A Most Terrible Storm
Snyder in Ruins – More Than a Hundred Dead – Another Hundred Wounded
Worse Than war – Which is Hell
Heart Rending Incidents – Hundreds Homeless
The Most Deadly Storm Known to the West
Articles Carried Fifty Miles in Track of Storm
It would take a paper equal in size to the St. Louis and Kansas City
Sunday papers to tell all the story and give full particulars. So much was crowded
into the two minutes of horror and the results were so far reaching that it
would take one man many months to gather up and chronicle every little detail
and incident of the awful storm of May 10th
The chief of the U. S. Signal Station located at Oklahoma City have followed the tract [sic] of the storm from formation to Snyder, and from notes taken by him is gathered the fact that the storm formed 12 miles west and 9 miles south of the town of Olustee in Greer county nearly fifty miles distant from Snyder, near the residence of Mr. Bolin. It traveled in a general northeast course covering the ground at rate [sic] of about 30 miles an hour. In places it took a zigzag course, but bound by an implacable law of nature never diverted from the general northeast course. The first damage done was at the Hughes residence, where it destroyed the home and killed the entire family of three. The next residence struck was two miles further on, then came the houses McCoy Colvills [?], Jos. Penland, G. W. Brake, and G. D. Berry; the Outhill barn, sheds, buggy and implement, G. B. Ralston residence, killing Mr. Ralston and his wife and daughters. Then came the J. W. Sledge and G. W. Sledge houses. Then the little village of Lock, consisting of 2 stores, school house, and Wm. Ralston and Mr. Taylor’s residences were wiped out of existence. Then on the Fourmentine farm three large buildings, two threshers and about 30 cultivators were gathered up and dropped from the grip of the mighty monster after they had been twisted into useless rubbish – a loss of about $5,000. John Roberts’ house and farm buildings were next visited and totally destroyed, then the Francis school house. The cyclone then lifted and contented itself with roaring until the mouth of Otter Creek was reached. Here another twister, which had formed some little distance south of there and destroyed the Burnett home on the west side of North Fork united with the one which had come so many miles and they entered upon a merry waltz up Otter Creek, following up the creek until it takes a turn to the north-west, where it left the creek and began its journey straight northeast across the Prairie for Snyder. In its tract this side of the North Fork the tenant’s house on the McCowan ranch was destroyed and Ray Moss killed. The father R. K. Moss had an arm broken and his wife, son Earnest, daughter Myrtle and a smaller daughter were all seriously injured though it is hoped not fatal. The Johnson residence, Dr. McCoy’s, Frank Taylor’s house and barns, Otter Valley school house, J. W. Blackmore’s and F. Engle houses and outbuildings were all destroyed. At the Engle home the monster again demanded human sacrifices to whet his appetite for the final feast at Snyder, and three of the family were killed and four were injured. W. S. Russell’s unoccupied claim house was taken and the entire group of fine buildings on the Peckham ranch were made into kindling wood. Then Jack Hunter’s home was destroyed and he and his wife and boy all injured – his wife having since died. The Addison and the Lancaster house joined the monster in its march on to Snyder. Its tract through and ravages in town were told of before. After leaving town it took the Andrews farm buildings, the Beardsley and Peyton buildings, and some others further on which have not been reported at the office.
The names and losses of Snyder property owners cannot be given at this time as a complete list has not been made. This will be given in a later opine as will other detailed statements of work of the relief committee, etc.
That all the killed and injured were so covered with a coat of black slime as to be unrecognizable was heretofore mentioned. This has been accounted for by the fact that the demon in crossing the river sucked up all the water in reach as well as all in Otter Creek and the ponds and lakes along the creek. To this water was added all the black slimy mud at the bottom of the ponds, scooping them out until nothing but hard ground was left. All of this was spread out upon its Snyder victims, giving them a most hideous and repulsive appearance.
Posts standing to one side of the storm driven full of straws and small
stems of wood – just as if they were so many nails.
In the south-east corner of the SIGNAL-STAR building a narrow piece of the thin end of a shingle was driven as if it was so much iron, and it still remains there.
A heavy iron vault door frame and doors weighing two or three thousand pounds was picked up and carried more than a block before dropped.
An upright piano was found 8 miles from town sitting on the prairie in the same position as it was when picked up by the cyclone.
The center of the storm passed across the railroad just between the old Midway restaurant and the Wagner gin. This is demonstrated by the fact that an iron pump and pipe were lifted from the well. This could not have occurred except in the vacuum which is always in the center of such twisters.
Those who were to one side and in position to see the storm say it was like a huge smoke hanging tail down from the clouds, wiggling along as if seeking to touch and fasten onto everything in its tract.
Pictures and papers which were in the wrecked Snyder houses have been picked up in Caddo county on the other side of Saddle Mountain, 55 to 60 miles away.
