1930 Frost, TX Tornado
Articles Published in the Houston Post


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HOUSTON POST - May 7, 1930

TEXAS TORNADOES TAKE 53 LIVES

DEATH TOLL IS HIGH AT RUNGE WHILE FROST IS WIPED OUT BY TWISTER

Stricken Area in Widely Scattered Sections of State Is Maze of Debris From Demolished Buildings With Property Loss in Thousands

Striking in widely scattered sections, a series of tornadoes tore through Texas late Tuesday spreading ruin in their wake and taking a toll in excess of 53 lives.

Communities of Central Texas, near Waco, including the town of Frost, which was demolished, bore the brunt of the storm which apparently swept on into South Central Texas, striking at Runge, Near San Antonio.

A second storm, or an offspring of the tornado that cut through Central Texas, swung into Sabine county where one man was killed and two persons injured.  An Associated Press report from Beaumont gave the dead man's name as J. D. Strickland.  he was killed when his house was destroyed near Bronson.  His wife also was badly injured, and an unnamed man was hurt.  Several houses were blown down and considerable property damage was caused.

W. J. Kleespies, 31, of 1950 West Seventeenth street, Houston, was killed in the storm at Randolph field, San Antonio.

Mr. Kleespies left Houston two weeks ago to work on the new airport as an ironworker.  Reports indicated he was killed when he fell off an airplane hanger and was struck by a plane making a forced landing.

SCATTERED CASUALTIES

Based on Associated Press reports the list of casualties include:

  • Twenty-eight identified dead.
  • Two unidentified dead at Frost
  • A negro baby snatched from his mother's arms by the twister, whose body has not been found.
  • A fifteen-year-old boy reported dead at Ensign, near Frost.
  • An unidentified man near Kenedy.
  • Mrs. Otto Fuhrken, near Kenedy.
  • Two Mexican women on a farm near Kenedy.
  • Eight out of a family of nine Mexicans on the farm of Louie Duderstadt, near Kenedy.
  • Nine persons reported to the Waco News Tribune as having been killed in communities near that city.

COMMUNICATION BROKEN

Broken communication lines to the stricken cities made an exact count of the dead difficult.

Frost, in Navarro county, had 16 known dead.

The reports to the Waco News Tribune indicated that nine or more persons killed were in communities in McLennan, Hill, and Navarro counties, three at Brookins, one at Abbott, three at Bynum, and two at Mertens.

RUNGE TOLL HEAVY

The known dead were:

  • W. J. Kleepies, of Houston, at Randolph field, San Antonio
  • Near Frost, Navarro county, Lee Roy Bagley, nine months: Gid Bogan and Tom Bogan; Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Bowman, J. D. Lee, Ed Patterson, A. L. Bell and child, Mrs. Lee Wooley and child.
  • In Hill county, Mr. and Mrs. E. F. Isbell and their child, Brandon.
  • An unidentified Mexican, killed near Spur; Mrs. Hoff and Charley Wolf, Spur; a Miss Anderson of Massey; and W. M. Fly, Mertens.
  • Near Runge, Karnes County, Ferdinand MacHost and his wife; three children of Pancho Villareal.
  • One hundred or more persons were injured in various parts of the state, those most seriously at Randolph field, Runge, Frost, Bynum, Brookins, Mertens, and Spur, although several were reported injured in Dallas by glass shattered by the wind storm.

WRECKS BUSINESS AREA

The wind storm which tore a path across West Texas damaged crops and near Coleman, Eastland and Dibrell demolished derricks in several oil fields.

The tornado which hit parts of McLennan, Hill, and Navarro counties formed over Waco and swept north, according to observers.

The wind swept a path 300 yards wide, missed Bynum about two miles, wrecking several farm houses in its path and passing Malone, struck Frost, in Navarro county, demolishing most of the buildings in the business district there.

H. J. Nichols, Corsicana, aviator flew over Frost afterward and said the tornado apparently came from the southwest, traveling in a northeasterly direction and cutting a path about 10 miles long.

