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Cedar Hill (Dallas County) Tornado
May 4, 1856

By Marlene Bradford
Newspaper accounts of early Texas tornadoes are rare, but the Dallas Herald devoted two long columns to the storm that “swept the village of Cedar Hill from the face of the earth” on May 4, 1856. Eyewitnesses reported that two storms collided a mile south of the community creating a “terrific whirlwind.” The devastation was virtually indescribable. The ferocious winds plucked feathers from birds, killed and mutilated livestock, carried large plows half a mile, drove timers into the ground, and razed every building in the town. “Even the prairie was shorn off as with fire or scythe.” Merchandise from the community store was found thirty miles away along Rowlett Creek in the far northeast corner of Dallas County.

The Herald reported nine deaths and twelve severely injuries. As was often the case at this time, the death toll may not be accurate; many with life-threatening injuries would succumb in the coming days.

In the fashion of the day, the newspaper accounts described in horrific detail the treatment storms meted to humans and animals. I have declined to include these particulars in this account, but those who are interested may read the gory tales in the Dallas Herald of May 10, 1856.
© Marlene Bradford
June 3, 2014 column

See Texas Tornadoes: The Lone Star State’s Deadliest Twisters >
See Cedar Hill

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