Oral History Interview of Emma Beal (1889-1972)

 Oral History Interview of Emma Beal (1889-1972)

Accession#: OH-Beal, Emma [June 14, 1972]
Title: Oral History of Emma Beal
Interviewer: Marilee Neale
Format: Typescript; one tape
Description: Beal (1881-1972) lived at 3616 Avenue P at the time of the 1900 Storm. An edited version of this and Beal’s interview, April 26, 1972, published in Casey Edward Greene and Shelly Henley Kelly, eds., Through a Night of Horrors: Voices from the 1900 Galveston Storm (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, c2000), 148-51.
Date: Jun 14, 1972
Terms: Cannon, Fenelon; Bodies; Pyres; Trees; Tucker, Philip Crosby

The following interview took place in the home of Miss Emma

Beal on June 14, 1972. The interviewer was Marilee Neale. Parenthetical statements indicate remarks of Miss Henrietta Hoffman. Bracketed on page 16 was edited by Miss Henrietta Hoff- man after Miss Beal's demise on December 2, 1972. Wednesday, June 14, 1972. Second interview with Miss Emma Beal.

Q: Now you said you were born about five miles down the Island on Stewart Road. Is that house still there?
EB: Oh no.
Q: Uh huh.
EB: The storm, the 1900 Storm just took every trace of it away.
Q: What area was that? Is there anything out there now, approximately where that house was?
EB: My mother sold her for one thousand dollars. And now, you can get a thousand dollars for a foot.
Q: Uh huh.
EB: So I don't know.
HH: (What is close to that place now?)
EB: Well I don't know...
HH: (That's not as far down as Schapers' place?)
EB: Sure it is. It's right across the road from the Schapers.
HH: (Oh, it, it is?)
Q: Oh, o.k.
EB: Yes.
HH: (You know where the Schapers' place is?)
Q: Uh huh.
HH: (Well, that's right. That's just at the uh...end of the city limits, isn't it?)
Q: Uh huh; yeah.
HH: (Now, of course I guess then it didn't make any difference.)
Q: No. I'm sure the limits weren't any farther.
HH: (But I know when we go out there, she always says that's about where it was. So I guess it's just...that could identify it... closer than anything.)
Q: Do you know who she sold it to?
EB: No.

Beal[June 14, 1972] -2 -

Q: Of course that was a long time ago, when you were little.
EB: There's a deed upstairs somewhere but I don't know...
Q: Well, that's not real important, I was just curious...
EB: My grandfather came from Chappell Hill and he...he bought a hundred acres to raise Sea Island Cotton. Well, that was a failure, so he went on back up in the country.
Q: You were telling me awhile ago that uh, they had had to come over...here because the slaves had been freed.
EB: Yeah.
Q: Now was he in farming there?
EB: Was he what?
Q: Was he in farming?
EB: Well he was gonna raise this cotton but he, he didn't have any luck with it.
Q: Uh huh.
EB: He had three Negroes, came with him; they had been slaves. Of course they were free, and he had to pay 'em, but they were devoted to him. So they wanted to live there and work for him. He had these ten acres, and he had three daughters. He divided it and gave it to them. Well, wait a minute...it was a hundred acres. 'Cause Mother got ten acres. The deed's upstairs somewhere.
Q: Uh huh. So your mother got ten acres, and she met your father here in Galveston?
EB: Yes.
Q: And they married?
EB: Yeah they married, and my aunt Ellen met Dr. Fontain here. He was...medical college was just starting and...Uncle Rodney went to school there...
Q: Was this aunt Ellen, Chappell?
EB: Yes.
Q: Uh huh.
EB: Ellen Chappell. Mother was Emily Peale Chappell.
Q: Uh huh.
EB: Miss Peale incidentally was a distant relative of Vincent Peale.
Q: Uh huh.
EB: Methodist minister.
Q: Right.

