Drowning Deaths of B. Y. P. U. Campers on July 21, 1921

 


Saddest Accident in History of Palacios
Eight Drown While Bathing in the Gulf

Four Ladies and Four Men Victims of Gulf’s Treacherous Undertow. 7 Bodies Recovered.

John T. Price, One of Palacios’ Most Prominent and Beloved Citizens, Gives His Life in an Effort to Save
Miss. Hodges.--- Several of Party Escape Death by Narrow Margin
.

Nothing has ever happened in Palacios that seems so appalling as the drowning of one of our leading citizens, Mr. John T. Price and seven of our B. Y. P. U. campers, yesterday.

The accident happened in the Gulf, some 25 miles from Palacios. Quite a party of our visitors, accompanied by Mr. and Mrs. John T. Price, left early Thursday morning for an outing to the Gulf, at a certain point often visited by excursionists.

On reaching the destination at the point of land where boats usually stop, the crowd in a most happy mood bounded out of the boat and rushed into the water which appeared to be about knee deep, but an “undertow” caught one of the party, and pulled her down, when someone rushed to her rescue. This party was also caught, and still another, and then another, until eight lives were lost.

It seems that our Mr. Price lost his life more from heart failure than from water in trying to save others. The dead are as follows: John T. Price, Palacios, Drue Cumbie, Grace Cortney [Courtney], Mrs. B. Mayes, J. E. Dyke, Miss Iona Hodges of Breckenridge; Miss Vie Buster, of Jacksonville and Archie Bryant of Abilene. Mr. Cumbie’s body, at this writing has not been recovered.

The following were rescued by faithful companions: Mildred and Guy Caldwell, J. J. Morgan, Mary Morgan, Kate Sayle, Mable Darden, Lucille Cortney [Courtney] and Pearl Bryan.

With all of this heart rending circumstance, the B. Y. P. U. officials and our citizens want to emphasize that this accident did not happen in Palacios but some 23 or 25 miles out at Green’s Bayou. The majority of our citizens have always looked upon bathing in the Gulf a dangerous proposition on account of its mighty under-current which is liable to catch the bather at any moment.

But may our Father in Heaven temper the sorrows of the loved ones who have lost their dear ones. Our united prayers go up for them.

The Palacios Beacon, Friday, July 22, 1921
 


8 Drown At Palacios; B. Y. P. U. Delegates Victims; 3 Rescued

PALACIOS, Texas, July 22--Seven bodies of B. Y. P. U. delegates, drowned yesterday have been recovered. The body of Drue Cumbie has not been recovered. The bayou is being dragged today for the body of Cumbie.

HOUSTON, Texas, July 22--Eight persons were drowned and three others near death were rescued when 15 delegates to the Baptist Young People's Union annual state encampment at Palacios, forming a bathing party, were caught in the undertow of the Gulf of Mexico at the mouth of Green's bayou, 22 miles from Palacios, at 5 o'clock Thursday afternoon. The bathers were members of a sailing party of 31 that left Palacios at 2 o'clock for a sail on Matagorda Bay. The party was composed mostly of delegates from Breckenridge.

The dead are:
JOHN PRICE of Palacios
DRUE K. CUMBIE, Breckenridge
GRACE COURTNEY, age 14, of Breckenridge
MRS. E. MAYES, Breckenridge
MISS V. L. BUSTER, Breckenridge
MISS IONA HODGES, Breckenridge
JAS. E. DYKES, Breckenridge
ARTHUR BRYANT, Abilene

Three of the bodies have been recovered and brought back to Palacios.

A part of Palacios citizens and  encampers are trying to recover the other bodies.

The bodies of John Price, Miss Iona Hodges and James E. Dykes were the three recovered.

Mr. Price lost his life in a vain effort to rescue Miss Hodges.

The three who were rescued were taken from the water by Guy Caldwell and Adam Garney of Breckenridge. Caldwell rescued his sister, and Garney rescued Miss Mary Morgan of Breckenridge and a young lady whose name has not been learned. They effected the rescue by diving into the water and swimming back to the boat with the young women.

Of the 16 who were in bathing five stayed near the boat and were not caught in the under current. These five were young people as were the 11 who did not go in bathing, remaining in the boat.

As soon as news reached the encampment every doctor in town hurried to the scene of the accident, but could render no assistance as all who were caught in the under current had been dead several hours. The accident brought gloom to the encampment, which had been in season since July 12, with 3,000 delegates in attendance.

