Winter Ice In Comanche 1919-1920

I’ve had to laugh several times lately as we’ve all whined (more than once) about the cold weather this winter. And then, quite truthfully, I’ve wanted to cry, remembering the stories my grandfather and my great-grandmother told me about another winter, the winter of my grandfather’s 20th year.

It was November of 1919 in the sleepy little town of Comanche, Texas. It had already been a horrible year as flu ravaged the land, leaving (as my great-grandmother told me) not enough well people to bury the dead, one of whom was her infant grandson.

And then…in a month not even known for being a heavy winter month here in Texas today…a slow rain began to fall, as did the temperature. An old article from the Comanche Chief says it best…

All wires down, leaving the city without telephones, lights, or electric power. Several months may be required to restore normal service, managers state.

Ice-laden and broken wires, trees and poles present unusual scenes- paper published under difficulties.

“Perhaps the greatest destruction to property ever wrought by the weather so far as the annals of local history record took place within a few hours in this section during Thursday night and the early hours of Friday morning. A slow rain which froze as it fell formed heavy coatings of ice which brought down telephone, light, and telegraph wires in tangled masses.

“Trees were broken down by the score. There is not the sound of a telephone or an electric light in the town. Plants depending on electricity were tied up. Installation of gasoline engines made it possible for this issue of the Comanche Chief and Pioneer Exponent to reach its readers.”

I’ve had the negatives for the following photos* for years. In fact, along with some that I have from the Desdemona oil boom, these are some of my favorites.

At an auction years ago, I ended up with a package of negatives. One set was dated 1919. If that date is correct, this crippling ice storm happened in that year.

At an auction years ago, I ended up with a package of negatives. One set was dated 1919. This crippling ice storm happened in that year.

The damage from this 1919 storm (I believe November) was extensive.

The damage from this 1919 storm  was extensive.

The following photo is one that I found in my grandfather’s things. I have no idea who would have given it to him. You will, of course, notice that the streets of Comanche are still unpaved at this time.  Much worse than the cold (to me) would have been coping with the mud and the dirt!

This photo was given to me and dated Winter 1920. You can see the downed power lines as you look north up Austin Street. Could there have been two such storms, two years in a row or is this photo misdated?

This photo was given to me and dated Winter 1920. You can see the downed power lines. Could there have been two such storms, two years in a row or is this photo misdated? I suspect the latter

*I actually own quite a lot more of the photos that show destruction in the town of Comanche. That file seems to elude me at the moment. When I find it, I will add those photos to this article.

About Fredda Jones

Fredda Davis Jones was raised “in the country” in Comanche County and learned very early that creativity and innovation are traits that can flourish even in small-town Texas and that with enough effort, indeed nothing is impossible, including being married to the same man for over 40 years! Rickey and Fredda have 2 children, 5 grandchildren, and a crazy life that includes sitting in the bleachers several times a week. The rest of her time is spent creating great content for texansunited.com and marketing small-town Texas.
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One Response to Winter Ice In Comanche 1919-1920

  1. missyjones says:

    Fredda, my daddy was Will Cox, born in 1882. He had 6 brothers and they lived about halfway between Gustine and Comanche. He said that the winters were cold when he was a kid, and they had several tanks. He said that the tanks would be frozen over for several weeks at a time, and he and his brothers had skates and could skate on the tanks for several weeks at a time. And, we think we have cold “spells” coming in. Missy Cox Jones

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