Beal [June 14, 1972] -3 -

Q: Well what about your mother, did she ever tell you how she met your father?
EB: Yes. There was a Judge...Mann here in Galveston. The Manns were very prominent people. Ch, for years, even in my day, I knew a good many of 'em. And uh...in some ways she...this Judge Mann met Mother, and he said he wanted to bring Crawford Beal down to meet her. So Crawfored Beal met her, and he said that Aunt...Bernie was uh...the best lookin' but he felt so sorry for Mother; she looked so lonely. He just felt sorry for her, so he married her. He was always such a tease, you know and everything.
Q: Who was Aunt Bernie?
EB: She was uh...Mother's second sister.
Q: Uh huh.
EB: There was Emily Peale, and uh Bernie and Ellen. There were three girls.
Q: And you were supposed to be named for Bernie, though, too, weren't you?
EB: Yeah.
Q: Uh huh?
EB: I think I told you the old minister said, "Name this child." Papa said, "Name her Bernie." He said, "Emma Bernie, I baptize you." (Laughs.) You know he couldn't hear.
Q: So you wound up Emma?
EB: But I was always sorry that I didn't use the Bernie, instead of the Emma.
Q: Uh huh.
EB: 'Cause Emma was much more common.
Q: Well, did Bernie stand for Bernadette?
EB: I don't think so.
Q: Just Bernie, just plain Bernie.
EB: Yeah. As far as I know.
Q: Uh huh. Well now you said that your father was a County Commissioner. You said also he was from Tuscaloosa Alabama. How did he happen to come to Galveston in the first place?

Beal [June 14, 1972] -4 -

EB: He came to work for a lumber company.
Q: Did he? What lumber company was that?
EB: First...First storm they had, the lumber all washed away, so he was broke.
Q: Do you know what he did after that?
EB: Yes he uh...tried to do some farming down there; you know, it was Sea Island Cotton, had been recommended. But they didn't do anything, didn't make much out of that. So he had quite a large dairy. He had ever so many cows. He had three Negroes that had come from Chappell Hill. They did the work, the hard work.
Q: Do you remember the time that your father was County Commissioner? Or were you too young really to know what he had to do as County Commissioner?
EB: Yeah, I was...I was too young. I didn't know what he did.
Q: O.k.
EB: I can remember running out to meet him when he'd drive home.
Q: Yeah. How'd he drive home...In a buggy?
EB: >Yeah, he had a little buggy.
Q: Did you have...You didn't have a telephone then, did you?
EB: No.
Q: Uh huh. You know how long it took him to come from town all the way out to uh...?
EB: My mother used to brag that she went from the ...five mile post to the court house in one hour.
Q: Uh huh.
EB: That was five miles.
Q: Uh huh.
EB: And she thought that was wonderful. She had such a fine big horse...
Q: Did she uh...break any speed limits, do you know?
EB: Did she what?
Q: Did they have any speed limits?
EB: I don't hear you.
Q: Did they have any speed limits?

Beal [June 14, 1972] -5 -

EB: Oh, heavens! (Laughs.) I guess not. I never heard of 'em.
Q: Did you ever accompany your mother on one of those one hour five mile rides?
EB: Well I may have, but I'm too young to...I was too young to remember. I don't really know.
Q: Uh huh.
EB: We moved into town when I was about six.
Q: Yeah. That's right, because you'd been here awhile before the 1900 Storm?
EB: Yes.
Q: Uh huh. Well, what about Mr. Cannon? You told us that he was a commission merchant, and that he brought food out to people after the 1900 Storm?
EB: They lived down in the next block. His sister lived next door here. So of course we were all friends. And uh his family were on their summer trip and uh...he just camped over here you know, and sent all the food he could get in.
Q: Well now, did he give food away or...?
EB: Oh yes. He did; nobody had any money.
Q: Uh huh. Well then he was just a very generous man.
EB: Oh yes.
Q: Uh huh.
EB: Wonderful man.
Q: What can you remember about Mr. cannon? Did he spend part of his time here at the house, did you say?
EB: Oh yes, he was very nice looking and kinda heavy set. He had two daughters, two sons, and they lived down in the next block.
Q: Well did he uh...have any charge accounts; or anything like this? Did he give the food away on credit?
EB: Well he probably did, but I wouldn't know.
Q: Uh huh.
EB: I think all of the merchants have credit, don't they?
Q: Yeah. I didn't know if he was doing that at that time or not. Now you said you had started to school over at San Jacinto.
EB: Yeah.

