1919 Cyclone — Worst Tragedy to Hit Wood County

By Lou Mallory, Chairperson of the Wood County Historical Commission

When residents of Wood County, after a hard day’s work, retired to their beds on the night of Tuesday, April 8, 1919, little did they know that by early Wednesday morning April 9, 1919 many lives would be lost or changed forever.

The cyclone on that morning took the lives of many of them and many others were injured. It should be noted that many of the farmers and others had white and black tenants who lived in small “shotgun” houses and were not built to withstand high wind or a storm as deadly as this one.

This cyclone (tornado) was the greatest catastrophe to ever hit Wood County. In a small rural county whose population was slightly less then 2,300 in the 1920 census the loss of life and injuries plus the destruction of many houses, schoolhouses and outbuildings this storm” had a profound effect. The damages and loss was estimated at nearly a half million dollars but worst yet was the 23 county residents whose lives were lost, and the 56 others who were injured. The damages covered the 71 homes completely wrecked and the 55 others damaged along with two schoolhouses.

The lives lost in this catastrophe were more than the county lost in the First World War just ended.

As bad as the storm and the deaths, injuries and property damages that occurred If not for the residents who heard the wind and rain and went to their storm cellars from the reports gathered about 50 residents had escaped physical harm while their dwelling places were completely destroyed.

The storm entered Wood County about a mile and a half southeast of Mineola and was said to have cut a path a mile wide through the entire county.

Some of the areas documented to have sustained heavy damage were Mineola, the Lake Fork area, and the communities of Oak Grove, Stout, Vernon, Westbrook, Musgrove and Spring Hill. After the devastation caused in these small communities, they began to decline and are today gone and virtually forgotten.

Based on both oral and written reports, the storm is believed to have first hit Canton this morning and that is documented by a Dallas Morning News article dated April 10, 1919. Other Dallas Morning News reports of April 10 described the damage done in the Winnsboro area, and another tells of the storm that hit Bonham the same morning.

The storm in the Bonham area causes extensive damages, and it was reported that the storm first struck near Trenton and extended in spots to the Red River.

The citizens of Wood County weathered this catastrophe and through the years have worked hard to bring back the beauty and splendor or this beautiful area of East Texas.

1921 Storm Destroys Property Near Alba

Alba, Texas, April 15. — A tornado struck Willow Springs west of Alba, Thursday and traveling in a northeasterly direction, did considerable damage until it had reached a point just north of Alba, when it raised above the timber and passed on. It was only about 100 yards wide, but the wind had tremendous velocity, and as it lowered from the funnel-shaped cloud left destruction in its path. There were no deaths reported. Telephone lines were torn down in the path of the storm. The houses of G. P. Ful-??, J. L. Ennis and one or two others were blown away. The tornado was preceded by a heavy ????. Considerable damage to gardens and young corn is reported north of Alba along the ???? of Lake Fork Creek. – Fort Worth, TX Fort Worth Star-Telegram, April 15, 1921, Page 13.

1909 Twister Strikes Near Mineola

CYCLONE WRECKS FARM PROPERTY

Twister Strikes Near Mineola in East Texas.

Special to the Star and Telegram.

Mineola, Texas, Jan. 5 — A cyclone passed north of Mineola late yesterday. It formed three miles west of town, took a northeasterly course, plowed a path four miles, then disappeared. L. C. Johnson’s barn was destroyed. Mrs. H. E. Bryant’s house was blown away. J. E. Burkhead’s home was completely wrecked. His family took refuge in a n nearby ditch and was saved.  No fatalities occurred. The storm’s path was forty yards wide, and was visible to Mineola Citizens.  – Fort Worth (Tx) Star-Telegram, Page 1, Tuesday, January 5, 1909 

 

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