Mrs. Hannah would have to leave the Cuban orphan girl behind

Posted by | July 30, 2012

Romance of the War.
Cuban Girl Who Was Brought to Tennessee by Gen. Harvey Hannah’s Mother.

The Rockwood Times, Rockwood, TN
Thursday, 13 Sep 1906, Vol. XXVI, No. 34.

The steamer Whitney left Havana harbor April 6, 1899, for Tampa, FL. The boat was advertised to leave to 12 p.m., but did not leave until 6 p.m. The delay was caused by the late arrival of the Fourth Virginia Volunteer Infantry. A government official had secured transportation on the Whitney for the Virginia regiment. There were also several squads of Ohio soldiers returning home on the vessel.

The steamer was anchored in the bay and all passengers were brought to the Whitney in big row boats and small tugs. I was with the returning Ohio soldiers and was standing on the upper deck of the vessel watching the landing of the delayed Virginians, when I noticed a little Cuban girl in a row boat, accompanied by a lady and an oarsman.

The little girl was clapping her hands and throwing kisses to someone on board the steamer. An American lady who was standing near me was waving her handkerchief at the little girl while tears were rolling down her cheeks. When the Cuban girl and the American lady met on board the steamer they hugged and kissed each other and both were weeping–an unusual sight–an American woman and a Cuban girl fondly embracing each other and both shedding tears. What did it mean?

Spanish American War in Tampa FLLoading camp supplies at Tampa, 1898. The scene must have looked quite similar from the Cuban dock as Mrs. Hannah embraced the young Lorena on the USS Whitney’s deck.

The lady was Mrs. McFerrin of Oliver Springs, TN. Her son, Col. Harvey H. Hannah, was Lieutenant Colonel in the Fourth Tennessee and commanded a detachment at Sancti Spiritus, Cuba. Mrs. McFerrin had been visiting her son. The Fourth Tennessee was stationed at Sancti Spiritus and Mrs. McFerrin occupied a tent in the camp. She was now returning to the United States on board the Whitney.

The little girl’s name was Lorena Marie Lacarada Paidrone. She was the daughter of a Cuban patriot. Her home was at Sancti Spiritus (City of Holy Spirits.) Mrs. McFerrin told me that when she arrived at her son’s quarters at the camp of the Fourth Tennessee regiment at Sancti Spiritus she “found this sweet, sad-faced child in the camp.”

Through an interpreter she learned that the little girl’s father was a Cuban soldier who died from the effects of a wound that he received in battle; that soon after father’s death her mother became seriously ill. Lorena went to the soldiers to get a candle–the light of fate—to offer her dying mother, but when she returned with the candle her poor mother was dead.

Mrs. McFerrin became interested at once in the child and tenderly helped the little orphan and did all she could to relieve her distress. Lorena soon began to love the kind American woman and Mrs. McFerrin loved the Cuban dearly. Love begets love. She wanted to adopt her, and as Lorena had no home she shared her tent with her for two months.

On March 29 Mrs. McFerrin left the camp of the Fourth Tennessee, taking Lorena with her. She was going with her adopted child to her Tennessee home. At that date before leaving Cuba one had to go to the board of health and get a vaccination certificate. Mrs. McFerrin did not learn of this until she arrived at Havana the morning of the day she was to leave on the steamer. Her vessel would leave at noon.

She went at once with Lorena to the health office and was told that the child could not leave for the United States until she was vaccinated. Mrs. McFerrin was exempt, having been vaccinated just before coming to Cuba. Tickets had been purchased for passage on the steamer Whitney and the arrangement for their departure had been made in such a way that it could not possibly be postponed without considerable additional expense and great inconvenience to others.

The boat was soon to leave, and the Cuban girl who had learned to love this kind American woman, could not leave because she had not been vaccinated. What was the poor woman to do?

Part 1 of 2
Continued tomorrow…


One Response

  • Janie Hughes says:

    My aunt, Pauleen Greer, from Dayton, TN, gave me a book many years ago before she died. Its a book on Naval History…I am giving the book to the Newport News Shipbuilding Library because many of the ships in the book were built there in the late 1800’s…I just found a picture inside the book called…’Scene at Camp Lorena’…It’s a picture of Gov. and Ms Cox, Gen Hannah, etc. I’m not sure why my aunt had saved this newspaper photo …there is no date but it looks like the early 1900’s…your story is very interesting and I look forward to reading your other articles.

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