Depew, Key West, OK Tornado, May 1909

OKLA Tornado Damage 5-29-1909.jpg





Stroud, Okla., May 29. -- Ten persons were killed, two were fatally injured, probably two score were hurt two towns were practically obliterated, and a large area of territory was devastated by two tornadoes that swept over this part of the state between 4 and 5 o'clock this afternoon. Nothing remains of the town of Key West, five miles south, save the wreckage of the houses that its 200 inhabitants occupied, and only a few buildings are left intact at Depew, eleven miles east.
The dead:
Ten Negroes at Key West.
Fatally wounded:
CHARLES BRENNAN, of Oklahoma City.
MRS. J. L. HART, of Key West.
Seriously wounded:
J. L. HART and three children and MISS BRACE.
The storm was only about one-quarter of a mile wide at Key West, but practically everything within its path was swept away. It extended from Key West to Depew, a distance of twelve miles. Beyond Depew it spent its force and neither Bristow nor Kellerville, towns that were in a direct line with the traveling direction, were victims of more than a rain and hail storm. Telegraph and telephone wires were put out of commission and it was several hours before anything like a definite account of the damage could be ascertained. At midnight reports were still meager owing to swollen streams barring communication to the south and east. The extent of the damage cannot be ascertained fully before tomorrow.
During the afternoon for an hour previous to the forming of the force of destruction little twisters played fantastic games in the nearly humid atmosphere they held the gaze of hundreds of people in the vicinity of Stroud. Scooting playfully toward the hidden and when a baby tornado ran its course, turned gracefully on the tip of its funnel and then shot back down its path with the motion of a comet. Another whizzed and whirred in the center of a storm disturbance and then overturned in space and lost its force. Sometimes two of them clashed and either formed themselves into one of a greater build or vanished into space the phenomenon was one of the most curious ever observed in the elements and called dozens of frightened folk from their storm caves.
The tornado that devastated Key West, after splitting a channel of destruction through the agricultural section to the northeast, came in contact with another headed westward at Depew. The two crashed over the latter town and then scooped and practically wiped it out.
Physicians and nurses of Stroud were called early to the scenes of destruction. The wounded in each place are being cared for as best conditions will permit. Tonight Salt Creek is a veritable inland sea and those who have sought to lend their services at Key West have been checked by the raging waters. Across threatening clouds, can be seen the waters, beneath a gray canopy of devastated wake of the storm. Wreckage of houses and barns is strewed back into the darkness beyond the vision and the bodies of dead animals are scattered here and there. To the east high waters block passage to Depew and only meager reports came from there tonight by telegraph wires, working poorly, after the rescuers had gone and the floods had washed away their tracks.
It may be that tomorrow will show that the storm's destructiveness was much greater than it is known tonight. Rumors place the dead at twenty-two, but these are doubted.
CHARLES BRUCE and his sister drove into Key West for the mail. The girl was in the postoffice and store and the boy held the team in front. When the tornado struck, the building was demolished and the girl was seriously injured. The boy turned his team out of the path of the winds and escaped unharmed.
The little daughter of J. L. HART had a limb completely wrenched off at the thigh. The HART residence was rolled over and over by the twisting winds and every member of the family was injured.

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Key West Tornado

Thank you Stu, my mom recently passed away and I was trying to give my daughter a brief history lesson on where my mom's grand parents are buried and what happened to the town of Key West, Oklahoma. Todd's that were from Stroud, Oklahoma should be buried at that cemetery. As far as I know, my family was one of the last to keep the grass trimmed at the family cemetery there, part of my upbringing. My grandfather, John Calvin used to refer to the great tornado that wiped this town out. He was born in 1925.