Just in time for the 123rd anniversary of the Tornadoes of 1896, a series of about 38 recorded tornadoes that killed more than 400 people across nine states, History Comes Alive will be telling the story of The Great Sherman Storm, an F5 tornado that hit the Sherman area killing more than 80 people and injuring more than 200 on May 15 of that year. History Comes Alive, the annual local history retelling event, will be held May 4 at West Hill Cemetery in Sherman.
Due to inclement weather in the fall, the Sherman Museum postponed the sixth installment of the event this past fall.
“We have not made a lot of changes to the program,” Museum Director Betsy Dieterman said Wednesday. “A few of the actors did have conflicts so we have had to change them out. All of the places that we are going are consistent. They are the same.”
In case of inclement weather this year, Dieterman said the fundraiser will not be postponed again. The program will instead by moved to the Sherman Museum and that call will be made Friday.
“I have done a little more history on the tornado victims because that is one of our stops on the tour,” Dieterman talks about the plaque in West Hill that memorializes the victims. “I put quite a bit of time into finding out who specifically was killed in the tornado. I think from my research the actual number that was listed on the historical marker is incorrect.”
It says there were 66 victims, Dieterman said.
“I think I have found 85,” she said. “The day following the tornado on May 15, 1896, West Hill Cemetery had 40 burials because of the devastation, the records are not really complete. We have a record of their names and burial dates, but there are not locations. There are many graves that we cannot tell you where they are.”
Dieterman said that for the known graves, museum staff will have a temporary markers on the plots on the day of the event. The graves are not in a central location in the cemetery and Dieterman has also prepared a document of who the museum knows died around the time of the May storms and the ones that grave locations have been found.
This year, the lives of Edward Younger Goode, Lydia Starr McPherson, Mattie Carr, Andrew Hanson and Bruno H. Zauk will be recognized. Dieterman will be presenting the story of Carr, the founder of the Carr-Burdette College that was once located near the present-day Sherman High School.
“Olive (Carr, her future husband) and Mattie were both born in Kentucky and were from the same hometown, but they did not know each other when they were growing up,” Dieterman said in 2018. “Olive had heard the call and had been preaching from the age of 18. He had been roaming around the area preaching.”
Tickets for History Comes Alive can be purchased in person at the museum, by phone by calling 903-893-7623 or at the Touch of Class Antique store in downtown Sherman. Tickets for adults are $20, tickets for students with an ID are $10 and tickets for museum members are $15.
The Sherman Museum, located at 301 S. Walnut Street, Sherman, is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and it is open by appointment on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors age 60 or older and $2 for children ages 6 and up and college students with a student ID. Children under five and Sherman Museum members are allowed free entry.
Future Brown is the Lifestyles and Entertainment Editor for the Herald Democrat. She can be reached at SBrown@heralddemocrat.com.