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1909 Storm in Colorado County


Weimar Is Visited by the Worst Storm in Its History--Houses Wrecked on Every Hand--Windmills Torn Down, Trees Uprooted and Fences Down Everywhere--One Dead, Numbers Injured.

Beginning Wednesday afternoon shortly after the noon hour one of the most destructive hurricanes ever witnessed in south Texas struck this section, growing worse every hour until at last it was evident that a storm fully equaling the one of 1900 was upon this section. About 7 o'clock the wind was in a perfect fury, and houses began to give way all over town. From that time until 11 o'clock the storm was at its worst, and in every home in this section death was momentarily expected. In [it] was so dark and dangerous to venture out that but few realized the damage done until the following morning. However, in many wrecked homes, the people realized fully the extent of the wind's awful fury. The wind raged almost without cessation until midnight, when a hard rain descended. The following morning people were out early and then it was evident that the town had suffered as never before in its history. Damage was done in every part of the town, and to almost every residence and business house, in many instances the buildings being a complete wreck. It was
quickly learned that there was one death as a result of the
storm--an aged colored woman, Aunt Tilda Green, having been struck by a portion of the roof as she was escaping from the falling building, receiving injuries which caused her death early this (Thursday) morning. A number of others received painful injuries, one a broken arm, another a badly sprained ankle, while still others received cuts and bruises of a minor character. A brief summary of the damage done in this city and immediate vicinity is given below:
Mrs. Ella Holloway's two-story residence is a complete wreck.
The Baptist church building, including the new organ, is a complete wreck, being mashed flat to the ground.
The colored Methodist and Baptist churches are also completely wrecked.
The Methodist church suffered considerable damage, one of the doors being blown out and a memorial window smashed.
Negro cabins are completely wrecked all over town.
Business houses in many portions of the town were unroofed and the stocks damaged. The opera house was stripped of its roof on the west side, while the fronts of the brick and other buildings on South Main street were blown out.
The residence of Dr. Eugene Potthast was so badly wrecked it will have to be rebuilt.
The Weete hotel building is also completely wrecked, leaving the town without any hotel facilities. The inmates of the hotel had a narrow escape from death, getting out just before the building collapsed.
Windmills are torn down in every part of the town, probably not a half dozen left standing.
The steeple of the Catholic church was blown down, and some minor damage done to the building.
Smokestacks went down like chaff before the wind. The oil mill, electric light plant and gins were all more or less damaged.
Telegraph and telephone wires are down in every direction, hence it is impossible at this writing to learn what damage was done at other places. A great deal of uneasiness is felt for Galveston, as the storm was raging there throughout the day, but as the wires were down and the bridge gone no communication could be had with that place. At this writing (Thursday noon) all the wires leading out of Weimar are down, and it is impossible to learn what damage was done.
The wind blew fully 60 to 70 miles an hour for' a time. It came first from the north, then northeast, then east, then southeast, at which time the most damage was done, and finally from the south, when the rain began falling. It was an old-fashioned hurricane of the most pronounced type, and its fury was far greater than that of the storm of 1900, as the damage attests.
Reports from the country sections show that on almost every farm damage was done, houses being demolished completely, others partially wrecked, barns, fences, windmills and outhouses down, stock killed, crops badly damaged, and many farmers suffering from injuries more or less severe. The damage will aggregate several hundred thousand dollars in this immediate section. The people are so thankful that they escaped with their lives, there is but little if any grumbling.
Dr. Eugene Potthast was severely injured in jumping from' the garret to the second story floor in the height of the storm. He had gone up into the garret to see about some windows, and when he felt the roof going jumped, with above result.
The two halls owned by the colored people are badly damaged.
The German school building is badly wrecked.
The residence of Will Gilliam, west of town, caught on fire during the storm, but the flames were extinguished, and the wind then wrecked the building.
The heaviest losers are Mrs. Weete, Dr. Eugene Potthast, Mrs. Ella Holloway, Gus Ripper, whose blacksmith shop is badly wrecked; the several churches of the town, with the exception of the Christian church, where the damage is very light. Fact is, so many persons. suffered damage to property it is impossible to enumerate all.
At noon Thursday a report comes that Bay City was wiped off the map by the storm.
Weimar Mercury, July 23, 1909, page 1

