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationbusinessman
Sender Religionunknown
OriginSan Francisco, California, USA
Recipient Gendermale
SourceCopyright Retained by Mr. P. Keenan, 65 Deerpark Rd, Castledawson
ArchiveThe Ulster American Folk Park
Doc. No.9907080
Partial Date
Doc. TypeEMG
LogDocument added by LT, 19:07:99.
Word Count1430
TranscriptSan Francisco
July 1st 1906

My Dear Mother & Bro.
A few lines to let you know how
this town looks to me after the fire & earthquake.
This was a big city, in fact there is
enough of it left to make a big city still, but the
business part the part where all the Banks, Office
buildings, and places where people worked are all
gone, you can imagine a city as big as the townland
of Ballymaquiggan with the streets very narrow and the
houses anywhere from 5 to 10 stories [storeys?] high
and in all that area not a single house left it
certainly is a sight and many a story is in circulating
about the hapenings [happenings?] of those few days
some of them pathetic and some of them rediculous
[ridiculous?] enough. A friend of mine whom Joe
knows (Jamie McCarton) you met him that night on
the Texan was out in Frisco, Engineer in a small
lumber ship which was unloading in a Canal up in the
centre of the city his boat was to leave next A.M.
at daylight Jamie went and took a room in a nearby
hotel for the night but as it was too early to go
to bed he went to the corner to have a look around,
by and by, the fireman who was to get up steam
for him came around beastly drunk. So Jamie said
nothing but went to his ship instead of the hotel
when he got up in the morning the Hotel was gone.
Sank into the earth and 42 men in it.
The Hotel Brunswck [Brunswick?] and 200 ladies of
easy virtue disapeared [disappeared?]
the same way; the quakes would have been bad
enough but when the fires started in a 100
different places at once the fire brigade found
that the mains (water) had been shattered by
the quake and there was no water to get the
fire under control so they had to blow up blocks
upon blocks of houses with dynamite otherwise the
entire town would have gone. The carpenter of our
dock was stoping [stopping?] in a 5 Story [storey?]
hotel and it sank so deep in the earth that he had
to crawl on his belly on to the St [Street?] through
a 5th Story [storey?] window. One Gentleman dressed
himself in a swallow tail Coat and Castor hat but
forgot to put on his trousers and started off with
a valise in his hand, and he was so badly frightened
he forgot to close the valise so there he was going
up the street hell bent for election valise hanging
open and no pants on and did not know it
A lady jumped out of bed put on her bonnet snatched up a
pug dog under one arm and a canaries cage in the other she
started off and did not know she was undressed or that the
cage was empty. A friend of mine named Magill having a
wife and 4 children packed all he could into a large trunk
then he could not move the trunk so they threw some of the
stuff out and put the baby 5 months old in, and put a rope
through the handle of the trunk and him and his wife pulled
the trunk along the street to the Park almost 4 miles, then
in the confusion they lost trunk & baby and they remained
lost for 24 hours the mother was almost out of her
mind but they found the trunk and baby sound asleep in it
next day
Page 3
Then again in all big towns there is a certain element of
people who never make a pretense [pretence?] of working, just
live on what they can beg, borrow or steal, and the towns of
the pacific coast has got more than an average share of such,
and any catastrophe happening is their harvest, so that in
the excitement their chance for looting and stealing or murder
even without fear of detection is better and, is readily taken
The Police were demoralized and the concienstous
[conscientious?] element had full swing for a few hours to the
Mayor called for military law and handed the town over to the
soldiers who started in and shot anyone acting in anyway
suspiciously without asking questions or giving warning of
course some innocent people were killed but they also put
terror into the lawless crowd as well, and many of them will
loot no more. one gent well dressed and respectable appearing
came along the 1st day badly wounded the soldiers picked him
up and sent him to the red-cross hospital for treatment there
the Drs' found him suffering from 5 gunshot wounds and they
also found in his pockets 4 diamond rings with a ladys finger
in each ring the unfortunate man had not time to force the
rings off so he took finger and all now this man got no trial
he was just taken out on the street and shot as an example.
Any whiskey shops left was broken into and the stock
destroyed by the soldiers, so as to keep the people sober
of course when these houses fell the streets were filled
with brick and all kinds of debris and hundreds & thousands
of people buried under it and on the streets rich or poor
was ordered to go to work and if they refused were shot on
the spot Jamie McCartan was going home [-ast?] St when he
met the Captain of his Ship they stoped [stopped?] to talk
and the mate and some friend of his came along a soldier
sees the 4 of them and ordered the 4 of them to get busy
this friend of the mates refused so the soldier shot him
dead right there, needless to say the other 3 went to work,
of course they had only to work two hours but the next
soldier they came to would most likely turn them to again
after the 2nd day the soldiers had cards and after a man
done his [v?] hours he got one and that saved him for the
rest of the day.
There was a gent from Sacramento (the State Capital)
who came to see the sights one of the soldiers told him to
turn to, he says but my dear sir I am the Secretary of State
for California, the soldier says never mind who you are get
a moving them ere [there?] brick and he
presented his musket "The Secretary moved brick" these are
samples of the times they had in San Francisco but it was
necessary for the publics good and nobody has anything but
praise for the U.S. Army
Now that is all I have time to write about the fire I want
you to get that job moving as the secretary of state moved
brick only faster I mail this in Honolulu we will by [be?]
here one week after it is mailed and in 60 days more we will
be in Philadelphia I expect to have a le [letter?] waiting
for me when I get there telling me how much you have
got done. I will mail you an order for œ100 and will expect
receipts for every cent you spend of it both for material and
wages - finished up on small sheet - saying the job is at the
square. And containing bills for the material used and all
you have paid out for wages etc, you will get the cash called
for as fast as the mail will cary [carry?] it keep these œ40
I sent you as a working Capital and after I go home to N.Y.
[New York?] you can send me a monthly report and every 30
days I will send you all the cash you may require. I dont
mind the ammount [amount?] but lay it out as I ask you, you
will have the most valuable place in the County and in 5 -
or 6 - years will own it outright if you do, and above all,
don't be penny wise and pound foolish hire good men the
best are none too good and give them as good wages or better,
than they would get anywhere else and then see that they
earn it
Your Bro [Brother?]

C/o American - Hawaiian S.S. Co
8 Bridge St
New York City

a letter sent to that address will be forwarded to the ship
wherever she may be

while at sea to Honolulu I will write you
an account of the havoc made in Frisco [San Francisco?] as
I know it

*Appendix to Letter

Writer of the Letter

Mr & Mrs Jim Keenan
1001 Wilder Ave 403

Address that were visited by Mr & Mrs Jim Keenan

Mary Keenan Fay
109-08 85 Ave
Richmond Hill Queens NY [New York?]
(1) 718 849-2137 11418

Jane Fay
96 Caire Terrace
San Francisco, Ca. [California?] 94107
415-285 4743