Oklahoma Tornado Took Everything People Had

People persevered, even when it seemed hopeless after an Oklahoma tornado destroyed all their belongings.

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I was born in 1900, the year a hurricane killed so many people in Galveston, Texas. The tail of the storm dumped heavy rain in western Oklahoma where my parents were living. A gopher hole in the top of the dugout let water pour in on me, a little baby lying in bed. The top of the dugout caved in and my mother rescued me just in time to save my life.

When I was eight, my mother died, and my brothers and I went to live with our grandparents. I was there on April 27, 1912, when an Oklahoma tornado swept across the farm and tore up all the buildings except the rock house we lived in. It broke all but one window in the house and it jammed the doors shut so tight that we could not open them and had to crawl out a window.

My uncle and aunt had a new house on the same farm. They saw the Oklahoma tornado corning toward them and started to run across the road to a neighbor's cellar. When they realized they could not get there in time, they got down in an old dug well. The tornado went over them and destroyed their house. So much rain fell that the old well was nearly full of water when they climbed out of it.

Some of our neighbors lost their houses, too, and one woman lost her home and 80 hand-pieced quilts. At one house, the cyclone blew away the walls but left the floor with the rug, organ and organ stool standing in place.

When my uncle rebuilt his house, he put in a cellar with a door at each end. 

Mrs. J. O. Kidling
Foss, Oklahoma

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.