“Cyclone”

 

         1919 April 10: (Sherman Courier) Death Rides on Winds of Storm. Tuesday, the day preceding the storm, had been an unusually warm one, the evening hours closing in with an almost summer sultriness, relieved by a balmy breeze as night came on, which sprang up out of the South.

        Grows Stormy. Toward mid-night, the clouds, which had been gathering all afternoon and evening, lowered and the lightning began to play across the boundaries of the horizon, while distant thunders muttered their portents....

        The little village of Mulberry, on Red River, five miles northwest of Ravenna, was completely destroyed.... Shortly before 9 o’clock a message from Ravenna asked that physicians be sent to Mulberry at once, as there were many people in that community who had been hurt, and the local physicians were not able to attend them. Luther Ware, and Drs. Nevill, Carleton and Rayburn went down there to assist, as did quite a number of others who hoped to be of some assistance.

        Cyclone Sweeps Over North Texas. Fannin County Loss Heavy. ...struck...near Whitewright and crossed Red River at Mulberry.... The town of Mulberry, about sixteen miles northwest of Bonham was completely wiped away. In that village seven persons were killed instantly and many others severely injured.... From Mulberry the cyclone followed the road, leveling every building on both sides of the road to the river. The stricken people are in most cases, in a pitiful condition. The most complete wiping away of all their farming implements, and everything taken from them. The sufferers are being cared for temporarily by kind friends and neighbors until food, shelter and clothing can be provided for them.

        Bonham citizens were busy all day Wednesday collecting money, clothing and food for the storm sufferers and every-thing is being done that can be done for their immediate relief.... The Red Cross has sent out quite a good deal of clothing and bedding, and the United Charities are helping in every way possible. It is up to you to do your part and do it quickly.


        “Oh, I remember like it was yesterday,”

Mandy said. “I’d crossed the hall with a lamp. The

fireplace room blew away and mother’s ankle was

hurt. We started out and got nearly to the corner

down there [at the store], but mother got to hurting

so bad she had to go back. They had all the dead

people in that little house where the Pettis’ lived.

I almost got there once but somebody saw me and

made me go back.” Hear Mandy tell.


photos:  Mandy and Mamie Parks; (below)  Ira Wisely (center) with

Mamie (right), Mandy (back, center) and Herbert Price (right)   




      


In 1916 Ira Wisely had written Mamie:


        Darling but when you get to having a time will you cast one thought for me. While you are gone I will pull me off a stunt. I will get drunk Sunday. For every thing will be dead to the world for me Sunday. While you are gone. Dear I had a little dispute today. I got to talking about you to Steve [Carroll] and how I cared for you, first one thing then two. We were talking of getting in trouble. And I just made the remark I believed there was one human that would follow me to the jumping off place and then jump off if she was needed. And Steve said he didn't [think] you cared that much for me. I told him you might not but I couldn't keep from believing it. Of course I knew I was in the wrong but I just wanted [to] argue with him. Now Dear you just go ahead....



   

            Ira and Mamie were living in the

house—“three rooms and a hall”—on

a 2.2 acre lot “in the town of Mulberry,

Texas,” that they bought in 1917 from

Hattie May (Davidson) and Loss Hope.

Their son, Dwyatt Deupree, was one year old. Living across the road was Ira’s

father, Fred. The Wiselys’ log house was the old Agnew home place described in the Traveller’s 1917 piece on the “Mulberry Great.” As recently as the previous Sunday, Fred Wisely had said in church, “Something terrible is going to happen to Mulberry if it doesn’t turn its ways to the Lord.” H
e was on a jury in Bonham that Tuesday, and as the men prepared to adjourn, one said, “See you tomorrow,” to which the elder Wisely replied, “If the Lord wills.” He died trying to hold a door shut against the wind. A fence stave, spear-like—Jewel Gay called it a “scatlin”—struck him in the neck. Willie Hall tried unsuccessfully to remove it; the undertaker sawed it off.


