San Antonio, TX Terrible Hailstorm Damage, May 1868


The San Antonio Express, of May 21, gives the following particulars of the late disastrous hail-storm:
"Our city is a perfect wreck; every house in it has received some damage; many are in complete ruins, with nothing but fragments of walls standing. The hail-stones penetrated the best roofs, going through tin roofs like cannon balls. All the windows facing to the north have been smashed in, even window shutters and doors were broken down. The appearance of the city could not have been worse under a severe bombardment. Trees are stripped of their leaves and branches, which lie piled up in the yards and streets -- the sides of houses exposed to the hail have the appearance of having withstood a thousand discharges of grape and canister. The roofing of the entire city is perforated like a sieve. The hailstones were of irregular shape and all sizes, as if a mass of ice had broken above our devoted heads, and driven by a tornado to the earth. One hailstone was found weighing over five pounds, while a great many as large as a man's fist were picked up.
Many of the families whose houses were beaten down took shelter under beds and tables, and thus escaped bodily harm. We have only heard of one death, a negro boy; several had limbs broken and were severely bruised, while the whole population was frightened almost to death.
The damage is of every character, and $500,000 will not cover it all; roofs were universally destroyed and windows broken in, household furniture was entirely demolished in some houses, and in many stores the damage was great. The MENGER House was greatly damaged, the KLEOPPER Hotel is almost a wreck, The CONVENT buildings are terribly cut up. All the blinds and window glass on the northern side are destroyed. FRENCHE'S building suffered greatly, and in fact, all buildings having windows to the north. GEN. MASON'S residence was unroofed and his family exposed to the inclement storm. But the most distressing picture of all are the habitations of the poor people, their houses battered in, household goods destroyed and their little gardens ruined. The corn patches and gardens are flattened to the ground, and have the appearance of having passed through a chopping mill. All the fruit crop is destroyed.
The storm resembled a terrific battle, the lightning flashing in fearful vividness, the thunder crashing like a thousand cannon and the hail falling like shot; so fearful was the noise that no one could hear unless they screamed in each other's ears. Never in the history of this city, never in the memory of the oldest inhabitant, was just such a storm experienced.
We learn that the hail-storm commenced eight miles this side of New Brauniels, reached only a short distance below our city, and extended from five to twenty-five miles in width -- destroying everything over a region thirty miles from north to south and ten to twenty miles from east to west."

The New York Times New York 1868-06-05