SCHOOL CHILDREN SAFE

All children in the Frost school, escaped injury.  They were taken to the first floor of the building.  The top floor was blown away.

The tornado next struck on the Gross ranch between Runge and Charco, Goliad county.  No reports had been received Tuesday night indicating whether it struck anywhere else in Goliad county before reaching the gulf.

An unidentified Mexican was killed and four were injured when a house was demolished 12 miles from Spur, in Northwestern Texas.

SIX DEAD AT RUNGE

At Runge, six persons were known to be dead late Tuesday and more than a score were seriously injured as the tornado swept the countryside four miles south of Runge leaving a trail of debris in its wake and inflicting property damage estimated at more than $300,000.  Thousands of head of live stock were killed.

The twister first struck on the outskirts of Kennedy, 12 miles south of Runge, tearing the roof from the ice plant and passing through the Mexican section of that town, causing damage to homes and slightly injuring several Mexicans.

The George Tips ranch on Cabeza creek, 7 miles from Kennedy, was struck by the tornado and several persons were injured, according to report here.

The farm home of Ferdinand MacHost was completely demolished and MacHost and his wife were killed.  Three of the MacHost children Alfred and Eddie MacHost, 21, twin sons, and Bertha MacHost, 14-year old daughter, and Henry Walster, nephew of the MacHost family were seriously injured.

MOTHER AND TOT DIE

The mother and three children of the Pancho Villareal family which occupied a farm near the MacHost home lost their live when the storm struck their home.

More than a score of persons were in an emergency hospital established at Runge, receiving treatment for injuries suffered when the storm struck.

The path of the tornado swerved along the outskirts of Runge, killing thousands of live stock and continued on to the Eckart school district six miles north of here where a family of nine Mexicans were reported killed.  This report, however, has not been confirmed.

POLES AND WIRES DOWN

Telephone wires and telegraph poles were blown across the highway and connections between Runge and the stricken area were hazarded by the live wires.

The whirling demon leaped into the air after the Eckart school district and descended again between Runge and Charco, in Goliad county, causing property damage and taking a heavy toll among live stock.

20 INJURED

Nearly 20 injured have been cared for.  The last report of the storm's path was at the edge of Karnes and Goliad county where it evidently lifted and passed out into the Gulf of Mexico.

Observers traveling on the highway between Corpus Christi and San Antonio say the storm cloud did not appear funnel shaped like a tornado, but was a low black mass, tumbling forward and traveling faster than tornado clouds usually progress.

Earlier in the afternoon the same cloud had struck Randolph field, 17 miles northeast of the city where many buildings are being erected.

WORKER KILLED

Here Kleespies was killed and Lonnie Wickmann, another workman was seriously injured by flying timbers.  A dozen other workmen received minor injuries and were treated at a hospital in Schertz, Texas, near the field or came to San Antonio.  Property damage at the field was small.

Other reports of the storm cloud say that a heavy hail storm destroyed crops between Falls City and Karnes City in Karnes county but there was no damage from the wind.

A half dozen miles northeast of San Antonio the wind leveled fences and windmills, unroofed several houses, but no one was injured.

The body of Mr. Kleespies was enroute to Houston early Wednesday morning.  Funeral arrangements will be announced by the Westheimer company.  Mr. Kleespies  is survived by his widow, and a one year-old son, W. J. Kleespies , Jr., all of Houston.


HOUSTON POST - May 7, 1930

School Teachers Heronies at Frost

CORSICANA, May 7 - (ap) - Two school teachers who kept their heads and stuck by their jobs while a black funnel which they knew carried death swooped down upon their little school were the heroines of Frost Wednesday.

Seventy-five panicky children were in the school when the storm was seen approaching.  Miss Rogers, Hillsboro, and Miss Millie Yarbrough, Mertins, knew that to stay in the frame structure meant death.