    (left): The old E. T. Davidson house where Mamie and Ira lived


(below): Storm cellar on the J. F. Hall place




Jessie Hope remembered:


        Mr. Wisely asked, as her father started work in their yard, “What’s that you’re digging?” Loss said it was a storm cellar, to which Fred replied, “You’re in church every Sunday, but you’re not trusting the Lord.” Bystanders, including Lafie Price and Joseph Plummer, heard it. In the years following, the Hope family never forgot their father’s reply: “If God has given me enough understanding to build a storm cellar, He’ll expect me to use it when the time comes.” The Wiselys also never forgot: “Something terrible is going to happen to Mulberry....”    photo above: Storm Cellar on the J. F. Hall place

        If Mandy had reached the McKinnis’ house that night, she would have found her sister Mamie, aged twenty-two, among the dead. A “2 x 4” struck her in the back. Ira had thrown himself across the bed, then was “hurled in the sky.” The baby was alive when they found him, “as muddy as a hog wallow.” The injured were taken to Tom Roach’s house where, in 1916, Ira had “rung us up some music.” Now he lay on the dining room table as neighbors pulled out

splinters. They might speak, in years to come, as if the storm bore only Mulberry’s name, but it was in fact part of a vast weather system hitting numerous localities, as the Sherman Courier told:


        Angel of Destruction Passes Over Texas. Cyclopean Fury of Death Storm...seemed to avoid the larger towns spending its venom and fury on the farming communities and on the hamlets and villages.... Relief trains were sent out, each bearing a quota of doctors and nurses from Fort Worth, Dallas, Denison, Denton, Greenville and other points....

        [By evening on April 10:] Verified dispatches from the districts in northern Texas and southern Oklahoma swept by tornadoes early yesterday showed that at least 86 persons were killed and more than 200 seriously injured.... Upwards of 1,000 persons are homeless, including many children; some of them orphans of the storm....” [Mayor Wozencraft sent a telegram to Denison, Sherman and Longview:] “Dallas sincerely sympathizes with the storm stricken areas and stands ready to cooperate in every possible way to relieve the situation. The Woodmen of the World have kindly offered the use of a large number of tents, and other relief will be supplied if needed.”


        Jim Venable received the following letter dated April 9, 1919, from a brother in Bonham:


        Dear Brother & Family, I will answer your kind letter received yesterday.... Haven’t much to write only we had a big cyclone that struck Bonham last night. It swept things clean where it went. It tore Leonard and Ector all to pieces. Killed 14 persons dead and wounded many. Several died today from wounds and several more expected to die. There isn’t a house left from Mulberry to the river. It just swept things clean. Jim, I witnessed the saddest sight this evening I ever did before in my life. I hope I’ll never have to witness it again. I saw them bring 9 dead persons men women and children in a truck to the undertakers office. Their heads were beat all to pieces. Some of them had their heads bursted plum open. Some with both arms and both legs broke. One man in the bunch a piece of a 2 by 4 struck him in the neck and went half way through it. One woman with her head bursted wide open and her brains running out on the sheet....


        “List of Fatalities” ...At Ravenna [Mulberry], Mr. and Mrs. F. M. Wisely [she was not killed; it was Mamie], M. L. [Lafie] Price, Mrs. M. L. [Ida] Price and three children, killed; 26 reported injured.... At Mulberry: Grandma Bond [Vaughn], killed....


        “It sounded like a train. Balls of lightning rolled on the ground.” J. F. Hall turned from the door of his new house and said, “There’s people living now that won’t be in five minutes.” Minutes were running out for the Wiselys, Prices and Ann Vaughn. The storm followed the road (taking the red gate) straight into Mulberry bottom. The Halls’ house, which stood far back, was spared.

        Myrtle Cain said they might have made it to a cellar “if Alva hadn’t stopped to blow out the lamps.” There was a cellar where Caywood Baker lived. Instead, they lay down in the road ditch as the storm passed over. Myrtle suffered a broken leg. When Alva felt baby Lois being pulled away, he had just time to bring his arm down tight. After the storm five-year-old Audry kept wanting his cap removed; no cap, but matted blood and dirt. The Cains’ house was gone; later Myrtle couldn’t help being glad. She wouldn’t have to go into “that room” again. Before she married she’d gone with her mother to the same house, where a woman had died. The coffin was in front of the fireplace. The body had burst, and a liquid was dripping on the hearth.


        Gone too was the “two-story house” where Lena Pendergrass died. Caywood Baker (1881-1962) was living there. His wife’s (Emma’s) mother was Lizzie Beth Robinson. Mandy pointed to a picture and said, “There’s Granny Robinson looking so pitiful.”

        Odie was living still nearer the river with her recently widowed mother, Bird Blankenship, and her two half-brothers, Samuel and Asberry (named for their Bramlett uncles). They went to a cellar and, as the storm approached, the air inside filled suddenly with dust and straw. The kerosene lamp went out. Then, just as suddenly, the air in the cellar cleared. “Mamma” raised the door and saw a cow, in the retreating lightning, standing with her halter wrapped around a post. A man approached and asked if she needed anything. “Yes,” she said, “a match.” “Rain fell in sheets.” A timber Bird pulled from the ground by the cellar door left a hole; water came pouring in. She looked out again and saw a feather mattress. Stuffing a corner in the hole, she stopped the water. (Later she bought new ticking and made feather pillows.) Asberry wondered, “What would we have done if daddy was here?” But the floor of the room, and the bed where he died, barely two month previous, stood un-moved in a house otherwise destroyed. Oscar Blankenship (1887-1919), Woodman of the World, on stone—tuberculosis had taken him.


