Otto SLINKEY (24 May 1883 - 08 January 1953) and
Ethel Sarah NEATE (03 May 1886 - 15 June 1952)
Married: 28 November 1906, San Francisco
“My great-grandparents met in the confusion and bewilderment of a refugee camp formed to aid the San Franciscans left homeless by the 1906 Earthquake and Fire. The couple quickly fell in love and by November they married.”
Refugee Camp at Ft. Mason
|Following the 1906 disaster, over 250,000 people (nearly 75% of the City’s population) were left homeless. Many of the refugees immediately fled to surrounding communities, but thousands remained in the City. Some were fortunate enough to find relatives or friends with whom they could stay. But hungry, tired and in various states of shock, the rest had little choice but to sleep wherever they could. Many set up makeshift camps in any open space they could find such as the city’s numerous public parks.||
Los Angeles Relief Camp in Golden Gate Park
Richmond Camp Refugee Shacks
|Relief supplies from all over the country began to arrive, but it took time to get it to those who needed it most. The first days were extremely difficult for most of the refugees, trying to make due in conditions that were dirty, crowded and uncomfortable. They endured long lines every day for the simplest needs such as food and water. Relief camps were situated in various locations around the City and began to become more organized as more supplies became available. Distribution of necessary provisions such as tents, food and supplies finally got underway.||
Richmond Camp Refugee Shack
Despite the miserable conditions in the refugee camps, some people met and began courtships that later turned into marriages. One such couple were Milton Otto Slinkey and Ethel Sarah Neate.
Milton Otto Slinkey was born 24 May 1883 to John Emil Slinkey, a hotelier and newspaper man (1842 - 1920) and Christina Dern (1843 - 1899). In 1906, he was a carpenter living with his father and older sister Lillian, probably near Van Ness Avenue.
Ethel Sarah Neate was born 3 May 1886,
the first child of Luffman A. Neate, a teamster (1865 - 1939) and
Wilway (1856 - 1938). By 1906, Luffman and Ruth had added more children
to their family: John, Albert, Arthur, Iris and Nettie. This large family
lived on Hawthorne Street at the time of the disaster.
|Milton and Ethel met during
their time in the refugee camps. Their courtship was a fast one, and they
were married on 28 November at St. Stephen’s Protestant Episcopal Church
at Fulton and Webster. On 29 July 1913, they welcomed a son whom they named
Dalbert Slinkey. Milton and Ethel spent their entire lives in the San
Francisco bay area. Ethel died in 1952, and Milton early in the following
One of their descendants is Steve "Woody" LaBounty. The multi-talented LaBounty founded the nonprofit Western Neighborhoods Project in 1999.
His organization is devoted to preserving the history of western San Francisco neighborhoods such as the Richmond, Sunset, Ocean View and Ingleside. He is also very actively involved in efforts to save the few remaining Earthquake Cottages:
"My mother and her sisters would talk about the family tales at Thanksgivings and Christmas and I soaked in lots of stories, many of which I thought were just imaginary! There were a few ghost sightings mixed in with true stories of suicides, business failures and romantic courtships, including how Milton and Ethel met in the refugee camps."I told my future wife some of these crazy stories one day around 1993 and she said, 'Maybe you should see if there's any truth in them.' We went to the SF public library, started browsing in the public directories, had success . . . soon I was a big-time genealogy nut."From that I moved into researching other people's stories, the history of my neighborhood, etc. The last few years my genealogy interest has had to take a back seat to preserving and sharing the history of western San Francisco."