They herded their small charges into an open cotton field nearby and there every child was made to lie down along the rows of fresh green cotton.  From this place of comparative security, they watched the twister engulf the school house and tear it into bits.  No child was hurt.

JAIL ONLY ESCAPE

The jail was the only public building in Frost that was not demolished.  Six freight cars were hurled from the railroad switches, one being turned directly across the main line.  The depot was moved off its foundations.

The twister traveled from Frost to Irene, Hill community about eight miles southwest, demolishing several business houses and residences, but no one was injured.  Considerable damage was done to farms and farm improvements.

Shortly after the arrival of the Corsicana train, a sandwich shop was set up for the workers and injured.  Sheriff Rufus Pevehouse and Deputies Walter Hays and Jack Floyd were directing the relief.

TWO TORNADOES

Residents of the town said two tornadoes struck, about 13 minutes apart.

Incoming relief workers said that the first sight they saw on entering the town of 1000 was a debris-strewn cemetery, with sheet iron lumber and papers scattered among the grave markers.

Several ambulances which had to ford two streams swollen by a week of rain were stalled.  Before they could aid the stricken the drivers and workers had to push out their automobiles.

RETURNED TO DIE

League Wooley, seeing the cloud approaching, went to the school house for his child.  He returned home just as the storm struck killing his wife and child.  Late Tuesday night he had not regained consciousness.

Many little children lay on improvised cots or in their parent's arms, mangled and bruised.  Panic-stricken little negro children were huddled together with bandaged heads.

No effort was made to remove the wreckage of the buildings for fear the walls would crumble and fall on workers.  The wreckage lying free was made into bonfires Tuesday night to light the gruesome scene.

One man escaped death by grasping a large tree, the top of which was torn from the trunk.

DEATH CLOUD DESCRIBED

Some of those who saw the cloud say it "bounced along" and appeared to be in two sections.  Posts were snatched from the ground.  The twister snatched up an infant child of Jesse Satchel, negro, and at a late hour the body had not been found.

Fire broke out following the storm but was soon brought under control.

Twelve men were saved from death by taking refuge in the vault of a bank.

Many believed other bodies would be found when the debris was cleared away.

It was estimated that 50 business buildings were demolished and about 75 residence structures.  First aid stations were set up all over the town and the relief situation seemed well taken care of.


HOUSTON POST - May 8, 1930

STORM TOLL RISES AS RUINS YIELD DEAD

69 BODIES ARE COUNTED AND PROPERTY LOSS OF MILLIONS IS REVEALED

Hundreds Are Injured With Many Near Death Found in Wake of Twisting Winds Which Swept Settlements to Destruction in Three Counties

As workers in the devastated sections of Texas Wednesday searched in twisted debris of Tuesday's disastrous tornadoes, the known death toll mounted to 69.

Meanwhile many of those who were mangled as the whirling demon demolished everything in its path were sinking during the night and physicians expressed the fear that deaths among the injured will send the storm's toll of human life soaring still higher.

As the number of dead continued to mount, augmented now and then by the death of one of the hundreds of injured, it became evident that the full extent of the havoc wrought by the devastating winds will not be known for several days.

At Runge, one of the heaviest hit sections, the sinister threat of deadly tetanus raised its head and physicians who were ministering to the injured there declared that infection may cause a heavy increase in the death toll.

As debris was cleared away from the storm-torn communities, reports of ghastly pranks played by the twisting death wind continued to filter in.  The storm was one of the most serious catastrophes which has visited Texas since Round Rock disaster of 1927.

KARNES COUNTY BEARS BRUNT

Relief agencies of the state, the Red Cross, the National Guard and individuals who rushed in to assist the stricken, were doing everything humanly possible to alleviate the suffering among the injured and homeless.

The storm struck with its most disastrous force in and near Runge in Karnes county, where 26 persons were reported by the Associated Press to have lost their lives.  Only five of the victims were identified.  The remaining dead were said to have been members of the families of 24 farmers.  Property damage was heavy but it was insignificant compared to the terrific toll of human life exacted by the tumbling, rolling storm clouds, which observed said resembled only remotely the funnel-shaped tornadoes familiar throughout the Middle West.