The Brownsville Herald, Friday afternoon, July 22, 1921
 


Party from Breckenridge

Breckenridge, Texas, July 22: Six of the eight victims in the drowning near Palacios, Thursday, were from this section, five lived in the city and the sixth, ARCHIE BRYANT, was a relative of MRS. C. M. CALDWELL and lived at Abilene.

DRUE CUMBIE, one of the victims, was the assistant pastor of the First Baptist Church here. He came from Dallas last September where he had gained popularity as a singer of note. He was a former student of Southern Methodist University. He was 35 years old, a native of Coke County, where his parents now reside. His wife was with him at Palacios, attending the B. Y. P. U. Encampment.

MRS. BARNEY MAYS, another victim, is the wife of the senior member MAYS of the law firm MAYS & MAYS. She was 28 years old and reared in Denton County.

MISS IONA HODGES had her twenty-first birthday at Palacios last Sunday.

MISS GRACE COURTNEY, 14, is the youngest of the four daughters of W. M. COURTNEY, a contractor at this place. Two other sisters were at Palacios. The father and mother left yesterday for Comanche and have not been informed of the deaths.

JAMES DYKES, 22, was a member of the firm WOOD & Co. wholesale grocers. He is survived by a wife and baby.

ARCHIE BRYANT resided at Abilene where he was a student in Simmons College.

The party left here Monday, July 12, on a special car chartered by C. M. CALDWELL. Mr. Caldwell’s family went with the party of twenty-two.

Dallas Morning News, July 23, 1921
 

John T. Price


In Memory of John T. Price

There came to Palacios fifteen years ago a strong, purposeful looking quiet young man and his bride. He had charge of the lumberyard, where the present Grant lumber yard now stands. In the rear of the yard was an unused small building in which lime had been stored, this was cleaned up, a few windows cut in it, some shelves and a window seat, a pine table, bed and a two burner stove, a few dishes and the John T. prices were housekeeping and at home to the many new friends they soon began to make in Palacios, as well as old friends who came to the Encampment and were entertained most hospitably, as they have been each summer of years since. Very soon the energy, industry and thorough going business methods of Mr. Price began to make themselves felt in the business circles of the community. The free range looked like an opportunity and before and after closing hours he was in the saddle taking care of his cattle.

“I of great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight,
But, they, while their companions slept
Were toiling upward in the night”

is literally as well as figuratively true of him. He gave his best without stint or thought of the physical exertion or mental strain to the limit of his endurance. He had no patent right to success, it came as a result of most painstaking effort. His genius was his capacity for hard work and stick-to-it-iveness. With his very careful, conservative mental action went a most radical activity when once a plan was formulated. Not that he always was right, for sometimes even his best laid plans were frustrated or his calculations miscarried, but he never whined nor talked of bad luck.

If John T. Price had a rare genius for business, even more is it true of his genius for friendship, discernment of the higher values and capacity for appreciation of the best. The courtly gentleman, ever thoughtful of the pleasure and comfort of those about him, especially the aged—the devoted husband, of his married life most truly it might be said, “the twain were one.”

The loss to the town, community and county is irreparable. To whom shall the young look for such worthy examples of clean, high-minded, simple living, unswerving fidelity, active loyalty, a foe to sham and hypocrisy. A nature so reserved and shy that it is almost a breach of confidence to more than touch on in a general way his many benefactions. Among the lowliest or highest, small or great, obscure or prominent, no needy went away empty-handed and every worthy cause that was for the betterment of the community or the individual had wholehearted, active support, but he thoroughly believe that he should not let his right hand know what his left hand did.

The manner of his death was a fitting climax to the vicarious life he lived—“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” His religion was described by James: “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this; to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” The consolation in his going is the hope that this wonderful spirit shall yet live among us reincarnated in the lives of many young people. John T. Price shall not have lived in vain nor died in the hey-day of his usefulness if “the torch is caught from his failing hands.”

John T. Price was born in Yell County, Arkansas, February 26, 1875, came to Dallas County in 1877. He grew up on a farm in Erath County with the ordinary advantages of country school in one term in Stephenville. He started his business career at the early age of 15, most of the time as a helper in the lumberyard. Since coming to Palacios had extensive lumber interests, but several years ago his physical condition warned him that he must have less office work so the yards at Collegeport and Bay City were sold and he had more time in the open air, when he built up one of the most carefully selected herds of Brahma cattle in the states.

