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  Articles/Newsletters/Online (9)
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  Newspaper/Newsletter/Online  
     
  A Bright Future
Abilene Reporter-News
Beaumont Enterprise
Boone County, AR - Daily News
Daily Oklahoman
Dallas Observer
Handbook of Texas Online
Harrison Daily Times
Henderson Times
London Times-London High School
Martial Law
Memphis, TN - Commercial Appeal
Nacogdoches Daily Sentinel
NFPA Journal
Texas Military Forces Museum
Texas Monthly
Tyler Morning Telegraph
Upstream Press
Wikipedia


Fact On Energy Newsletter


Sara Mosle NLSD Book Deal 12/1999
The Lives Unlived in Newtown 12/2012
 
     
     
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  Henderson Times  
     
  Death and Destruction
Henderson Times
March 18, 1937

Death & destruction struck its most horrible blow to Rusk Co. Thurs. afternoon, when an explosion wrecked the main building of one of the finest schools in East Texas, at New London. The explosion was said to have occurred shortly after 3 o'clock, almost completely demolishing the building, killing & trapping children & teachers.

There is no possible way to know just how many have lost their lives in this tragedy, but several hundred attend school in this one building, however some were out for recess according to our report. The distress call was sent out to all surrounding towns in this section, Henderson responding with 3 ambulances & 3 fire trucks. Fire trucks were not needed for fire, however, as luckily no fire followed the explosion, but the trucks were utilized for removing dead bodies. All doctors & nurses in East Texas were asked to come to the scene of the disaster, and drug stores were asked to send bandages & medicines.


A temporary hospital was set up at a church in Overton, the nearest town to the school, after the Overton, Kilgore & Henderson hospitals were filled with the injured & dying people. Many bodies were mangled & torn so badly identification is difficult or impossible. One mother sobbed, "that is our son," but her husband said, "No, he has on tennis shoes." The mother explained, however, he had taken his shoes off during lunch period. As crumbling brick walls & tile roofing settled in on the victims following the explosion, rescue work is difficult, and it will likely be several days before a definite check can be made on the number of killed & injured, but it is reported to be between 400 & 500. The first name coming to us as a victim was that of Miss Jacobs, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Claude Jacobs. Mr. Jacobs being Commissioner of Precinct No. 1. Superintendent W. C. Shaw, who was absent from the building when the explosion occurred is alive.

F. B. Doles, oil field worker, was one of the many witnesses of the crumbling of London high school building last Thurs. afternoon, following the gas explosion in its basement. He said there was a brief flame that showed above the building as the roof rose in the air & sank down with the toppling walls in ruins. Many corpses of children were seen on the outside of the wrecked building, some having been blown through the doors & windows. In fact some of the few surviving children said they were literally blown through the doors or windows. The gathering up of the dead on the outside of the ruins was followed at once by the taking of corpses from the wrecked schoolhouse. Some parents were quickly at the scene, searching for their dead children, while ambulances from all towns nearby took the injured to homes & hospitals. The moans of the bereaved never ceased as the hours of search went by and the crowd grew into thousands & greatly impeded the relief work.

Paula Echols, who gave her name, and age as 15, to a news gatherer Thurs. night after treatment in a Kilgore hospital, said she was sitting in her English class in the London high school building when the great explosion came. Her teacher was crushed, she said, under a falling section of the roof; a boy at the desk near her was screaming for help & all the teachers & pupils nearest to the building's front were buried under debris. Those furtherest from the front however were in better case, though about all more or less hurt. A boy pulled her from where she had been wedged between desks & got her through a window. Other witnesses miles away near Kilgore, said they saw clouds of dust or smoke that rose as a result of the explosion; that the rumble that followed was like thunder. Others still claimed to have felt earth tremors as a quake. That the fire was so quickly extinguished in the ruins is doubtless due to the fact that the high school building was as near fireproof as it could be made. A student witness from another building said she saw her schoolmates blown to bits, mangled, hanging at the roof of the crumbling high school building & falling into the ruins. The first intimation of the disaster was a terrible roar; then she saw children blown through the roof. Probably 1/3 of the pupils were not in the main building when the explosion occurred. Some had been taken out by a teacher for a purpose of instruction. Still others were fortunately near windows & doors & the blast threw them out to safety in some instances. Overton, Henderson & other nearby communities organized early for relief work.

