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In Their Own Words

August 07, 1869

Solar Eclipse Witnessed

From Richmond County, Gertrude Thomas witnessed a natural spectacle on this day:

“An eclipse of the sun is taking place! That announcement is important enough to give it a line for itself especially as astronomers tell us that a similar event will not take place in one hundred years…Turner came into the room, ‘Oh Ma’ said he ‘come out and see the eclipse, hurry. Where is a piece of glass to smoke?’ I left my work and went into the back yard where I found all the servants wondering and exclaiming. The surface of the sun was dark…a few moments after it was the distinct appearance of a new moon and gradually the moon grew larger and larger at one time having a halo of yellow and at another time of blue immediately around it… . I came in and commenced to write but could not see the lines very distinctly. I went out into the Piazzi again and was struck by the peculiar light like sulphur thrown over everything… .”

Source: Virginia Ingraham Burr (ed.), The Secret Eye: The Journal of Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas, 1848-1889 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990), p. 322.