The Great San Francisco Earthquake & Fire of 1906 occurred 108 years ago today.
According to the memoir of my grandfather, Tor Emil Hylbom (1900-1966), the first Hylbom to touch America’s shores was his uncle and namesake, Emil Reinhold Hylbom. Emil left Sweden as a young man for a life on the sea, and his family heard very little of his fate after that. He may have been in San Francisco in 1906. His last known whereabouts was in a home for destitute victims of the quake and fire, and a correspondent in California described him as a blind, old man.
On 18 Apr 1906, in the early morning hours, San Francisco, California, was rocked by an earthquake registering an 8.0 on the Richter scale. This massive quake was caused by a slip of the San Andreas Fault, which runs along the west coast of the united States, and its effects could be felt from Oregon to Los Angeles. In San Francisco, where buildings were constructed primarily of wood, numerous structures toppled, killing hundreds of the city’s residents. In addition, the quake and its aftershocks started fires throughout the entire city, and with the city’s water supply destroyed by the earthquake, firefighters could not stop them. Huge firestorms swept through the city, forcing city officials to dynamite large sections to be used as firebreaks. 20,000 people had to be evacuated to the USS Chicago on 20 April because they were trapped by fire. The chaos in the city got so bad that Mayor E. E. Schmitz was forced to call in U.S. troops from Fort Mason, telling them to implement a dawn to dusk curfew and to shoot any looters on sight. By 23 April, most of the fires had been extinguished and the city began the difficult task of rebuilding. 3,000 people had died because of the earthquake and the fires that followed, and 30,000 buildings had been destroyed in what was one of the most costly and deadly disasters in U.S. history.
Refer to Tor Emil Hylbom (edited by Ingrid Hylbom Hetfield). Reminiscences: Childhood Memories of Stockholm at the Turn of the Century (typescript – from the papers of Elizabeth Hamlin Hylbom) 1969, page 3. (4)