Sincere apologies to the newspaper and the journalists for any inaccuracies. In many cases fragments of newspapers or written copy was received. Often there was overlapping of information and sometimes the actual dates were missing. I have tried to present the articles here with the spelling and syntax exactly as I received them.

 
     
  Harrison Daily Times
September 22, 2003

Buried 300 Bodies on Last Saturday
Henderson Times
March 25, 1937
"Six miles from London on last Saturday the town of Overton was burying some 300 of the children who died in the explosion of the London high school building 2 days before. Some of the bodies were unidentified, and most were badly torn & bruised. It was estimated that some 50 would not be recovered at all intact, as they were blown to fragments.

It was described as the largest mass funeral ever held in peace time. Adults constituted almost the total of the people in attendance at the cemetery, as those children who had not died in the disaster were nearly all too badly injured to attend the funeral of the others.
 
     
  One Rescue Story Was Vividly Told
Henderson Times
March 25, 1937

Paula Echols, who gave her name, and age as 15, to a news gatherer Thurs. night after treatment in a Kilgore hospital, said she was sitting in her English class in the London high school building when the great explosion came. Her teacher was crushed, she said, under a falling section of the roof; a bou at the desk near her was screaming for help & all the teachers & pupils nearest to the building's front were buried under debris. Those furtherest from the front however were in better case, though about all more or less hurt. A boy pulled her from where she had been wedged between desks & got her through a window.

Other witnesses miles away near Kilgore, said they saw clouds of dust or smoke that rose as a result of the explosion; that the rumble that followed was like thunder. Others still claimed to have felt earth tremors as a quake.
 
     
  American Legion Sets Up Rehabilitation Committee
Henderson Times
March 25, 1937
"American Legion New London Rehabilitation Committee,"...members are: W. C. (Bill) Goens of Gladewater; Tom Main of Tyler, & Garland R. Farmer of Henderson, as publicity director.

The post commanders of the following towns are also ex-officio members of this rehabilitation committee: Mt. Enterprise, Jack Woodward; Carthage, Gordon Darnell; Overton, S. D. Lloyd; Longview, Ray Jackson; Tyler, Dr. G. L. Taylor; Kilgore, Neal D. Armstrong; Gladewater, K. J. Preston, and Arp, R. L. Morrison.... Each local post is to set up their own committees to work in conjunction with this plan, and have already the following have been appt. to head their local set-ups: J. T. Gray, Henderson; R. W. Arnold, Longview; Tom Arnold, Mt. Enterprise; Ernest Goens, Tyler; W. F. Myatt, Kilgore, and Mark Day, Gladewater.
 
     
  London Faculty Hard Hit in the Explosion
Henderson Times
March 25, 1937
The faculty of the London high school was struck a terrific blow, along with hundreds of families in the explosion that claimed about 445 lives last Thurs. at the London school.


The teachers that lost their lives are:
J. H. Propes, 49, born & reared in Rusk Co., and had been teaching some 20 or 25 years. Is survived by 3 children & his wife, who was formerly Miss Worley.

Mrs. Lena Hunt, 38, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. J. J. Jacobs. Graduated from Stephen F. Austin College in summer of 1936. Survived by husband, one son & other relatives.

Miss Katie Mae Watson, 36, daughter of Mrs. J. W. Watson of this city. Educated here at Austin College. Survived by her mother, one sister, Miss Lillian Watson; 3 brothers, Orian of Overton, Ralph & Stroud of Henderson, & other relatives.