The storm pounced with full fury upon Frost, in Navarro county, practically destroying the business section of the town, killing 22 of its 600 inhabitants and leaving in its wake the cries of the injured.

TALES OF HEROISM EMERGE

At Frost as in many other sections devastated by the twister, many tales of heroism became known to relieve the stark tragedy of the storm.  Two school teachers who led more than 100 pupils from the school building and forced them to lie down in a nearby corn field saved the lives of their charges, who looked on horrified as the wind tore their school to splinters a few moments after they had quitted its doors.

The tornado which struck Frost also took three lives near Ennis, where property damage was heavy.  Thirteen persons were killed at Bynum, in Hill county and the remaining deaths were at San Antonio, where a Houstonian was blown from a hanger and killed by a landing air plane; near West, where two were killed, and near Bronson, where a man and his wife lost their lives when the storm sent their house tumbling down upon them.

No estimate of the injured was available, but reports that hospitals, public buildings and private homes were crowded by persons hurt in the disaster continued to come in.  Many of those injured were said to be near death.  Splinters, stones and bits of metal had been driven into and through their bodies by the terrific winds.

STATE RUSHES AID TO AREA

As relief forces gathered to survey the damage and to render whatever assistance was possible Wednesday, all facilities of the state were placed at the disposal of the relief agencies by Governor Dan Moody.

Officials of Frost were told that any aid the state could give would be made available in aiding to clear up the wreckage of the town's business section.  The chief executive said he had ordered the adjutant general to send as many troops as needed to the area to patrol the district and aid in the relief work.

Martial law will not be declared, he said, unless the situation becomes worse.  Troops from the Corsicana and Hillsboro units of the National Guard were dispatched to the scene, with Major Horton B. Parker in charge.

Trucks from the state highway department were ordered to the scene and tents, cots, blankets and food supplies will be furnished from National Guard depots.

PLAN TEMPORARY SHELTERS

Meanwhile Albert Evans of St. Louis, assistant director of the Red Cross in this district, was en route to the stricken areas to survey personally the havoc created by the storm and to devise whatever relief measures the Red Cross is equipped to carry out.

Associated Press dispatches from Leavenworth, Kan., where Mr. Evans conferred with Red Cross representatives, quoted him as declaring that he would recommend that a relief call be sent to all.  Red Cross chapters comprising the Midwestern area.

Under a torrid Texas sun that dried the mud from Tuesday's terrific downpour, Frost Wednesday started clearing away the debris.

The erection of temporary buildings to house stock and merchandise will begin Thursday.  Frost citizens and hundreds from neighboring communities labored Wednesday cleaning streets and removing debris.

The Frost cemetery was in the path of the twister and a majority of the monuments in the cemetery were blown down, broken, and hurled out of the way of the devastating tornado.

A check revealed 47 business houses demolished.  One of three temporary buildings will be 50 by 100 feet in size and will be cut into compartments 20 by 50 feet to house the stocks of merchants.

Seventeen of the compartments already had been engaged Wednesday.  The other two buildings will be 75 by 50, and 50 by 50 each.  They are to be constructed by Corsicana citizens.  These temporary buildings are to be used until the business section is rebuilt.

WRECKED MERCHANDISE SALVAGED

The work of salvaging wrecked stocks of merchandise began and Frost citizens were busy repairing the town's water system.

Ted B. Ferguson, Corsicana district manager of the Texas Power and Light company, today brought a check for $500 from John W. Carpenter, president of the Texas Power and Light company, to be used toward the relief fund.  Ferguson had flood lights installed and salvaging work continued during the night.

All derailed box cars on the railway have been righted and pulled away from the town.

Meanwhile, reports of high winds, some of a tornadic nature, trickled in over crippled communication lines from other sections of the state.

