Peggs Cyclone of May 2, 1920

On May the 2nd in 1920 there came a cyclone and blowed Peggs away. It killed about 100 people. It come on a Sunday night about 8:00. Peggs was a little country town with about 6 good stores, 2 drug stores, 2 cotton gins, a hotel, 3 churches, a good school. There was a lot of people there on Saturday shopping and doing business.  It was an incorporated town. Joe YARBOROUGH was the town Marshall. Jennings CAGLE was the Justice of the Peace. They had a little jail house. I went to church that Sunday Morning. We lived about 2 miles south east of Peggs. A boy by the name of Wyley WILKERSON went home with me he lived 2 miles west of Peggs.

We intended to go back to Church that night. It was a miserable hot evening. There was a dark cloud in the north west all evening. About the time Wyley and I started to church the dark clouds got closer. We got about a half a mile from my house and the cloud was coming fast. I told Wyley that I was going to go back home. I told him I thought that that cloud would catch us before we got to Peggs. I tried to get him to go back with me but he said no. He thought he could get home. He made it home but was killed in the storm. I went back to the house and took my horse to the pasture and went to bed. My mother was real bad sick. We was having to sit up with her at night. Dad and a neighbor man was setting up with her. I heard Dad say there had been a bad hail storm but it went north of us. Dad said it sounded like a freight train running. There was something that hit our house that sounded like rocks. We thought it was hail but it was rocks being thrown around by the storm. I had a phone in my room and it kept ringing. I knew it was not our rings but I thought I would get up and listen to try and learn what was going on. It was a man at one of our neighbors trying to get through to Tahlequah. He finally got through and he told them that Peggs had blown away and killed nearly all the people. They needed doctors, nurses and ambulances plus all the help they could get. I told dad what I heard and he got on the phone and called several of our neighbors. I went to our pasture and got some horses.

We got started on our way to Peggs. There was a pretty good bunch of people by the time we got to the storm area.  It was hard to get through for there were trees, lumber and wire in the road but we finally made it. It was a lot worse than I expected it to be. Dell ROBERTSON had a concrete store and the storm had blew it all to pieces. He had a basement under the store and it was full of people that were hurt bad. I knew everybody in Peggs  and  I thought I would go down and see who was down there. I went down and I didn’t know anyone there. They all looked like Negros. They were as black as Negros. Some were crying and some were praying. I got out as quick as I could. I went to the WILKERSON place where the boy lived that was with me. There was people killed there. The boy that was with me, his brother Jack, 2 little sisters and their father Jim Wilkerson and a boy by the name of Jack BOND that was staying with them. The sad part was they had a good concrete cellar. They all stood out in front of the cellar.

Some wanted to go in the cellar and some said it was not going to do anything. They stood out until  the storm struck  and they could not get in the cellar in time. There were 2 people there that were not killed. Mrs WILKERSON and one girl. They were hurt bad but got well. Mrs Wilkerson had one boy that was not killed. He was up at Peggs. He was hurt bad but got well. His name was Pete WILKERSON. I saw chickens there at the Wilkerson place walking around that did not have a feather on them. I picked up a silver dollar that looked like it had been put in a vise and turned half way around. Mr. WILKERSON had 2 quarter horses and one of them had hit a tree with his head and knocked his brains out. Mr. Wilkerson had a wide rim iron tired wagon. It broke the hub and spokes out of the wheel and left the tire and rim. When they picked up Mr. Wilkerson, he was sitting inside of one of the iron tire rims.  He lived a week . When they had to take one of his legs off he died.

The next house, there was a woman killed.  The following house was Rollie BLEVENS place. That whole family was wiped out. The next place was Bill LITTLEFIELD’S place. Two young people were killed a brother and his sister.

The following place was the STEVENS place. Killed 13 people in his family. He had one little boy and 2 grand children left. Mr. Stevens had gone to Western Oklahoma to visit his father and he was on his way home and had to lay over in Muskogee. He was eating breakfast the next morning in a café and picked up the newspaper and saw where Peggs had blowed away. Mr. Stevens had cotton ground listed with high ridges it blew all of the loose dirt away down to the hard ground. The water in ponds were blown dry.

The next place was the Jim FRANKS place. Killed all the family accept one married boy that lived one mile south of Peggs. Mr. Franks had a brother and his family that was visiting them. All were killed. He had a span of white mules. Killed both of them. One of them had a 2×4 blown though its stomach.  The next place was the Shoad PRICE place. He had a dirt cellar and they were all in it. Blew the top of the cellar off. Clarence BRADSJAW, Mr. Price’s son-in-law, got his arm broke but that hole in the ground saved their lives.

The next place was ROBINSON’S store. It was blown all to pieces. He had a money safe sitting in the store and it never moved. There was a little alarm clock sitting on top of the safe and it did not moved either. The next day it was ticking away. The little jail house was there close to the store the storm did not touch it. The next day they had it full of people that they had caught stealing.

The next place was uncle John LITTLEFIELD’S place. He was killed and a little grandson. He had a hen sitting out in the yard under a tub. The tub was not moved and the next day the old hen was still setting on her eggs. The next place was the Jim Cole’s place. He had a concrete cellar. There were 19 people in the cellar. A baby boy by the name of John BUTLER stuck his head out of the door and a rock hit him in the head and busted his skull. He almost died but finally got well.

At the COLE place it blowed a corn stalk through a door. The next place was Mrs. HINE’S place. Her and her daughter, Dennie JONES, lived together. Mrs. Hines was Roy and Ordel HINES mother. Dennie Jones crawled under the bed and did not get killed but Mrs. Hines was killed. Peggs had a doctor his name was HILL.

There was a woman by the name of FORBES that lived a half mile south of the doctor’s house and she was confined to bed waiting the birth of her baby. They had called the doctor. He started to her house on foot. He had to cross two wire fences and they found him about half way there wrapped up in the wire, dead. He usually took the road on a horse but it was shorter to cross the fields. The woman’s house house was blown away. It left the floor and the bed. The baby was born while the storm was raging. The baby and the woman didn’t get a scratch. But a man by the name of FPRD was killed while he was taking care of her. Dr. Hill had a half mile of rock fence. It blowed part of it down. It is still there after 66 years. There are still a lot of signs of that storm.

I went to Henry HILL’S place.  They lived a mile north of the WILKERSON’S. They had taken the Wilkerson boys there. They hadn’t been washed and laid out. They put it on me to help do it. I had never done anything like that and it was hard on me, we were such close friends, but I did it. I pulled a piece of board out of Jack Wilkerson’s head. It had struck him in the back of the head and just pushed the hide out on his forehead. It was about a inch and a half wide and six or seven inches long.

When I got that done, I went to the New Home cemetery and went to helping to dig graves. They buried the most of them down there. They had to bury them quick. I commenced at ten o’clock that day and worked until two o’clock that night. They nothing but pick and shovels to dig with. They run out of caskets at Tahlequah and had to send to Muskogee and Pryor for more. They hauled them [the dead] down there on a truck, stacked on top of one another. There was a minister from Locust Grove to stayed there until the last one was buried. His name was BENTON. He was Cab Benton’s father. He said a few words and a prayer over each one that was buried . That was a sad day so many of my friends went out into eternity and I am afraid some of them were not prepared  to go.. I will never forget that day and night. There has been a lot of  water go under the bridge since then but it seems like it was juts yesterday. My mother passed away in July after the storm. That tore me up. I knew my home would never be the same. I knew in all reason my dad would marry again and he did.


Biography, History,

Peggs Oklahoma,

Neel, Walter Alexander. Recollections of My Life.

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