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 Catherine Hyacinth <I>Edwards</I> Thrash

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Catherine Hyacinth Edwards Thrash

Birth
Wilsonville, Shelby County, Alabama, USA
Death 18 Nov 1995 (aged 93)
Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana, USA
Burial Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana, USA
Plot Sec: 100, Lot 40
Memorial ID 31293750 View Source
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She was one of the early converts who followed Rev. James Warren Jones to California and then on to Guyana. She survived Jonestown on November 18, 1978 by first hiding under her bed. She and her sister joined Peoples Temple in Indianapolis in 1957, but in the months leading up to November 18, 1978, she saw troubling changes in Jones and his church. What had begun in Indiana as an enlightened, racially integrated Christian ministry in the 1950s had turned into an armed camp of fear, brutality and paranoia deep in the South American jungle. She was living in a cottage she shared in Jonestown with three other older women. One of her roommates told her that something had happened at the Port Kaituma airstrip, where the congressman from California was taking off with some temple defectors. She hid under the bed and didn't wake up until the next morning. "When I got outside," she said in an interview before she died, "it was like a ghost town. I didn't see or hear anybody. I went over to another senior citizen building where my friend Birdy lived. When I got to the door, I saw Birdy sitting in the chair, draped in a sheet. I could tell it was Birdy by her shoes. I say, 'Birdy, Birdy, what's wrong?' " "But she didn't move . . .I looked down the row of beds, and all the people were either sitting up or laying in bed. They were all covered with sheets." "I said, 'Oh, God, they came and they killed them all, and I's the onliest one alive! Why didn't they take me, too?' "I started screaming. I thought maybe I was dead, too. I pinched myself. Was I alive? I couldn't believe it. I just stood there." She was not the only one alive. Grover Cleveland Davis also survived. A few Peoples Temple members had fled into the jungle and escaped the murder-suicide ritual, but she was the only survivor who was there when Guyana troops came to Jonestown more than a day later. She eventually returned to Indianapolis, where she died in 1995 at the age of 93. Before her death, she told her story to a local writer, Marian Towne, in hours of taped interviews. To her dying day, she credited Jones with curing her of breast cancer in the late 1950s. She spent her final years in the Mount Zion Nursing Home.

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