Switzer Genealogy
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John Elford

Male 1842 - 1900

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  • Name  John Elford 
    Born  19 Feb 1842  Darlington, Durham, ON, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender  Male 
    Died  8 Sep 1900  Galvaston, TX, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 


      Bodies of Mrs. Elford and Grandson not Found

      These particlars of the funeral ceremony and life of the late John Elford
      of Hampton, Ont., are taken from the Walhalla Mountaineer of October 10, 1900, and will be of special interest to the numerous relatives and acquaintances in West Durham:


      ELFORD—At Galveston, Texas, September 8, 1900, John Elford, aged 58 years. Fannie Colton, his wife, aged 57 years. Dwight, son of George C. Elford, of Langdon, North Dakota, aged 6 years.

      All that was mortal of Mr. John Elford was brought home and buried on Sunday.  The great number of friends whom the deceased and his respected wife had made during their residence in this part of the county attested their worth and showed their respect by attending the last obsequies and thus assisting in paying the last tribute to their old friend and his family.  The terrible story of the disaster which had caused the death of these beloved and respected people was told and the friends mourned afresh for those who had gone into the great beyond.   The funeral cortege left the residence of the daughter, Mrs. J. S. Huffman, in Crown Center, at about half past one o’clock and took its sad and sorrowful way to the Methodist church in this place, where it arrived at about quarter before three.  Rev. Hocking conducted  the services, assisted by Rev. Matheson, and the words that were said included the respect to those remains which were left behind at the scene of trouble as well as those that were incased in the beautiful metallic casket that occupied the space in front of the pulpit in the church.  And they were loving, thoughtful words, recalling not only those who had reached the end of life’s journey, but were full of love and hope to those who remain behind.   The remains were then carried to the Protestant cemetery and interred, and though separated so far as the mortal bodies are concerned, the spirits are reunited never more to be torn asunder.   John Elford was born in Durham County, Ontario, February 19, 1842, and was raised on a farm.  He was married in 1862 and in 1885 moved to North Dakota.   Mrs. Elford was born March 4, 1843, in Durham County, Ontario, and grew to young womanhood amongst her childish surroundings, having for her early playmate the husband she accepted to accompany her through the paths of life, and as they started on the path together, so, in the end they both “went home” together.   Dwight, the son of Mr. George C. Elford, of Langdon, was born in 1895, and went with his grandparents on their trip through the south, meeting his death in the arms of his grandfather in the great storm which swept so many thousands to their death.   Mr. and Mrs. Elford leave five children to mourn their death, and they have the sympathy of all, for the parents were known so well and loved by all who knew them.   The family left here in March, 1899, and stopped a year with their son Milton in New Mexico.  They then took a trip to Mineral Wells and Galveston, intending to make a round trip to California and return to North Dakota in the Spring, but the storm of September 8th stayed them in their journey.  Mr. Elford’s body was not found for eighteen days after the storm― September 26.  It is thought that the bodies of the other two loved ones were carried to sea and all hope of their recovery has been abandoned.   The relatives present at the funeral were all the children and their families, Mr. Elford’s sister, Mrs. Charles Rogers and her daughter Mabel, from Taunton, Ontario, Mr. William Elford, his brother, and his wife from Carman, Manitoba, and Mr. A. S. Elford, a cousin, of Grand Forks.  West Durham News, Oct. 25, 1900.

        Describes the Galveston Storm, and Search
      for his Parents’ Bodies

      Galveston, 9, 14, 1900.

