Background note:
The Galvaston hurricane was the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history ripping into Galvaston, Texas, a century ago, killing some 8,000 men, women and children and wiping away 12 city blocks -- nearly three-quarters of the island city. The Category 4 hurricane struck September 8, 1900.





The SS Roma was owned by the Rowland and Marwood shipping company of Whitby. The name 'ROMA' was made up from the owners names. The ship was loaded with wheat and was commanded by William Storm1857-1950 who gained the name of 'Roma Will' following the tragedy. At the time of the tragedy the ship was tied up at pier 15, Galveston.

A number of the officers and crew had links with Robin Hood's Bay and with Jacob Storm of the Black Prince, thus:

Captain 'Roma Will' Storm was the son of Jacob's sister, Damaris Harrison Storm 1835-1921 and Andrew Storm 1830-1886.

The Chief Officer, Thomas Andrew Taylor 1878-1967, was the son of another of Jacob's sisters, Hannah Mercy Storm 1850-1925 and Charles Taylor 1848-1942, master mariner. Thomas was also son-in-law of Roma Will because he was married to Roma Will's daughter, Elizabeth Law Storm 1894-1965.

A junior officer, Thomas Stubbs 1877-1956 was a third cousin once removed.

A great nephew, Laurence Stanley Church 1892-1970 was also aboard.

An apprentice, William Storm Harrison 1883-1959, was a first cousin once removed.


The damage to the Roma and other ships was reported in The Times on 13 September 1900 and the following transcription is by "Mic Barnette" <[email protected]> from the book A Weekend in September by Weems:

p41: 12 other large steamers were in Galveston, moored along the wharf on the north side of the city. Among them were the British steamship Kendal Castle, American ship Alamo, Norwegian Guyller, the English ships Benedict, Roma (commanded by a man named William Storm) and Norna (Pier 15) on the east side of the wharf front.

p103: Capt Storm had fought all Saturday to keep the Roma at Pier 15. Both anchors and every line she had, rope and steel were out. But the stern mooring post gave way and the wind forced the ship's stern into the stream. At 7:15 pm, Roma broke the last of her bonds when the anchors parted from the chains. The ship was carried up the channel broadside to the current. The ship [careered] into the Kendal Castle, then went broadside through the three railroad bridges linking the island with the mainland. She finally came to a halt between the last railroad bridge and the wagon bridge. When the Roma crashed into the Kendal Castle, she loosened its moorings. Later the small Norwegian Guyller also piled into the Kendal Castle whereupon she too went adrift. Driven by the hurricane, the ship was sent across Pelican Island and into shallow water near Texas City. The Guyller meanwhile, was stranded midway between Pelican Island and Virginia Point.

Contd "…… the starboard side of the Roma was badly bulged".

A further description of the events of the time may be found at provided here for ease.

  GALVESTON 1900      

Surprisingly none of the crew were injured. This in spite of the fact that thousands of people were actually killed directly as a result of the storm. There were too many dead to bury, so the remains were weighted and dropped into the Gulf of Mexico. But the bodies floated back to shore and were eventually burned in funeral pyres. In fact William Storm Harrison was employed burning dead bodies for 5$ a day.

Not very far away from Galveston there was another Roland and Marwood vessel, the Blue Cross. It's captain was Jacob's son, Jacob Storm jnr 1870-1946, and one of the apprentices was Alfred Thomas Church 1889-1995, brother of Laurence Stanley Church, and therefore also a great nephew of Jacob snr. Because of its closeness the Blue Cross was able to call in at New Orleans to pick up some of the crew of the Roma.

Meanwhile the Roma remained high and dry inland for many months.It became one of the sights of Galveston and local people were able to point it out to visitors as one of the wonders of the hurricane.Naturally there was speculation on what might be done and there was some surprise when it was decided to try to refloat. So work began on creating a huge ditch and by September 1901 it was deep enough to allow the Roma to slide slowly into and along to the ditch to its former mooring. On October 9th it sailed for New York.

Locking the stable door……………..Months after the hurricane, Galveston started construction on a 17-foot-high, 3-mile-long sea wall. Phase one of the project cost $1.6 million dollars, an astronomical amount at the time.