'Scenes and Stories of the Storm, September 1906'
Compiled by David Holt
Published by Commercial Printing, 1968, Mobile
(On 27 September 1906, a Category 4 hurricane struck Pensacola FL. There was extensive damage all along the Gulf Coast westward to New Orleans. It is estimated that 250 people lost their lives. South of Mobile, near the towns of Bayou La Batre and Coden, many Mobile residents had summer homes on Sans Souci Beach. Almost all homes in this area were destroyed by the storm surge. Following the disaster, a reporter from the Mobile Press-Register wrote a series of articles on the aftermath of the storm. In 1968, these articles were compiled into a book. A copy of the book is available in the vertical files of the Local History & Genealogical Department of the Mobile Public Library.)
p 9 'Death of the Werneths: One of the saddest chapters in the story of tha calamity at Coden was the drowning of Lice Werneth of Mobile, his wife, his young daughter Miss Una Werneth and her baby sister and his aged mother-in-law, Mrs Adel Betancourt. The wind was blowing the water of the gulf in great waves about the Werneth's summer home early Thursday morning. When it was plain that the house was doomed, Mr Werneth and Cal Williams, a youth of 16 years, attempted to remove the the family to a place of safety in a skiff which was already half filled with water. As the members of the family attempted to embark on the frail craft it sunk. Mrs Betancourt, an elderly lady, could not swim and at once disappeared beneath the waves. Mrs Werneth
struggled for a few minutes, was overcome by a terrific wave and sank to rise no more. Mr Werneth made a desperate effort to save his family and with his little daughter in his arms, succeeded in reaching an oak tree near his house but a wave tore the child from his grasp and in his effort to save the little one lost his life. Young Williams and Miss Adele Werneth, being good swimmers, succeeded in reaching a tree and climbed to a place of temporary safety from which, in helpless horror, they saw the futile struggles of the father to save his loved ones and saw them one by one disappear beneath the yellow flood.'
p 11 'Partial list of victims: At Coden and Sans Souci Beach among the identified dead were ... Mr & Mrs Loice Werneth and daughter, Una, Mrs Adele Betancourt...'
(Mrs Werneth was the former Augustine Betancourt.)
Health Department of City of Mobile:
Death certificate #1076
Orlease Werneth, age 51, burial Magnolia Cemetery Range F Lot 29-30
Death certificate #1077
Augustine Werneth, age 49, burial same
Death certificate #1078
Una Werneth, age 12, burial same
I could not find a death certificate for Mrs Adele Betancourt or the youngest Werneth daughter. I assume Mrs Betancourt is buried in an unmarked grave in Catholic Cemetery in Mobile with her husband Manuel Betancourt. Adele Werneth later married Walter Jack Waynick in 1909 in Mobile.
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