Archive for the ‘Natural Disasters’ Category

Cisco Cyclone

March 6, 2012

Image from Texas Tornado Storm Shelters

Dallas, Tex., April 29 — The News’s correspondent learned from passengers on the east bound train this evening that the destruction by a cyclone at Cisco this after noon was simply appalling. There are not more than twenty five or thirty houses left standing and up to the time the train passed there about 2 o’clock this afternoon twenty-one dead bodies had been recovered from the ruins and there were ten or twelve more persons missing. Strong one-story buildings with walls two feet thick were leveled to the ground. A heavy freight engine and a whole train of cars were blown from the track and demolished and several hundred feet of side tracking was torn up. The number injured is something  like a hundred. Dr. Coleman and citizens from Weatherford went out this morning to render any assistance possible. The building which Frank Hickman occupied was blown down and his five children killed.

Late this evening Mayor Levy received the following telegram from two citizens of Weatherford, who went to Cisco this morning.
“The town is nearly demolished. Twenty were killed and fifty injured, and hundreds are homeless.”

A telegram was also received by Mayor Levy from County Judge Davenport and Mayor Graves, of Cisco, that Cisco has been destroyed by the most destructive cyclone that has ever visited Texas. More than four fifths of the people are without houses. There are many killed and wounded. Help is needed to bury the dead and take care of the wounded and relieve those who lost everything. Mayor Levy has called a meeting of the citizens of Weatherford to take steps toward relief.

A Gainesville special says that Mayor Rollins received a message this afternoon from Judge Davenport, of Eastland county, and Mayor Graves, of Cisco, appealing for aid for the storm sufferers. Mayor Rollins at once issued an appeal to the citizens of Gainesville for contributions.

A message from Valley View stated that a severe storm passed over that town at 6:30 o’clock p.m., blowing down several houses and doing much damage to property. No one was hurt. Several freight cars were blown off the sidetrack and caused the people to take refuge in cellars.

?.R. Willie, who arrived here tonight on the Texas Pacific east bound train, was at Cisco an hour and a half. He says at that time twenty-one dead persons had been found. Over 100 injured were counted. Among the dead are Daniel Cameron, R.M. Whitesides, Mr. Sims, Mrs. Charles Jones and child, Mrs. J.T. Thompson. Five children of Mr. Hickman, who were in bed asleep, were crushed to death by the falling house. Mr. Hickman and his wife had gone outside to see what the roaring noise was and were blown off their feet. Mr. Hickman was seriously injured.
List of Dead and Injured.

The list of dead and wounded as near as can be obtained is as follows:

Killed — Mrs. Jones an baby.
Dave Cameron, brakeman
Captain Whiteside, a merchant
Five children of W.A. Hickman.
One child of Mr. Bowens
Mr. Bledsoe, brakeman
Mrs. J.T. Thomas
Mrs. Porter
Mrs. Knight

Injured — W.H. Sebastian severe cut on his head, Frank Vernon badly wounded, will die, Mrs. Vernon, leg broken, Mrs. Davis, crippled in the back, M.B. Owens, leg broken, Jim Hayes, badly cut on head. A daughter of Mrs. Stephens, wounded and will die. Mrs. Stephens, wounded and will die. Mrs. Powers and daughter, badly injured, Mrs. R.W. Jones, head badly injured, William Walker, head bruised, W.A. Hickman, face badly cut, George Harris, badly hurt, Mrs. Kennand, hurt badly; Mrs. Jones, seriously hurt, section boss, name unknown, and wife, severely injured, H.L. Bidwell, badly cut on head and arm and back injured, Mrs. W.D. Chandler, ankle crushed, Miss Elsie Moeller, arm broken. A conservative estimate place the number of wounded at about 150.

The cyclone traveled northeast, blowing down houses and laying waste farms. The houses blown down are too numerous to mention. Mrs. D.L. Ladd seven miles northeast of Eastland, was killed and Mr. Ladd severely injured. Others were more or less hurt. Mr. Ferguson, four miles northeast of Cisco, was killed and his house burned. The windstorm laste[d] not more than a few minutes. It was followed by a heavy rain. Telegraphic communication is practically cut off.

The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) Apr 30, 1893

Image from Texas Old Photos on Rootsweb


List of Killed and Wounded in the Cisco Disaster.

EASTLAND, Tex., April 30. — The following is the first official list of the killed and wounded in Friday night’s disaster furnished to the DALLAS MORNING NEWS relief committee, which includes only those killed or wounded in the city:


Will Sims, section hand, Texas and Pacific railway.
Jim Bibles, conductor, Texas Central.
Wad Bledsoe, brakeman, Texas Central.
Five children of W.A. Hickman.
Dave Cameron.
Ruby Ownes.
Mrs. Borton.
Mrs. J.T. Thomas.
Captain R.M. Whitesides, merchant.
Mrs. S.E. Knight, milliner.
Mrs. Charley Jones and child.


Mart Owens, jr., will die to-night.
W.A. Hickman and wife.
Miss and Mrs. Swartz.
M. Bowens.
Mrs. Frank Vernon.
Dr. Moeller and family.
Mrs. Hill.
Mrs. M.F. Mitchell.
Mrs. Vera Thomas.
Mat Mattock.
Mrs. S.E. Knight and two daughters.
Mrs. J.E. Luse.
Two children of Mrs. Chas. Jones.
W.J. Walker.
Tom Jones and wife.
Mrs. Will Walker.
Mrs. J.M. Williamson.
Mrs. Blank, wounded but condition not known.
Mrs. J.G. Wilson.
Miss Baten.
Mrs. Older and chldren.
Mrs. Rice.
Little boy of Mr. Drogden’s.
Minnie Loads.
Laura Ellis.
Frank Owens.
Frank Vernon’s infant.
Mrs. Wold Cleaves.
Mrs. M.E. Powers and daughter.
Three children of Sal. Eppler.
Two children of Mat Matlock.
Two children of Mrs. Chas. Jones.
Mrs. Moore.
Mrs. R.W. Jones.
J.M. Williamson.
Jim Hayes.
Will Walker.
W.V. Steele.


