The Opelousas Journal described the event of Jan. 8, 1870, as "an undulatory movement, lasting only a few seconds, but powerful enough to startle many of our citizens from their morning nap."
The newspaper said the local shock wave was "a continuation of the wave of commotion" caused by a series of relatively small quakes felt from the Atlantic to the Pacific in months before.
"Of course we didn't have much of a shock in this little corner, but it caused a disturbance, the Journal reported, but it was enough , "in the midst of all our political and social convulsions," in the years just after the Civil War, " to feel that we have no 'firm round earth' to bear us up. Who can say when it will return and shake us into a worse jumble than we are at present."
The night before the earthquake was warmer than usual, but there was no warning before the undulations began.
"Our strange visitor came and went, leaving no security behind it, that there will not be a return." There is some confusion about whether new shocks were felt the next day, or whether the Journal was wrong about the date of the first ones.
The Opelousas Courier of Jan. 15 reported "a few slight shocks ... felt in our town" on Jan. 9. "The shocks, oscillations rather, though quite perceptible, lasted only a second or two and caused no damage," according to the Courier's report.
The Planters' Banner, published in Franklin on Jan. 19, reported, "They lately had an earthquake in St. Landry, and it extended to Alexandria. Houses trembled, lamps shook on the table so that they nearly upset, families were alarmed, and it produced a decided sensation. It was a genuine, outspoken earthquake; no shoddy about it. They got up stronger earthquakes in South America, but none more genuine than that of Opelousas and Alexandria."
The Planters' Banner of Jan. 26, reported, "Dr. (C.D.) Tatman, writing from Chicot, 28 miles north of Opelousas ... speaks of the earthquake as follows: 'About half-past five o'clock, Sunday morning, the 9th inst., there was a sharp shock of an earthquake here. The shock was sufficient to shake our house, heavy and substantially built as it is. ... But no actual damage was done.
"'The shock was accompanied by a noise like low, rumbling thunder; and after the main shock, which lasted perhaps five or six seconds, or longer, there were two lighter ones, producing a rocking motion from west to east, the sensation feeling to me, in bed, like the swinging of a hammock. The sensation conveyed by the first shock was as if the house was about to be crushed together. I felt the whole distinctly from beginning to end, as I was lying awake when the first shock was felt. The whole thing did not last more than ten or twelve seconds. The poultry was all frightened from the roost. Some dogs howled, and others barked lustily, as if about to attack something. The horses ran and snorted, and the cattle were disturbed in their lairs, and appeared terribly alarmed. Mr. Steele of (St. Mary Parish) told me he remembered ... a much heavier... shock ... in St. Landry in the year 1823. Dishes danced on the table, houses rocked, and the inhabitants were much alarmed.'"
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