      Mr. George Elford, Langdon, N.D.    Dear brother,—This is Thursday, [September 13, 1900] five days we have put in since the storm and tidal wave; and they have been days of awful suspense to me.  It seems that I have been dazed.  I have not been able to collect my thoughts until to-day.  I have not found any of the remains yet, but expect to find them tomorrow.  I will either find them in about two days or not at all, for they will have all the debris overturned in the locality, and, if they are not there, then they have drifted out to sea, which I think is very unlikely.    The city is under martial law, and soldiers are patrolling every street day and night; every man has got to work if able and can leave his own business.  They have orders to burn all the dead bodies as fast as they find them but I have a permit from the Gen. not to be interfered with, and to bury or take the corpses.  I have an undertaker with metallic coffins, who will take charge on a minute’s notice.  I have been helping clear away the debris, that is where we are most likely to find them; there are hundreds of men working there, but the work moves on slow.  It is so twisted and wedged in as to be almost impossible to get out.  It is an awful sight.  Every few minutes, somewhere within a block of us, they find dead bodies, and often where there is one there are more.  Yesterday we took out twelve from one spot; it was a large house and they had gathered there for safety, and all died together wedged in between the ceiling and floor.  Hundreds of houses in one heap, and you can scarcely recognize a single piece, for three to five blocks wide and for about four miles solid block of dwellings and hotels, the residence part of the city, there is not a vestige left, not a board, it is all swept clear and banked up in a pile reaching all around from the bay to beach.    They have got the names now of over 2,500 and that is not half that have been drowned.  I do not think that more than two hundred have been buried in coffins, hundreds were taken to sea and put overboard, and hundreds more are being burned every day and hundreds yet to dig out of the debris.    The Catholic Orphans Home collapsed with about two hundred, all the children and several neighbors that gathered for safety.  The street car works went down with about forty employees and hundreds of houses went down with from one to fifty people.  A great many must have been killed after getting on rafts, by flying boards.  I came very very near it.  I keep thinking now how I might have averted it by acting differently, but I suppose there is no use of thinking about that now; we left our house about 4 o’clock thinking it would be safer in a larger house, not even dreaming that even that house would be washed away.  We went across the street to a fine large house built on a brick foundation high off the ground.  About five it grew worse and began to break up the fence and the wreckage of other houses was coming against us.  We had arranged that if the house showed signs of breaking up, that I would take the lead, and Father would come next with Dwight and Mother next; in this way I could make a safe place to walk as we would have to depend on floating debris for rafts.  There were about fifteen or sixteen in the house besides ourselves.  They were confident the house would stand anything; if not for that we would probably have left on rafts before the house went down.  We all gathered in one room; all at once the house went from its foundation and the water came in waist deep and we all made a break for the door, but could not get it open.  We then smashed out the window and I led the way.  I had only got part way out when the house fell on us.  I was hit on the head with something and it knocked me out, and into the water, head first.  I do not know how long I was down as I must have been stunned, and came up and got hold of some wreckage on the other side of the house.  I could see one man on some wreck to my left and another on my right.  I went back to the door that we could not open; it was broken in, and I could go part way in, as the one side ceiling was not within four or five feet of the water.  There was not a thing in sight; I went back and got on the other side, but not one ever came up that I could see.    We must have all gone down the same time, but I cannot tell why they did not come up unless it was that when the house broke the wall loosened from the floor, and with the lurch, they were thrown through the crevice and held down by the floor or floor of the veranda outside.  There was a large man there with his wife and large family.  He was over six feet, and I do not think the water was over that on the floor when I went back.  It was a wonder I did not get killed when I went as I just get out again as it all went flat.  I then started to leave by partly running and swimming from one lot of debris to another; the street was full of tops and sides of houses, and the air was full of flying boards.  I think I gained about a block on the debris in the way, and got in the shelter of some buildings, but they were fast going down, and I was afraid of getting buried.  Just then the part that I was on started down the street, and I stuck my head and shoulders in an old tool chest that was lying in the debris that I was on.  I could hardly hold this down on its side from being blown away, but that is what saved my life again.  When the water went down at about 8 a.m. I was about five blocks from where I started, my head was bruised and legs and hands cut a little, which I did not hardly find out until Monday and then I could hardly get my hat on.  I saved what I had on, pants, shirt, shoes and one suit underwear and a five dollar bill.    As soon as it was light enough, I went back to the location of the house, and not a sign of it could be found, and not a sign of any house within two blocks, which before there was scarcely a vacant lot.  I then went to the city hall to see the chief of police, to get some help to recover the corpses, thinking, I guess, that I was the only one in that fix.  The firemen and others started before noon to bring in corpses; they brought them in in wagon loads of about a dozen at a time, laid them in rows to be identified, and the next day they were too badly decomposed, and were loaded on boats and taken to sea, only to wash back on the beach.  They then started to bury them wherever they were found, but yesterday (Wednesday) ordered them to be burned.  Men started removing the debris and burning it, and when they came to a corpse it is just thrown on the pile.    It is the most awful thing of the kind that has ever happened in history, hundreds of families have gone down, and not a sign of anything left of them.  It seemed they were all cool to the very last.  Father had Dwight in his arms, and Mother was right by his side just ready to step out the window; we all went down the same instant.  It seemed that the house fell in an instant.  If I had not been hit on the head by something I might have not got out either.  It seemed all the way through that they were to go, and I was to be saved.  The last few minutes was a terrible time; some were on their knees, others were wild with fright.  I had kept telling Mother that we were safe, and about that last words she said was that God would take care of us anyway.  Father was perfectly cool, and so was Dwight, when we all at once went waist deep in water.  I do not think he said a word.  I can not begin to tell you what an awful suspense that was, shut in and the water rising, and were unable to get the door open.  But it seemed when the crash came it was all over in a second.  I am satisfied they did not fear death in the least, and I do not believe they suffered.    I am getting along all right now, but for two or three days the good and water question was a problem. Milton .    Later.—A telegram has been received saying that Milton has recovered the bodies and has taken them to Dakota for burial.—Editor.  Bowmanville Statesman, Oct. 3, 1900.
    Person ID  I21829  Switzer Family
    Last Modified  29 Dec 2011 

    Father  William Elford,   b. 3 Sep 1815, St. Keyne, Cornwall, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 20 Oct 1895, Darlington, Durham, ON, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Mother  Charlotte Merkely,   b. 29 Jun 1814, Hope Twp., Durham, ON, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 28 Dec 1899, Darlington, Durham, ON, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID  F7431  Group Sheet

    Family/Spouse  Martha Bond Colton,   b. 4 Mar 1843, Darlington, Durham, ON, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 8 Sep 1900, Galvaston, TX, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
     1. Martha Marion Elford,   b. 3 Oct 1865, Darlington, Durham, ON, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 24 Mar 1961, Walhalla, Pembina, ND, USA Find all individuals with events at this location
    Family ID  F7430  Group Sheet

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 19 Feb 1842 - Darlington, Durham, ON, Canada Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 8 Sep 1900 - Galvaston, TX, USA Link to Google Earth
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