The following is a list of the killed and injured in the surrounding country:

W.H. Beaman, living four miles southwest of here, dead.
Mrs. L.D. Ladd, living five miles north of Eastland, reported killed, can not be verified or disproved.
Mack Ferguson, son-in-law of Beaman, badly injured.
Charles Jenkins, living at Boms, four miles east of here on the Texas and Pacific, seriously hurt in the breast.
Miss Johnnie Townsend, living with her father five miles west of Eastland, seriously cut on the head.
Elbert Townsend, seriously injured about the head and chest.
Bill Doolan, in the same neighborhood, is said to be badly hurt.
T.J. Davis, living four miles west of Eastland, had his ankle badly broken and is otherwise seriously hurt.
L.D. Ladd, five miles north of Eastland, had his arm broken and badly cut over both eyes.
Mrs. Latham, living west of Eastland, seriously hurt about the hand.
G.M. Davidson, in the same neighborhood, had one thigh broken and is otherwise badly injured.
Mr. Fein and wife, two miles west of here, both pretty dangerously crushed by falling timbers.

Dr. Van Zandt, one of the local physicians attending the wounded, makes this statement to THE NEWS:

“I expect there will be two or three more deaths. Little Mart Owens, whose skull is fractured, will certainly die and the chances are good for one or two more.”

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) May 1, 1893

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) May 3, 1893


To Relieve the Suffering of the Family of Mart Owens.

ALBANY, Shackelford Co., Tex., May 9. — To the cattlemen of Texas: On behalf of the distressed family of Mart. B. Owens, a victim of the ___ Cisco cyclone, I appeal to you for aid and assistance to relieve their sufferings and wants with the hope that liberal responses will be the result of these lines.

The day following the disaster I took the opportunity to visit Cisco for the purpose of acquainting myself with the terrible condition of affairs. The scene that I beheld was indescribable. I visited the spot that Mart Owens once called home. All that remained to tell the tale of woe was three feet of a rock chimney, the stone steps in the terrace, one chair in the back yard and barely enough lumber to build a hen coop. Furniture, bedding and clothing all gone. A vacant lit remains as the silent witness who speaks in unmistakable words of the distress that befell the unfortunate ones.

Not far from the scene, I beheld another more pitiable. Mart Owens lay dying, one sweet little girl by his side with her hand mashed in, a son 14 years old dead near by, his helpless wife with an injured back close by. Six other children, all more or less injured and crippled with arms and legs broken magnifies the picture of distress.

Mart looked about him and in feeble tones, gently spoke: “I would help this if I could, but I don’t know as I want to. I’ll not be here to care for them.” One son, being absent on a round-up escaped injury.

A few days thereafter Mart Owens and two children lay in one grave, still in the cold embrace of death.

He had seen better days; he was an old-time cattle man and as such merited the respect of a large circle of acquaintances and friends. Adversity had overtaken him, and while fortune no longer smiled upon him, his credit was unimpaired and had he lived would have been able to regain his vanished fortune. Those of us upon whom prosperity has smiled should not be reluctant in opening our purses and assisting the destitute widow and helpless orphans, whose bitter wail and deep anguish imploringly cry to our merciful father for aid and comfort.

Mart Owens left no life insurance or other property; all that he left in the way of wealth to his family was a clean record. Mart has “turned over” his last herd and gone to meet Abraham, Isaac and Jacob at the last “grand round-up,” from whence no herder has ever returned to camp. Friends, we have only a temporary lease on our “herds” and will soon be called on to “tally them out” to the giver of all goods, who will select another “herder” to take our place.

Mart Owens was the only cattleman in Cisco, and seems to have been the worst sufferer. The people of Cisco who had anything left did all in their power to relieve the suffering. The people of Texas have responded nobly for the general good, but it is our duty to help the Owens family. The cattlemen of this state have kind hearts and will sympathize with the distressed widow and helpless orphans of a brother cattleman.

In addition to the contribution already made, we cheerfully subscribe for the benefit of the Owens family the sum of $100 and trust that our action will be emulated by the cattlemen of Texas. Funds subscribed may be paid to the order of the undersigned at the First national bank of Albany, Tex., and will be devoted to the noble cause mentioned above. Statements of the amounts subscribed will be duly acknowledged to the subscribers through the public press. Let us then, one and all, do by Mart Owens what we would have him do by us. Trusting for early responses, truly yours,

President First national bank, Albany, Tex.

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) May 14, 1893

Cisco, Texas image from Eastland County, Texas Photos on Rootsweb from Laura Lindsey

Interesting bit of trivia from Wiki:

Conrad Hilton started the Hilton Hotel chain with a single hotel bought in Cisco. Hilton came to Cisco to buy a bank, but the bank cost too much; so he purchased the Mobley Hotel in 1919. The hotel is now a local museum and community center.


February 21, 2012

Three persons were known to have been killed in an avalanche that buried 20 automobiles beneath tons of snow on Snoqualmie pass, 65 miles southeast of Seattle in the Cascade mountains. A rescue worker is shown searching a partially excavated machine for additional victims.

(Associated Press Photo)

Oshkosh Northwestern (Oshkosh, Wisconsin) Feb 25, 1936

Image from  Mining Artifacts & History – Colorado Mines [A wealth of great pictures and information]

Rescuers Free Miners Trapped By Snow Slide

Three Killed In Avalanche

OURAY, COLO. —  Twenty miners trapped in a tunnel of the famous Bird Camp gold mine by a snow avalanche were reached by a rescue party early todya. All were taken out safely.

The men had been imprisoned twelve hours while rescue workers form Ouray and the surrounding country dug through ten foot snow drifts. Three men were killed and one was injured critically when the avalanche roared down Devil’s Slide of Chicago Hill, smashing a bunk-house and closing the mouth of the tunnel.

All those killed were in the bunkhouse, crumpled beneath tons of snow. One body was recovered. The others probably will not be recovered until the spring thaws melt the snow.

The rescue workers found the twenty men in good condition, though suffering from cold, exposure, and hunger. Their rescuers had had to fight drifts blocking highways to reach the mine, before attacking the snow mountain blocking the tunnel.

While they dug, they heard the trapped men through the snow. Communication through the glazed, white walls had established that all were alive.

The dead were Mrs. Rose Israel, fifty, of Ridgway, Colo., the mine cook; Chappie Woods, mine foreman, and Ralph Clinger, blacksmith. Mrs. Israel’s crushed body was recovered.

James Dunn, mine superintendent, was injured critically. He lay for three hours under the debris of the bunk house before rescuers heard his calls for help and dug through the snow to free him. He was near a window of the wrecked and buried house. Otherwise, the rescuers might not have been able to reach him.

