Today, the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge Commemorative Silver Half Dollar Coin remembers the Doomsealers and their prediction of destruction for April 14, 1890.
An excerpt from the article A Study of a Pauline Apocalypse by Professor D. A. Hayes, Ph.D., Ll.D. Garrett Biblical Institute, Evanston, Ill. in The Biblical World periodical of March 1911:
I was living in the state of California and not far from Oakland and San Francisco when the Doomsealer excitement took place.
Mrs. Woodworth had been holding revival meetings with great success for several months in the city of Oakland.
The meetings had been moved from place to place in order to obtain larger accommodations, and at last a huge tent was erected, capable of holding eight thousand people.
Trances and visions became a common occurrence in these meetings, and the tent was crowded at every service, many being attracted by curiosity to see these trance phenomena.
Mrs. Woodworth and her followers ascribed all of these things to “the power,” as they called it, and they had implicit confidence in its divine origin.
On January 25, 1890, George A. Erickson, a Norwegian laboring man, had a vision of the destruction of all the San Francisco Bay cities by a great earthquake and tidal wave, and the Lord revealed to him the date of that destruction, April 14, 1890.
The proclamation of this vision created intense excitement, which was increased almost daily by revelations to other prophets and prophetesses.
Mrs. Boillot had a vision of the swallowing up of San Francisco and Oakland in a tidal wave.
Her little child, only two years and a half old, was under “the power” twice all night long, and when she awakened she seemed terribly frightened and cried all day long that “she did not want to fall into the water that was all around everywhere.”
John Kelly in vision saw himself walking along Market Street, San Francisco, when suddenly everything began to quake and men and women rushed screaming from the buildings, and the walls fell out, and with a great roar the earth split open and swallowed up everything.
Mrs. Gifford in a vision saw the whole country about San Francisco sinking and she screamed and fell into her husband’s arms in a faint.
When she recovered she claimed that the Lord had revealed to her that the destruction would take place April 14, 1890, at 4:45 P.M.
Edward F. Maggart, a lad of eighteen years, while lying under “the power” in the big tent, saw the destruction of the Bay cities and then the spirit carried him to Lake Michigan where he saw the destruction of Milwaukee and Chicago.
Prophet Erickson, the original Doomsealer, kept well in advance of the others with his revelations.
One Sunday afternoon at his own home the Lord showed him the map of the world in five divisions, America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia.
Then the Lord showed him the five wounds in his own body, where he was pierced and suffered for each of these parts of the world.
“He pointed to the wounds in his two hands and two feet and his side, with the blood running out of them for these five parts of the world. The blood was able to save them all.”
On January 27, Erickson had a vision of the destruction of Chicago and Milwaukee.
“Then he showed me the great city of Chicago and its railways, and that it would sink in the earthquake, and the waters of Lake Michigan would flow over it. There should be heard no more whistle of the cars therein; no more voice of man; the name of Chicago even should be heard no more. The Lord then showed me the line of the Northwestern Railway from Chicago to Milwaukee. He showed me that Milwaukee would sink like Chicago, and in the same great earthquake and that Lake Michigan would cover it the same as Chicago.”
Erickson’s visions extended farther still and he prophesied the future history and destiny of most of the nations of Europe.
However his interest centered principally upon the destruction of the Californian cities, and the most of the Doomsealers had revelations concerning this alone.
About sixty of them in all had this event revealed to them in vision.
Hundreds had visions concerning other things.
Still others who came under “the power” were assured that what Erickson and the other prophets had said was true.
The great catastrophe was to be preceded by one week of terrible winds, destructive hail-storms, dense fogs, and earthquakes.
As this week approached, the faithful set about the task of warning all the people.
Evangelist Bennett mounted his bicycle and rode up and down the city streets and the country roads, crying aloud, “Flee! Flee! Flee! Flee to the mountains!”
Others rang doorbells and left their message of the coming doom.
Others frequented the railroad and ferry stations, calling upon sinner and saint alike to “Beware!” and to “Prepare!” for the day of destruction now close at hand.
The warning week had none of the predicted physical phenomena in it, but when April 14 arrived, camps of the elect had been established at Santa Rosa, Saint Helena, Vacaville, Cazadero, and many other points in the mountains; and these camps were filled with those who had fled from the destruction of the cities in the plain.
No one will ever know how many left for the East at about that time in order to be on the safe side and out of harm’s way.
I was in a college faculty, fifty miles away from San Francisco, when these things occurred; and many refugees passed through our city on their way to the Santa Cruz mountains.
One of our students, a Sophomore, joined their company; and we had to discipline him afterward for leaving school without permission.
April 14, 1890, was a day like other days.
The Doomsealers came back to their homes and former occupations after a time and the world went on as usual, except that Erickson was declared insane and was shut up in the Stockton Insane Asylum.
Sixteen years later, on April 18, 1906, San Francisco had its visitation of earthquake and fire.
No one foretold that day of doom.
It came unexpectedly, like a thief in the night, as the Day of the Lord always comes.
Its definite date had never been set down beforehand in any authoritative calendar.
The San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge Commemorative Silver Half Dollar Coin shows with an image of Market Street in San Francisco, circa 1892.