Survivor Profile: Hyacinth Thrash

Catherine Hyacinth Edwards Thrash was born in 1902 and grew up in Alabama. She moved to Indianapolis where she found an opportunity for uneducated black women. She and her sister, Zipporah Edwards joined the Temple in 1957 and followed Jones to California and then to Guyana.

Thrash and her sister arrived in Jonestown at night after a long journey by riverboat and dump truck. They were placed in a cottage with other elderly women. Although they had raised pigs and chickens and had seemingly plenty of fruit and vegetables, Thrash had suspected that Jones was trying to starve the elderly. They were rarely given substantial food. At one point, she had even seen Jones eating fresh baked goods and large meals. She was growing increasingly dissatisfied with Jones and his ministry.

The day of the mass suicides, Thrash heard gunshots and hid underneath her bed out of fear. She learned that Congressman Leo Ryan and four others had been shot and stayed under her bed until she felt safe. After a while, she got into her bed and fell asleep until 7 a.m. After she woke up, she left the cottage in search of her sister. She found her sister lying outside the pavilion with many others, but did not go any further. She began screaming, “Oh, God, they came and they killed them all, and I’s the onliest one alive! Why didn’t they take me, too?” She was the only Temple survivor who was there when the Guyanese troops came to Jonestown.

Thrash returned to the United State and spent the first five years living with relatives. She then went to live out the rest of her life in a nursing home. She died in 1995 at the age of 93.



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