W.G. Funk, electrical engineer was standing beside Dunn just inside the door of the bunkhouse when the avalanche struck. He was buried in snow for more than an hour before he was rescued. He suffered no harm.

The Bird Camp Mine is one of the most famous diggings in the west. From it came the fortune of Tom Walsh, pioneer Colorado miner. Father of Mrs. Evalyn Walsh McLean, famous Washington publisher, and a United States Senator. At one time it yielded $5,000 a day in gold ore.

The mine had been worked for silver and copper before Walsh acquired it in 1896. He recognized its potential wealth in gold where other miners, accustomed to silver-lead carbonates of the Ouray country, would never have regarded the Camp Bird one as gold bearing. Walsh recognized gold in tellurium form in the dump piles of refuse from previous workings.

Times Herald (Olean, New York) Feb 25, 1936


Three Killed in Avalanche in New York

(Assoiciated Press)

West Point, N.Y., April 8. — Roaring down the face of Storm King mountain an avalanche of loosened rocks smashed three automobiles tonight, killing three persons and injuring three more.

A huge boulder struck the car driven by Otto Seilhelmer of East Patterson, N.Y., killing his wife and son, Otto, Jr., 8. Seilhelmer and his daughter, Geraldine, 18 months, suffered minor injuries.

From the wreckage of another car were dragged Mr. and Mrs. Lambert Sharknys of Brooklyn. Sharknly died of a fractured skull. His wife was less seriously hurt. Another boulder crashed into the rear seat of a third car, narrowly missing Dr. F.E. Lehman and Miss Agnes Wolz, both of Long Island.

Greeley Daily Tribune (Greeley, Colorado) Apr 9, 1934

Destruction of the Nauvoo Temple

November 17, 2011

Image from the Utah-rchitecture blog


A correspondent of the St. Louis Republican, who subscribes himself, “P. Bourg, secretary of the Icarian community,” sends that paper the following account of the complete destruction of the Nauvoo Temple, by a storm, on the 27th of May last:

“The Temple of Nauvoo, erected by the Mormons, finished in 1845, partially burnt in October, 1848, having but its four walls left — all its timber works having been consumed by the flames — was destroyed by a hurricane on the 27th ult.

On arriving at Nauvoo, in March, 1849, the Icarian community bought this temple with a view to refit it for schools, its studying and meeting halls, for a refectory capable of containing about 1000 persons, &c.

Many preparations were already made. An agent had been sent to the pine forests of the north to buy timbers of dimensions necessary for re-establishing the roof and floors. Some other pieces of wood were ready; a steam mill was purchased to fit up a saw mill; the saw mill was nearly finished; a vast shed was raising near the temple to shelter the carpenters; the masons were laying in the interior the bases of the pillars when, on the 27th of May, a frightful hurricane, the most terrible experienced in the country in many years, burst suddenly on the hill of Nauvoo, where lightnings, thunder, wind, hail and rain, seemed united to assail the building.

The storm burst forth so quickly, and with such violence, that the masons, overtaken unawares in the temple, had not time enough to flee before the northern wall, sixty feet high, bent down over their heads, threatening to crush them and bury them up.

“Friends,” cried out the foreman, “we are all lost!” and indeed their loss appeared to be certain, for the southern and eastern walls, which had always been looked upon as the weakest, now shaken by the fall of the former seemed on the point of tumbling on them. But the running rubbish of the northern wall stopped at their feet. Now rushing out of the ruins, in the midst of a cloud of dust, hail and rain wrapped up in lightnings, thunder, and a furious blast of wind, expecting every moment to hear the two walls give way upon them, they succeeded in getting out, astonished at seeing those walls still standing, and frightened at the danger from which they had just emerged.

The same blast that overthrew the wall of the temple, and sensibly dislocated and inclined the two others, took up and carried off the roof of the old school, when the walls, falling on the floor beneath, broke down the beams, and threatened injury to six Icarian women, who were working below.

The creek, on the bank of which the wash-house of the community is situated, was so quickly transformed into an impetuous torrent, that the house was almost instantaneously filled with water, and fifteen Icarian women, then washing there were compelled to get through the windows in order to save themselves. They took refuge at the farm, whence they were soon after brought back in one of the wagons of the community.

All the neighboring fields were ravaged, the fences overturned, and the windows broken. — One of the members of the Gerency got on horseback, and repaired to every place at which men were working out of doors, and soon bro’t back tidings that no personal accidents had happened.
The same evening the masons, reunited and consulted by the Gerency, acknowledged and declared that the southern and eastern walls would soon fall down, and that, to avoid any serious accident, it was better to destroy them.

The next morning the general assembly, having been convoked by the Gerency, met on the Temple Square, and unanimously resolved; first, that the demolition was urgent, for the safety both of the members of the colony themselves, and of the inhabitants and foreigners whom curiosity might bring to the spot. Second, that by unfixing the walls, stone by stone, they might preserve some good ones. But as this operation would take up much time, occasion much work, and expose them to many fatigues and dangers, and considering the lives of men as much more valuable than money, they decided to use some other means.

Those means having been discussed and agree upon, they set to work immediately, and the walls were pulled down.

The destruction of the temple is a misfortune and a great inconvenience to the Icarian community; as they are thus obliged to modify their former projects and plans; but, persevering and courageous, strong in their union, and with the aid of their additional brethren, they will begin again on the place of the temple, provisional and urgent constructions that will serve until they build another large and fine edifice.

The Daily Sanduskian (Sandusky, Ohio) Jun 25, 1850

Eureka, Nevada: A Tragic Flood

March 10, 2009
Eureka, Nevada in the 1800's (image from

Eureka, Nevada in the 1800's (image from


The Scene One of Desolation and Despair,

Many Lives Lost!

Full Particulars of the Terrible Disaster.
Special to the Journal by the Western Union Telegraph Line.

EUREKA, July 24.
One of the most dire calamities by flood which have visited Nevada since its settlement by the whites, took place this afternoon at 3 o’clock. It has been raining with uninterrupted violence since early morning, and about midday a cloud burst upon the lofty range of mountains which borders the cañon, in which this town is situated, to the east, and the water came through in large streams. None but a trifling damage was done, however, and soon the excitement ceased, but scarcely had the people returned to their homes and the scenes of their business, when a deluge of rain set in, such as had seldom been seen in any country.

