Kiowa County Tornados

Outside as still as death–
And just as quiet too–
Gray clouds hung dark and close
And heavily on you.
Then suddenly a gust!
As hot as dragon's breath,
Before the heat is gone
An icy chill – like death –
A flash as keen and jagged
As from a rough edged sword.
Dark terror swooped then swirled,
Then into the earth it gored,
Destruction came to all
That stood within it's way.
It came to man or beast
And many a home that day
And awful chaos spread
As in the evil name –
Whirling – Stamping – Crashing –
So Stealthily it came!
----------Ethel Ballard Terry

Mrs. Terry's poem, "The Storm", won first prize in statewide competition in 1950. Just as she finished reading it at the State Convention of Federated Clubs in Oklahoma City, April 22, 1950, she received word that a storm had struck at Hobart.

May in Oklahoma is the beginning of warm summer weather, and the normal flip flops of turbulent weather. May, 1905, was such a time, bright blue sky, hot sun, and the usual wind. In the southwest, a bank of dark clouds loom on the horizon. Danger is heading for Kiowa County.

Old cattlemen, familiar with the Snyder area, knew this could happen. The low lands lying southwest of Snyder, so it was claimed was a hot bed for the formation of storms and this was the 3rd visit of such in 3 years. There is a gap in the range of the Wichita Mountains about a half mile Southwest of town, and through this gap have come the storms. This one formed 35 miles from town.

About 6:00, a black cloud could be seen in the southwest. Off to the right, light harmless - looking formation of clouds hung in the sky, milling, swirling, moving up and down for about a half hour, always reaching out and gathering in more blue sky. Then, finally meeting the dark and the darkness took over.


The dark clouds with a constant blaze of lightening was gathering southwest of Snyder, but still giving no reason for concern to the people in it's path. They noticed the clouds, but went on with evening choirs.

Then came the roar of the wind, louder and louder, the darkness grew, the thunder sounded as if it came from the ground, not the sky. People were aware of the approaching storm, a few thought it was a thunder storm, not realizing one of the most devastating forms of nature was bearing down on them, to end some lives and change others forever.

Without warning ------ about 9:00 in the evening, a black, twisting devil dropped from the sky, death and destruction rained down on Snyder, as this monster swept everything in it's path, a half mile wide, shredding and killing, from the southwest corner of Snyder to the North east corner.

Some of the residents had dug cellars into the ground and barely had time to reach them as this twisting monster roared toward them. Others were caught as they tried to reach safety and met the monster of death as did the ones caught in their homes.

Nothing was left to retrieve from those homes in the path of this tornado. All the survivors had, was what they had on. Food and supplies were gone. And they suffered from the cold of the night and the cold of the terror they had just been through.

With all communications gone, there was no way to summon help, until an operator was sent to Mountain Park to tap the wire and spread the word. A special train and relief party of about 100 left Hobart about 1:30 AM and arrived about an hour later, including all doctors in town and over a dozen nurses. A relief train was sent from Vernon, Texas carrying doctors, surgeons and nurses to relive the doctors and nurses that had worked through the night tending the wounded. Another relief train left Hobart about 10:00 AM, carrying provisions, clothing and other things to help the people in need.

Bodies of the victims were taken to an improvised morgue, a vacant building, covered with mud, bruised and mangled almost beyond recognition, the flesh of some almost stripped from their bodies. Old men, women, fathers, mothers and children, without discrimination, this monster took. Some were identified by friends or relatives and taken home to bury or given to undertakers with no tags to identify. A complete list of the dead will never be known.

Hobart contributed money and supplies and sent over 200 doctors, nurses, surgeons and helpers to do whatever they could. Hobart ministers went to help with the survivors and the dying. Governor Ferguson sent 100 tents, bedding, clothing and money. The Undertakers Association was in session in Oklahoma City when word arrived. Sixteen, from all over Oklahoma and one from Arkansas boarded a Special train to Snyder.

On May 12, 1905, there were 103 reported dead, although the full count will never be known. Some of the dead were: The RALSTONE family, father, mother, 2 children; FRANK JAMES family; HUGHES family; Mr. And Mrs. BUSER; GEORGE W. BAILEY; FESSENDEN family, 11 members; Mrs. CAL WILLILAMSON; Mr. And Mrs. McCART; PEARL HALEY; J. P. DONOVAN; three CROOKS children; Mrs. EDWARDS; CLARENCE PAULSON, the CHARLES L. HIBBARD family, father, mother, two of four children, and Mr. Hibbard's aged parents.

These articles appeared in the Area Newspapers beginning May 12, 1905


The town of Luger was established in 1901 by an immigrant, Frank Lugert. There were no roads, only trails, and the only form of transportation was horseback and wagons. Panhandlers, escaped convicts and horse thieves were visitors and customers at his store. His store and the town that built around it at the foot of the Wichitas flourished.

The morning of April 27, 1912 was hot and sultry. Clouds began to gather in the southwest. Heavy thunder rumbled amid the vivid flashes of lightening. The noon train had just rolled into the north part of the Lugert yards.

Suddenly, there was a terrific clap of thunder and the winds began to roar. A tornado hit with vicious fury and wiped the entire town of Lugert off the map. In a very few minutes, there was deadly silence, no wind, and the heavy rains stopped after dumping 12 inches of water.

When people emerged from their cellars, they found houses, businesses and possessions gone. The force of the tornado had moved all the railroad cars to the west, wrecking 8-10 and only a couple of cars and the caboose remained on the tracks undamaged.

The town never re-built, people left and the town dwindled away. Before the tornado hit, there were general stores, including Frank's, a brick bank, lumber yard, pool hall, restaurant, and a population of 400-500. All that is left of Lugert now are the memories, the town site buried under the waters of Lake Altus. When the lake is low, some remnants of the old town can be seen.

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