        Newton and Ida Price were living near the old Reid gin lot on the bluff overlooking Mulberry bottom. Their five children were Bertine, Edgar, Delton, Mera and Marvin. Grandmother Vaughan was with them. Since Olif’s death she hadn’t felt “at home” anywhere, moving as she did, from house to house. She’d been with them, Odie said, the week before. On Saturday morning, examining the coffee grinds in her cup, she said, “I see blood in Mulberry from the river to the hill.” Ann Vaught was struck by lightning; there wasn’t a bone unbroken, the undertaker said. Only the children, Mera and Marvin, survived. She was pinned under the wreckage of her home. In the flashes she saw strange sights: a kerosene lamp on the kitchen table, globe unshattered. Mera could hear her mother’s groans and thought she knew when she died. As neighbors searched in the darkness, only Ida was missing, then her body

fell from a tree; they heard it.     

        Hear Odie’s voice.
       


        Jessie Hope’s family was living on the Parks place, south and east, out of the storm’s path, but sheltered in a cellar. After the flood, Richard was worried about Huldy and Rhody. He left, mother calling, and returned to say the mules were standing dry in their stalls. Loss Hope and his family didn’t know yet what had happened. By morning light they saw that the family’s buggy had been rolled into the orchard. Only when they’d harnessed the mules and started toward the main road, at the corner, did they learn. They met a truck carrying the dead. Aderhold and Wise were leaving.


Fannin County Favorite:


        Undertaker Wise arrived here from Mulberry a few minutes before 11 o’clock this morning [April 9] with seven bodies of persons at Mulberry. The dead are: Latha [Newton] Price, wife [Ida] and two [three] children, Fred Wisely, Mrs. Ira [Mamie] Wisely and Grandma Bond [Vaughn]. All were killed at Mulberry when the storm destroyed their homes.



Family of Newton and Ida

Price


only Marvin (standing)

and Mera (right)

survived













Gravestone in Mulberry cemetery with 1919 date carved five times


        From E. V. Aderholt, who lives near the Mulberry school house, and who went to the help of the stricken ones within a few minutes after the storm passed, we learn that several other members of the Wisely family were hurt. Mrs. Croff Parks, Az Bramlett and wife, Mrs. Joe Corzine, Ira Wisely, two children of Latha Price and many others were among the injured. Some of the wounded are seriously hurt, while others have only slight wounds. Mr. Aderholt escaped by being in his storm cellar. Six of the wounded from Ector and five from Mulberry have been brought to the Allen Hospital [in Bonham] for treatment.

        The cyclone struck the ground about one mile south of Mulberry and continued north to a point near Red River and destroyed everything in its path. It is reported that about thirty-five

residences were completely destroyed and up to press this afternoon the Favorite had secured the names of the following parties who had suffered the loss of their residences: Mrs. Bud Province, Harry Price, Fred Wisely, Ira Wisely, Lafa Price, Sam Bramlett, Albert Dabbs, Az Bramlett, Alva Cain, Caywood Baker, Bob Cox, John Parks, C. W. Parks, Ed Duncan.    

        Another Mulberry Victim. Yesterday afternoon late the little three year old child of Mr. and Mrs. Lafe Price, who were killed at Mulberry, died in the hospital here, making the fifth member of the family dead.

        There are now in the hospital here for treatment...Ira Wisely, Mary Emma Price and little brother, and Mrs. Cain and baby, of Mulberry. Mrs. Cain’s baby is unhurt. Dwight Wisely, who was in the hospital yesterday, has been taken home by Mrs. Henry Holland, who will care for him for the present. It is reported this morning that three other sufferers from Mulberry will be brought here some time today and placed in the hospital.

        Burying the Dead. ...The seven victims of the storm who were brought here yesterday for preparation for burial will be taken to Mulberry at 1:30 this afternoon for burial. It is expected to reach the cemetery at Mulberry at 3 o’clock, where the funeral services will be conducted.

