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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Thomas Clifford Howe to William Tryon [Extract]
Howe, Thomas Clifford
September 10, 1769
Volume 08, Pages 73-75

The Extract of the Letter referred to on the preceeding side, as follows.

The effects of the storm which happened in the night of the 7th instant is so fatal to Newbern that I cannot omit giving your Excellency the best account I can of it, Beginning with Mr John Smith whose store full of goods was underminded with the washing of the waves and tumbled down and broke to pieces and all the goods washed away, besides this his wharf and a large ware house that stood upon it, was broke to pieces and scattered along shore. The cellars of the house where he lived being well stored with wine, rum, sugar, &c, &c, were underminded and destroyed and all it contained either stove to pieces or floated away by the violence of the wind and current. He saved himself and family by cutting through in the garret to Mr Cornells house which they entered but soon were obliged to leave carrying along with them Mr Cornell's children

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and the nurse by which means they were saved, for the floor of the house very soon after fell in and with the furniture washed away. Mr Smith's two sloops are also lost, one stove to pieces at the wharf the other drove up near the edifice, so high that she never will be got off, It is supposed his losses cannot amount to less than three thousand pounds. Mr Cornells cellar under his dwelling house was underminded and the wall destroyed, the piazza all thrown down and carried away. Out of the cellar floated away and stove together, near two hundred hogsheads of molasses, eighty hogsheads of rum and several pipes of wine, besides many other articles of value, some of the wine, rum and molasses have been since found. Two store houses that stood on his wharf well filled with very valuable goods beat down and carried away together with the wharf. The goods all lost and destroyed. His brig drove over the large marsh to the south westward of the town quite into the woods and entirely lost, also the large sloops belonging to strangers drove up and lost near the brig. Mr Cornell's ready money store kept by Partridge at the corner opposite Mr Ellis's destroyed with all the goods and money and the store keeper so bruised that it is thought he connot live. All the houses on the left hand side the street from this corner up as far as Mr Cogdell's washed down and floated away. Two women, Mrs Johnston and Mrs Pope with their two children and two negros were drowned or killed by the ruins of these buildings, no other life lost that we know of as yet. Mr Ellis's wharf and store houses with the goods in them washed away and entirely lost. The cellars of his store opposite the front of his dwelling house underminded and the wine, rum, &c. &c. washed out and stove to pieces. Those buildings of Mr Clitheralls where Mr Neale lived and kept the public ferry and those long houses of Mr Wilton's next adjoining are entirely destroyed, not one stone left upon another. The part of the still house next the water beat down and the works destroyed almost irrepairable. Doctor Hasten's tan house, stores and yard entirely ruined and destroyed and the chimneys of his dwelling house fallen off on the roof but luckily did it no damage. His garden is quite torn up and ruined. Mr Davis's house a mere wreck, his printing office broke to pieces, his papers destroyed and types buried in the sand, his desk stove and what money he had with all his private papers entirely lost. The pailing where your Excellency lives when in Newbern blown down and the front of the lott up to the gates washed away, it will take much time and trouble to secure it from
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the influence of any common brisk easterly wind. Mr Cove's store with the store house on the wharf next to this thrown down and carried away with all the goods they contained. Colo Leeches tan house with thirteen other little houses situated about it and belonging to him are entirely destroyed. Many other people have lost all they had in the world, among these is the unfortunate Mr Seagreaves who with a large family of small children has not now a second shirt to his back.

The Edifice has received no damage that I know of, if any, it must be very inconsiderable, for though I have seen Mr Hawks he never has mentioned any thing of the kind to me.

Newbern is really now a spectacle, her streets full of the tops of houses, timber, shingles, dry goods, barrels and hogsheads, empty most of them, rubbish &c. &c. in so much that you can hardly pass along; a few days ago so flourishing and thriving—it shows the instability of all sublunary things.

Thus I thought it my duty Sir, to give your Excellency the best accounts I could of an event so fatal to a place which has always had your protection and encouragement and which I hope will still merit a continuance of the favors it has received from your Excellency.

Mr Cornell's loss from a moderate computation cannot amount to less than four or five thousand pounds.


Dated 10th Sept 1769.