Aftermath of the Storm

The residence of Mrs. Ella Holloway was among the worst wrecked of any at this place; The "L" part of same was blown down completely. Sam C. Holloway was in this part of the building and had a narrow escape from being crushed as it went down. The other part of the structure was left in such bad shape that it was deemed best to tear it down, and Mrs. Holloway will at once erect a one story cottage.
The handsome new organ at the Baptist church, a recent
purchase, was badly wrecked when the building went down. The organ factory, upon learning of same, notified the church that if they would ship the injured instrument to the factory it would be repaired free of charge, which offer was gratefully accepted.
Wm. HeImcamp's big dance hall at Sedan and others at Ammannsville were wrecked by the storm.
Every man able to handle a saw or hammer had all the work he could do since the storm, and be it to said to their credit there has been no attempt so far as we could learn to demand extortionate[sic] wages. Efforts were made to get our carpenters to go to Eagle Lake and other places, but they steadfastly refused to leave the horne folks in the lurch, even at a handsome advance in wages. They deserve to be commended
On account of heavy trees blown down and across the roads the rural mail carriers have had much difficulty getting over their routes the past few days. Things are clearing up, however, and soon all will be serene again.
The wreck of telegraph, telephone and electric wires was practically complete after the storm of last week, but a force of men has worked steadily and faithfully to bring order out of chaos, and in a few days will have things in perfect order. Mr. Leidolf had a few lights burning the other night, but it was deemed safer and best to wait until the wires were placed in better shape before attempting to turn them on again.
In the face of such general damage it would be impossible
to enumerate all. Hardly a home or a farm throughout this entire section but what suffered more or less damage. In some instances it was only the loss of a few shingles, in others the houses were blown off the blocks, or completely wrecked, window sash blown out, fences blown down, shade trees ditto, barns and outhouses of every character down or demolished, wall paper ruined, roofs torn off, cattle killed, etc. On the farm of Chas. Bittner, Sr., we understand that seventeen rent houses were either blown off the blocks or utterly demolished, besides numerous outhouses. On other farms the damage was proportionately large.
"The oldest inhabitant" freely admits that the storm of last week was the worst he ever saw. The Galveston storm of 1900 was bad enough, but it wasn't a starter to the one of last week. A peculiarity of said storm is that the wind was in a different direction from that experienced at Bay City, El Campo and along the coast. Down there the wind started from the north, turned to the west and wound up in the southwest. Here the wind came first from the north, then northeast, east, southeast and then south. The greater portion of the damage came when the wind here was blowing from the north and southeast. A heavy rain fell during and after the storm, and this, it is believed, will do a great deal of good, as the crop were suffering for moisture.
The members of the Baptist church held a meeting at the Weimar institute building Sunday afternoon to devise ways and means whereby they could secure a place of worship and erect another church building. The offer of the Christian church people for the Baptists to use, their house of worship was accepted with grateful thanks. A list was circulated for subscriptions wherewith to secure funds to rebuild the church, and same met with a liberal response, so much so that it is likely the Baptists will begin the erection of a handsome $5000 edifice as soon as the debris of the old church building can be cleared away and carpenters secured to begin work on the new building. The idea is for the members to pledge so much a year for five years, and if the response is as general and liberal as on Sunday afternoon there is no doubt of the Baptists erecting a handsome building,
Gus Ripper's blacksmith shop was hopelessly wrecked by the storm, but Gus pitched right, in and is tearing same to pieces, with the view of rebuilding as quickly as possible.
The old warehouse next to Walker & Shortt's lumber office was blown down and hopelessly wrecked. The old blacksmith shop formerly occupied by Frank Krischke was also wrecked.
The Weete hotel suffered almost complete wreckage. Only the front part of same was left standing, and this is in bad shape. Carpenter Wm. Bopp has taken charge of the work and is rebuilding and preparing same, so that the town will. soon have some hotel facilities. The loss to Mrs. Weete is extremely heavy, the “L" part of the building being a complete wreck, and much of the furniture and furnishings ruined.
We learn that the Catholic churches at Dubina and Ammannsville were blown down and wrecked by the storm of last week, entailing a loss of many thousands of dollars. The Catholic church at Weimar is also seriously damaged, the steeple being blown away and the building warped badly. The handsome furnishings of the interior, however, are practically intact, otherwise the loss would have been heavy indeed.
During the prevalence of the storm of last week, Dr. Eugene Potthast was severely injured. He had gone up into the garret and when he felt the roof being blown away, jumped from the manhole to the second floor beneath, with the result that his heel was badly bruised, also his back and he is so crippled that he can with difficulty get about. His residence, regarded as one of the most substantial in this section, is practically a wreck, and we learn the doctor will erect a modern frame residence on his property at an early date.
Windmills went down all over this section like reeds, and as a result of the storm about a dozen are left standing. A carload or more has been ordered, and people will soon be busy erecting new ones.
Birds and insects were almost exterminated by the storm. Very few of either species can now be seen. If the storm did exterminate the boll weevil, as many now believe, it may prove that it was a good investment, after all.
The lumber yards and tin shop have done a "land office business" since the storm. Repairs had to be made at almost every house in this section, and this has made business brisk in these lines.
A number of head of live stock were killed in the storm by barns being blown down. Henry Boeer's barn went down and killed three out of nine head of valuable Jersey cows. Mrs. L. D. Herndon had one or two cows killed when her barn blew down. Jesse Green had a mule killed after the storm when the animal ran in front of a freight train.
The German-American school house is so badly wrecked that it will not be fit for use without considerable expense. We learn that there is little prospect there will be a school there next session.
The colored churches were hit hard by the storm, both the Methodist and Baptist buildings being flat upon the ground. It is likely the congregations will secure the use of the colored school house until other buildings can be erected, the school building being practically uninjured. Both of the colored halls are practically wrecks, and will likely have to be torn down before they can be used. A peculiarity of the storm in the colored people's part of town is that some buildings of the oldest and most rickety type stood the storm without a blemish, while other comparatively substantial structures were blown to pieces. With timbers, trees and other rubbish flying through the air it is wonderful[sic] that the loss of life was not much more severe. As it was, there was only one death, an aged negro woman named Matilda Green being hit by flying timbers and killed.
As to just how much the crops were injured by last week's storm no one at present can tell. Corn was blown flat upon the ground and in some instances the ear was torn from the stalk. This was given a thorough wetting by the rain, and doubtless a part of it anyway will rot in the fields. The older cotton was stripped of every leaf, leaving only the boils upon the stalk. Some believe the stalk will leaf out again and continue to make fruit, while others are dubious about it. The young cotton stood it with but very little damage. The rain, it is believed by many, will cause
a fall crop to be made. An idea advanced that may prove the storm a blessing in disguise is that the boll weevil has been exterminated. Few if any insects have been seen since the storm, and if a weevil is to be found in this section we have not heard of it. In many fields cotton is beginning to bloom freely, especially the younger cotton, and the prospect is improving.
The Methodist church damage consisted of having one of the big memorial windows blown out, the front doors wrenched loose and sent down the street nearly a block, and the wall paper ruined by the water which beat in.
A great deal of the wreckage has been cleared up, and in a few weeks, anyway, the town will bear little signs of the most destructive storm in its history.
A great mass of tin was blown off the opera house and wrapped around a telephone pole in pyramid shape. Other sections of tin rolled up and scattered up near the section house and through Walker & Shortt's Lumber yard. The upper portions of the brick buildings on South Main street were blown down.
As a result of the. storm damage, it was found necessary to tear down part of Gen. Herder’s store and rebuild same. Also the second story of the Richter building, across the street, was found to be in an unsafe condition, and the second story will have to come down.
The roofs of nearly every business house in the town was damaged by the storm, and in several stores the loss on goods wet by the rain was heavy. The Herder Mercantile company sustained a loss of between $400 and $500 in this manner.
So far as known, St. Michael's church and Chas. Fahrenthold’s store were the only structures protected by storm insurance, in this city or section. As storm insurance only costs about 25c per $1.00, it is likely that a great deal of it will be taken out in the near future.
The church at New Bielau was destroyed by the storm.
Weimar Mercury, September 30, 1909, page 1