Beal [June 14, 1972] -6 -

Q: Can you remember anything else about Lucy, Miss Lucy Arnold, other than the fact that she was a magnificent teacher?
EB: Yes she was, she was very popular and taught for many years. And Weingarten's is on the site that she was principal of the school.
Q: Uh huh.
EB: Wha't did they call that school? (Bath Avenue.)
Q: They called it Beth, or Vat?
EB: Well they used to call that street...
HH: (B-A-T-H. You see, it was 25th Street. I think they called it Bath Avenue, too.)
EB: The Street was called Bath Avenue.
Q: Uh huh.
HH: (The School.)
EB: Yes. I think it was Bath Avenue School.
HH: (I, I just slightly...I think that was called...I never did go to that school.)
Q: Was that an elementary school?
EB: Yes.
Q: Bath Avenue School was?
EB: Yes.
Q: Uh huh. Well were you one of her pets? Is this why you liked her or what? I recall you said you didn't like school very much.
EB: No, I wasn't crazy about school. My sister was a book worm, and just any number of books in the library are in her memory. Her name was Goff. Hattie Goff.
Q: Hattie.
EB: Uh huh. It was a very fine man she married) too. We were all devoted to him.
Q: Well I've got some questions about them later on, but I'm wondering was Lucy Arnold the one teacher that really stood out in your mind...from the early schooling that you had here in Galveston?

Beal [June 14, 1972] -7 -

EB: Well, I guess so. Old Miss Della Orchard was so ignorant and funny that...she, she'll always stay in my memory. (Laughs.)
Q: Well did the children take advantage of her?
EB: Sure.
Q: Uh huh.
EB: And she had a quirt in her desk. And she'd take it and reach over and hit a boy. She didn't hit the girls, but she'd hit a boy with that quirt.
Q: What is a quirt? Is that a whip?
EB: Uh huh.
Q: Uh huh.
EB: It's uh...strips of leather that they bind together.
Q: Yeah, they're sort of braided?
EB: Yeah.
Q: Uh huh, I've seen those. I didn't know what they were.
HH: (If she did that now, why they'd fire her right out.)
Q: Yeah. Times have changed. I think they'd wind up with a law- suit these days.
HH: (Oh yeah, that's right; I forgot about that.)
Q: Yeah.
EB: And Eibands were across the street. They had lots of children.
Q: The Eiband family?
EB: Yeah.
Q: Did you go to school with any of the Eibands?
EB: No, they went to Catholic School.
Q: Uh huh, and you were in public school? But you all played together after school, I'm sure?
EB: Oh yes, and we still play together. Esther Hendrie, is one of the daughters, she's so funny. That...she and her sister live out at the Crockett Apartments.
Q: Uh huh.
EB: Clara, Wilshusen and Esther Hendrie. H-E-N-D-R-I-E. She's lots of fun.
Q: Now her maiden name was Eiband?
EB: Yes.
Q: Uh huh, was she one of 'em that you spent some time with after

Beal [June 14, 1972] -8 -

Q: school and on weekends?
EB: Oh no I didn't stay with 'em.
Q: Uh huh, I mean you all played together outside?
EB: And I went to all of their weddings.
Q: Uh huh.
EB: Sure used to feed.
Q: Did they live on P?
EB: No, they lived over there on Broadway.
Q: On Broadway, uh huh.
EB: 32nd and Broadway. Then they moved down on Tremont and N. The house isn't there...they tore it down. Had a vacant lot... had a beautiful home there. One of the Moodys built it.
Q: Well now, how did you get back and forth to school?
EB: We had a buggy.
Q: Did you have a buggy?
EB: Horse and buggy.
Q: Yeah. Well did you have a car pool?
EB: No.
Q: Uh huh.
EB: Of course we picked up some that were walking, but just occasionally.
Q: Yeah. Where'd you keep the horses, out in the back here?
EB: What?
Q: Where did you keep the horses?
EB: Oh, we just tied 'em on the street.
Q: Uh huh.
EB: They had posts at different places, you know.
Q: Uh huh. Was this uh...Well where did you keep them over night? Did you keep them behind the house here?
EB: Oh yeah. We had a...a big barn back there.
Q: Uh huh, uh huh.
EB: And we also had a, a lot across from there where we kept them. Mr. Levy owned the property, but he was glad for somebody to use it, you know. Help him keep up the taxes.