Each street and gulleyway was, within ten minutes from the beginning, converted into a miniature river, and the eastern portion of the town, which is much lower than any other, and through which is the natural channel for a good sized creek of water, was immediately flooded. The fall for the water being considerable, it tore through with fearful rapidity, but still the inhabitants thought they were safe in their houses and presumed at each successive stage that the flood had reached its highest, and that a subsidence would follow. They reckoned amiss; also with mournful fatality; for suddenly there came thundering down the cañons, from two directions, a perfect ocean, which carried everything floatable before it. So great was its speed and volume that it fairly tore up the dry ______ and mingled the dust of earth with the spray of ______ waters.

Those who had remained in their premises were now hemmed in beyond the possibility of escape, and the scene was one of the most heartrending character. Those living, or who chanced to be on the more raised portions of the town, came heroically forward en masse and rendered all the assistance that human aid could render. Every moment houses were moved from their foundations and carried down the torrent. To quit those which yet remained, for the purpose of hazarding one’s escape, was to commit one’s self to the foaming stream and be carried down among fragments of houses, utensils, timbers, and in fact everything that came in the way of the flood and which went tumbling forward to destruction.

Ropes were procured, and in the hands of brave men, who ventured forth as far as possible, each depending on the other, as they formed in line, extending into the flood, good work was done. Many were rescued by this means, but before the men had time to procure such means, or even to think of it, many were carried down and lost. As the debris floated by, now and then could be seen a human form mixed with the mass. Some were still alive and struggling for assistance, but they were beyond the power of those who looked pityingly on to save. The women and children, thank heaven, were with few exceptions all saved. It was in the act of saving them that men in many cases lost their lives.

Two women are reported drowned. The body of one of them, Mrs. Broy, has just been brought to the Court-house. She recently came from the East, and married Mr. Broy but a few weeks since. They wee both swept away with their house, and were seen to float by, clasped to each other and battling the fearful torrent with the despair of drowning persons. They were separated and he escaped, and is now reported quite out of his mind at the loss of his wife. Another very sad case was that of Roger Robinett, a brilliant young man, a reporter for the Cupel, who was carried down with the printing office and drowned. His people reside in San Francisco. It is difficult to learn the names of the others whose bodies are being brought in every few moments to the Court-house. Among them are the bodies of three Chinamen.

It is also difficult to ascertain the extent of the loss of property. At least thirty houses have been swept away, demolished or otherwise totally destroyed. All that portion of the town devoted to dance houses and other places of public entertainment is gone. The office of the Cupel was, with all its contents, swept away. The flood lasted but half and hour, but did its work well in that time. It has at this hour totally subsided. Had it occurred in the night, instead of at the time it did, the dead must have been numbered by the hundreds. The scene is now one of desolation, despair and bitter mourning. Many person have lost their whole property.

Among the buildings destroyed is the Eureka Hall, one of the largest theater halls in the State. The weather is still threatening, but a careful watch will be kept through the night, least the occurrence be repeated.


EUREKA, July 25 — 10 P.M.
The following are the persons known to be drowned: Mrs. Chas. L. Broy, A.C. Latsom, John Turner, Roger Robinette, Jas. Galvin, J.W. Talbot, Jean Dorney, John Ranfts, W.J. McGeary, Wm. Smith and five Chinamen. The loss of property as far as ascertained foots up over one hundred thousand dollars: Eureka Hall, total wreck $8,000; Eureka Consolidated furnace, damaged $8,000; A.E. Davis, stable and wagons, damaged $7,000; are the heaviest losses.

Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada) Jul 26, 1874



In the long account of the Eureka disaster published in the Sentinel of Saturday morning we find the following mentioned among the incidents of the flood:

At one place a cask of liquor was found and broken open by a party of men. They soon became boisterous and when Sheriff Sullivan and Constable Bell appeared and attempted to preserve order, they were set upon by the crowd and badly beaten with stones and pistols. The Sheriff it is thought had one shoulder dislocated in the row. The offenders, however, were arrested and lodged in jail. During the evening several other belligerents, as well as a batch of pilferers, numbering all about fifteen or twenty, were arrested and placed in jail.

We are reliably informed that there was much petty stealing all the way down the cañon. Trunks were bursted open and rifled and other valuables were carried off. It seems strange that any man could be found so mean as to attempt to profit by the terrible misfortunes of the sufferers of so dire a calamity as was that of yesterday. A large number of special officers were promptly detailed, and after this force got on duty a better state of affairs was speedily inaugurated. Officers were kept on duty all night.

Such conduct was very bad, and the participants ought to have been severely punished. Confinement in jail was too much of a luxury for them.

Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada) Jul 29, 1874


Eureka Horror — Additional Particulars — Funerals of the Dead — Etc.

EUREKA, July 28.
Sunday was indeed a sorrowful day; one that will not soon be effaced from the memory of those who witnessed the closing scenes of Friday’s awful tragedy. From above, the bright orb of day shone resplended, and seemed to mock the sadness it looked upon. It still seems almost impossible to fully realize the sad results of the terrible catastrophe. The mournful appearance that pervades the place, the long line of ruined and wrecked houses, that mark the part of the destroyer, the sorrowful faces one meets on every side speak in silent voice the tale of desolation.

The funeral obsequies of Roger Robinette, A.C. Latson, Mrs. Chas. Broy, John Ranfts, Jean Dorney, and Jas. Galvin added to the solemnity of the scene. The remains of Roger Robinette were shipped to San Francisco where his bereaved mother resides. To-day Mr. Broy is journeying to Clarksburg, West Virginia, bearing with him all that remains of his darling wife. Little did he imagine that when but six weeks before he led her to the altar that to-day “her bridal dress would be her burial shrowd.”

On Sunday one more body was discovered; that of Henry Heine being found near the residence of Samuel Lewis, on Buel street. The body was found wedged in a mass of debris and was extracted with much difficulty. The body of Wm. McGeary the carpenter who was at work on Colonel O’Reilly’s building, on Buel street, is still missing; searching parties are still endeavoring to find it but have thus far been unsuccessful.

The citizens Committee yesterday made a general canvass of the town for the purpose of receiving contributions in aid of the sufferers of the disaster. Their efforts were attended with good results, about $2,000 being collected, which, with that previously on hand, will amount to over $5,000. A number of others have signified their intention of contributing as soon as they could communicate with their principals in San Francisco and other places. 375 dollars were received by the Eureka relief Committee from Hamilton.

To-morrow evening a number of ladies and gentlemen, embracing the best  musical talent in the place, will give a grand concert at the court house in aid of the sufferers, the full proceeds to be devoted to the alleviation of the distressed.

Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada) Jul 29,  1874


More about the Flood.

EUREKA, July 30.
The body of W.J. McGeary one of the victims of the late disaster, was recovered yesterday. It was discovered three miles from town at the mouth of the cañon lying under a door and was in a very decomposed state, having lain there nearly five days. It is believed all those who lost their lives have been recovered, none are known to be missing, but searching parties are still examining every place whee a body could possibly have lodged.

The court house was crowded last night by an audience composed largely of ladies to listen to a lecture from Hon. C.E. DeLong, on Japan, delivered in behalf of the sufferers of the recent flood.

Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada) Jul 31, 1874

Sherman’s Black Friday: Texas Tornado 1896

February 10, 2009



Several Texas Towns Visited by a Fearful Cyclone Yesterday.


Sixty People Dead or Fatally Hurt and 150 Injured at Sherman Alone.


Eighteen Persons Killed or Fatally Injured at Howe, Gribble Springs and Justin – Immense Damage Done.

Sherman, May 15. — Just a few minutes before 5 o’clock this afternoon, a cyclone not exceeding two blocks in width, but carrying widespread destruction and death in its wake, swept through the western half of the city, traveling almost directly north.

The approach of the terrific whirlwind was announced by a deep rumbling noise, not unlike reverberating thunder. A fierce and driving rain accompanied it.

Late to-night it is supposed that 10 people have been killed south of town, in addition to the city’s death list. Wagons are unloading the dead and injured every moment.

A reporter standing on the north side of the Court plaza had his attention called to the peculiar appearance of the clouds. They were parted at the lower side, converging into a perfect funnel-shaped point, while a


of vaporous clouds were rapidly revolving in the rift. The air was suddenly filled with trees and twigs and the downpour of rain brought with it a deluge of mud. Then the truth dawned on all that a cyclone was prevailing.

From the point at which it seems to have first descended, to where it suddenly arose from the ground, just north of the city, it left terrific marks of its passing, not a house in its path escaping; not a tree or shrub left standing, or not twisted and torn out of shape. Fences are gone.

The iron bridge on Houston street is completely wrecked and blown away notwithstanding its hundreds of thousands of pounds of steel and material. The number of persons wounded will reach not less than 100 and it will be several days before the exact number of fatalities can be given as many persons and especially children are missing and many of the injured are in such critical shape that a score may die before morning.


As far as reported by the authorities tonight is as follows:
MRS. OTTO BALLINGER and two children.
MRS. I. L. BURNS and two children,
JOSEPHINE, aged 3, and
GROVER, aged 10.
JOHN AMES and wife and two children.
MRS. LUKE MONTGOMERY and two children. Another child is also missing.
MRS. GEORGE ANDERSON and an infant daughter.
TOM PIERCE, his son, aged 14.
MRS. DAVE HERRING and two children.
AN UNKNOWN WOMAN and two white children, about 4 and 6 years of age, have not been identified and are being held in the morgue for identification.

The list of colored people killed, so far as learned up to 10 p. m., is as follows:

MRS. NORA NICHOLSON and two children.
LUCY BALLINGER and daughter.
MARY LAKE, and three children.

TOM JENKINS, his wife and five children.
MR. AND MRS. HENRY MILLER, and two children.
A heavy sliver of wood was driven through the thigh of GRANVILLE JENKINS.
MR. AND MRS. ED. HALSELL and little son, with B. F. WOODARD, were in the cellar at the former’s residence and were covered with debris. MR. AND MRS. HALSELL were both painfully bruised about the thighs and are supposed to have been blown through a window.
ELIZA COX, colored, hurt in the breast.
HARRIET LAKE, colored, cut and bruised.
DON CEPHUS, colored, his wife and son, CLARENCE, all have limbs broken and are in a precarious condition.
LETTIE and LUMMIE BURNS are badly.
MR. AND MRS. JESSE BROWN, badly bruised. MRS. BROWN’S arm is broken.
LUKE SHEARER, son of REV. SHEARER, who was killed, is badly bruised.
This list is necessarily incomplete. The greatest


are reported from the colored settlement along Post Oak and Lincoln streets, between Curry and Lost streets where several people were killed outright.

Very few of the persons in the demolished houses are able to tell just how the storm burst upon them and only in one or two instances were parties able to get out of its deadly path.

MRS. J. P. KING and two children are seriously injured.
PHILIP NICHOLS received painful hurts about the head.
MRS. JOHN IRVINE and four children were all more or less injured.
W. S. BEUTWICK, who was in the same residence, is cut very seriously.
OTTO BALLINGER, whose family were all killed, is badly hurt about the head.
HESTER and NANNIE NICHOLSON, colored, of the family of which six were killed, are seriously hurt.
DAVE HERRING and MRS. D. L. PIERCE, who alone escaped death at their home, are perhaps fatally hurt.
MARY PATRICK, colored, and three children are all badly hurt.
MATTIE JOHNSON, colored, head hurt and injured internally; will die.
JOHN AND ALICE NEWHOUSE, colored, and four children, badly hurt.
HARRIET HENDRICKS, colored, both legs broken.
MISS EVA PIERCE, daughter of D. L. PIERCE, left leg and right arm broken.
MR. AND MRS. WRIGHT CLARK, painfully hurt.


is large and includes a great many children and it is quite probable that the most of them are dead.

It is very conservative to estimate that the list of fatalities will reach 50, while the injured will reach 150.

At least 50 houses are wrecked. Most of them are small cottages, except in Fairview and Washington avenues where the handsome residences of L. F. ELY, Captain J. G. SALLER, MRS. PAT MATTINGLY and JAMES FALLS also succumbed. The loss will reach at least $150,000 and but little if any of it was covered by cyclone insurance.

About the most graphic description given by any of the injured was that of W. S. BEUTWICK, who said:


“I was at MR. JOHN IRVINE’S house when I heard the noise of the approaching storm. Just as I looked out I saw Captain BERGE’S house blown into the air and then MR. SHEARER’S house. The air was filled with great trees and timbers and every conceivable kind of article. I was fascinated, petrified, for I saw it was coming directly upon us and that it could not be long in reaching us. It was a black, serpentine cloud, twisting, writhing in the center, but at the bottom it seemed to be moving steadily. I woke from my stupor and called out to the family, who were in the house, and asked them not to run out. I feared that we would all be struck by flying timbers. Then came


A sense of suffocation, and when it was over the house was gone and myself and family were scattered about the yard and under the debris. It was over in such a short time that I can not give you an idea of how long it was.”

