Eight persons were known dead, scores were seriously injured, and many others suffered from minor wounds from of a cyclone that struck the northwest residential portion of the city on the afternoon of March 28, 1924. It struck at about 4 P.M. and left a trail of debris and wreckage in its wake.

Eight persons were known dead, scores were seriously injured, and many others suffered from minor wounds from of a cyclone that struck the northwest residential portion of the city on the afternoon of March 28, 1924. It struck at about 4 P.M. and left a trail of debris and wreckage in its wake.

Property damage ran into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Many small dwellings were blown to bits, and several of the finest residences in the city were wrecked or badly damaged. Many outhouses, garages, and automobiles were battered throughout the trail of the storm’s path.

J.H. Huddleston, who lived two and one-half miles northeast of the city, and his two granddaughters, Thelma Wilson and Myrtle W. Cunningham, who were visiting him here were killed. Emma Wilson was seriously injured and did not survive.

Mrs. Ed Dingler, of north Park Street, suffered a brain concussion and other severe injuries and died soon after being removed to the hospital. J.G. Callan, of west Wood Street, died later that night from injuries received when his house was razed to the ground. His four-year-old son was instantly killed in the storm. Callan’s wife was slightly injured.

Mrs. John Peyton, an elderly woman of north University Street, who had been ill for some time, passed away during the storm. The report was that due to her health and the circumstances of the trauma, she died from shock.

W.P. Dix, of north Philadelphia Street, was instantly killed when his home was demolished. His daughter, Dorothy Dix, 14, suffered a broken thigh and many severe bruises and cuts. His spouse was injured, but not seriously.

Perhaps as many as 50 others were treated at the hospital for various kinds of injuries. Ambulances, trucks, automobiles, and all kinds of vehicles bore their burden of storm sufferers to the hospital. The long caravan of vehicles carried their burdens of sorrow 20 minutes after the disaster occurred. The stream of victims to the hospital continued until after dark.

Hospital attendants, handicapped by a lack of electricity, worked in semi-darkness, applying first aid to the injured. Nurses dashed from room to room and physicians hastened from one patient to another. The more seriously injured were conveyed immediately to rooms, while those suffering from minor gashes, cuts, and bruises were bandaged in the hallway, the office, or wherever room could be found.

Volunteers assisted attendants in caring for the wounded. Workers helped to carry the stretchers up a flight of stairs. This was necessary because there was no electricity for operation of the elevator. The physicians praised the work of the hospital attendants, declaring that despite the great number of calls, the physicians were not required to wait an instant for supplies needed in treating the victims.

The storm followed one of the sultriest afternoons of the year. At about 2:20 P.M., the skies were covered with clouds and it started raining. The western horizon grew red with dust and old-timers predicted a heavy sand storm. Then it became dark. It was necessary to turn on the lights in the northern part of the city. A funnel-shaped cloud appeared in the southwest. It resembled a swirling smoke cloud. The storm swooped down just before it hit the northwest part of the city, and its entire fury was spent over a stretch some two or three blocks wide through the north residential part of the city.

The twister extended as far northeast as Prague, when it barely missed that town, but destroyed a nearby cotton gin. It was estimated that the path of the storm did not measure more than a block, but its intensity was so severe that everything in its path was destroyed.

W.S. Whistler, manager of the Oklahoma Gas & Electric Company, announced that all the power to the city was cutoff within five minutes of the arrival of the twister and the distribution of its fury. This was done to prevent the electrocution of people from all the wires that were exposed to the public. The high-voltage lines were strewn all over the city.

For a time, Shawnee was completely cut off from the outside world. Only one avenue of communication was left, that being a long-distance connection with Muskogee. All messages to Oklahoma City and other points had to be routed through that city. The Postal Telegraph Company was successful in clearing a line to Kansas City and messages were relayed by that service. The Western Union also cleared a circuit late in the evening. Gas and electric service outside the city remained in operation during the storm.

Members of the Ku Klux Klan served about 700 sandwiches and 20 gallons of coffee to members of the National Guard, the American Legion, and men appointed by the mayor to keep order and guard property. The Salvation Army was in the field early and began serving sandwiches to the workers. Captain Richmond directed the work. County Commissioner Dick Richards also took out a barrel of fine apples and distributed them among the workers.

One great cause for thanksgiving that visited the stricken district was that the storm did not come earlier in the afternoon. It would have probably meant that hundreds of other homes would have been affected with mourning. The Jefferson school, a two-story brick structure, was in the direct path of the storm, and only the lower floor was left standing. The storm struck a little before four and Principal Glenn Smith had dismissed the school a few minutes early because of the unusually threatening nature of the storm clouds. They were plainly visible from the school, which was on a high eminence.

Every child and teacher had left the building before the storm struck, and it was none too soon. Principal Smith had but just reached his home nearby the school and felt that he would be safer out of the house than in it. He grabbed his little child and ran from the house. When the wind was about to hurl him from his feet, he laid on the ground protecting the baby with his body. The baby was unhurt, but Smith received injuries from flying timbers on the shoulder and back.

The only person in the building was janitor George W. Hill. At first the rumors were that he was killed. That proved to be false. Had he remained on the top floor, where he was just a few minutes before the school was struck, he probably would have perished. Fortunately, his duties took him to the basement, which saved his life.

Heart-rendering scenes were enacted at every turn in the stricken district. What but a few hours before meant shelter, safety and comfort, was a flat mass of debris, beds, tables, and parts of chairs piled in a hopeless mass of ruins. Groups of people stood stunned and unable to realize the extent of the calamity that had befallen on them.

The storm struck in the Hillcrest Addition, just north of Saint Benedict’s Catholic Church, and the parochial school, was undamaged.

 (These stories and hundreds more appear in the first volume of Shawnee history, entitled: “REDBUD CITY: SHAWNEE, THE EARLY YEARS, 1830-1929.” It can be purchased by calling Clyde Wooldridge at (918) 470-3728, or by visiting the Pottawatomie County Historical Society at the old Santa Fe Depot. It can be purchased for $35. Volume two, “1930-1949,” is also available for $30. They may be obtained as a package for $60. Volume three, “REDBUD CITY: SHAWNEE, THE MIDDLE YEARS, 1950-1969,” is coming in October. All three volumes are more than 400 pages with hundreds of photos and illustrations. They are fully indexed, making it easy to look up individuals or places of business. Volume four 1970-1989; volume five 1990-2009; and volume six 2010-to the present, are scheduled in the next two to three years, bringing the history up to the current time of publication.)

Clyde Wooldridge is a local historian.