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Wills Point (Van Zandt County) Tornadoes
1890, 1901, 1907

By Marlene Bradford

Whether or not the storm of May 3, 1890, was a tornado is unclear. The Dallas Morning News reported a “cyclone accompanied by a water spout” struck Wills Point about 12:45 P.M, and the Fort Worth Weekly Gazette called the storm a “tornado accompanied by a water spout and a hail storm” as well as a “hurricane.” However, the U. S. Weather Bureau summary of tornadoes for 1889 to 1896 does not list the storm. The ferocious winds demolished many business buildings, including the post office, railroad depot, hotel, and drug store, and unroofed numerous others. Several residences were also damaged or destroyed. One young black girl was crushed to death under a building, and several people suffered injuries. Damage estimates were $50,000 to $100,000.

The atmosphere on the morning of March 9, 1901, had been heavy; black clouds hung in the southwest. About noon a tornado tore a three hundred-yard wide path through a residential section of Wills Point. Four people died; twenty-five suffered injuries. A piece of sheet iron from Johnson’s Gin Company fell near Cooper in Delta County, fifty miles northeast of Wills Point.

On the afternoon of May 25, 1907, one of several tornadoes to devastate East Texas cut through the east side of Wills Point, leaving behind three dead, twelve injured, and $50,000 in damages. Whoever said that “lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice” had never been to Wills Point. This was the third time in twenty years that a tornado had struck the town. Locals claimed that all of the twisters had formed on the same small tract of land about a mile south of Wills Point.



© Marlene Bradford
February 23, 2015 guest column

Wood County Texas  1920s  map
Van Zandt County 1920s map showing Wills Point
Courtesy Texas General Land Office
See Texas Tornadoes: The Lone Star State’s Deadliest Twisters

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