Our Motto Rings True
Navarro County, Texas


Frost Tornado Index


Our Motto Rings True

by Brett Butler
Frost High School - 2007


“Mr. Patterson had a drug store across the street.  A gas line was ruptured and caught fire, and he burned to death before anyone could get to him.  Most of the real bad damage was north of the park.  It took most of the stores in that section.  We lost everything. . . house, furniture.  We found an old quilt box and cedar chest and the back of the piano.”

            These accounts recorded by Mary Lee Grimes Truex, and submitted to the Navarro County Historical Society by her cousin Virginia Crilley, are explaining the natural disaster that occurred May 6, 1930 in Frost.  Frostonians refer to it today as the Frost Tornado.

            “Everyone was in school.  I was fourteen and in math class.  When it got so dark, most of us hid under our desks.  The superintendent, Mr. Harrison, told everyone to go down to the first floor in the big hallway and we crouched against the wall.  One girl’s father came and took her out of school, and they were killed in the their car on the way home.”

            It. was 3:26 p.m. as the destructive F4 made its way through Frost.  The sky turned black, almost angry.  A few eyewitnesses said they believed the bitter cyclone split into two twisters just before crossing over the school, one navigating over a lake, the other butchering Main Street.  After lasting only three minutes, it was hard to believe that the tempest would leave 23 dead, over 100 injured, and $2,100,000 worth of damages in this blooming town of 1,000.  Frost was once the home of a drugstore, grocery store, two beauty shops, dress factory, insurance office, feed store, fertilizer store, lumberyard, two garages, two service stations, railroad station, movie theater, five churches, and a butcher market.  However the tornado swindled all it deemed worthy in its path of destruction.

            Once the people of Frost had enough courage to peek out of their cellars to view the damage, they discovered that their beloved town was gone.  Houses were in ruins.  Churches were destroyed. Model T’s were mixed in with the filth as they had been blended together.  It was as if a burglar had invaded and was searching for that elusive needle in a haystack.

            The late Mrs. Faye McCary, was studying in college in Denton at the time of the tornado and received word from a friend three days after the disaster.  The friend to Mrs. McCary, “I guess you know your hometown blew away.”  She accused him of lying, but accepted the undeniable truth when he began listing the names of victims.  Mrs. McCary’s father owned the butcher market, and waited out the tornado by hiding with some friends in a walk-in refrigerator.  They were trapped inside.  One man managed to break through two panels of double paned glass to unlock the door.  When they emerged from the locker, they found their store demolished.

            Nevertheless, relief was only a few steps behind the monster.  The Red Cross from Corsicana and Hillsboro came to care for the homeless survivors.  Those who were fortunate enough to still have their homes too in the stray.  There was no room for the dead in the cemetery because it was filled with the debris of houses from the living.  However, volunteers collected the dead and made caskets for a mass funeral, which was held May 8.  After only a year into Great Depression, it was surprising to find that within the week wooden stalls had been erected and businesses were open.  Many people from Dawson, Hillsboro, Mertens, Italy, Corsicana, and Blooming Grove brought in food and supplies for the victims and volunteers.  Since electricity, gas, and running water in Frost was scarce, many died from diseases after drinking unsanitary water.  The Rainbow Girls, a non-profit charity, made and distributed over 100 sandwiches, and the National Guard from Corsicana gave typhoid shots.  Slowly, the callous wounds of May 6 began to heal, as they did, they shaped the new face of the small but proud city of Frost.

            As Frostonians look back on our scars, we wonder what Frost might have been if the events of May 6, 1930 hadn’t crippled the town’ economy and inhibited its growth.


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Edward L. Williams & Barbara Knox