The 1906 Earthquake

Part V: Ralph Rambo’s Account Continues

“Agnews Asylum had suffered the worst catastrophe in the Valley.  Santa Clara College had nobly responded.  With all the wires down, a horseman had taken word to Santa Clara and at least 100 students had run or ridden their wheels after the horseman to the great disaster.  Wagons passed us transporting casualties to Santa Clara after they were pulled from the ruins.

“Agnews Asylum was 18 years old.  It held 1018 patients.  The main building was four stories high.  There were four towers and it was two blocks long.  The construction was all brick with no metal reinforcement.  Its cost had been a million dollars, an enormous sum in those days.

“The quake would leave 119 dead and 400 wounded.  Doctor Stocking, head of Agnews escaped but Gustavus Braden, Superintendent, and head doctor E.A. Kelley were killed in the wreckage.  The first shock toppled the towers; the second tumbled the interiors into the basement.  The search for bodies would continue until April 20th.

“When we arrived there was some apparent confusion, but it was well controlled by sheriff’s deputies.  The bodies of the dead or wounded had been laid out on the lawns for identification or attention.  We saw Santa Clara Mission priests giving aid or in some cases last rites.  The violently insane had been tied to trees until they could be transferred to the Stockton Asylum.  There were no recorded escapes (but in a sense there was to be one.)  Some of the less violent cases wandered the grounds closely watched.  Fortunately, many did not realize their predicament.  A couple greeted us warmly as visitors.  One man stood on a tree stump and recited verses from the Bible.  He had a little audience of inmates.

“But our attention was immediately turned to finding [mother’s half-sister] Mary.  It turned out that the cottages were at a sufficient distance from the main buildings to be little harmed by the quake.  Of course Mary was overjoyed so see us and quickly gathered her few belongings.  We saw nothing of a matron.  We simply departed with our “Escapee.”  To this day I cannot recall or explain how we spirited her away that day without some formal release.  Anyway under the unusual circumstances we did just that!  And with our canine traveler quickly joining Mary in the back seat, we took off for Santa Clara and homeward.”

Next week in Part VI, Leonard McKay concludes Ralph Rambo’s account.



    SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA June 7, 2006: Angry protesters burnt tires and laid obstacles on major city roads as residents of this California city reacted to earthquake like results of yesterday’s Mayoral election. 

    Based on yesterday’s late night election results, it was obvious that all of the incumbent City Council candidates for Mayor lost by wide margins. 

    The protesters were reacting to word from the San Jose City Clerk that the winner of the mayoral contest would not be able to assume office until January 1, 2007. 

    “This is outrageous,” shouted Bill Everett, a local restaurant owner that had been waiting for seven months for the fire department, building department and vector control to agree on the number and placement of fire sprinklers at his nearly complete place of business. “I can’t believe I’ve got to wait another half a year for the current crew to pack their bags and get out of that really big white building on Santa Clara Street,” said Everett.

    The public demonstrations were called by Fed Up San Jose, an alliance of local business and community organizations, to press the local government in San Jose to meet the demands of the voters in yesterday’s election.

    Although city offices were open, shops and businesses remained closed and traffic remained off the roads in almost all parts of the city from morning to afternoon. “It’s a complete reaction to more bad news from City Hall and shows the unanimity of the voters regarding their expectation that these scoundrels be run out on a rail now not later in the year,” resident Nelson Riddle remarked.

    Police removed burning tires and concrete masses from the roads in different areas of San Jose, although most of the debris was concentrated in front of the nearly new City Hall building.  An ambulance was called to assist an injured city worker who mistakenly attempted to remove several large boulders, which apparently were part of the “hard-scape” design of this facility. “The poor fellow heard his back snap as he tried to lift the stones scattered in front of the building,” commented an unidentified resident.

    Hundreds of people, mostly youngsters, also started a rally in front of San Jose City Hall holding posters and chanting slogans in support of their demands for a quick end to the war in Iraq, more downtown public restrooms for the homeless and a restart of negotiations with the House of Blues.

    The Mayor’s Office did not respond to repeated calls for comment.

  2. Thanks to Leonard McKay for presenting this historical series. His work does not generate a huge response by present-centric posters, but it is extremely valuable to get this information and get it on the Internet where it will be available to the various search engines for years.

  3. Its people like Leonard McKay that make us all remember what a beautiful place this once was when everone knew each other by name and worked together ,it truely was the garden of the world and now it seems to be nothing but a maze of greed and blacktop to see who ruin the last part of this special place (coyotevalley) you call it progress but its nothing but self destruction………..