Storm At Columbus.

Special to the Chronicle. Columbus, July 23.--The storm was the most severe in the history of this town. Nearly every awning in town is blown down, and many buildings are completely wrecked, and probably not a single building is left uninjured.
The damage to the courthouse alone amounts to many thousands of dollars. The tower and roof are completely swept away, and the brick wall at the west end is cracked and tumbling down. The bell of the tower clock, which was on top of the tower, 125 feet from the ground, buried itself completely in the earth when it tumbled.
The jail is badly injured, and Sheriff Mayes was forced to remove the prisoners for safety.
The prison and pauper buildings at the county farm are completely unroofed and badly wrecked, and contained at the time about 45 inmates, many of whom are imbeciles, and confined to their beds. One of the inmates, Sam Gay, has not yet been found, and it is supposed that his body is under the debris of a large brick corn crib, which crumbled and was completely demolished. Men are now engaged removing the brickbat and other rubbish, but up to noon the body had not been found.
The Masonic temple, which beyond question was one of the most handsomely furnished in the state, is a complete loss, and is nothing but a pile of scattered rubbish. The interior of the lodge room had but recently been refurnished and fitted up with costly carpets, rugs and furniture at an expense of over $700, and the total loss was $3500.

The Daughters of the Confederacy occupied the lower story of the Masonic building, and they suffered the loss of a piano and other furniture, besides treasured relics of the Civil war.
The iron bridge over Cummins creek blew down. The bridge was erected a few years ago at a cost of about $4000.
Churches and school buildings are badly damaged, and the live oak trees, which have stood the storms for centuries, are almost completely stripped of foliage and moss, and many of them are down upon the streets.
The Southern Pacific roundhouse at Glidden, three miles west of town, is demolished. The brick pumping house of the Columbus waterworks is a heap of rubbish, and the electric light plant is almost a mass of ruins.
Weimar Mercury, September 30, 1909, page 2

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