Many acts of heroism were enacted which will never be chronicled. One of the strongest was when Mrs. Geo. W. Bailey, with compound fracture of ankle and bone protruding through the flesh, a fracture of one hip, and filled with punctures made by slivers and nails, crawled to her husband’s side, and putting her knee against his back to assist her, pulled a piece of timber out of his back which had been driven through him, and when rescue came begged them to care for her husband first.
The ghouls who robbed the dead and wounded didn’t get all the valuables. Miss Matilda Murphy had a little over $700.00 on her person when injured and Miss Lola Edwards wore a diamond ring. In many instances, however, valuables were taken, and in some, rings of very little intrinsic value were taken. A small gold ring which had been nearly worn out was taken from the finger of Mrs. L. Coleman.
The youngest baby in town was carried across the street and gently laid on the ground without even a scratch. Its father and mother, Floyd Hibbard and Wife, were more roughly used though not seriously injured.
County Coroner Burke did noble work in caring for the dead. He took charge of the morgue and directed preparation of the bodies for burial. Through the liberal use of ice he was enabled to keep many bodies until their relatives arrived from distant points, for which he deserves the thanks of all.
Alan B. Seigal who was in the telephone central office when the storm began, was snatched out of the door and carried 2 blocks to the southeast. He must have sailed in the air over the SIGNAL-STAR building but remembers nothing from the time he was snatched from the door and some minutes after the storm when he answered the call made by the editor for parties, whose house had been destroyed in that vicinity. Reigel [sic] then talked and acted as if very much dazed.
Two whole families were snuffed out of existence - the Fessenden and G. C. Jones families. Of the Hibbard but one boy was left
J. W. McCart will live, but he is minus an arm.
At this writing Matilda Murphy is still living but no hopes are entertained for her recovery. The Surgeons had to amputate a foot.
Miss Alice Dunn is making a brave fight for life. Her sweet uncomplaining disposition has endeared her to all the hospital attendants.
The marshal of the town of Anadarko, with a party of gentlemen, were modestly at work on our streets for two days. They came and went unheralded, and none would have known who they were had they not have been recognized by one of our prominent citizens.
Many men who came from other towns, seeing our needs, worked on our streets like common laborers, though worth their thousands. That was a time when their hands could do more than their money and they worked when work was needed as well as contributing liberally to the relief fund. Those were brave men.
A round silver tray, on which was inscribed “George and Mary Silver Wedding, 1870,” was picked up several miles in the country somewhat twisted and banged up.
Soon after the supplies were being received a thieving skunk from a neighboring town presented himself at the quartermasters department representing that he was a cyclone sufferer. He was fitted out with everything he wanted, but before he got out of town with the stuff some one reported him and he was brought back and made to disgorge.
Mr. Snyder, the gentleman installed as the depot agent in place of Mr. Egan who was hurt in the cyclone is a very pleasant and accommodating gentleman. He and his efficient assistants have been of incalculable service to the Relief Committee.
The Lawton Democrat in a recent opine denounced the Relief Committee
to whom was entrusted the funds subscribed in Lawton had been brought back home.
A committee of our citizens went over to Lawton to investigate and ascertain,
as possible, the animus of the article. They found the Lawton committee very
much incensed each and every member indignately [sic] denying responsibility
for it. They stated that the money which had been raised there had been raised
on the promise to open a hospital in Lawton at which all our sufferers should
be cared for free of charge – that no money had been subscribed for purpose
of donation to our Relief Committee and the money had not been brought over
here for purpose of turning over to our committee and then taken back as the
Lawton Democrat asserted.
This was more like the true facts. The Lawton people are kindly caring for ten or a dozen injured and most kindly asked to be permitted to take them over there promising to care for them until well, free of any charge to the Snyder people. But the Snyder committee after consultation with the survivors and relatives of some of the injured ones concluded that the humane thing to do was to keep them here as many have relatives who would not be able to visit their dear suffering ones were they taken to Lawton hospital, so the committee’s proposition was declined. Our people, however, appreciate the kindly feeling which prompted the offer and will treasure it among the many kind things which have been done or offered to be done for us by other towns.
THE SIGNAL-STAR was slightly disfigured by the storm but is still in
the ring. Through the courtesy of our Frederick brethren we were permitted to
get out this opine and the last. The plant is not materially damaged but the
press was under a pile of debris and covered with slime and brick from a chimney,
then three of the injured ones have been cared in the editor’s home which
is in the rear half of the SIGNAL-STAR building and their condition precluded
any effort to run the press.
They are recovering, however, and within a week or two more we hope to be able to do the press work at home.
Brother Wessel of the Frederick Enterprise and Bro. Bayne of the Frederick Leader are each entitled to thanks for courtesies extended and they will please consider that, with hat off, the editor has bowed in thanks to them. Whenever they need the help of a neighbor, may they find it as we have and as they surely will if they call on the SIGNAL-STAR.
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