In just a few minutes the police officers were appealed to for shelter for the dead and wounded and ambulances and all kinds of conveyances were pressed into service. A vacant store room on the north side of Court Plaza and another on the south side, and the court room were transformed into impromptu morgues and hospitals for the wounded down town, while every residence left standing on Fairview is


The physicians and druggists responded promptly to the call for succor and drugs and everything needed came spontaneously. Hundreds of ladies responded to the call of humanity and with a score of physicians, were soon at work. Color and caste disappeared, in the supreme moment of woe and desolation.

Thanks to the excellent police service, the crowds were restrained everywhere about the improvised hospitals and citizens and physicians found their labor more effective on account of non-interference. The cries of the injured were supplemented by the agonized shrieks of those who, passing


at last found some loved one, perhaps a husband or a wife or son or daughter.

MR. MONTGOMERY’S wife and two or three children are dead. The children are terribly mangled.

One of them, about five years old, had the top of her head knocked off.

Another child was found dead 500 yards from the house.

On West Houston street several are dead.
A man named BILL HAMILTON is fatally injured.
MR. CEPHUS, and child, colored are reported dead.
Several negroes have been picked out of the creek dead.
A young white woman, unidentified, was found dead, three hundred yards south of ELY’S residence.

Every moment brings new victims. It is likely as many as 50 people are dead. The victims are


JOHN AMES and wife and two children are dead and a five year old boy fatally injured.
T. W. JENKINS, daughter and wife are dead.

The most miraculous escape so far as learned by the reporter was the case of the family of Captain ELY. The residence, quite a roomy, brick structure, was razed to the ground, and but for the presence of some heavy timbers standing upright in the debris, which sheltered them from the avalanche of brick and stone, they would have all perished, but as it was only one member, a little girl, was bruised.

A public meeting raised $3,000 for the immediate relief of the sufferers and the PERMANENT RELIEF COMMITTEE, consisting of C. H. SMITH, C. B. RANDELL, C. H. DORCHESTER and COLONEL GEORGE M. MURPHY, will take donations.

It is distinctly stated that donations from points outside of Grayson county will not be received. Denison has responded nobly and nurses and physicians from that city are here rendering great assistance. All railroads running into the city placed special trains at the disposal of the local authorities and brought help from all neighboring cities.

Reports are that the storm killed many persons in the country west of Howe.

A large number of police and searching parties are looking for missing persons.


The following are additional deaths reported up to 1 a. m.;
JIM ENGLISH, colored.
KATE KING, colored.
The unknown woman at the morgue has been identified as MRS. I. L. BURIES.
Another infant of the BALLINGER family has been found dead.
CHARLES WEDDLE, of Fairview, is dead, with a piece of timber driven through his body.
The family of JOHN HAMILTON has been discovered, all badly injured.
One of the HAMILTON boys, aged 20 years, will die. Two girls, one aged 15 and one 9, were fatally injured, and another girl, aged 11, was injured internally.

It is impossible to get a correct list of all the missing. Nearly every family in the district has some member that they can not account for and it is believed that most of


A water spout accompanied the cyclone and the creeks are all out of their banks. Several objects thought to be human bodies were seen in the water, but could not be reached. The officers are making every effort to dredge all creeks in the vicinity to-morrow. It is a remarkable incident that in every case where there were deaths the bodies from the houses destroyed were found from 100 to 150 yards away, in a direction opposite to that in which the storm was moving. The storm was moving northward and in every instance the bodies were found to the southward. Telegraph poles were torn up and driven into the ground. A great many of the wounded are in private houses scattered all over the city. It is safe to assume that at least one quarter of the number


in the next twenty-four hours. Another storm of a similar nature passed about six miles west of the city at about the same hour. Several houses were blown down and many persons injured. Their names can not be obtained.

At Carpenter’s bluff it is reported six persons were hurt, five seriously.
Buildings and other structures in the way were demolished.

A daughter of TOM JENKINS was found lying in a pool of water. She was evidently drowned, for no marks or bruises could be found on her body.

The police department is employing every means in its power to help the sufferers and all have been given comfortable quarters


After passing over Sherman the cyclone went southeast.
At Carpenter Bluff, seven miles east at Denison, the dwelling of JOHN DEVANT was blown down and four persons, DEVANT and wife, and DEVANT’S hired man, named ARMOUR, and a little child, received injuries from which they will die.


Sherman, May 15. — A most disastrous cyclone struck Sherman at 4:30 o’clock this afternoon, wiping out the western end of the town entirely.

The loss of life is appalling. The dead are estimated at between 30 and 40. This is a very conservative estimate. Many more are fatally or seriously injured.

At 6 o’clock, the evening twelve bodies are lying in the court house and as many more are scattered about across the desolated west end of the city. No accurate estimate can be made yet of the loss of life and property. The work of rescue and search for the missing goes on. The business part of the town is deserted and the greatest excitement reigns. The Western Union office is overflowed with anxious ones sending messages and inquiring the fate of other towns. Every available wagon, buggy and horse is in use by searchers and workers on


As time passes reports of greater loss of life and property are arriving. Many stories of miraculous escapes are told.

The Sherman court house is insufficient to hold the dead and wounded.

The vacant Moore building, on the south square, was utilized at 6 o’clock, fifteen colored people, dead or dying, being placed there.

Express drays, baggage wagons and all kinds of vehicles continue to come in with dead bodies. Around the Moore building the highest excitement prevails and the greatest difficulty is experienced in getting the names of the victims and accurate reports.

The storm struck Sherman without warning, on the southwest corner of the city, and cleared a path 100 yards wide along the west end of the town. Houses, trees, fences and everything went before


of the cyclone. The negro part of the town suffered the most severely.

There are probably, 30 negroes killed. Ten bodies have been picked up in Post Oak creek.

The flood of rain which attended the storm was severe. The town is a mass of mud and floating debris. There is much difficulty in finding the dead and injured.

Captain J. E. ELY’S house was demolished and his wife and two children had miraculous escapes.

Captain B. BERGE’S residence was also leveled to the ground, but fortunately the family was away from home.

FRANK RYAN, manager of the Sherman baseball team, had his house blown off its foundation and completely turned around. His wife and two children escaped serious injury.

Leadville Daily and Evening Chronicle 1896-05-16



Further Reports of the Terrible

Destruction Wrought.