        Aid Being Extended. Yesterday many people went from here to assist in any way they could the sufferers, especially at Mulberry, where the need was greatest. They worked faithfully all day with the wounded and distressed. Temporary food, bedding and clothing was rushed from here. The people of Ravenna and the surrounding country went nobly to the help of the stricken ones. All is being done that can be done to relieve the distress.

        A committee with J. M. Lowrey as chairman was formed here, and a canvas of the city was made for funds. About $1800 has been contributed, and more will be given. Every community in the county is asked to contribute liberally. It will take thousands of dollars to relieve the temporary necessities and assist the people in the different stricken communities to make a crop this year. Many have lost everything they had, and others have nothing but their land left. They must have help.

        Churches Asked to Aid. The Favorite has been authorized by the committee to ask of every church and Sunday School in the county to ask for a collection next Sunday for the relief work. There is no danger that too much will be given. Many thousands of dollars will be absolutely needed to meet pressing needs. Those who have ought to give and give liberally. The funds will be used wisely and impartially.

        If everyone could go to the scenes of destruction and witness the indescribable devastation that prevails, the feeling of compassion that would be aroused in their breasts would loosen their purse strings to the utmost. Fannin County has never been wanting in liberality, and we believe that the good people will respond again to the present great needs of the suffering....

        A great many people from this and other counties went to Mulberry yesterday to see the devastation wrought by the storm. It is estimated by many who were there that as many as a thousand cars were on the ground at one time. There were people there from all the surrounding counties.

        Funeral of Storm Victims. Yesterday afternoon eight bodies of those killed in the Mulberry cyclone were taken from Wise undertaking house to Mulberry, where the funeral service was conducted. Dr. E. W. Alderson made the address, Rev. Tittle and O’Malley of this city and Rev. Manning of Ravenna taking part.

        Lafe [Newton] Price, wife and three children were buried in one grave. Fred Wisely, Mrs. Ira Wisely, and Mrs. Vaughn were buried in separate graves. There were a number of singers who went from here, and who sang some beautiful old hymns at the graves. A great concourse of people from here and from the community round about were present.        

        Joe Choice said his family hadn’t realized the night’s storm was so severe. When a neighbor brought the news they hitched a team to their wagon and crossed Caney Creek going west. Soon they came on the path of destruction and followed it to Mulberry. Wagons and other sightseers were already everywhere.

        Leandra Sanchez returned to see the “fallen-down houses.” The Barrientez family “lost everything...all the kids were flying in the air.”

        The funerals took place under the oak trees around the school house and church. My father Clayton watched as the coffins were lined up. The Hopes lost their bulldog Bob in the crowd; he accompanied them to the cemetery and was never seen again.


A Letter from Chairman Lyday

April 18, 1919

To the People of Fannin County and Texas:


     On behalf of the local relief committee and the people of Mulberry community, I desire to express to the public our heartfelt gratitude for the aid and comfort so generously extended to our people who suffered so severely in the recent disastrous cyclone.

    The strenuous work of caring for our wounded, of burying our dead and ministering to the stricken ones, who were stripped of every possession, even of clothing, has engaged every minute of our time since the disaster, and prevented us from making such a statement sooner.

    Eight of our people lost their lives in the storm, and a score were severely wounded.

    Our committee, after a careful consideration, estimates the property loss in our territory, from a point west of Ravenna to Red River, at $150,000. The Board of Trade of Bonham, the Red Cross and a host of citizens of Bonham, have rendered invaluable assistance, and have spared neither time nor money in providing immediate relief. Our neighbors from Ravenna were on the ground and with the aid of our people who were uninjured, were caring for the dead and wounded, almost before the walls had ceased to fall. Some of the people from Bonham, it might be said also, were there almost as soon.

    It is impossible to express in words our appreciation of these kindly ministrations, and our gratitude to the physicians and to the citizens of Bonham and Ravenna, and to the ladies, who were untiring in the work of mercy, for temporary relief.

    The people of our community realizing the necessity for more permanent measures of relief work, met at the school house Thursday and organized by electing a permanent relief committee of local people, familiar with conditions in the vicinity.

    Relief committees were immediately organized in many towns and communities in Fannin County, and considerable collections have been secured by these committees, which are working in conjunction with our committee.

    All donations are being handled in a systematic, business-like manner, accurate records are being made of all receipts and disbursements, and of all proceedings of our committee. The funds are being credited to the various towns and communities donating them, as far as possible individuals contributing. Full credit will be given to all who aid in this work, and a complete accounting will be rendered by publication in the papers.

    All funds paid to our local committees are deposited in the Ravenna State Bank, where cashier, Mr. John W. Palmore, is treasurer of our local committee, and will be paid out by him on vouchers drawn by our secretary, Mr. G. W. Jackson, as ordered by the committee.

