Written by Walter Pervie Rowland

Contributed by his Grandson, Ray Weathers

Hood County Genealogical Society Newsletter – November 1997

The 29th day of June 1904:

The day God’s wrath, or the Devil’s torture, was poured out on Hood County, Texas. We lived in a rural settlement, about six miles southwest of Granbury, Texas.

Father and daughter’s husband had been somewhere after a cultivator for the younger man and had arrived home about 3:30 p.m. They had had no dinner. Mother had enough left from dinner for our supper by adding a little freshly fried pork and baking a small loaf of bread. By the time we were ready to sit down to supper there was a cloud coming up from the northwest. The wind was blowing into the cloud from the southeast briskly. Sounds of thunder were almost constantly in the air.

Mother suggested that we children get some small chicks up and fasten them up in a shelter. We were out chasing the old mother hen trying to get them in a shelter. Suddenly there came a black foam of clouds sailing overhead turning and twisting. The wind became so quiet not a leaf was stirring. Thunder and lightning were constantly in evidence. An occasional large drop of water would fall. We finally got the chickens up. The cloud was black as night; it was turning dark. The chickens went to roost though the old rooster would stalk around; cock one eye toward the cloud and rear back and crow. The cows came up for milking time. Doves would fly by going away from the cloud at a very high velocity. Some hawks were seen soaring out in front of the cloud higher than the bottom of the cloud, and ever keeping in front of it. Some of the crows flew by in rapid flight going toward their roosting place.

The cloud was smooth in front except for an occasional flurry of fluffy clouds which flew in over and over in front and turned back up into the cloud. There was a real hard shower; large drops of water fell as if they had been blown out of the cloud. Then all was quiet. A roaring could be heard in the cloud; the nearer the cloud got the louder the roaring. It had a hollow sound that is beyond the language to describe. A few scattered balls of hail began to fall. The balls got larger and more in number.

Suddenly the wind struck. A large wooden gate flew upside down and remained bottom up. A large oak tree serving as a yard gate post whirled around about twice and went tumbling end over end out across the field. The air was suddenly full of green leaves from the nearby forest. A puff of wind hit us on the front porch so fine it was like a wet fog. Boards from off the wash tubs from off the side of the smoke house went sailing by never to be seen again. Sister who was about eight months pregnant with her first child fainted. Her husband caught her.

Paw yelled for me to go open the cellar door, and “every body get in the cellar.” I ran to open the cellar door; it was raining like being poured out of buckets, and the wind was blowing by puffs. When I started three of my smaller brothers were right at my heels. When I opened the door and turned to shove them in I saw one of them struggling against the wind not far away. The other two were being blowed backward and were further from the cellar with one towing by hand.

I saw a great shower of planks and timber come flying through from the barn. The whole roof had blown off and was sailing through the air like straws. I would lean over almost to the ground to walk against the wind. The puff would cease and my face would hit the ground. I would turn one of the boys loose to use the hand to raise from the ground, and he would blow back.

I would have to catch him and drag the other one with me, but finally there was a whirl of the wind toward the cellar, and we were at the cellar instantly. The rest of the family had started down the cellar. I threw the boys in after them and whirled to get the door. One of the larger boys reached to help me, and the wind caught the door and shoved us both into the cellar with the door on top of us. Then the wind jerked at the door to carry it away. The door had a long rope on it so it could be held from the inside. In all my life that was the only time I ever saw that rope of any use, but this time it saved the door. For several of the others got hold of the rope, and we finally got the door closed. Four of us sat holding the rope.

Just as the door closed the center of the storm hit. It became as dark as night as the darkest night I have ever seen. The roar was deafening. Then the hail hit and the noise of hail and wind made talking, even in the cellar under ground (impossible). The only wood reaching the atmosphere was the door, but we could hardly hear one another hollowing as loud as we could right in the other’s ears.

Walter Pervie Rowland’s pregnant sister referred to in the above story was Hattie Myrtle Rowland Umphress. Her first child, Sherman A. Umphress, was born October 23, 1904Hattie Myrtle Rowland Umphress was born in 1887 and died in 1915. She was buried in the Mitchell Bend Cemetery in Hood County, Texas.