This is a guest post from Dinah Williams, author of Battlefield Ghosts (True Hauntings #2).
Want to get kids hooked on history? Give them a good scare with some ghosts! The True Hauntings series delves into stories of people who survived battles and disasters, such as fires, tornadoes, and plagues, only to find themselves face-to-face with the spirits of those who lost their lives.
One such story happened in 1900. When it started to rain on the morning of September 8, the city of Galveston, Texas considered it simply an inconvenient storm. The wealthy seaside home of 36,000 people had never seen much damage from the weather. But on that day, the rain was actually the beginnings of a massive hurricane.
By 5:00 p.m., the winds reached 130–140 miles per hour, causing ten-foot-high waves to crash over the dunes. As no part of the island was higher than nine feet above sea level, buildings quickly began to flood. The winds knocked down electricity and telegraph lines, plunging the city into darkness and making it impossible to telegraph for help. By the time people understood the danger they were in, it was too late to escape.
Within St. Mary’s Orphan Asylum, fierce winds caused the two-story buildings on the beach dunes to groan. When water began to pour into the first floor, the nuns moved the children upstairs. Frank Madera, a twelve-year-old orphan, later told a newspaper, “We were terrified, and the sisters had much trouble with the younger children. I must say there was never a braver group of women. They comforted the smallest ones, some not more than 2 years old, as best they could.”
In the darkness, the sisters had a workman collect all of the clotheslines in the building. Each nun then began tying six to eight children to the belts they wore around their waists. The water kept rising in the dormitory. “The building began to float,” Frank remembered. “I don’t know how far out in the gulf we floated . . . Then suddenly something crashed into us and one wall caved in.”
The building collapsed. Frank was able to swim to a tree and was one of the few to survive. Most of the children and nuns drowned in the rubble. Like many of the thousands killed that day, their bodies were buried where they were found. In 1911, the grand Hotel Galvez was built near the beach over their graves. Some say that when a big storm is approaching, a nun can be seen worriedly pacing the shore in front of the hotel. Children have also been heard running through the halls and opening and closing doors. Could it be the orphans lost in the storm so many years ago?
About the Author:
Dinah Williams is a children’s book author and editor based in Cranford, NJ, who won a Children’s Choice Award for Spooky Cemeteries. Her books True Hauntings: Deadly Disasters and True Haunting: Battlefield Ghosts are available now.
Battlefield Ghosts is available for purchase now at your preferred retailer.