The Adair Cyclone Story

After a residence of five years in Denison, I moved to Savoy, a station on the Transcontinental line, 11 miles from Bonham, and I was in the mercantile business there when the cyclone struck in 1800. I retired early on the
night of the cyclone which came at about 10 o’clock. Before I dropped of to sleep I cautioned my wife, who was in the room with a glass oil lamp in her hand. I told her she was liable to set the house on fire. The next thing I knew I went out of bed as if by a force not my own and fell sprawling on the floor. What appeared to be a terrific hailstorm was raging. Hailstones weighing ten pounds each were bombarding the house. I opened the door and at once realized that tremendous mischief was afoot. By the incessant flashes of lightning which made a continuous light, I saw the railroad station vanish, perceived that the business district of the town
was bare of houses and realized that what I took to be hailstones striking the house were the flying shreds and fragments of demolished buildings. The wind was so strong that I could not shut the door. I called Harry Naylor my nephew to assist me. The blow was all over in a minute or two. Then came a veritable deluge of rain, a regular waterspout. We could hear on all sides cries of men, women and children in distress.

Going to the rescue Harry and I found the cyclone had made a path about 250 yards in width through the town, carrying away every business house and every dwelling in its path except mine. We began to pick up the iniured and to carry them into my house. Before long people of the town living outside the path of the storm came to our assistance. We worked all night, but were unable to afford much relief. There were two physicians in the town and one of them was so old and feeble he was of little use. It was not until the next day that relief trains came from Sherman, Denison and Bonham bringing surgeons and supplies. Men, women and children with fractured limbs and other injuries went all that time without surgical attention.

Eleven persons were killed by the cyclone and five others died later of in|uries, making a total of 16. I do not remember how many were injured, The population was about 300. Of the dead and Injured, not one had a stitch of clothing on and many who escaped injury found themselves naked in the street. The rescuers wrapped the injured in bed sheets or quilts as they picked them up. Strange as it may seem, I have no recollection of the funeral services that must have been held during the two or three days following the calamity. A situation such as we had that night is calculated to open new founts of emotion in a man. If you ever go through a cyclone, the fear of another one goes ghosting through your head every time the wind begins to blow hard.

Authors –
W.S. ADAIR AND J.M. NAYLOR
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  1. source Fannin County Folk and Fact, 1977, page 43
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