He married Miss Opal Dean Cates at Tiptonville, Tennessee, December 22, 1904. They lived in Stephenville until May 23, 1906, when they came to Palacios to make their home. He united with the Presbyterian Church in this city about five years ago.

He died in a vain attempt to rescue Miss Ione Hodges from drowning at Green’s Bayou, July 21, 1921.

He leaves behind his widow, a most worthy helpmate, his father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. T. A. Price, Miss Dora and Mr. Joe Price, of Stephenville; Robert L. Price, Palacios and Mrs. Yeager, of Blessing.

The funeral was from his late residence Sunday, July 24, at 4 p. m. Dr. M. M. Wolf, of Houston, one of his most intimate friends conducted the simple service. The body lay in state in a mahogany casket on the east porch for an hour before the service. Almost a constant stream of people, seeking a last farewell look at the strong, genial, familiar face, passed during the hour. Masses of beautiful flowers, mute tributes of love and esteem for the dead and sympathy for the living, banked the wall and floor about the casket.

The active pallbearers were Messrs. Barnett, Wolf, Hayes, R. J. Sisson, Hoffman and Pridgen. The honorary pallbearers were Messrs. Farwell, Lipscomb, Ruthven, Dawdy, Hill, Campbell, Sartwelle, Wagner, Culver, from Matagorda; Sutherland, Bay City …[paper torn]

The Palacios Beacon, Friday, July 29, 1921                                                                         Price-Farwell Home
 


John T. Price

1874 - 1921

Palacios Cemetery


 


Resolutions For Mr. John T. Price.

The Almighty Father in His infinite love and mercy has called to His long home in the silent halls of death, our friend and benefactor, Mr. John T. Price; and,

Since he was a citizen honored and loved by everyone, generous and kindhearted, sympathetic and sincere; possessing the noblest impulses and performing the most serviceable deeds; and, since he was the friend of the widow and orphan, the benefactor to public and private enterprise, the servant in the spiritual and civic life of the neighborhood—

Camp Palomar feels a deep sorrow for his passing and extends to the bereaved relatives the tenderest sympathy.

J. E. Abney, Dale Hill, Tom Brown.
 


Resolution of Respect

An expression in Memory of John T. Price
As a Director of the Palacios State Bank by the Board of Directors of the Institution

Bon-Voyage Our Co-Worker

John T. Price has passed away, having left us by life's wayside on July 21, 1921. He was drowned in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico in the Pass cut through the Matagorda Peninsula called Green's Bayou Cut, where a swift tide and undertow existed; a life spent in the effort to rescue his friends from a like fate--with him went into the waters seven others. God only can fill the vacancy in our hearts caused by this sorrowful event.

Seer, fellowman, master of men and circumstances, devoted with the intensity of a single consuming passion to the promotion and extension of the community life, the upbuilding of mankind and touching hands with the afflicted, that life might be considered more worth while; naive and strict in his character, humorous and entertaining as a man among men; his influence was felt throughout the County and State as a conservative force in business.

This tragedy takes from our Board and our co-workers one of the most efficient and dependable members, one who made a place which it seem impossible to adequately fill, either in this institution or the community. This record indicates as it only can, by those of us who were so intimate with him, that the place in our hearts and association of interests can only be filled by the grace of God and the love of Jesus Christ our Lord and Master.

This, as a resolution of respect, to that man of us and to his family, at the meeting of the Board of Directors of Palacios State Bank, held in its office on Wednesday, at 10:00 A. M., August 3, 1921.

Palacios Beacon, September 16, 1921
 


Additional Information on the July 21, 1921 Drownings
 

Drue K. Cumbie


Drue K. Cumbie
, a minister, was a married, white male born 5 October 1889 [tombstone had 1890]. He was 31 years, 9 mos. and 16 days old at the time of his death. He was the son of Richard M. Cumbie (1849-1936) b in MS and Mollie J. Kellam (1852-1947) b TX. His body was shipped to Bronte, Texas. Drue and his parents are buried at Fairview Cemetery in Bronte, Coke County, Texas. Find A Grave

 

Body of Drue K.Cumbie Recovered Sunday
Body Washed Ashore Eight Miles From Scene of Tragedy

On Sunday afternoon at 8:00 o'clock the body of Drue K. Cumbie was brought back to Palacios on board the Hilda, the boat on which the ill-fated bathing party had left for the Gulf only a few days before. As the little boat sailed across the tranquil waters of Tres-Palacios Bay, with her flag at half mast, scores of citizens gathered at the docks to render their assistance and carry the news to the anxious wife, brother and sister.

