Sunday, May 14, 1905
CLEARING AWAY WRECKAGE IN THE STRICKEN TOWN
First Work of Removing Debris Began Yesterday After Last Dead Were Buried
TWO ADDED TO THE DEATH LIST
And Four More are Hourly Expected to Die --- An Organization Perfected for Rebuilding the Town and Relief Work Is Being Handled in Excellent Manor
Snyder, Okla., May 13 -- The first work clearing the
debris commenced in Snyder at noon today, every available man being pressed
into service. They will be paid from money in the relief fund, which was near
the $7,500 mark at noon today. Mounted police patrol the cyclone district and
no sightseers are allowed thereon. The relief committee reorganized this morning
and each member was assigned his duty toward furnishing relief to the suffering.
One of the banks has been turned into relief headquarters and the largest building
standing in the city has been turned into a relief store. Carloads of provisions
were received today from Chickasha, Mangum, Oklahoma City and Hobart.
The Fessenden family, the last of the dead, were buried in a trench without ceremony this afternoon. The body of James W. Hudson, who was shipped to Lawton hospital yesterday, was returned here for burial this evening. Mr. Hudson’s family of seven, with the exception of one son and daughter, were killed outright. The daughter is not expected to survive the night. Among the injured, several are not expected to survive overnight. Mrs. Jack Hunter, who lived in the suburbs, died this afternoon. The Hunter home is a total wreck. Their stove was picked up half a mile from the house. Miss Mize, Mr. Paulson, Miss Grace Buser and Miss Murphy have all sustained injuries that will prove fatal. Mr. Paulson was operated on this afternoon. A scantling struck him, making a hole in his back nearly four inches long, and fracturing his spine. Gangrene has set in. Miss Buser suffered a scalp wound and had a cut to the hip six inches long and three inches deep. She refused to take anesthetics and allowed the doctors to sew up her wound without a murmur. Her sister is also in critical condition. The father and mother were killed outright.
The company of Oklahoma National Guard has established camp on the hill south of town. They have headquarters office in the city. The company of thirty-two men will do guard duty tonight.
The stench in the cyclone district from dead animals is very bad today. They are being removed and burned. Chickens with their feathers blown off are everywhere. Several dead snakes have been found on the prairie over which the cyclone passed.
The Frisco has three work trains with double crews working all day replacing cars on the tracks and clearing up.
Nineteen injured remain in the hospital and hotel tonight. Twelve nurses arrived from Hobart at 7 o’clock to relieve the present force. Hundreds of sightseers come in on every train and their presence is not welcome. After tomorrow every man who has no business will be given a chance to work or walk. Telephone communication was established with the surrounding country for the first time today. The telegraph service is very cramped yet.
Carpenters are roofing a large building for a hospital today, the present quarters being inadequate. The patients will be removed to the hospital tomorrow where a corps of nurses and doctors will be hired by the relief committee to attend them until entirely recovered.
The work of rebuilding and repairing commenced at noon today. In sixty days the business section of town will be rebuilt. More business activity is noticed today than any day since the disaster. Mayor Stevenson issued a proclamation this evening that all persons be off the streets by 10 o’clock every night; the saloons shall close at 12 o’clock, and asking the citizens to clear their property as early as possible to prevent sickness in the city.
The Burial Scenes.
Scenes at the burial of those who perished in the storm were extremely pathetic. The relatives repaired to the dry goods store where the morgue had been established, and identified remains of their loved ones. Sometimes the swollen, expressionless face with glassy eyes which stared vacantly up from the dry goods shelf was an aged mother, and when her grown sons and daughters stood by and sobbed as they gazed on the distorted features of a face that for a lifetime had been clearer to them than all else. The sight was one calculated to move the strongest man to tears. More pitiful than all, however, were the scenes enacted when some young couples came to claim the remains of their first born. Bodies of children were placed on the upper shelves and wrapped in sheets. When the cloth was thrown back and there was exposed to view the little face upon which in life both had so often gazed with love and pride and hope, cries of anguish wrung from aching hearts were more than many could bear.
The floor of the morgue was covered with water. It came not from the rain but from the ice in which some of the bodies were packed. It had gradually crept up to and around pile of blood-stained bed clothing near the door, and the spattered sacks of grain which were piled in a corner, until finally it found its way across the sidewalk and slowly trickled into the gutter.
It was about 7:30 o’clock Friday morning when a tall loud-voiced man, clad in a yellow slicker and rubber boots, walked through the mud and rain to the middle of the street at the principal corner in Snyder, and in stentorian tones announced: “Men are wanted to help bury the dead. All who are willing to assist are asked to come and stand by me.” In a few minutes the line by the man in the slicker was long enough to reach nearly across the street. Many of the men in the line were in their shirt sleeves and were wet to the skin. They went willingly to work. As many as could clambered on a dray, armed with picks and shovels, and proceeded to the cemetery. Others hastened to aid the undertakers. There was an ample supply of caskets. A car containing a hundred was sent down from Oklahoma City. Nearly all of them were used. The car was parked on a Frisco sidetrack where it could be seen from all parts of the main business streets. The caskets were brought in drays to the undertakers’ shops as they were needed.
Some of the Freaks
One of the many pranks of the cyclone occurred at the new compress. An employee had a bicycle in the office; the bicycle was found uninjured on the prairie fifty yards from the compress. The bell off the bicycle was found on top of the large steam cylinder about 20 feet from the ground. A spoon engraved with the name of one of the stricken families in Snyder was found 12 miles northeast of the city in a farmer’s barn yard. At the school house the shingles were knocked off for the space of four feet square while the remainder of the house was uninjured. Immediately across the street east, a house occupied by Davis family was mashed flat with Mrs. Davis and daughter Alice Dunn under remains. Mrs. Davis was killed outright; Miss Dunn will probably recover.
Next door to them the house was turned completely around and faced the other way. The piano of Mrs. Hetwig was carried 1,200 yards and suffered little injury except from flying missiles. A jar of fruit was carried from Hetwig residence two blocks away and let down without being cracked. On the west side of town, out of sixty-five houses not three wagon loads of wood is left, and even the foundations of most are gone. Rubbish was carried 35 miles in that direction. Fifteen miles northeast, a door off one of the livery barns measuring 5 by 7 feet is lying intact within 100 yards of the farm house. A pocketbook belonging to L. C. James, 19 miles southwest, whose house was destroyed and family killed, was picked up near the Frisco depot. It was identified by papers.
To Snyder Tornado Intro
February 14, 2007