Events That Touched Our Ancestors' Lives
December 9, 2008 7:36 AM   Subscribe

GenDisasters is a genealogy site, compiling information on the historic disasters, events, and tragic accidents of Canada and the U.S. that our ancestors endured, as well as, information about their life and death.

Search is quite extensive and navigation is broken down by disaster type, including earthquakes, hurricanes, mining explosions, and dozens of other categories.

You can also choose by state within the USA, for example Arizona, or province within Canada, i.e. New Brunswick. Finally, you may also browse a timeline that begins as early as 1755 and includes information as current as the Swan's Island fire in July of this year.

Members are encouraged to report and add information to the ever-growing database.
posted by netbros (12 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Norristown, PA Auto Crashes into Telephone Pole, Jul 1911

OMG that was my great grandfather! Our family still talks about the fender damage.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:44 AM on December 9, 2008

I joke but that's a very comprehensive site. Interesting just to browse contemporary descriptions of disasters.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:47 AM on December 9, 2008

New York New York False Hair Fire sounds like the beginning of a beautiful poem, or song, or something.
posted by The Whelk at 7:53 AM on December 9, 2008

Riverside, CA Elephant Accident, Apr 1908

Wow, this site is awesome.
posted by Katemonkey at 8:05 AM on December 9, 2008

My mind keeps hovering over this site, waiting to come to some sort of definite conclusion about it. Something about it seems a little off. Maybe it's just the tagline. Maybe it should be "the infuriated beasts that stomped our ancestors" instead. In any case, I love that the scope of disasters includes small town car crashes. Those are the kind of events that make you who you are. If my grandmother's first husband hadn't died in a car crash...I wouldn't be here. Alive, I mean. Whether who I ended up being would post comments on metafilter is another issue.
posted by theefixedstars at 8:15 AM on December 9, 2008

Wow, what a great site. I had no idea of this Ottawa tragedy.
A flaming jet fighter rocketed into a three-story Roman Catholic convent and exploded last night, bringing fiery death to an estimated 20 or more persons.

posted by saucysault at 8:23 AM on December 9, 2008

Wow, the very first article under a search for my surname actually mentions a distant relative of mine. Subsequent searches have been less fruitful, but it's still interesting to read these articles. The style of reporting is a bit different than today:

"As soon as the freight had passed he started to cross and just as he reached the second track the oncoming locomotive struck the automobile and hurled Whitney from his seat. The wheels of the engine and coaches passed over his body, mangling the trunk and severing the head."
posted by oneirodynia at 9:20 AM on December 9, 2008

I had always been under the impression that the area around Tucson was relatively stable, seismically speaking. Now I know that in 1887, a 7.4 hit in northern Sonora.

"The court house cupola swayed like the mast of a ship in a turbulent sea and the building seemed as though it were toppling over. When the shock struck Santa Catalina mountain great slices of the mountain were torn from its side and thrown to its base."

It turns out we're on a fault. One which will inevitably cause more earthquakes, devastating this now-populous area, causing untold destruction.

In about 100,000 years.

This is a hell of a post, netbros. Thanks.
posted by MrVisible at 10:27 AM on December 9, 2008

It's all fun and games until someone gets hurt.

Ticonderoga, NY Practical Joke Causes Death, Sept 1889
THURSDAY night, at Ticonderoga, N. Y., John Gordon, an employe[sic] of a paper mill, fell asleep near the machinery, and two other workmen, to scare him, tied a rope about his feet and then threw it over a revolving shaft. They could not cut the rope in time and Gordon was killed. One of the practical jokers has become insane from the shock.
And this is awful: Towanda, Kansas Tornado, April 1892
The people of Towanda had little time to note the various awful things which were happening, but one incident will be remembered as long as they live. The family of James Gibson were standing in their door watching the storm when they saw something come rolling down the street toward them. It looked like a log, but bent and twisted in such as to excite their curiosity, and as it was stopped in a gutter near their house they went out to make an investigation after the storm had passed. It was the body of a young woman who had been stripped of every stitch of clothing except one stocking, and it was only by this stocking that they were enabled to identify her. It was that of Miss Belle Merritt, who was considered the most beautiful young lady in this part of the country. She was so disfigured that no semblance of her former self remained. She was alive when found but died within a few hours without recovering consciousness.
posted by pracowity at 11:06 AM on December 9, 2008

I'm just relieved as hell that GenDisasters has nothing to do with gen.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:19 PM on December 9, 2008

This is great. I actually had a job once where I was paid to read pre-Civil War newspapers. People talk know about local TV news and the whole "If it bleeds it leads" thing. But even in the 1850's, I'd be reading a North Carolina paper and there would be nothing about the new railroad coming through the town the day before (which is what I was looking for), but then I'd see something like: STORY BY ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH! MISSOURI BOY BLOWN TO ATOMS IN GUNPOWDER MISHAP!

I don't how recent their database is, but I remember this happening.
posted by marxchivist at 5:30 AM on December 10, 2008

Ah, yes-- why the First Amendment doesn't cover the right to shout "fire" in a crowded theater....
posted by availablelight at 10:09 AM on December 10, 2008

« Older The Great Sheffield Flood of 1864   |   Senate seat for sale... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments