Zephyr, TX Tornado, May 1909

“Tornado Has A big Death Toll

Storm in Texas Kills between Twenty and Twenty-five People.

Town of Zephyr is Badly Wrecked By Twister And People Are Left in Great Distress – Fifty Houses Are Entirely Demolished – Two Children Found Dead Two Miles From The Site of Home.

Brownwood, Tex. May 31 – With half of its population dead and wounded, nearly every building in the town demolished, and with fire raging in the ruins, the survivors at Zephyr, 15 miles east of this city, are in a state of distress as a result of a tonado that hit town early yesterday morning.

Until communication has been restored it will impossible to determine the exact extent of the disaster.  The casualties are estimated at not less than a hundred, 32 of whom were instantly killed.

Awakened by Roar of Storm.

According to a railroad man who reached Brownwood this morning on a handcar, the tornado was preceded by a hail storm of unusual severity.  The roar of the storm caused the sleeping citizens to awake with a start.

They scrambled out of bed only to be caught between the tottering walls of their houses.  In a short time there were scenes of wildest excitement.  Weeping women an children, clothes in the scantiest of attire, rushed about in the ruins seeking loved ones, or looking for places of shelter from the storm.

After the first shock of the disaster had passed, the men and women who had escaped death or serious injury turned their attention toward rescuing the dead and dying from the ruins, which has been ignited and burned fiercely.  This work, hampered by darkness and the limited number of able bodied men, was necessarily slow, and it is feared that some who escaped the wind’s fury met worse fate in the fires that followed.

Relief trains were hurried to the scene and several automobiles carrying physicians, provisions and medical supplies left Brownwood early this morning.

Fatalities Near Temple.

A report from Temple says that conditions are bad, that much damage is believed to have been done in the surrounding country, and that from 20 to 25 persons are dead, as many more injured, and a number of houses destroyed by fire.  The partial list of dead at Zephyr is as follows:

MRS. T.T. CABLERA AND TWO CHILDREN, an eighteen year old son and infant daughter, Brownwood.

MRS. ARTIE HART, 37 years old, and son ROBERT, six years old, Zephyr.

MISS GERTIE HUSTON, 25 years old, Zephyr.

GIBBS CLOYCE, two year old and son of PROFESSOR CLOYCE, Zephyr.

OSCAR WARE 45, and two sons, HARRY AND FRANK, 10 Zephyr.


W.G. SIMMONS and wife and two children, MISS BERTIE, 24 and WEST 12, 13, Zephry.

BEN BROWN  and wife, Zephyr.

W.AR. RAMSEY, 50 and son OLLIE, 13, Zephyr.

C.M. CARTER, 40 and wife, 35, a son GLOVER, 12 and three-year-old infant, Zephyr.


RUBY CAMPBELL, three, Zephyr.

RODNEY CAMPBELL, infant, Zephyr (these latter two children of MRS. BOB CAMPBELL).

Storm Cuts Wide Swath.

The storm formed half a mile southwest of Zephyr and swept down upon the village, cutting a wide wath directly through the residence and business district.

Nearly 50 houses were entirely demolished.  Lightning struck a lumber yard and started a conflagration which destroyed one entire business block.

No effort was made to fight the fire, as the care of the dead and wounded victims demanded all attention.

The injured: PROF. SKINNER, bruises and injured internally; MRS. SKINNER  and four children, painful; MRS. CLOYCE, crushed body; MRS. D. CABLER, serious cuts around the neck, limb broken, shock; MRS. OSCAR WARE, bruised and internal injuries; infant child of Mrs. Oscar Ware crushed fatally; W.H. HICKS, cut about body, shock; MRS W.H. HICKS, ribs broken, badly injured internally; GUNDER HICKS, jagged cut in neck; DR. W.S. WRENN. limbs broken and ribs crushed, very serious; MRS. WRENN cut and bruised; MRS. BOB CAMPBELL, badly cut about the head, BETTIE and BERTHA CAMPBELL, children of MRS. BOB CAMPBELL, bruised and injured internally; CARL BEASONER,  legs broken, internally injured; RAMSEY, crushed; T.J. HANKS, 2 year old daughter, leg cut off, probably fatal; MRS. GLOYCE, wife of teacher in Zephyr school, limb broken, internal injuries.  Many others, to total 74, have minor hurts.

The State, Columbia, SC 31 May 1909


Burying Victims of Tornado in Texas Town

Brownwood, Tex., June 1 – Late reports from Zephyr where thirty or forty persons were killed by a tornado, state there are not enough coffins in town to bury the dead.  The bodies of MRS. HICKS, GERTIES HOUSTON, EVA WARE  and RUTH CAMPBELL are lying in the morgue today.  The relief fund has reached $25,000.

San Jose Mercury News, San Jose, CA 1 Jun 1909”


Zephyr Texas Community Center, former church
The Community Center in Zephyr, Texas. It was once the Presbyterian Church. Historical Marker in front of building.
Photo courtesy historictexas.net
Zephyr Cemetery gate Texas
Zephyr Cemetery gate
Photo courtesy historictexas.net
Zephyr Cemetery in Texas
Zephyr Cemetery
Photo courtesy historictexas.net
Zephyr, Texas store with ghost sign
The Zephyr Store with ghost signPhoto courtesy Jason Penney, Aug 2003
Zephyr school
The Zephyr Public School BuildingPhoto courtesy THC
Zephyr, Texas store

The Zephyr Store
TE photo, 2000
Zephyr Texas church

A Church in Zephyr
TE Photo, 2000

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