Since the tragic incident occurred, in which eight lives were lost, when a happy party of bathers were caught in a strong undertow off the mouth of Green's Bayou, a tireless vigil has been kept up along the beach; a number of boats carried willing men to the scene and an aeroplane made several trips searching the beach in shores of the inland bays. Finally their noble efforts were rewarded, and three days after the accident the body was recovered in the breakers eight miles from the place where the party was drowned.

The body of Mr. Cumbie was the last recovered. Those of Mr. John T. Price and Miss Ione Hodges, the young lady for whom he so nobly gave his life in an attempt to rescue, were recovered soon after the accident while five other bodies were found during the night. Six of the bodies were shipped home to bereaved [families] Saturday morning. Mr. Price was laid to rest in Palacios Sunday afternoon, his funeral was largely attended from the whole county. On Monday morning Mr. Cumbie’s remains were shipped to Bronte, Texas, the home of his aged father and mother. His grief stricken wife, brother and sister, who remained here until his body was recovered accompanied him.

Never in the history of Palacios pass the citizenship been _____ as they were by the tragic [deaths] of these consecrated young people and the heroic sacrifice of [these] noble men, who without thought of self rushed to the aid of those in danger.

The Palacios Beacon, July 29, 1921

Card of Thanks

Through the columns of this paper we desire to return our warmest thanks to the people of this city for the kindness and tender sympathy extended us upon the tragic death of our loved one. While our home now has a vacant chair, yet as we reflect upon the many deeds of sympathy and love of friends, both far and near, it gives a silver lining to the dark cloud left by death. We greatly appreciate the beautiful floral offerings and can only add “God bless the big noble hearted citizens of your little city.”

Mrs. Drue Cumbie.
R. M. Cumbie and Family.
Bronte, Tex.                                                                                                Photo courtesy of Sandra Brookshire Behne
 

Archie W. Bryant


ARCHIE W. BRYANT

DEC. 18, 1900
JULY 21, 1921

____

One less at home!
The charmed circle broken a dear face
Missed day by day from its accustomed place,
But cleansed and saved and perfected by grace.
One more in Heaven
 

Archie Bryant was a single, white male born 18 December 1900 and was 20 years old.  His body was shipped to J. F. Bryant, Abilene, Texas. He was buried at the Abilene Municipal Cemetery in Abilene, Texas, Masonic Section, Block 6, Lot 6, Space 7. Find A Grave

 

Photo courtesy of Lisa Hagner

 

James E. Dyke

James E. Dyke
Apr. 18, 1890
July 21, 1921



 

James E. Dyke was a married, white male born 18 April 1893 Midway, Tennessee and was 28 years old. His wife was Glenna Beatrice Butler Dyke (1887-1977) His body was shipped to Mrs. James E. Dyke at Walters, Oklahoma. He was buried at Walters Cemetery in Walters, Cotton County, Oklahoma, Section 1, Block G, Lot 58. His WWI Draft Registration indicates his middle name as Elvy and a Divinity Student at Southwestern State Normal. He was of medium height and medium build with brown eyes and black hair. Find A Grave

 

Photo courtesy of Aimee Noelle Watson Dickson Davis

 

Iona Elizabeth Hodges



 

Iona Elizabeth
Hodges

July 17, 1900
July 21, 1921

Whosoever believeth in Me shall never die.
John 11:26

Miss Iona Hodges was a single, white female about 18 years old. Her body was shipped to Mr. H. _. Caldwell, Breckenridge, Texas.

 

Find A Grave

 

© Photo courtesy of Find-a-grave member # 47220553

Sisters
Vi Buster & Mary N. Buster Mays



Vi Buster
Dau of
O. C. & Bettie
Buster
July 3, 1902
July 21, 1921

Photo courtesy of Bob Willingham

 


Rocked to sleep in the cradle of the deep.
MARY N. BUSTER
WIFE OF BARNEY MAYS

Oct. 29, 1892          July 21, 1921

Photo courtesy of Mike Tankersley

 

Miss Vi Buster was a single, white female born 3 July 1902 and was 19 years old. Her body was shipped to Mays and Mays at Pilot Point, Texas. She was buried at Pilot Point Community Cemetery. There is a listing for her on Find-A-Grave .

