Sherman's Black Friday: Texas Tornado 1896
More Articles about this tornado
DEATH RODE THE GALE
Several Texas Towns Visited by a Fearful Cyclone
SHERMAN SUFFERS WORST
Sixty People Dead or Fatally Hurt and 150 Injured
at Sherman Alone.
DEATH AND RUIN ELSEWHERE
Bangor Daily Whig and Courier
(Bangor, Maine) Monday, 18 May
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
and death in its wake, swept through the western half of the city,
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
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
at the lower side, converging into a perfect funnel-shaped point, while
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
it a deluge of mud. Then the truth dawned on all that a cyclone was
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
marks of its passing, not a house in its path escaping; not a tree or
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
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
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
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
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.
AND MRS. HALSELL were both painfully bruised about the thighs and are
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
NUMBER OF FATALITIES
are reported from the colored settlement along
Post Oak and Lincoln
streets, between Curry and Lost streets where several people were
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
parties able to get out of its deadly path.
MRS. J. P. KING and two children are seriously
PHILIP NICHOLS received painful hurts about
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
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
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
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 BIRGE'S house
into the air and then MR. SHEARER'S house. The air was filled with
trees and timbers and every conceivable kind of article. I was
petrified, for I saw it was coming directly upon us and that it could
be long in reaching us. It was a black, serpentine cloud, twisting,
in the center, but at the bottom it seemed to be moving steadily. I
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
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
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
pressed into service. A vacant store room on the north side of Court
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
FILLED WITH WOUNDED.
The physicians and druggists responded
promptly to the call for
succor and drugs and everything needed came spontaneously. Hundreds of
ladies responded to the call of humanity and with a score of
were soon at work. Color and caste disappeared, in the supreme moment
woe and desolation.
Thanks to the excellent police service, the
crowds were restrained
everywhere about the improvised hospitals and citizens and physicians
their labor more effective on account of non-interference. The cries of
the injured were supplemented by the agonized shrieks of those who,
FROM CORPSE TO CORPSE
at last found some loved one, perhaps a
husband or a wife or son
MR. MONTGOMERY'S wife and two or three
children are dead. The children
are terribly mangled.
One of them, about five years old, had the top
of her head knocked
THE TERRIBLE FORCE
of the cyclone. The Negro part of the town
suffered the most severely.
There are probably, 30 Negroes killed. Ten
bodies have been picked
up in Post Oak creek.
The flood of rain which attended the storm was
severe. The town
is a mass of mud and floating debris. There is much difficulty in
the dead and injured.
Captain J. E. ELY'S house was demolished and
his wife and two children
had miraculous escapes.
Captain B. BERGE'S residence was also leveled
to the ground, but
fortunately the family was away from home.
FRANK RYAN, manager of the Sherman baseball
team, had his house
blown off its foundation and completely turned around. His wife and two
children escaped serious injury.
Leadville Daily and Evening Chronicle
In Sherman many elegant residences
were demolished. The Houston street
steel suspension bridge was torn to splinters and huge iron girders
twisted like straw. Houses, trees and human beings were blown thousands
of feet. All of the buildings on Sixth street were swept away by the
A dead child was found in the top of a tree. A
farmer driving along
in front of Captain Ely's house was killed instantly. The wagon wheels
but no trace of the team. Bodies of children, beheaded and
were seen in many places. Six unidentified white corpses are in
Harrington's rooms. A son of J.H. Perren, who lives five miles south of
the town, was fatally injured. The boy was away from his home, at his
who was killed with his wife and baby. Ten bodies were brought in from
the Wakefield farm, two miles west of the city.
A.F. Person, wife, granddaughter, married
daughter and three other
children who lived on the farm were all killed. It is thought that the
country for 14 or 15 miles has been devastated and depopulated by the
Not a tree or house was left standing in its
course. Five hundred
yards to the east the storm would have taken in the business portion of
the city. The cyclone was preceded by terrific claps of thunder, much
and a furious dash of rain. The people were terror stricken and many
on their knees and prayed for deliverance.
Five minutes after the storm the sky was
bright and clear but desolation,
terror and uncontrollable grief reigned where ten minutes before were
united families and pleasant homes.
Many private houses have been turned into
hospitals and physicians
and surgeons of this and adjacent towns worked all night. The ladies of
Sherman came to the rescue nobly and bear up bravely in the face of the
most sickening sights.
Very few persons in the demolished houses are
able to tell how the
storm burst upon them and only in one or two instances were parties
to get out of its deadly path. W.S. Bostwick relates his experience as
"I was at John Irvine's house when I heard the
noise of the approaching
storm. Just as I looked out I saw Capt. Birge;s house. Another
child was found dead 500 yards from
On West Houston street several are dead.
A man named BILL HAMILTON is fatally injured.
MR. CEPHUS, and child, colored are reported
Several Negroes have been picked out of the
A young white woman, unidentified, was found
dead, three hundred
yards south of ELY'S residence.
Every moment brings new victims. It is likely
as many as 50 people
are dead. The victims are
JOHN AMES and wife and two children are dead
and a five year old
boy fatally injured.
T. W. JENKINS, daughter and wife are dead.
The most miraculous escape so far as learned
by the reporter was
the case of the family of Captain ELY. The residence, quite a roomy,
structure, was razed to the ground, and but for the presence of some
timbers standing upright in the debris, which sheltered them from the
of brick and stone, they would have all perished, but as it was only
member, a little girl, was bruised.
