Saturday, September 08, 2018

This Week in Texas Methodist History  September 9

Hurricane Strikes Indianola September 15, 1875.  Rev. and Mrs. Henry Homberg killed.

Indianola in Calhoun County was second only to Galveston in terms of Texas ports of the mid-19th century.  It began in 1844 as an port of entry for German immigrants coming to Texas under the auspices of the Adelsverein.  After Texas joined the Union, it became the eastern terminus of the military road that stretched all the way to San Diego, California.  In that role, it was the site of the famous camel experiment in which the U. S. Army conducted a trial of camels as pack animals through the deserts lying between the two termini.  It also developed into a major shipping port for hides and tallow from the herds of wild cattle living just to the interior.  The carcasses were often dumped into the bay.  That provided a food source for turtles, and soon a turtle meat canning industry grew up in Indianola.  In 1869 the first shipment of refrigerated beef was shipped to New Orleans on the Agnes.  There were rail connections with the interior.  

It was also the county seat of Calhoun County and boasted a population of 5000 in September, 1875 when the hurricane hit.  The town was crowded with hordes of visitors attending a trial involving the Taylor-Sutton Feud, and from 150 to 300 people died.

Among the dead were Rev. Henry Homberg and Emelie (or Amilie, 1845-1875).  His body was never found.  His memoir from the 1876 Southern German Conference Journal is reproduced below.   

Henry Homberg. — September 16-17, 1875, will long but remembered in Indianola, Texas. Here, in this city, the adopted home of many brave but God-forgetting Germans, a little flock of truly pious souls had been gathered by Brother Homberg as he labored truly and fearlessly at this outpost of Christianity, and here, in the midst of this noble work, in this self-sacrificing effort to save his fellow-men from soul-ruin, the storm-flood, as a messenger of death, came and took him and his dear wife and adopted daughter during the morning of Sept. 16. The small dwelling of Brother Homberg was carried away by the wild waves of the Gulf as they rushed madly on before the wind: but as he and his loved ones had taken refuge a short time before in a neighbor's house, they were spared awhile longer; but, alas! about midnight, in the utter darkness of a cloud-covered horizon, the rain falling in torrents, and the wind blowing with increased fury, a large storehouse just in front of the one containing our dear brother and his family was undermined and thrown down, as it were, in an instant, and its wreck, borne on the surface of the madly rushing waters, was driven against their place of refuge as with the force of a battering-ram, destroying it shortly and burying forever in that fearful midnight hour the servant of the Lord, who was never seen afterward; the other inmates of the house, taking hold of the floating roof, drifted away, but, with the exception of one man, all were lost. Brother H. Homberg was born in Waden, Germany, on the 6th of July, 1836. He came to this country during the war, and, like many of his fellow-countrymen, enlisted in the army. There he made the acquaintance of some Methodists, and being of a loving character and liking their way of worshiping God, he joined the Church at Industry, Texas, under the administration of Brother C. Biel, although living at Brenham. In 1866 he married a very pious lady, Miss Emelie Weiss , who proved to him a true wife and a faithful helpmeet in the work of God, enduring with him joy and sorrow to the hour of their death. In 1872 Brother Homberg was stationed at Victoria as a missionary, and meeting with a great deal of opposition there, he learned that s Methodist missionary in Texas did not walk amid a bed of roses; bat he held out faithfully, and by his manly character and pious and prudent walk soon gained the esteem, and even love, of the people of that city during the two years of his labor among them. He occasionally visited Indianola, where our kinsmen were spiritually neglected and forsaken, and succeeded by the help of God in rallying around the cross a small bodyguard of Christian warriors. In 1874 he was sent to them as а pastor, and with great zeal and faith he went to work, built a chapel, and had it nearly free from debt, when the flood took both preacher and chapel into its destroying embrace. His small society at Indianola had clung to him with a wholesouled devotion, and the scene beggars description when the retuning saved ones sought for their pastor and found him not. Brother Homberg's talents and learning were not brilliant. His sermons were plain, but earnest; and although he was permitted to labor but a few short years for Christ, yet, wherever he was stationed, he endeared himself to all with whom he came in contact. Toward his brethren in authority in the Church he was always obedient, never complaining of hard appointments or small salary, always willing cheerfully to do the work intrusted to his cure to his utmost ability as a servant of Christ. He had a thorough Methodist spirit in him, and his loss is felt deeply. His death forms a breach in our ranks; but we know that Christ has taken him home, and rejoice in his privilege of joy in heaven. Although the place of his earthly rest is unknown, the Lord having buried him (like Moses) himself, yet his memory is sweetly cherished by many of the children of God on earth, and expect that when the trumpet shall blow and the sea shall give up its dead, all will meet around the common Saviour and again unite in songs of praise and. thanksgiving.

Indianola rebuilt after the 1875 storm, but another hurricane in 1886 wiped our Indianola for good.  Today it is a ghost town. 


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