“Along in 1886, I believe it was, my father had gone to Charleston, South Carolina, on business for a day or two, leaving mother and us children alone.
“Tom was about 16 years old. About midnight, mother awakened me, calling to Tom to bring all the children downstairs because we were having an earthquake. I was sleeping with mother and will never forget how I felt with the little log cabin rocking from side to side and how the pots and pans came clattering down from the wall behind the stove where they
“Dad had placed the cook stove on heavy dry goods boxes so that mother wouldn’t have to stoop to place the bread in the oven as it was one of the earliest stoves made and about a half-size. Well, at any rate, that little stove was pitched off its anchor as was also the large green cupboard, full of dishes, that stood in the newly added dining room. It fell forward and smashed most everything in it. I can still remember how mother had Tom and Janey bring heavy quilts and blankets down, gathered all us little ones, rushed outside and spread the covers out. We all sat on the ground while the old earth trembled and shook. We remained there on the ground for quite some time.
“The hired girl said, ‘Miz Hill, isn’t it safe to go in?’ We went back to bed. But what a discouraging sight met our eyes. I remembered how poor mother sat and cried when the sun rose and she saw all her dishes smashed to pieces. The cooking vessels were scattered all over the kitchen floor amidst all the night’s meal, flower, coffee, and sugar. The boys dug a pit way out in the orchard and we little ones carried all our dishes out and threw them in. Then Tom and Cliff covered them while mother, Janey and Esther (the maid) worked to get the mess cleared away. Needless to say, our breakfast was late and meager that morning, summer apples from the orchard and blackberries.
“When our father returned he had more frightful tales to tell us as he was in the center of it all at Charleston. It is recorded in history as the Great Charleston Earthquake, killing hundreds of people. They would rush into the streets and fall on their knees and cry for help. From his hotel window he had seen the earth crack open and swallow houses and people. He staggered down stairs, all the while praying to God that he would see his family again.”
Contributed by Jane Gibson Nardy, Historian, Cashiers Historical Society