Savoy, Texas was hit by an F4 tornado. 14 people were killed and 60 were injured. It leveled the entire business and northeast residential sections. The tornado was described as “a funnel blazing with balls of fire”.

Mortality Schedule image below. Not all of the names are readable, Here is the key sent in by Les Tate.

The information provided in the mortality schedule allowed me to positively identify two of my distant relatives (Joseph Kearns and his daughter Aurelia E.) who were killed by the tornado and which left Joseph’s wife (Mary Elizabeth Skinner Kearns) with a “wound in head” according to the 1880 census taken a few days later. That census lists several people in Savoy with wounds and broken bones resulting from the tornado.

The note at the bottom of the mortality schedule appears to indicate that “some 12” people were killed, however the first one in the schedule was crossed off because he died in June 1880 of wounds received from the tornado and the schedule only applied to deaths occurring during the 12 months up to May 31, 1880. Four people are known to have died later from wounds caused by the tornado.

“Savoy acquired some historic notoriety by reason of a great calamity that befell her in 1880. On the 28th day of May of that year, a cyclone, such as is rarely seen even in the west, struck the town without a moment’s warning, almost totally annihilating it.”

“The destruction of life and limb as well as property was terrible, eleven were killed outright, and about sixty were wounded, four of whom died from their injuries. In one short half hour the busy, happy people were converted into a throng of mourners for the dead and wounded among them, and the smiling thrifty town became a mass of ruins and destruction, and trade was completely suspended.”

Other information I found elsewhere indicates it was a tornado of force F4, which is next to the highest rating.

Information at the bottom of the mortality schedule (below on this page)
shows the tornado struck on the night of 28 May 1880.

Based on the mortality census, I prepared the following list of people killed by the tornado, including one who died in June from injuries, but whose entry was crossed out. These are presented in the same order shown in the schedule.

  1. — ??lard, 22, male, white, single, Mo Texas Mo Tenn (should read TX MO TN), at school, died June, kill(ed by) cyclone, 22 years residence in county. (This entry is crossed out. The June date indicates he died of wounds)
  2. — Wm. F, 36, male, white, married, Geo Geo Geo, Teaming (teamster…drove a team of horses), died May, killed by cyclone, 6 yrs residence in county.
  3. — Joe, 44, male, white, married, Ala Ala Ala, Dentist, died May, killed [by] cyclone, 7 yrs residence in county. (This is Joseph Kearns, husband of Mary Elizabeth Skinner Kearns who was injured (“wound in head”) during the tornado. Joseph’s birth info is incorrect since the 1870 AL Wilcox County AL census shows he was born in KY. Joseph, Mary, and their two children Aurelia E. and Marie A. came to Fannin County TX from Wilcox County AL between 1871 and 1873.)
  4. — (Th)omas, 35, male, white, single, Mo Mo Mo, Manufacturer, died May, killed [by] cyclone, 4 yrs residence in county.
  5. — Mattie, 8, female, white, single, Ill Ireland Ill, died May, killed [by] cyclone, 6 yrs residence in county. (**See note at bottom of page)
  6. — Aurelia, 12, female, white, single, Ala Ala Ala, died May, killed [by] cyclone, 7 yrs residence in county. (This is Aurelia E. Kearns, daughter of Joseph Kearns and Mary Elizabeth Skinner Kearns. She and her younger sister Marie were born in Alabama prior to their move to Texas. Marie and a younger sister Josie/Josephine are found with their mother at Savoy in the 1880 Fannin County TX census.)
  7. — Erastus, 57, male, white, married, Tenn Tenn Tenn, hardware mer(chant), died May, killed by cyclone, 4 yrs residence in county.
  8. — (in)fant, 2 months, female, white, single, Tex Tenn Tenn, died May, killed by cyclone, 2 months residence in county. (This child appears to be the daughter of Erastus)
  9. — possibly David or Daniel, 38, male, white, widowed, Mo Mo Mo, Wagon maker, died May, killed by cyclone7 yrs residence in county.
  10. — Robert, 40, male, white, FeTenn Tenn Tenn (intended TN TN TN), Farmer, died May, killed by cyclone, 10 yrs residence in county.
  11. — Martha, 5, female, white, Texas Tenn Ala, died May, killed by cyclone, 5 yrs residence in county. (This child appears to be the daughter of either Robert or Erastus)
  12. — Panthea, 30, female, white, single, Tex Tex Tex, died May, killed by cyclone, 30 yrs residence in county.
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**The child listed as Mattie, 8, IL Ireland IL, appears to be the daughter of Robert L (born Ireland) and Harriet (born IL) Best. Their entire family is found with injuries in the 1880 census of Savoy. All their children except the youngest were born in IL and there is a gap in the children’s ages into which Mattie would fit

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