Additional Returns Only Add to the Horrors

of the Catastrophe.

Austin, Tex., May 16—News from North Texas reports a terrific cyclone in that section yesterday afternoon. At the small town of Justin, twelve business houses were blown down and their contents scattered to the winds.

One man, named W.J. Evans, of Keller, Tex., was killed by a tree falling upon him and seventeen others were injured, some of whom are not expected to live. Cattle in the fields were blown hither and thither and many of them killed outright.

Keller, a small town to the north of Justin, was almost entirely wrecked by the cyclone and it is reported that only one house in the hamlet is now standing. All that section of the country immediately north of these two towns was left in ruins by the storm.

The cyclone struck the town of Hudson, leaving death and ruin in its wake. The path of the cyclone at this point was a quarter of a mile wide. Ten farm houses and as many barns were wrecked. Eight persons were killed outright and many injured. Much stock was killed.

Griddle Springs, a small village north of Denton, was also swept by the cyclone, four persons being killed, five dangerously hurt and thirty badly wounded.

The railroad track north of Justin is also reported to be torn up and twisted out of shape, showing the terrific velocity of the wind. Water was scooped out of creeks by the wind, and every section of the country lying in the path of the cyclone is laid waste. The path of the cyclone was possibly 10 miles wide by 12 long, judging from reports.

A cyclone at Mound Ridge devastated a stretch of country about eight miles in length and 100 yards in width.

Samuel Bass, a farmer, was fatally injured and his house demolished. Five others, whose names are unknown, were more or less seriously injured.

A permanent relief committee has been organized at Sherman and will take donations for the relief of the sufferers from yesterday’s storm. Denison has responded nobly and nurses and physicians from that city are there rendering great assistance. All railroads running into the city placed special trains at the disposal of local authorities and brought help from all neighboring cities. Reports say that the storm killed many person in the county west of Howe.

It is impossible to get a correct list of all the missing. Nearly every family in the district has some member that they cannot account for and it is believed that most of the missing are dead. A water spout accompanied the cyclone and the creeks are all out of the banks.

Several objects thought to be human bodies were seen in the water but could not be reached. The officers are making every preparation possible to dredge all the creeks in the vicinity at an early hour. Telegraph and telephone poles were torn up and driven into the ground. It is safe to assume that at least one fourth of the number of injured will die in the next 24 hours.

Another storm of a similar nature passed about six miles west of the city at about the same hour. Several houses were blown down and many persons injured.

At Carpenter’s Bluff, on the Red River, it is reported that six persons were hurt, five seriously.

Buildings and other structures in the way were demolished. A daughter of Thomas Jenkins was found lying in a pool of water. She had evidently been drowned, for no marks or bruises could be found on her body.

In Sherman many elegant residences were demolished. The Houston street steel suspension bridge was torn to splinters and huge iron girders were twisted like straw. Houses, trees and human beings were blown thousands of feet. All of the buildings on Sixth street were swept away by the mighty whirlwind.

A dead child was found in the top of a tree. A farmer driving along in front of Captain Ely’s house was killed instantly. The wagon wheelsbut no trace of the team. Bodies of children, beheaded and disemboweled, were seen in many places. Six unidentified white corpses are in Undertaker Harrington’s rooms. A son of J.H. Perren, who lives five miles south of the town, was fatally injured. The boy was away from his home, at his uncle’s, who was killed with his wife and baby. Ten bodies were brought in from the Wakefieldfarm, two miles west of the city.

A.F. Person, wife, granddaughter, married daughter and three other children who lived on the farm were all killed. It is thought that the country for 14 or 15 miles has been devastated and depopulated by the storm.

Not a tree or house was left standing in its course. Five hundred yards to the east the storm would have taken in the business portion of the city. The cyclone was preceded by terrific claps of thunder, much lightning and a furious dash of rain. The people were terror stricken and many fell on their knees and prayed for deliverance.

Five minutes after the storm the sky was bright and clear but desolation, terror and uncontrollable grief reigned where ten minutes before were happy, united families and pleasant homes.

Many private houses have been turned into hospitals and physicians and surgeons of this and adjacent towns worked all night. The ladies of Sherman came to the rescue nobly and bear up bravely in the face of the most sickening sights.

Very few persons in the demolished houses are able to tell how the storm burst upon them and only in one or two instances were parties able to get out of its deadly path. W.S. Bostwick relates his experience as follows:

“I was at John Irvine’s house when I heard the noise of the approaching storm. Just as I looked out I saw Capt. Birge’s house blown into the air and then Mr. Spearen’s house. The air was filled with trees and timbers and every conceivable kind of articles. I was terrified for I saw that the black cloud was coming directly upon us and that it could not be long in reaching us. I hurried home and called to the members of my family, who were in the house, and asked them not to run out. I reared that we would all be stuck by the flying timbers.

Then came an awful crash, a sense of suffocation, and when it was over the house was gone and myself and family were scattered abut the yard and under the rubbish. It was over in a short time.”

Later—The death list is growing rapidly and this morning over 75 bodies were found. Over 25 physicians from Sherman, Denison, Whitewright, Howe and Van Alstyne are attending the wounded and hundreds of women are helping. The colored people having recovered from their first fright, are working like Trojans. The excitement cannot be abated so long as reports continue to come in as they do.

It is reported that 12 dead bodied have been found in a pit north of town and there have been no means of bringing them here. Many persons are missing and entire families cannot yet be found. It is believe many negroes will be found in Post Oak creek. Bodies are still being brought in and will be during the day. If all reports are to be credited, the number of dead must reach 150. The storm passed two miles from Denison, and is thought to have broken up beyond there.

Telephone an telegraph wires between here and Denison are all down and many other towns have no connection. It is feared that the restoration of telegraphic communication will bring information of the loss of life and property in surrounding towns, greater than already estimated.

Bangor Daily Whig and Courier (Bangor, Maine) Monday, 18 May 1896

Amanda (Gray) Cook

Amanda (Gray) Cook

This is my great-grandmother, who was injured and left an orphan by this tornado. She was about 10 years-old at the time. Both of her parents, Lafayette Gray and Martha Jane May, as well as her grandmother, Martha E May died from injuries sustained in this natural disaster.


This picture, which can be found on the Grayson County, Texas Genweb website is of the memorial placed in the cemetery in remembrance of the horrible trajedy and its victims. Most of the dead do not have their own gravestones.