Beal [June 14, 1972] -9 -

Q: Yeah.
EB: They have houses back there now, but it used to be vacant property.
Q: Well you told us that during the 1900 Storm, that your brother had gotten an axe and chopped a hole in the floor.
EB: Yeah, to let the water in.
Q: Yeah. Uh I've got other questions about this storm, but as I ask you these, I'm wondering if you can't think back of some other things that might have happened during that time.
EB: No, they were bringing people in sick and wounded...oh I don't know, it was just...terrible.
Q: In here?
EB: The storm was over at midnight.
Q: Uh huh.
EB: Full moon came out just as pretty. And some people had been rescued in the trees of the Tuckers...
Q: Now were the people in the trees, now were these live people?
EB: Oh yes.
Q: Alright there weren't any bodies that'd just floated up and gotten stuck that were caught?
EB: No, no. The people who were saved held onto those trees.
Q: Yeah.
EB: The storm was allover at midnight.
Q: Uh huh.
EB: But uh...That's the Williams' house across the street.
Q: Yeah.
EB: Yeah, that old house rescued many of 'em. It was up high then.
Q: Now you said that uh you saw the burning of the bodies. Was this all the way between here and the beach? Was it on the beach or was it on the...
EB: No it was right up across the street, on that corner.
Q: Uh huh.
EB: One of the houses over there, you know.
Q: Corner of 37th and P?

Beal [June 14, 1972] -10 -

EB: Yes.
Q: Uh huh. They didn't even bother to take them away huh?
EB: Well they had sent 'em out...in the bay, you know; put weights on 'em and took 'em out. They all floated back.
Q: Oh.
EB: So then they tried to bury some of 'em; just so many they ...went ahead and burned 'em.
Q: Yeah.
EB: I'd stand out there and watch 'em burn the bodies and then I'd have nightmares and scream and holler.
Q: I'll bet your mother wondered why you ever stood out there watching 'em in the first place.
EB: She didn't, she didn't, didn't hesitate; she spanked. She had a big hand, she just turned me over and spanked.
Q: Because you were watching?
EB: Yeah.
Q: Uh huh. She wanted to have you at the other end of the house when they were doing that huh?
EB: Oh it was a terrible thing, you know...Something crazy about you when you watch anything like that.
Q: Yeah. Yeah. Now did your brother-in-law, Louis Oppenheimer Tucker, did he ever live in the Tucker home...itse1f?
EB: Oh, yes; he was born there.
Q: He was born there. Uh huh. So really your sister...
EB: He was buried from there.
Q: Well then really, your sister just married the man next door, sort of, didn't she?
HH: (Across the street.)
Q: Yeah. Well, now you said he was a big Mason?
EB: The father.
Q: Oh, his father was? Uh huh.
EB: Yes. Of course Louis was a Mason) too.
Q: Uh huh.
EB: But uh, old man Tucker was uh...They had to send to Scotland to get somebody to come and bury him. He was the head Mason

Beal [June 14, 1972] -11 -

in the United States. There wasn't anybody to lead the service until they got the man from Scotland.
Q: To come over...Uh huh. Did that mean that there was quite a delay between the time of death and the funeral?
EB: Yes. He died in Washington, and they didn't bring him home till the...people came from Scotland. They didn't travel as rapidly as they do now.
Q: Yeah. They probably came on train, didn't they?
EB: I guess so.
Q: Uh huh.
EB: On a boat...from Scotland.
Q: Uh huh. I could see that. It probably took him, took quite a while to get him over there to be cemetery then. Now you said that he was buried on 42nd, the 42nd Street Cemetery, didn't you?
EB: Uh huh.
Q: Uh huh.
EB: Yeah, they have a large monument out there. Old man Tucker had four wives.
Q: Good night! (Laughter.)
EB: They all died.
Q: He outlived everyone of 'em, huh?
EB: Yeah. They all died.
Q: Well he outlived the fourth one?
EB: No. She and her two boys outlived him.
Q: Uh huh. But the other three...
EB: First wife didn't have any. And the second wife had two two boys. The third wife didn't have any; but her daughter married the old man, and she had these two boys.
Q: The daughter of the third wife married Mr. Tucker huh? Good night.
HH: (Family affair.)
Q: Yeah...Well now, you mean, the third wife before she married him, had two daughters...
HH: (Had a...no...she...she just had two...Did she just have two daughters or one?)

