Find a Grave
Birth: May 27, 1905
Death: Nov. 18, 1978
She lived in San Francisco, California 94117 before moving to Jonestown, Guyana where she lived in CommB. She was a retired nurse; care home operator; and domestic (Maaga). She entered Guyana on July 24, 1977. Sister of Hyacinth Thrash. PT occupation record gives birth year as 1913. She was a devout follower according to her sister and only survivor, Catherine Hyacinth Edwards Thrash, who slept through the final white night. Her sister wrote the book, "The Onliest One Alive," and cites that she was interred in a cemetery in Los Angeles, California but doesn't mention the exact location in the book.
Zippy never married or had children. She lived with her sister until the end. According to her sister's book, she was interred in Los Angeles, California. She was born in Alabama, lived in Indianapolis, and followed Jones with her sister to Northern California before going to Jonestown, Guyana.
Plot: Jonestown Memorial
Created by: Natalia Danesi
Record added: Oct 28, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 30940470
November 15, 2008, The Herald Bulletin, Jonestown: Left alone to wait, by Rodney Richey, Herald Bulletin Staff Writer,
INDIANAPOLIS — In her small room in the Mount Zion Geriatric Center, an octogenarian named Hyacinth Thrash sat for years, waiting.
God would soon be coming. At least she hoped so.
She had lived a long life in service to Jesus.
A native of Alabama, she had endured all the humiliations people can inflict on one another.
Nothing could have prepared her for what she would witness later.
Catherine "Hyacinth" Thrash was one of four people to survive the events at Jonestown, Guyana, on Nov. 18, 1978.
And she was the only survivor remaining in the camp, the rest having fled into the jungle.
Thrash eluded the true believers circulating through the compound, either coercing the followers of the Rev. Jim Jones into committing suicide or forcing the poison on them outright.
Lying in her bed at Mount Zion on an early March day in 1988, Thrash did not seem threatening. A slim, frail, gray-haired black woman, she barely wrinkled the sheets.
The writer quietly plugged in his recording deck and slipped in a tape.
"You've had the flu, I hear," the writer said.
"Yeah," Thrash whispered. "My voice has been so hoarse, I couldn't talk right."
The writer, a callow chap of 31, leaned closer with the microphone.
"If you get to where you don't want to talk anymore, you just let me know. OK?"
Thrash nodded silently. She had already made peace with the subject.
"I met (Jones) in 1957, and I thought he was a great man, from all that I heard about him," Thrash began.
Her path had guided her to Indianapolis, where she became a member of Jones' church.
"He helped a lot of people," she said, in a kind of defense. "He put coal in black folks' bins and give them 'em shoes and things. Always willing to help somebody.
"Of course, I liked that work, helping somebody. And I was willing to go along with him, because at that time, he was really doing good."
Hyacinth Thrash went along with Jones and his followers, to California.
Where things began to change.
"All the time he was here in the States, we still thought he was all right, you see," Thrash said.
"He didn't act, you know, so we would think he was a bad man. He didn't do that until he got to Guyana."
In Guyana, Jones transplanted his People's Temple and its socialist influence to a patch of jungle he dubbed "Jonestown."
"He was losing control of everything, it seemed like," Thrash said.
"He tried to do some healing, and he couldn't do that no more. I believe that kind of worried him, too. ...
"I don't know what caused it, but I do believe he lost his mind down the line. Something happened, because a lot of (the people) thought that."
In Jonestown, though, such dissent was forbidden.
"He had us scared to talk about him after got there. He had 12 bodyguards, and if you said anything about him, he'd have them beat on you. And other times, he'd walk up and down the aisle naked. He did a lot of things (like that), and that’s when I knew he'd gone crazy."
The next morning
On that day in November 1978, as death curled across the compound like fog, Thrash wedged her tiny frame under a bunk, flat against the back wall. She thought the compound was under attack from mercenaries, as Jones had warned. If they ransacked the quarters, Thrash would escape detection.
She would not escape the horror.
The next morning, Thrash, who had passed out from exhaustion, crept outside into the sun, only to find bodies. Hundreds of them. Friends and fellow worshippers woven together, limbs locked across each other. Men, women, children. And her sister, Zipporah Edwards. All dead.
Delicately, Thrash stepped across the killing field and into the outside world. It would be another whole day before the Guyana troops reached the compound.
How did she feel about Jones 10 years later?
"I just don't feel nothing towards him now, no bitterness towards him. I was at times, but I prayed to the Lord, because you can't hate nobody. So I was healed of that."
The writer clicked off the tape recorder and tried to smile.
"Miss Thrash, thank you for sharing your story."
Again, she nodded her head. She had spoken enough about this story. Enough for a thousand lifetimes.
And on a cold November day in 1995, her waiting was over. God finally came, 27 years after Hyacinth Thrash fooled the devil. She was 90 years old. Every day of it.
The Onliest One Alive: A Reconsideration of the First Survivor Account
by Sylvia Marciniak
Catherine Hyacinth Edwards Thrash was an incredible witness to one of history’s most tragic and catastrophic events in Jonestown, Guyana on November 18, 1978.
By her sheer will, she chose not to attend the final White Night when Jim Jones called the community of Jonestown down to the pavilion after Congressman Leo Ryan left with his party and fifteen Temple defectors. Initially fightened by the sound of gunfire – were they trying to scare people to go the the pavilion, or was it mercenaries after all – Hyacinth hid under her bed to wait for her sister, Zipporah Edwards, and her housemates to return from the meeting. When nobody did, she fell asleep, and stayed asleep until the next morning, November 19.
When she woke up, it was to a scene of horror that we cannot even begin to imagine. Despite everything that might have been wrong about Jonestown, its self-destruction at their own hands was unthinkable and unimaginable. The people in Jonestown were not only her family members like her sister, but they were friends and a community. I cannot imagine her shock, disbelief, and the overcoming realization that she was left alone.
The book is different from other books about Jonestown because it is told from an African American woman’s experience, following her history with Jones from Indianapolis to Northern California to Guyana. It was also the first account told in the first person by a member of the Jonestown community.
Also, unlike other followers who have written books, Hyacinth was not one of the privileged in the planning commission. She led a very quiet and dignified life with her sister, who died in Jonestown.
Hyacinth writes about her family history as being descendants of slaves and the move to Indianapolis. Crippled and needed assistance in walking, she truly believed that Jim Jones did cure her of an illness. She and her sister didn’t have husbands or children of their own. They cared for mentally ill patients in their home thanks to Jones.
Hyacinth regrets not leaving Jones sooner than when it was too late. Like so many other followers, shewas becoming disillusioned with Jones who was becoming mad, paranoid, and drug-addicted. Unlike the others, she didn’t see or meet with Ryan or any of the press during their visit.
Hyacinth writes lovingly about the innocent victims of Jones’ madness. Of course, she wanted to escape and made plans to go to Georgetown when possible. But she couldn’t leave her sister or her community behind.
Hyacinth had a softness for Marceline Jones who was obviously victimized by her husband. The book recounts an incident where Marceline tried to kill him. Oh, if only she had succeeded. There wouldn’t any books, memorials, or movies, cause hundreds of innocent victims would atill have their lives.
Despite her survival, Hyacinth was not greeted with a hero’s welcome for being a handful of survivors. She returned to Indianapolis, and her sister was buried in Southern California.
Hyacinth would live for many years in a nursing home in Indianapolis, and I am grateful that she lived long enough to tell her story. It is an amazing story of hope, determination, and faith in the end.
(Sylvia Marciniak’s other article in this edition of the jonestown report is Wanted! Jonestown on eBay. Ms. Marciniak may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)