Willie Tate, 30, son of Mr. & Mrs. W. M. Tate of Henderson. Math & Science teacher, held degree from Austin College. Had wife & 1 child.

Mrs. J. D. Nelson, 30, of Henderson, who was to have received her college degree this summer.

Miss Mary Ethel Neal, Overton, educated in Rusk Co. & at Nacogdoches. Age 27.

Miss Masel Hanna, 28, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. W. H. Hanna, Nacogdoches, educated in that city.

Miss Lizzie Ella Thompson, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. A. Thompson, Oak Ridge, Nacogdoches county.

Miss Laura Beall, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. J. C. Beall of ---son. Educated there & at Nacogdoches. Taught art & reading.

Miss Nellie Barnes, 24, daughter of Mrs. R. L. Barnes of Minden. Educated there & graduated at Nacogdoches in 1934. Also did some work at University of Texas.

Miss Laura Arnold, 28, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. J. D. Arnold of Arp, educated in Arp & graduated from Stephen F. Austin college in 1932.

Louis Waller, assistant coach who came from Commerce, and was teaching his first year at London.

R. L. Butler of Commerce, Manuel training instructor. Held M. A. degree from A & M college. Married, and his wife is a teacher in the primary school of London. His brother Clyde, is manus training instructor at Carlisle, and his brother Ligon holds the same position with a Fort Worth school.

Miss Mary Patterson, who was the first efficient secretary to the superintendent & principal.
 
     
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  Many Observers of the Gas Explosion
Henderson Times
March 25, 1937
F. B. Doles, oil field worker, was one of the many witnesses of the crumbling of London high school building last Thurs. afternoon, following the gas explosion in its basement. He said there was a brief flame that showed above the building as the roof rose in the air & sank down with the toppling walls in ruins.

Many corpses of children were seen on the outside of the wrecked building, some having been blown through the doors & windows. In fact some of the few surviving children said they were literally blown through the doors or windows.

The gathering up of the dead on the outside of the ruins was followed at once by the taking of corpses from the wrecked schoolhouse. Some parents were quickly at the scene, searching for their dead children, while ambulances from all towns nearby took the injured to homes & hospitals.

The moans of the bereaved never ceased as the hours of search went by and the crowd grew into thousands & greatly impeded the relief work.
 
     
  Lifts Martial Law
Guards Withdraw from London Area
Henderson Times
March 25, 1937

Capt. W. J. Elliott had with him at London during the early days of this week only a dozen highway patrolmen from the Tyler district, the Dallas, Houston & Austin patrols had left Sunday & early Monday. Military rule ended with the week of calamity at London school. Some 40 patrolmen had done splendid work from the evening of the day of the explosion till all was cleared away. They were the first organized authority on the ground.

 
     
  Move Started for Memorial to London Dead
Henderson Times
March 25, 1937

Announcement was made today by Gov. James V. Allred of the formation of the New London School Memorial Committee composed of Mrs. M. A. Taylor of Bonham, President of the Texas Congress of Parents & Teachers; Drury M. Phillips of Huntsville, Commander of the American Legion on Tex.; George Clarke of Austin, to represent to Governor; Mrs. Fay Beidleman, President, New London PTA; and Mrs. H. R. Whittington, Pres., Rusk Co. Council PTA.
 
     
  Rainwater Daughters Buried
Henderson Times
March 25, 1937
Daughters of Mr. & Mrs. Ira Rainwater Buried Saturday

A touching funeral service was held last Sat. afternoon at the First Presbyterian Church of Henderson when the 3 little daughters of Mr. & Mrs. Ira Rainwater were the subjects of last rites conducted by Rev. Bedford M. Smith.

Aubra B. Rainwater, Margaret Elyne Rainwater, & Helen Jo Rainwater were among the victims of last Thursday's explosion in the London High School building.
 
     
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