Beal [June 14, 1972] -12 -

Q: Well, certainly he wouldn't marry his daughter by her, would he? Well was this a daughter she had I wonder...
HH: (She had a daughter when she married him, didn't she?)
EB: Yes, there was one, the stepdaughter.
Q: Yeah. So that must've been the daughter that married him.
HH: (How many daughters were there, two? ...Did she have two daughters?)
EB: Cecile and Anna.
HH: (There were two daughters...)
EB: There was another one, but I can't remember her name. Baldwin...
HH: (You said that there was one that died when she was quite young...)
EB: Yeah. Baldwin came over here one night, wanted some cooking soda. He said she was, she had indigestion. And he took it and ran across the street and came straight back and said, "She's dead." He didn't even use the soda.
Q: Now who was Baldwin?
EB: He was one of the two boys. The last wife had these two boys.
Q: Uh huh.
EB: My sister married Louis. Baldwin was the younger brother.
Q: Yeah. Well, did you recall...ever seeing Louis' father?
EB: No.
Q: You never did?
EB: Never.
Q: Uh huh. But of course you knew Louis. Well, was Louis' father dead, but by the time Louis and your sister married?
EB: Oh yes, yes.
Q: Uh huh.
EB: Yes, he was dead when they married. There's a Tucker Lodge. You hear about it, don't you?
Q: I'm not familiar with that.
EB: He was a prominent Mason, you know.
Q: Oh, it's a Masonic Lodge, called the Tucker Lodge, uh huh,

Beal [June 14, 1972] –13-

EB: He'd have banquets over there...and his wife and daughters couldn't appear. He didn't want 'em seeing any men.
Q: Yeah.
EB: No wonder they were old maids. I saw so many of 'em, that's what made me an old maid.
Q: Oh no, so many men huh? Were you like a little girl in a candy store, you couldn't make up your mind?
EB: I don't know. (Laughs.) Maybe I didn't get a chance at that.
Q: Uh I had a question about the move that uh...your sister and brother-in-law, the Goffs lived over on 33rd and L. And you said that he died, and she moved back over here to live with you...
EB: No. Did I say that?
Q: I thought that this was the way the trend went. Did she move back over here after uh...
EB: She didn't move here. Q: She did not?
EB: No, we moved over there. My mother and I moved.
Q: O.k.
EB: So we rented this house, and we lived over there.
Q: You rented this house out to somebody else?
EB: Uh huh.
Q: Uh huh. And you all moved over there?
EB: Yeah, she and I did.
Q: Alright, well, when did you come back here to this house?
EB: Well, we bought a bungalow out on Woodrow. You know Barbara Kelso?
Q: Uh huh.
EB: Well, she now lives right across the street. On the side on Woodrow. We lived out there five years, and uh...this house was rented to some people, and they didn't pay. We had to put 'em out. So we just fixed it up and sold that little house and came back over here.

Beal [June 14, 1972] -14 -

Q: Yeah. Do you remember when that was? Was it the twenties? Was it before you took over the insurance agency?
EB: I took over the insurance, so it must've...
HH: (Oh no, that was after.)
EB: Huh?
HH: (That was after...)
EB: What'd you say?
HH: (I say, you moved here after you had the insurance agency.)
EB: Well, we were living over there, and Goff, he...he died, and I took it up over there.
Q: Uh huh, o.k.
EB: And that was 1916.
Q: And then you moved to Woodrow...with your mother.
EB: Yeah, we stayed in that house for five years.
Q: Uh huh. Well maybe you can remember by events. You told me that your mother died in 19211
EB: Yes.
Q: Uh huh, well did she die here?
EB: She...she died over there.
Q: Oh, she died over there?
EB: Yeah, nobody has ever died in this house. As old as it is, nobody's ever died.
Q: Good night! Well I wouldn't uh call it that old. It was built in 1900...Just completed in 1900 wasn't it?
EB: Yeah, yeah, yes.
Q: That's seventy-two years old.
EB: We moved in June, and the storm was in September.
Q: Uh huh. Now you had spoken, you and Mr. McDonald knew what you were talking about, but I didn't, when you were talking about Mrs. Gross at 33rd and K.
EB: Uh huh.
Q: Uh you said that she married somebody who was about twenty- one years old, but she had grown children. Who did she marry?
EB: She married one of my pets...Jules Muller.

Oral History Interview of Emma Beal (1889-1972)