A public meeting raised $3,000 for the
immediate relief of the sufferers
and the PERMANENT RELIEF COMMITTEE, consisting of C. H. SMITH, C. B.
C. H. DORCHESTER and COLONEL GEORGE M. MURPHY, will take donations.
It is distinctly stated that donations from
points outside of Grayson
county will not be received. Denison has responded nobly and nurses and
physicians from that city are here rendering great assistance. All
running into the city placed special trains at the disposal of the
authorities and brought help from all neighboring cities.
Reports are that the storm killed many persons
in the country west
A large number of police and searching parties
are looking for missing
The following are additional deaths reported
up to 1 a. m. :
JIM ENGLISH, colored.
JOHN TAYLOR, white.
KATE KING, colored.
The unknown woman at the morgue has been
identified as MRS. I. L.
Another infant of the BALLINGER family has
been found dead.
CHARLES WEDDLE, of Fairview, is dead, with a
piece of timber driven
through his body.
The family of JOHN HAMILTON has been
discovered, all badly injured.
One of the HAMILTON boys, aged 20 years, will
die. Two girls, one
aged 15 and one 9, were fatally injured, and another girl, aged 11, was
It is impossible to get a correct list of all
the missing. Nearly
every family in the district has some member that they can not account
for and it is believed that most of
THE MISSING ARE DEAD.
A water spout accompanied the cyclone and the
creeks are all out
of their banks. Several objects thought to be human bodies were seen in
the water, but could not be reached. The officers are making every
to dredge all creeks in the vicinity to-morrow. It is a remarkable
that in every case where there were deaths the bodies from the houses
were found from 100 to 150 yards away, in a direction opposite to that
in which the storm was moving. The storm was moving northward and in
instance the bodies were found to the southward. Telegraph poles were
up and driven into the ground. A great many of the wounded are in
houses scattered all over the city. It is safe to assume that at least
one quarter of the number
INJURED WILL DIE
in the next twenty-four hours. Another storm
of a similar nature
passed about six miles west of the city at about the same hour. Several
houses were blown down and many persons injured. Their names can not be
At Carpenter?s bluff it is reported six
persons were hurt, five
Buildings and other structures in the way were
A daughter of TOM JENKINS was found lying in a
pool of water. She
was evidently drowned, for no marks or bruises could be found on her
The police department is employing every means
in its power to help
the sufferers and all have been given comfortable quarters
AT CARPENTER BLUFF.
After passing over Sherman the cyclone went
At Carpenter Bluff, seven miles east at
Denison, the dwelling of
JOHN DEVANT was blown down and four persons, DEVANT and wife, and
hired man, named ARMOUR, and a little child, received injuries from
they will die.
THE EARLY ACCOUNT.
Sherman, May 15. - A most disastrous cyclone
struck Sherman at 4:30
o'clock this afternoon, wiping out the western end of the town entirely.
The loss of life is appalling. The dead are
estimated at between
30 and 40. This is a very conservative estimate. Many more are fatally
or seriously injured.
At 6 o'clock, the evening twelve bodies are
lying in the court house
and as many more are scattered about across the desolated west end of
city. No accurate estimate can be made yet of the loss of life and
The work of rescue and search for the missing goes on. The business
of the town is deserted and the greatest excitement reigns. The Western
Union office is overflowed with anxious ones sending messages and
the fate of other towns. Every available wagon, buggy and horse is in
by searchers and workers on
THE FIELD OF DEATH.
As time passes reports of greater loss of life
and property are
arriving. Many stories of miraculous escapes are told.
The Sherman court house is insufficient to
hold the dead and wounded.
The vacant Moore building, on the south
square, was utilized at
6 o'clock, fifteen colored people, dead or dying, being placed there.
Express drays, baggage wagons and all kinds of
to come in with dead bodies. Around the Moore building the highest
prevails and the greatest difficulty is experienced in getting the
of the victims and accurate reports.
The storm struck Sherman without warning, on
the southwest corner
of the city, and cleared a path 100 yards wide along the west end of
town. Houses, trees, fences and everything went blown into the
and then Mr. Spearen's house. The air was filled with trees and timbers
and every conceivable kind of articles. I was terrified for I saw that
the black cloud was coming directly upon us and that it could not be
in reaching us. I hurried home and called to the members of my family,
who were in the house, and asked them not to run out. I reared that we
would all be stuck by the 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 abut the
and under the rubbish. It was over in a short time."
Late - The death list is growing rapidly and
this morning over 75
bodies were found. Over 25 physicians from Sherman, Denison,
Howe and Van Alstyne are attending the wounded and hundreds of women
helping. The colored people having recovered from their first fright,
working like Trojans. The excitement cannot be abated so long as
continue to come in as they do.
It is reported that 12 dead bodied have been
found in a pit north
of town and there have been no means of bringing them here. Many
are missing and entire families cannot yet be found. It is believe many
Negroes will be found in Post Oak creek. Bodies are still being brought
in and will be during the day. If all reports are to be credited, the
of dead must reach 150. The storm passed two miles from Denison, and is
thought to have broken up beyond there.
Telephone an telegraph wires between here and
Denison are all down
and many other towns have no connection. It is feared that the
of telegraphic communication will bring information of the loss of life
and property in surrounding towns, greater than already estimated.