Mrs. B. Mayes was Mary Buster Mays, the wife of Barney Mays of Breckenridge. She was the older sister of Vi Buster. She was buried beside her sister at Pilot Point Community Cemetery. She was born October 29, 1892 and was 29 years-old at the time of her death. Find A Grave
 

FUNERAL FOR PILOT POINT SURF VICTIMS SUNDAY AT 10:00 A.M.
BODIES OF MISS VI BUSTER AND MRS. B. MAYS LEFT PALACIOS TODAY
 

Funeral services for Miss Vi Buster, formerly of Pilot Point, and her sister, Mrs. Mary Buster Mays, wife of Barney Mays of Breckenridge and who were drowned Thursday afternoon in the surf at Palacios, while bathing at the Baptist encampment, will be held Sunday morning at 10 o'clock at the First Baptist Church at Pilot Point, their former home. Burial will be made in the Pilot Point cemetery where their father and mother, the late Dr. and Mrs. O. C. Buster, were buried about a year ago. The bodies left Palacios Saturday morning about 5 o'clock and will pass through Denton at 9:20 o'clock Sunday morning. They will be taken from the station to the church where the services will be held.

A number from here will attend the services and among them will be W. T. Fouts and family, Miss Opal Buster of the Normal College, Miss Bird of Pilot Point, who is attending the Normal, Mr. and Mrs. J. B. Beck, Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Gray, Mr. and Mrs. Connie Jones, F. C. Davis and family, Miss Nell E. Morris, Charlie Hussey, Mr. and Mrs. Joe Strong, J. B. Kelsay and Miss Maude Elliott.

Denton Record-Chronicle, Saturday, July 23, 1921
 

FUNERAL FOR TWO SISTERS AT PILOT POINT SUNDAY P.M.
THREE RELATIVES INJURED IN AUTO ACCIDENT EN ROUTE TO SERVICES
 

Funeral services for Miss Vi Buster and Mrs. Mary Buster Mays, sisters who were drowned Thursday at Palacios, were held Sunday afternoon at the First Baptist church at Pilot Point with Rev. Mr. Smith of Fort Worth in charge, assisted by Rev. Mr. Hale of Pilot Point. The services were attended by a large crowd of relatives and friends and the floral offerings were large and beautiful. Interment was made in the Pilot Point cemetery. The services for the two sisters were held at the same time and simultaneously the bodies were lowered into the graves, which were side by side on the lot where their father and mother, the late Dr. and Mrs. O. C. Buster, were buried, during the past fall and winter.

The bodies were received at Pilot Point Sunday morning but rain prevented holding of the services at 10 o'clock as planned and the bodies were taken to the Mays home until the services during the afternoon.

Miss Vi Buster was 19 years of age and Mrs. Mays, wife of Barney Mays of Breckenridge, was 29 years of age. She is survived by one son and her husband, who accompanied the bodies to Pilot Point. The death of the two sisters occurred eight years to a day after the death of their sister, Miss Fannie Buster, who taught in the schools here at one time.

The brothers and sisters surviving are: Clinton, Vardeman, William B. and Enoch Buster of Dallas, and two half-sisters, Mrs. Oxford of Jacksonville and Mrs. Jane Strawther of Anna, all of whom, with their families, were present at the services.

Among the relatives and friends from out of town attending the services were Charley Mays of Fort Worth, Joe McReynolds of Wichita Falls, Mr. and Mrs. C. W. Fouts and children of Dallas, Mr. and Mrs. G. H. McDonald of Dallas, Miss Jewel Buster of Dallas, Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Golliday of Fort Worth, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Rufner of Fort Worth, Mr. and Mrs. Clay Biggs, Mr. and Mrs. Walter Strawther and W. A. and Misses Annie and Lou Fields of Anna, Mrs. Martha Elliott of Pauls Valley, Okla., J. W. Wrife and family, Mrs. Nora Lawrence, Lee Merrill and family, B. C. Moore, Mr. Hank and Miss Ester Brown of Anna, Mr. and Mrs. A. C. Bennett and children and Mr. and Mrs. Will Chapman of Frisco, G. L. Vardaman, J. D. Vardaman and G. W. Meadows of Rector, John Buster of Lewisville and Dr. Burk and family of Aubrey. Denton people attending the services included Charley Hussey, W. T. Fouts, Miss Sidney Fouts, Vardaman and Wardo Fouts, Mr. and Mrs. Joe Strone, Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Gray and Mr. and Mrs. Connie Jones.

 Denton Record-Chronicle, Saturday, July 25, 1921, page 5
 

Grace Courtney


Miss Grace Courtney was a single, white female about 14 years old. Her body was shipped to W. M. Courtney at Comanche, Texas.