Sherman, TX Tornado, May 1896 - Death Rode the Gale, part 1
DEATH RODE THE GALE
Several Texas Towns Visited by a Fearful Cyclone Yesterday.
SHERMAN SUFFERS WORST
Sixty People Dead or Fatally Hurt and 150 Injured at Sherman Alone.
DEATH AND RUIN ELSEWHERE
Eighteen Persons Killed or Fatally Injured at Howe, Gribble Springs and Justin - Immense Damage Done.
Sherman, May 15. -- Just a few minutes before 5 o'clock this afternoon, a cyclone not exceeding two blocks in width, but carrying widespread destruction and death in its wake, swept through the western half of the city, traveling almost directly north.
The approach of the terrific whirlwind was announced by a deep rumbling noise, not unlike reverberating thunder. A fierce and driving rain accompanied it.
Late to-night it is supposed that 10 people have been killed south of town, in addition to the city's death list. Wagons are unloading the dead and injured every moment.
A reporter standing on the north side of the Court plaza had his attention called to the peculiar appearance of the clouds. They were parted at the lower side, converging into a perfect funnel-shaped point, while a
BOILING SEETHING MASS
of vaporous clouds were rapidly revolving in the rift. The air was suddenly filled with trees and twigs and the downpour of rain brought with it a deluge of mud. Then the truth dawned on all that a cyclone was prevailing.
From the point at which it seems to have first descended, to where it suddenly arose from the ground, just north of the city, it left terrific marks of its passing, not a house in its path escaping; not a tree or shrub left standing, or not twisted and torn out of shape. Fences are gone.
The iron bridge on Houston street is completely wrecked and blown away notwithstanding its hundreds of thousands of pounds of steel and material. The number of persons wounded will reach not less than 100 and it will be several days before the exact number of fatalities can be given as many persons and especially children are missing and many of the injured are in such critical shape that a score may die before morning.
THE LIST OF KILLED.
As far as reported by the authorities tonight is as follows:
MRS. OTTO BALLINGER and two children.
MRS. I. L. BURNS and two children,
JOSEPHINE, aged 3, and
GROVER, aged 10.
JOHN AMES and wife and two children.
REV. J. S. SHEARER.
MRS. LUKE MONTGOMERY and two children. Another child is also missing.
WILLIAM HAMILTON, farmer.
MRS. GEORGE ANDERSON and an infant daughter.
MRS. BELLE JENKINS.
D. L. PIERCE.
TOM PIERCE, his son, aged 14.
MRS. DAVE HERRING and two children.
AN UNKNOWN WOMAN and two white children, about 4 and 6 years of age, have not been identified and are being held in the morgue for identification.
The list of colored people killed, so far as learned up to 10 p. m., is as follows:
MRS. NORA NICHOLSON and two children.
LUCY BALLINGER and daughter.
CHARLEY COX, son of ELIZA COX.
MARY LAKE, and three children.
LEITTIS, JOHN and FATUS.
LIST OF WOUNDED.
TOM JENKINS, his wife and five children.
MR. AND MRS. HENRY MILLER, and two children.
A heavy sliver of wood was driven through the thigh of GRANVILLE JENKINS.
MR. AND MRS. ED. HALSELL and little son, with B. F. WOODARD, were in the cellar at the former's residence and were covered with debris. MR. AND MRS. HALSELL were both painfully bruised about the thighs and are supposed to have been blown through a window.
ELIZA COX, colored, hurt in the breast.
HARRIET LAKE, colored, cut and bruised.
DON CEPHUS, colored, his wife and son, CLARENCE, all have limbs broken and are in a precarious condition.
LETTIE and LUMMIE BURNS are badly.
MR. AND MRS. JESSE BROWN, badly bruised. MRS. BROWN'S arm is broken.
LUKE SHEARER, son of REV. SHEARER, who was killed, is badly bruised.
This list is necessarily incomplete. The greatest
NUMBER OF FATALITIES
are reported from the colored settlement along Post Oak and Lincoln streets, between Curry and Lost streets where several people were killed outright.
Very few of the persons in the demolished houses are able to tell just how the storm burst upon them and only in one or two instances were parties able to get out of its deadly path.
MRS. J. P. KING and two children are seriously injured.
PHILIP NICHOLS received painful hurts about the head.
MRS. JOHN IRVINE and four children were all more or less injured.
W. S. BEUTWICK, who was in the same residence, is cut very seriously.
OTTO BALLINGER, whose family were all killed, is badly hurt about the head.
HESTER and NANNIE NICHOLSON, colored, of the family of which six were killed, are seriously hurt.
DAVE HERRING and MRS. D. L. PIERCE, who alone escaped death at their home, are perhaps fatally hurt.
MARY PATRICK, colored, and three children are all badly hurt.
MATTIE JOHNSON, colored, head hurt and injured internally; will die.
JOHN AND ALICE NEWHOUSE, colored, and four children, badly hurt.
HARRIET HENDRICKS, colored, both legs broken.
MISS EVA PIERCE, daughter of D. L. PIERCE, left leg and right arm broken.
MR. AND MRS. WRIGHT CLARK, painfully hurt.
THE NUMBER OF MISSING
is large and includes a great many children and it is quite probable that the most of them are dead.
It is very conservative to estimate that the list of fatalities will reach 50, while the injured will reach 150.
At least 50 houses are wrecked. Most of them are small cottages, except in Fairview and Washington avenues where the handsome residences of L. F. ELY, Captain J. G. SALLER, MRS. PAT MATTINGLY and JAMES FALLS also succumbed. The loss will reach at least $150,000 and but little if any of it was covered by cyclone insurance.
About the most graphic description given by any of the injured was that of W. S. BEUTWICK, who said:
WHAT HE SAW.
"I was at MR. JOHN IRVINE'S house when I heard the noise of the approaching storm. Just as I looked out I saw Captain BERGE'S house blown into the air and then MR. SHEARER'S house. The air was filled with great trees and timbers and every conceivable kind of article. I was fascinated, petrified, for I saw it was coming directly upon us and that it could not be long in reaching us. It was a black, serpentine cloud, twisting, writhing in the center, but at the bottom it seemed to be moving steadily. I woke from my stupor and called out to the family, who were in the house, and asked them not to run out. I feared that we would all be struck by flying timbers. Then came
AN AWFUL CRASH.
A sense of suffocation, and when it was over the house was gone and myself and family were scattered about the yard and under the debris. It was over in such a short time that I can not give you an idea of how long it was."
In just a few minutes the police officers were appealed to for shelter for the dead and wounded and ambulances and all kinds of conveyances were pressed into service. A vacant store room on the north side of Court Plaza and another on the south side, and the court room were transformed into impromptu morgues and hospitals for the wounded down town, while every residence left standing on Fairview is
continued in part 2 (below)