Four persons were injured northeast of Childress when a tornado destroyed two farm homes and damaged another.  The family of J. J. Hunnicutt escaped to a cellar shortly before their home collapsed.

Some property damage was done by a small tornado that swept across the northeastern part of Llano county.  No one was injured.  Small outbuildings in and near Sherman were wrecked, telephone poles were blown down and general small damage resulted from a windstorm.

Residence windows were smashed and trees uprooted by a windstorm at Marshall.  The damage was reported light.

Roofs were blown off large buildings and smaller structures were demolished by a wind of tornadic proportions which struck Plano, Tuesday.  Trees were blown down in the residential section, and signs were dashed to the ground down town.  An accompanying heavy rain sent creeks on a rampage.

The list of identified dead in the storm as compiled by the Associated Press and the Post-Dispatch, is as follows.

AT FROST:

Dave Ponder.
Leroy Bagley, 9 months.
E. A. Patterson, 50.
J. E. Lee, 65.
John Fien, 17.
R. L. Bell, 50, and child.
Mrs. League Wooley, 35 and child 12.
W. H. Bowman, 70.
Gid Bogan, 35.
Mr. and Mrs. Tom Bogan.
John Fly, 50.
Mrs. W. H. Bowman, 60.
Prentice Fiew, 21.
Mary Currie, negress, 50, and son Jones, 35.
Child of Jessie Satchel, negro.
Four unidentified negroes.
Three unidentified Mexicans.
Grandma Berryman, 82.

AT BRONSON:

Mr. and Mrs. D. J. Strickland.

AT ENNIS:

Baby daughter of Art Wagner.
Bob Flanagan.
Joseph Stroud.

AT SAN ANTONIO:

J. C. Kleespies of Houston.

AT BYNUM:

Mr. and Mrs. E. F. Isbell and son, Brandon.
Mrs. Emma Hoff.
Three Negroes.

NEAR WACO:

Two persons.

AT SPUR:

Charles Wolf.
Miss Henderson.
Mrs. H. Hoff.
Miss Edna Anderson.

AT GONZALES:

Olive Clark, negro girl 3.

AT CLIFTON:

Mrs. Caroline Jorgenson, 21.

AT NORDHEIM:

Lupe Garza and four members of his family.
Alfred Guara (sp?)
Pancho Hernandez, his wife and two children.
Saragosa Garcia's family of nine.
Gavina Trevino, 77.
Mrs. Gavina Trevion.
Setriova Malina, 70.
Mrs. Emil Huck, 32.
Mrs. Otto Fuhertieu.

AT KENNEDY:

Francisco DeLuna.

AT RUNGE:

Ferdinand MacHurst, 72.
Mrs. Ferdinand MacHurst, 68.
Mrs. Francisco Villareal.
Celestine Cruz and Domingo Villereal.
Mrs.Martha Herrera, 35.
Mrs. Lucia Sales Garcia, 40.
Six children of Mrs. Garcia Pancho Santos, Juan Manuela, Caldus and Augostina.
Mrs. Manuela Gomez Salas.
Silvera Salas.


The bodies of Prentice Fiew, 20, who died in a Corsicana hospital Wednesday, and Leroy Bagley, 9 months who died in a Corsicana hospital Tuesday, will be sent to Frost for burial.

The body of Mrs. W. H. Bowman, 60, who died en route to a Corsicana hospital was held there Wednesday and probably will be sent to Frost for burial.  Her husband also was killed.

Hawkins Scarborough, judge of the Thirteenth judicial district court, was one of the first arrivals in Frost after the storm and remained there all night.

Andrew G. Steele, county, superintendent and past commander of the American Legion post at Corsicana accompanied by 32 Legionnaires, went to Frost soon after the storm and began patrolling the streets and aiding in the rescue work until National Guardsmen took over these duties.

The roar of the tornado as it swept destructively through the west end of the county was heard by residents of western Corsicana.