    Our committee will not purchase any supplies, or distribute any money unless in case of actual emergency, but will pay such sums as are available on purchase of necessary furniture, farm implements, household utensils, and other necessary things.

    Our committee cannot guarantee any payments or purchases hereafter made, but expect all storm sufferers to manage their own affairs and purchase their own supplies, just as they have always done, and the committee will pay such sums as it apportions to each purchaser on such bills when the amount of funds available are determined.

    In case any one should be unable to secure needed supplies, without aid from the committee, then a preliminary allotment will be made by the committee. This policy was adopted in order that immediate supplies may be secured without having to wait until the entire fund is in hand.

    The property loss is so heavy that all available resources will be needed, and will probably be inadequate at best. The committee believes that the pressing demands for bare necessities in the way of immediate relief will require a fund of $15,000, and we urgently request the continuance of all efforts to collect contributions which may be sent to the local committee in each community, where one has been formed, or to J. M. Lowrey, Bonham, Texas, Chairman of the Central Relief Committee, or to John W. Palmore, Ravenna, Texas, Treasurer, Mulberry Relief Committee. Receipt of all donations will be acknowledged.

D. E. Lyday, Chairman, Local Relief Committee


        Volunteers Wanted. Mulberry is in great need of help to clean the rubbish from the fields so that replanting of crops can go forward as soon as possible. Every man who can possibly do so is asked to donate his service on next Saturday, April 19, for this work. Use your own conveyance, if possible, but if you can’t secure some, phone G. W. Twyman at Ravenna, and a conveyance will be sent. Phone by Friday noon, and J. N. Chesser will try to have a car ready to come for you. Our people are in great distress and need this help right now, so as to enable them to make a crop this year. If help is not given, they will suffer. If you can work this appeal is for you. J. N. Chesser, Ravenna.


        1919 April 23: (BN) Town and Country News.... The cyclone that swept over part of our county a few days ago is the talk of the crowds as they gather on the streets and in the homes. Everybody is remodeling his storm cellar, and a number of new ones are being built.... R. W. Jones and family of Trenton came over to Bonham Sunday and took dinner at the house of Mrs. J. P. Hayton. In the afternoon Mr. Jones took a car load of children out to Mulberry to see what the storm had done to that little village.... A man over at Mulberry told us that one large ham of meat was all the edibles the late cyclone did not take from him. This indicates, we presume, that meat is about as high as it can possibly get.

        April 29: (BN) Mulberry Cyclone Unusual Freaks. Survivors relate many unusual incidents following recent storm.

        F. B. Strother and several others from Maxey went to Mulberry last Sunday to view the scenes of havoc created by the recent storm, some of the party feeling a personal interest in it on account of having had relatives among the dead and injured. The news has already related some of the freaks of the cyclone and Mr. Strother mentioned several others that he heard while there.

        As has been stated in the News, the home of John Hall, formerly of Lamar county, was the only one left standing after the storm, but while the house in which he lived escaped destruction three other houses that he owned were blown away. One of them was a neat four-room bungalow, painted yellow. Mr. Strother said he was told that after the storm there wasn’t a piece of plank painted yellow to be found anywhere in the country, and that there was not a piece of lumber in any house blown down that was big enough to use in another.

        A farmer [Fred Wisely] who had been summoned to go to Bonham the morning of the storm to attend court had got out his best suit of clothes before going to bed to wear to town and had attached the suspenders to the pants and put them on the back of a chair to have them ready. After the storm the pants were found a long distance away in one direction and the suspenders had been carried in another direction. The force of the cyclone in pulling the suspenders loose didn’t tear the buttons off.


        The Bramletts lived in tents set up on the bare floors of their old home, which was all that remained. Ella Province (April 28) sold one acre to D. E. Lyday; he had lost his home. On July 7, he bought slightly less than one additional acre, adjoining. On her remaining land, at the corner, Ella built a new house, opposite the Parks’. A new house would be there too, in the “dormered” style used by the Halls a few years earlier. The Wiselys and Bramletts built similar houses.

        The child, Dwyatt Deupree Wisely, lived less than a year after the death of his mother. He was fretful all day, stomping around the edge of his bed. Then in the night he died. “I was the one who named him,” Mandy said—“Deupree”—remembering Felix, her first sweetheart.


Blowen away Spelling Book

“... Belong to W. B. Morrow...”

The new leather and canvas-bound ledger at Edgar Price’s store in 1914 shows the account of Bill Morrow.