1902 Goliad, Texas, tornado

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1902 Goliad, Texas, tornado
F4 tornado
FormedMay 18, 1902
Max rating1F4 tornado
Damage$125,000 (1902 USD)
Fatalities114 fatalities, ≥279 injuries
1Most severe tornado damage; see Fujita scale

The 1902 Goliad, Texas, tornado was a F4 tornado that struck the town of Goliad, Texas, on Sunday, May 18, 1902. A total of 114 people died, 250 were injured, and $125,000[1] damage occurred. Inflation adjusted puts it at $3.4 million.[2]

Storm development and track[edit]

Historical marker remembering the Goliad tornado of 1902 (Darrylpearson)

During May 17 to 19, thunderstorms occurred from the lower Missouri Valley to Texas. On the 18th at 12:15pm, the Galveston weather office issued a special warning of "Squalls, with brisk and occasionally high winds are indicated for the west gulf this afternoon and to-night." [3] That afternoon, Beeville, which is 30 miles to the southwest of Goliad, had considerable damage by high winds.[4] The tornado is believed to have first touched down near Berclair, about 15 miles southwest of Goliad, and moved toward the northeast.[5]

The tornado was on the south side of town, across the San Antonio River about 3:35 p.m.[6] It continued traveling northeast and wrecked the steel bridge across the river at San Patricio Street. The tornado then destroyed the filled Fannin Street Methodist Church at Mt. Auburn Street, killing about 50 people. It went on to destroy the brick factory.[7] Witness Browne reported it sounded like a "million-ton [train] engine".[8] The tornado was a couple of blocks wide when it moved up the west side of town destroying more homes, businesses and churches. The tornado path was 1/8 to 1/2 mile wide and traveled for about a mile. Reports say the tornado lasted only 5 minutes.


Within a few hours, 85 people were reported dead and 29 more over the next several days. Across the city, 150 homes, 100 businesses, a Baptist church and parsonage, a black Methodist church, a white Methodist church, and the second story of the county courthouse were destroyed. At least 50 people were in the black church, none survived.

Dr. Louis Warren Chilton, a young doctor whose wife was injured and whose daughter was lifted in the tornado funnel but survived, set up a temporary hospital and morgue in the first floor of the county courthouse. The Dr. L.W. and Martha E.S. Chilton House was built starting in June and included an underground shelter.[9]

After the tornado, several dozen were buried in a communal grave along the eastern border of Lott Cemetery.[10]

At the time, it was the fourth deadliest tornado in the United States and the worst in Texas history. The Waco tornado of May 11, 1953 tied as the deadliest in Texas history and is now eleventh overall in the United States.

Further reading[edit]

A Goliad Horror: The Great Tornado of 1902 Fritz, Karen E. (2001-01-01). South Texas studies. Victoria College Press. pp. 21–53.

Tornado Victims of the Goliad Tornado of 1902, Victoria – Crossroads of South Texas Quarterly XXIII, no. 2 (2002) by Karen E. Fritz

The 1902 Goliad Tornado: A Remembrance of Horror by Kenneth Carter.[11]


  1. ^ "The Waxahachie Daily Light from Waxahachie, Texas on May 20, 1902 · Page 2". Newspapers.com. Retrieved 2017-04-22.
  2. ^ "$125,000 in 1902 → 2017 | Inflation Calculator". www.in2013dollars.com. Retrieved 2017-04-22.
  3. ^ Monthly Weather Review, May 1902. 30. U.S. Weather Bureau. 1902-09-04.
  4. ^ "Fort Wayne Journal Gazette Newspaper Archives, May 19, 1902| NewspaperArchive®". NewspaperArchive.com. 1902-05-19. Retrieved 2017-04-21.
  5. ^ National Weather Service. "A list of the top 10 worst tornadoes in Texas history". www.weather.gov.
  6. ^ "Details - Goliad Tornado of 1902 - Atlas Number 5175002207 - Atlas: Texas Historical Commission". atlas.thc.state.tx.us. Retrieved 2017-04-18.
  7. ^ Starr, Raymond. Goliad. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 9780738578736.
  8. ^ Cox, Mike (2015-07-15). Texas Disasters: True Stories of Tragedy and Survival. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 57–66. ISBN 9781493013173. Retrieved 19 May 2017.
  9. ^ Department of the Interior. National Park Service. (3/2/1934 – ) (1998-04-09). Texas SP Chilton, Dr. L.W. and Martha E.S., House. File Unit: National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmarks Program Records: Texas, 1964–2013. Retrieved 2018-07-08.
  10. ^ "Lott Cemetery – Historic Texas Cemetery Marker (Find a Grave)". www.findagrave.com. Retrieved 2017-05-17.
  11. ^ "The Corpus Christi Caller-Times from Corpus Christi, Texas on May 16, 1965 · Page 26". Newspapers.com. Retrieved 2017-04-18.

External links[edit]