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Ryon, Alice (Mrs. George Washington Clampitt) (1854-1944) Survivor of the 1876 Hurricane

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Ryon, Alice (Mrs. George Washington Clampitt) (1854-1944) Survivor of the 1876 Hurricane

Posted: 17 Nov 2011 4:37PM GMT
Classification: Obituary
Surnames: Clampitt, Ryon
Transcribed from the El Campo Citizen (a newspaper published in Wharton County, Texas), Front Page and continued on back page No. 5, dated Friday, the 29th of September of 1944

Death Takes Mrs. Alice Clampitt, Aged Resident And Indianola Survivor

Alice Ryon Clampitt, a resident of El Campo for 58 years and one of the few survivors of the Indianola hurricane of 1876, died at her home here Sunday at the age of 90 years.

Because so many of her friends and her mother and sister were lost in the storm, Mrs. Clampitt seldom talked of the tragic hurricane. On occasional visits back to the historic spot, she would point out to her family the familiar landmarks. Some of them, the foundations of the courthouse and cistern, with the waves of Lavaca Bay now lapping its fallen stonework, at one time stood a block from the water's edge. Several concrete cisterns in which the inhabitants accumulated their fresh water supply and the old railroad grade leading out to the long ago destroyed wharf, were some of the vanishing landmarks she pointed out.

For thirty years Indianola was the most important port of the west Texas coast, even contending with Galveston for the position of the most important seaport in Texas. From this port more cattle were shipped than from any other port in the world and here, where there were a good many stables and corrals to care for the freight emanating from the place, Mrs. Clampitt's father, a saddle maker, conducted his business.

At the time of the storm, Mrs. Clampitt was a girl of 22. She saved her life by floating all night in an attic of an old building wedged between two other structures.

The next day she was rescued with a rope thrown to her and which she tied to a rafter, sliding down it. A 110-mile wind accompanied the 8-foot tidal wave which submerged the land. When the wind changed from the Southeast to the Northwest, it became so terrific in force that the water which had blown in for four days was blown back to sea in two hours.

Back of the town, water and wind created a 17-mile long raft of pianos, dishes, dead and maimed people, horses, ships, houses and other material. After this, many inhabitants, including the family of Mrs. Clampitt, moved away, and in 1886 after the second hurricane, fire and water forced the complete abandonment of the little city.

Mrs. Clampitt's mother and a small child of the family were lost. Saved from the storm's fury, besides Mrs. Clampitt, were her father, one brother, John H. J., who died 30 years ago, and a sister, Adoline, who died in 1937.

Mrs. Clampitt was a member of the Old Indianola Association the meetings of which she attended regularly until their discontinuation at the beginning of the war.

Born in Seguin July 27, 184, she was the daughter of John F. Ryon, a native of Ireland [sic] and Mary Smith Ryon. After the hurricane, the family moved to Cuero, where she married George W. Clampitt, an employee of the Southern Pacific Railroad, Dec. 29, 1884. In 1886 they moved to El Campo where she had lived since. Her husband passed away in 1911.

To this union were born six sons and one daughter. A son Dick died in 1914, and the daughter Alice died in 1900 at the age of three years.

Surviving her are five sons, R. C. Clampitt of Houston, captain of Company E Seventh Battalion, Texas Defense Guards; W. A. Clampitt of Kingsville; Essie Clamplitt of San Antonio; G. W. Clampitt of Galveston and D. E. Clampitt of Beaumont; three grandsons, two of them in the service of their country; three granddaughters and three great-grandchildren.

Funeral services were held Monday afternoon from the First Presbyterian Church, with Rev. Walter Bennett conducting the last rites. Interment was made beside others of the family in O.D.H.S. Garden of Memories.

Pallbearers were P.C. Owens, John Phillips, L. E. Boudreax, Tom Melcher, W. Harriss and J. Evans.

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