The Sherman Museum revived the stories of five city influencers from the 1800s and revisited a turn-of-the-century storm Saturday morning as part of the institution’s annual History Comes Alive series.
Volunteers and museum board members, dressed in clothing to reflect the era, spoke about the lives of notable Sherman men and women from the 19th century who were buried in the West Hill Cemetery.
“We want to talk about the history of Grayson County and Sherman,” Museum Board President Dickie Gerig said. “We’re a very old town in Texas so we have a long and colorful past.”
Those highlighted for this installment of the series included the city’s first cigar maker, a jailer and the female founders of a local newspaper and former college. Attendees also learned about the Black Friday Tornado of 1896, which tore through Sherman and left dozens dead.
With the historic twister’s May 15th anniversary just days away, presenters discussed the scope of the storm’s damage, which included a two mile long scar through the city and a death toll thought to be as high as 85 people. The twister is believed to have grown into an EF-5 — the highest level of intensity for a tornado — and likely tore through Sherman with winds of at least 200 miles per hour.
“After the tragedy, citizens of Sherman and neighboring towns helped with rebuilding and relief contributions were sent from many distant locations,” a museum brochure reads.
It also says that most of the storm’s victims were buried in West Hill Cemetery.
While not victim’s of the Black Friday storm, those featured in Saturday’s presentations were credited with a number of firsts in Sherman.
European immigrants Bruno H. Zauk and Andrew Hanson were respectively responsible for opening the city’s first cigar factory and a offering the first commercially-produced ice cream in Sherman.
Beginning in 1877, Lydia Starr McPherson founded several newspapers, including the forerunner to the Herald Democrat and the Caddo International News, which was based in Native-American territory.
Professor Mattie Carr opened the Carr-Burdette College for Southern Girls, which served students from 1894 to 1929 and was located near Austin College’s current campus.
And finally, Gregory McRae spoke about his grandfather, Edward “E.Y.” Goode, who worked as a city marshal and jailer and owned 2,500 acres of land in Denison which eventually became the Perrin Air Force Base.
“We had so many great men and women who really made a difference here in Sherman,” Gerig said. “The city is very successful today and I think we owe a lot of that to those who were here before us.”
Drew Smith is a reporter for the Herald Democrat. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @DrewSmithHD.