The Caddo Herald
May 6, 1949
One Killed, Several Injured When Twister Hits County
Newt Pruitt, 30-year-old war veteran, was killed; Mrs. Pruitt was critically injured and two others were badly hurt in a small but vicious tornado which struck their farm home one and one-quarter mile southeast of Utica, Saturday night at 8 o’clock.
Mrs. Rose Pruitt, the dead man’s wife was most seriously injured. Other occupants of the demolished home and badly injured were Pruitt’s sister, Mrs. Dovie Schofield and her 10-months old baby, and Pruitt’s seven-year-old brother, Eugene. Mrs. Schofield’s husband is in the Army.
Earnest Sanders of Utica and other Utica men went to the Pruitt home following the storm and found the house in shambles.
“It was blown almost into splinter wood,” Sanders said. Sanders said he watched the storm from his home in Utica which was untouched. The storm stuck about 8 o’clock Saturday night.
Was Twisting Fast
“It was a small cloud, but was almost ink black and was twisting fast,” Sanders said. “We knew it had done some damage and we started immediately toward where it hit.”
Sanders (text missing)….the storm cut a path 15… and at least a mile wide through the communities of Liberty, Yarnaby, Utica, Albany and Bennington. The Liberty tornado cut a path a mile wide and the fact there were no more injuries and possibly deaths was attributed to the fact it struck before dark at about 6:40 and most of the residents took shelter in storm cellars.
Liberty was isolated from the outside world when telephone lines were flattened by the storm and no one outside the community heard of the destruction until Sunday morning.
Mr. and Mrs. Ed Bradley, who were in their home when the tornado struck, were injured, but after receiving medical treatment at the Madonna hospital at Denison were able to be taken Sunday to the home of Mrs. Bradley’s sister, Mrs. Gaston Childress near Hendrix.
The Bradley home, barn and all other buildings on the farm were completely demolished and two mules were injured so badly they may be killed. Mr. Bradley was straining milk in the house when the storm struck and when he regained consciousness he was lying where the barn had been he reported.
The Cotton Marshall home also was flattened by the twisting wind but the family was in a storm cellar and escaped injury.
Pulled by Wind
The Herbert Smith home was almost a total loss. The Smiths were in a storm cellar, but the door to the cellar was blown open and the terrific wind pulled at the occupants as it swept over and almost pulled them through the door, Smith reported. The Smith home is on the Yarnaby road.
“It was almost super-natural,” Smith described it. “We could feel the suction of the wind pulling at us and we could barely stay on our feet,” he said.
The home of Joe Trammell was badly damaged and was probably saved only by the fact it was lodged between two trees which held it upright.
The Curt Haddock home was badly damaged but was left standing. One barn was lifted off the foundation and large trees in the pasture were uprooted.
The Hershall Wilson home was almost a complete loss and the store at Liberty was damaged considerably.
The I. O. Stropp farm home near Yuba was completely destroyed but the family escaped injury by taking refuge in a cellar.
Was One Storm
Observers believed the …which hugged the ground for …of 15 miles struck…Southern Bryan County…. It was timed at 4 o’clock where it struck the …electric clock in the home of ….Stropp in the Yarnaby community showed it hit there at ……
When the tornado struck the Pruitt home at Utica was not definitely established but was believed approximately 7:20. No one was injured at Yarnaby where residents had time to take refuge in their cellars, but here is no doubt but that there would have been fatalities and many injured if they had not escaped from their homes.
The Junior Elliott home, barns and other outhouse in the Yarnaby area were flattened and are completely lost.
The Barney Achimon house was blown from its foundation and the barn and chicken house were destroyed.
Henry Hines’ barn, chicken house, and brooder house were demolished.
The Edgar Wilson home and a vacant house on his farm were total losses. His automobile and a pickup truck were so badly damaged they cannot be salvaged.
The storm missed Fred Stropp’s home at the east end of the valley, but his 50x25 foot barn a mile away was flattened.
Watched it Move
Fred Stropp, who watched the tornado, said he saw it cross the bayou north and destroy the Fred Anderson home south of Utica. The Andersons had time to get to their cellar and escape injury.
Stropp described the storm as twisting and colored brown with the sand and dirt it was carrying. It was moving from a southwesterly direction.
“I saw the storm pick up a house and barn and was whirling them around in the air,” Stropp said.
All the fences in the area were flattened, twisted up or blown away, Stropp said. Most of the residents lost their chickens and I.O. Stropp lost two yearlings and a hog.
The tornado produced the usual freaks of nature. I.O. Stropp’s refrigerator was found a half mile from his home and the door to the refrigerator was blown a mile away.
Edgar Wilson lived in the Yarnaby area. His birth certificate was found at Utica Sunday morning.
Fred Stropp said he watched the storm until it reached Utica where it destroyed the Pruitt home. “Then it lifted and flew off kinda like a bird toward the east,” he said.
Moving northeast from Utica the tornado wiped out the homes and all outbuildings of three families near Albany and did considerable damage to others. All the families were in storm cellars and escaped injury.
Residents who lost all their buildings were Bill Dunnegan, two miles southeast of Albany, John Davis, four miles northeast of Albany, and James Potts, three miles northeast of Albany.
Wendell Watkins, Red Cross chairman said if most of the people in the path of the tornado had not taken refuge in their storm cellars the loss of life and injuries would have been terrible.