Horace Blakesley Sr
|Cooper Blakeslee (1772-)
|Mary Sackett (c 1778-after 1840)
A Sad Story.
The following simply told tale of the life-destroying hurricane which swept over the Brazos and Padre Islands, is communicated to me by the gentleman to whom it was addressed:
Brazos Santiago, Oct. 17, 1867.
William L. Peele, Esq.:
Dear Sir—I write a dreadful and heart rending tale unto you. On Monday, October —, 1867, we experienced a dreadful hurricane, and on Monday the water carried every house on Brazos Island except Mrs. Singer's and one Government building. It was with greatest exertion that I saved the lives of my wife and five children that I had on Brazos; my eldest boy, being on Padre Island with Mr. Blackesley and my wife's mother, hired by them to work around the cows since Mrs. Blackesley's ill health, I took refuge, with some other families, in the light-house that night, and expected every moment would be our last. I little expected that Padre Island, being higher land than Brazos, would undergo the same fate as Brazos, and thought the family perfectly safe; but what was my surprise on Tuesday morning, at daylight, when the storm abated, to see that Padre Island Point was all swept away—houses, lumber and every sandhill for a mile from the house swept away. But I still had hopes, for I thought the family, four in all, had took refuge on the high sand hills. So I worked hard all day to dig up a boat and launch it, to go over to Padre to get them and keep them from starving, as I thought; but when I arrived on Padre, I met a fisherman, and he told me that he had seen nothing of Blackesley and his family, but that Mrs. Simmons and her family were saved on a sandhill, but that they had nothing to eat and were half starved; and he said that Pete, the fisherman, had take Mr. Blackesley's boat to the house on Monday morning, and said that he intended to stay with Mr. Blackesley and help him in case of need: so there was hope again; so I started for Point Isabel, and five miles down the bay I found the boat, and little further up I found Pete, the fisherman, in a camp with some Mexicans. "Well, Pete," says I, "where is the family?" "Well," he says, "they are all drowned." Then he commenced to tell the tale; he says that Mr. Blackesley had him and my boy all day long penning the cows, horses, and calves and picking up drift lumber and put it on the hills, until about 2 o'clock. The water raised so high that they went in the house, and water was two feet all over the floor; so he told Mr. Blackesley he had better take the family and go to the sand hills in the boat, but Mr. Blackesley said there was no danger in the house, that the house would never fall, and he could get none of them to leave; so thay staid in the house until 10 o'clock at night, and the house fell over on the side, and he opened a wwindow and climbed out on the roof and helped Cornelia and my son Henry out of the window; but Mr. and Mrs. Blackesley would not leave the house, as they were both sure they were safe; and he says the boat had gone away, so he got on a piece of timber and pulled off his pants and gave one leg of them to Cornelia and the other one to my son; but he says they had no sooner finished than a fresh rush of water came and swept the house in all directions, but Cornelia and my son still held on; the first one that gave away was my son, and Cornelia; and he says he drifted ten miles up the bay himself; but I have reason to believe otherwise, for he was found by the boat and he is not injured one bit, which would not have been the case if he had drifted on a piece of timber. The next step I took I hired men to go with me to hunt for the bodies, and we found Mr. Blackesley's on Padre Island, standing up; so I had a box made and put him in and buried it on a sand hill and marked the place. We met a man that had found a woman and buried her. I made him go and show us the place and I dug it up , but it was neither Mrs. Blackesley nor Cornelia. There were some bodies found on Point Isabel, so I went there again, but they were so disfigured from the fish we were not able to recognize them, there being fourteen out of Brazos and one hundred and fifty six out of Bagdad and Brownsville. I buried those bodies, not knowing who they were. I have done the best I could, but if I had cash money I might have done more, but it is too late now. I suppose you will have Mr. Blackesley's remains brought to New Orleans. Just direct me what to do and I will do it the best I can. I am in a camp with my five children and wife, and we are barely kept from starving by Government rations sent from Brownsville, as there are no provisions in Brazos. We have not got the second suit of clothes to our back. My wife and children are barefoot and I have no hat nor coat, and there are others the same way, but they have plenty money. Those men I hired to help me hunt for the families must be paid, and I would like you to attend to it, and try and see what can be done for me, as I am naked and half starved, and I think something ought to be done for me and my family. Padre Island is perfectly cut in pieces, as there are channels running through, from five to six feet deep, and the next morning after the storm there was nine feet of water where the house stood. It is said that these hurricanes come every twenty years. My wife is not very well, she carried on so about her mother, because she cannot find the body of her and Cornelia, and my son Henry.
Henry Van Hoven.
—New Orleans Daily Picayune, 11 Nov 1867, p 1
Notes & Citations
- Donald Jacobus, Families of Ancient New Haven, Genealogical Publishing Co Inc, Baltimore (1981) (American Ancestors image), 230, "Horace [Blakeslee, s. Cooper & Mary (Sackett) Blakeslee], b 19 Feb 1797 NoHV, bp 1797 NoHx."
- Gravestone has b. 17 Sep 1796. Barbour record is presumably of baptism not birth date.
- "New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S., Death Records Index, 1804-1949" (Ancestry transcript), "Blakesley, Horace, Sr, d. Orleans, Louisiana, 7 Oct 1867."
- "New York Marriage Notices 1800–1855" (Ancestry transcript), "24 Oct 1824, Marcellus, Sarah Sackett & Horace Blakesley. Syracuse Gazette."
|3rd great-grandson of John Sackett of New Haven
|Line 3a (American)
Line 4 (American)
|25 Aug 2022