There are several other articles about the Black Friday disaster, which I transcribed posted on the same site.

In addition, the book, Sherman’s Black Friday, by H.L. Piner can be read online there as well. The two pictures depicting the damage that I posted with the articles come from that book.

*Links fixed to the Genweb pages linked above.

Patrick Kerwin: The State’s Oldest Voter

January 9, 2009

A Seward Man, Aged 107, Cast His Vote For Parker Yesterday.


The oldest voter in the United States yesterday was probably the venerable Patrick Kerwin, of Seward. His is over 107 years old, and has been voting the Democratic ticket since 1825.

His first ballot as a citizen of this country was cast for Andrew Jackson when John Quincy Adams was the finally successful candidate after the election had been thrown into the House of Representatives. From that day to this he has voted at every presidential election, and whenever possible at the State elections in the State of which he was a resident at the time. Mr. Kerwin is a most enthusiastic partisan and walks from his home on the farm into the village, one mile every day for his paper. In appearance he is a man about seventy and has the best of health. His intellect is as bright today as at any period of his life, and his reading is wide and in many directions remarkable.

Mr. Kerwin was born in Ireland March 9, 1797 [there is a crease in the paper right over the date, the 9th might be incorrect] and the old parish records of the little church in the county of Waterford tell of the christening at the home of John and Mary Kerwin on a day nearly 108 years ago. His first home in this country was in Massachusetts, where for six years he worked in the granite quarries. In 1820 he engaged with others in the fishing business and went to New Foundland. Thereafter this trip was made annually for fifteen years.

In 1848 he moved to Johnstown and was employed as a contractor by the Pennsylvania Railroad. In 1864 he emigrated to Nevada, making the long trip across the plains in a wagon. In 1888 he returned to Seward, where his wife, to whom he was married in 1852, soon afterward died. He then went to make his home with Patrick Moore, where he has since resided.

Indiana County Gazette (PA) 09 Nov 1904

Incidentally, I would imagine Mr. Kerwin may not have been too happy with the outcome of the 1904 election. Here are some of the headlines:

Republicans Will Have a Majority of More Than a Hundred  in the Next Congress


Every Doubtful State Rallies to Their Support and Completely Swamps the Hopes of the Democracy.


States Bordering the Solid South and Which Were Depended Upon By the Democrats to Carry the Day For Parker, Come into the Rough Rider’s Camp.


Those were the good ol’ days.



Patrick Kerwin, of Seward Passes Away After Record-Breaking Career.


Despite Infirmities, However, His Mind Was Clear Until the End.

Patrick Kerwin, who would have been 111 years old on March 17, and who claimed to be the oldest resident of Pennsylvania, died Saturday morning at 8:45 o’clock at the home of Mr. and Mrs. James Bowker, with whom he had been living for a number of years. Mr. Kerwin had been confined to his bed for nine months and only last week seemed to have recovered from the last of several sinking spells which he suffered during December. The aged man was very bright Saturday morning and partook of light refreshments only a short time before he suddenly dropped over dead.

Patrick Kerwin has been a resident of Seward for many years and was well known throughout the surrounding country on account of his advanced age. His mind was very clear, and until the past years he could accurately recall all of the main events that had occurred in his lifetime. Kerwin was born in Ireland, where record of his birth is found in the parish church. He came to Newfoundland at the age of twenty and followed the fishing trade for fifteen years. He then moved to Ohio, and later to New York, where he was engaged in railroading for several years. Kerwin came to Pennsylvania when the Pennsylvania Railroad was built through Johnstown. Shorty after his arrival, he was married to Mrs. Rebecca Campbell, widow of James Campbell, a railroad contractor, and located on a farm along the old Canal just below Johnstown. At the time of the Flood, Kerwin and his wife removed to Seward, where Mrs. Kerwin died about two years later.

As far as can be learned Kerwin had no relatives. Two stepsons, who had provided for him, survive. They are M.R. Campbell, of Tennessee, and James of Nevada. The funeral was held Monday morning at 10 o’clock with services in the Seward Catholic church. Interment followed in the New Florence Catholic cemetery.

Indiana County Gazette (PA) 08 Jan 1908

After a little searching, I think I found Mr. Kerwin in the 1900 census. He year of birth is way off, but being he is in a Moore household and there is a James Bowker also in the household, it is more than likely him. His immigration year doesn’t match up either. Possible reason for this: someone else gave the information to the census taker.

Name:  Paddy Curwin
Home in 1900: St Clair, Westmoreland, Pennsylvania
Age: 88
Birth Date: Mar 1812
Birthplace: Ireland
Race: White
Ethnicity: American
Immigration Year: 1832
Relationship to head-of-house:    Boarder
Father’s Birthplace: Ireland
Marital Status: Widowed
Residence : New Florence Borough, Westmoreland, Pennsylvania
Household Members:
Name     Age
Harry Moore     24
Elizabeth Moore 47
Mary A Moore     31
Paddy Curwin     88
James Bawker     44

Here is a possible match for Patrick and Rebecca, but if it is them, his age is off once again, and so is the timeline in the above accounts of his life. I didn’t find anyone in 1880, Nevada that could have been them. Johnstown was in Cambria County.

Name:  Patrick Curwine
Home in 1880: Taylor, Cambria, Pennsylvania
Age: 70
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1810
Birthplace: Ireland
Relation to Head of Household:  Self (Head)
Spouse’s Name:     Rebecca W.
Father’s birthplace: Ire.
Mother’s birthplace: Ire.
Occupation: Farmer
Marital Status: Married
Race:     White
Gender: Male
Household Members:
Name     Age
Patrick Curwine 70
Rebecca W. Curwine 71

I did a little more searching, trying to find either of them in other census years, but no luck so far.

Johnstown Flood 1889

Johnstown Flood 1889

Here is a short account of the Johnstown flood from Wikipedia:

The Johnstown Flood disaster (or Great Flood of 1889 as it became known locally) occurred on May 31, 1889. It was the result of the failure of the South Fork Dam situated 14 miles (23 km) upstream of the town of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, USA, made worse by several days of extremely heavy rainfall. The dam’s failure unleashed a torrent of 20 million tons of water (18.1 million cubic meters/ 4.8 billion U.S. gallons). The flood killed over 2,200 people and caused US$17 million of damage. It was the first major disaster relief effort handled by the new American Red Cross, led by Clara Barton. Support for victims came from all over the United States and 18 foreign countries.