STOCK IS KILLED

At one place near Nordheim, a mile wide path was torn in the brush up a sharp slope in the ground.  At the top of the slope the home of Emil Huck was picked from the foundation and scattered in the wind against the home of Otto Fuhrken, Huck's son-in-law.

Wreckage of both homes was strewn for perhaps four city blocks down a slope before the wind lifted clearing trees a half mile away.  Mrs. Fuhrken was killed instantly, and Mr. and Mrs. Huck and Fuhrken were injured seriously.

Stock valued at thousands of dollars on the Huck farm were killed, and funeral pyres were kindled by neighbors in clearing the farm.

Grotesquely standing on the root which was on the ground were a wooden leg and a child's teddy bear

FAMILY OF NINE KILLED

An oak tree more than 100 years old was stripped of every leaf and most of the branches. One section of the tree more than two feet in diameter was thrown <100?> feet in the wind.

A new automobile was started down the road by the wind and ended a total wreck in a ditch far from the home.

One of the general tragedies occurred at the L. G. Duderstadt farm where nine of a family of 10 persons were killed in Stanley and their bodies blown more than 300 yards into a field from the top of a hill where the house stood.

The dead were in the family of Zaragosa Garcia and his wife, children, mother, mother-in-law and son-in-law. Garcia himself was in the field and was saved, although he was seriously injured when blown from a plow.

HOUSE SITE SHEARED

The spot on the crown of the hill where the house stood was wiped clean much as a child pats out a play house built in sand.

Timber and personal effects of the family were blown through the brush for miles.  An automobile was lifted through the air for several hundred feet before being demolished in the field where the bodies were found.

Mr. and Mrs. Duderstadt were in Nordheim when the wind struck the farm.  Their children, Warren, Wilmer, Hazel, and Marian, were alone in the home just a short distance from the home of the Garcia family.  Only the windmill of the farm was blown down although the cyclone passed directly over the house hundreds of feet in the air carrying wreckage of the Garcia home.  None was injured.

WEEPS FOR MOTHER

Four in a family of eight on the J. W. Deborah farm, three miles south of Runge were killed and the other injured when the house and all farm buildings were blown down.  Mrs. Francisca Villareal and her three children were killed, and the father and three children were seriously injured.

Sebera Villareal, age 3, cried for her mother as she lay in the emergency hospital at Runge.  The child probably will recover as will the others.

Seven persons of the Herrera family were killed on the Mrs. C. F. Grosse farm, three miles south of Runge.  The mother, Mrs. Maria Herrera and four children where killed, and Mrs. Carmel Rodriguez and Rose Nannez also were killed when their house blew away.

Three were killed on the J. W. Deborah farm.  The home barns, windmill and farm implements were scattered for miles through the brush.

CHECK FOR MISSING

Relief work started as soon as the storm subsided.  Farmers whose homes were spared made a house to house check on horseback and in wagons through the flooded roads and fields to check on the damage.

As a wrecked house was found the bodies of the dead and injured were loaded into wagons and transported to the nearest town, where vacant store rooms were turned into hospitals or morgues.

Greatest damage in Gonzales county was about 10 miles west of Gonzales at Ottine, where the home of Sherman Clark, negro, living on the Henry Howell farm, was demolished and his 3-year-old daughter was killed, and a 5-year-old girl suffered a broken leg.  The wife and three other children escaped with minor injuries.  Several other negroes were injured, and the negro Methodist church was blown down.

STUNNED BY HAIL

A mule near Ottine was killed when a large piece of timber was blown through its body.

Victoria suffered only from rain and hail stones which broke windows, crashed through roofs and tore a path through the woods near the town Crops were damaged by hail and rain.

A. D. Willborn, formerly of San Antonio but now living near Runge, was stunned by a hail stone as he and his wife and small son lay on the ground in the brush beside their home as the storm struck.  The father placed his large sombrero over his son's head to protect him from the large hail stones and the man was struck on top of the head and stunned.

The family was injured.


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