To the Editors of the Raleigh Star.
Gentlemen. I take the liberty to transmit the following
account of an Earthquake which happened on the night
between the 15th and 16th inst.
For several nights previous, the Aurora Borealis
brilliantly illuminated the sky with its trembling
coruscations; the late appearance of a splendid comet, and
the blood like colour of the sun for several days, had
alarmed a great many superstitious people. They talked of
war; and when the news of Governor Harrison's dear bought
victory arrived, it brought to their recollection all
those appearances which are still believed (as these are
now) to have been the awful precursors of that bloody war
by which we gained our independence.
On Monday morning about 1 o clock, the inhabitants of this
place were roused from their peaceful slumbers by a
dreadful sound: some waggoners who were up at the
time it began, said it resembled, but was louder, than if
100 wagons were driven at full speed down the mountain.
This gave us a considerable alarm: the timid took to
prayer, expecting every moment (as they say) to hear the
sound of the last trumpet. The more courageous
ventured to open their doors to discover what occasioned
the noise. A sudden trembling of the earth caused
fresh terror and alarm from which we had not time to
recover when we felt a violent shock which lasted about
three minutes, and was attended with a hollow rumbling
noise, and ended with a dreadful crash, leaving behind a
strong sulphurous stench.
For the remainder of the night all was still and calm, but
was spent by us in trembling anxiety. When the
wished for morning came, we were happy to find no lives
were lost; but while some of us were in the street
congratulating each other on our happy escape, we were
again alarmed by a much louder noise quickly followed by a
more violent shock than any we had heard before. It
gave the earth an undulating motion resembling the waves
of the sea. Two of those who were standing with me
were thrown off their feet; the rest of us with difficulty
kept from falling, while two or three cows that were near
us were unable to stand, and testified their fear by loud
bellowing, which, with the cries of the women and
children, and the terror that was depicted on the
countenances of the men, presented a scene of horror I am
unable to describe.
It is somewhat strange that its effects were more violent
in the vallies than on the mountains; a tanyard in a
valley near this place, had several vats displacedCthe
edges of some were raised three feet above their former
level, others were moved partly round and left in a zigzag
manner. It would far exceed the bounds of this
letter to describe all the phenomenon produced by this
awful convulsion of nature: rocks moved, hills shook,
houses shattered, etc.
A wonderful change has taken place in the manners of the
people. I believe so many fervent prayers never were
put up in this place as were on that fearful night and
morning. I think what has been done may be
termed a revival in religion.
I have just seen a gentleman from Knoxville, who passed
Sunday night with Mr. Nelson at the Warm Springs; from his
account his situation was more terrifying than ours.
For several hours previous to the shock the most
tremendous noise was heard from the neighbouring
mountains. At intervals it was quiet; but would
begin with so much violence that each repetition was
believed to be the last groan of expiring nature.
The shock at that place did but little damage except to a
few huts that were built near the springs for the
accommodation of invalids. The fulminating of the
mountains was accompanied with flashes of fire seen
issuing from their sides. Each flash ended with a
snap, or crack, like that which is heard on discharging an
electrick battery, but 1000 times as loud. This
induced him to believe that the Earthquake was caused by
the electric fluid.
In the morning it was observed that a large stream of
water (temperature by Fah. 147 degrees) issued from a
fissure in a rock on the side of the mountain, which had
been opened the preceding night. While they were examining
it, another shock was felt which lasted two minutes.
Although a perfect calm, the tops of the trees appeared to
be greatly agitated, the earth shook violently, and the
water of the warm springs at that time overflowed by
French Broad River, was thrown up several times to the
height of thirty or forty feet.
Several masses of stone were loosed from their ancient
beds and precipitated from the summits and sides of the
mountains. One in particular, well known to the
western travelers by the name of the Painted Rock, was
torn from its base and fell across the road that leads
from hence to Knoxville; it has completely blocked up the
passage for wagons. A great many people who were
moving westerly are in a pitiable situation at this
inclement season, being unable to proceed until a new road
is made round the rock (no easy task). In this they
are cheerfully assisted by their neighbours.
I have been for three months in these dreary regions
examining a mine of Cobalt. The ore is rich.
It abounds with arsenic. In May we intend to calcine
the ore and prepare it for exportation or perhaps
manufacture it into smalt. The mine is within a few
miles of Mackeyville??.
JOHN C. EDWARDS.
[Note: Another (fictional) account was
also published under John C. Edwards' name. Susan
E. Hough, of the U.S. Geological Survey, has analyzed the
veracity of the two accounts.]