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New London, TX School Explosion 1937

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  • Mozelle Young (1925 - 1937)
  • Mary Lois King (1925 - 1937)
    Mary Lois was a 12-year-old victim of the tragic explosion at the New London, TX Jr./Sr. high school on March 18, 1937. She was in sixth grade. Her best friend, ten-year-old Dale May York, was also kil...
  • Private (1915 - 2005)
  • Claudell Kilgore (1924 - 1937)
    Claudell was a victim of the New London school explosion of 1937.
  • William Artice Ketchum (1920 - 1937)
    killed in New London, TX school explosion.

Website link for New London School Museum

	 New London, Texas, was known as the richest independent school district in the United States. Due to its oil wealth, the district was able to construct a state-of-the-art, for its time, school to house grades K-11.

On March 18, 1937 students prepared for an Inter-scholastic meet in Henderson. Then, at 3:17 p.m., an instructor in the shop class turned on a sanding machine which sparked. In an instant, a good part of the building disintegrated with an explosion that could be heard for miles. Almost 300 students and teachers died in the blast. The spark had ignited accumulated natural gas from a leak in a crawl space beneath the school.

At the gymnasium, the PTA met. At 3:17 P.M. Lemmie R. Butler, instructor of manual training, turned on a sanding machine in an area which, unknown to him, was filled with a mixture of gas and air. The switch ignited the mixture and carried the flame into a nearly closed space beneath the building, 253 feet long and fifty-six feet wide Immediately the building seemed to lift in the air and then smashed to the ground. Walls collapsed. The roof fell in and buried its victims in a mass of brick, steel, and concrete debris.

The explosion was heard four miles away, and it hurled a two-ton concrete slab 200 feet away, where it crushed a 1936 Chevrolet.

Fifteen minutes later, the news of the explosion had been relayed over telephone and Western Union lines. Frantic parents at the PTA meeting rushed to the school building. Community residents and roughnecks from the East Texas oilfield came with heavy-duty equipment. Within an hour Governor James Allred had sent the Texas Rangers and highway patrol to aid the victims.

Workers began digging through the rubble looking for victims. Floodlights were set up, and the rescue operation continued through the night as rain fell.

Within seventeen hours all victims and debris had been taken from the site. Mother Francis Hospital in Tyler canceled its elaborate dedication ceremonies to take care of the injured. The Texas Funeral Directors sent twenty-five embalmers.

Of the 500 students and forty teachers in the building, approximately 294 died. Some rescuers, students, and teachers needed psychiatric attention, and only about 130 students escaped serious injury. Those who died received individual caskets, individual graves, and religious services. (Copied from Museum website, see link above)

  • ******************************************************************************************************** Victims List


Abercrombie, Boyd Adams, Evelyn Allman, Almita Fae Anderson, Allene Myrtle Anderson, Lillian Laverne Apple, Betty Ruth Arnold, Wayne S.	  Barber, Ollie B. Barber, Arden Leon Barret, Donald Barret, Edward Barrett, Pauline Barton, Laverne T. Barton, Murvin Baucum, Margaret Louise Bell, Miss Laura Bennett, Mary Francis Benson, Betty Lou Bishop, Nellene Blackerby, John Blackford, Neal Blanton, Virginia Rose Bonner, George A. Bonner, Oneta Bowlin, Byron Braden, Sybil Dell Brown, Bobbie Lorene Brown, Elaine Bunting, Naomi Butler, L. R. Buzbee, John Robert Bynum Byrom, Owen	  Carney, Mary Prescilla Carr, Chloe Ann Cuvelier, Jacqueline Childress, William Polk Choate, Murray Dixon Clair, Mildred Louise Clark, Mary Lynn Clover, Byron Coker, Forest Cole, Helen Colins, Charles Rusk Jr. Corrie, Kenneth Cox, Perry Lee Crim, Annie Bell Crumbley, Jimmie Cummins, Marcella Curry, Zana Jo	  Damuth, Jane Davidson, Annie Laurie Davidson, Ardyth Davidson, Helen Davidson, Joe Wheeler Davis June Davis, Kenneth Wayne Dearing, Dorothy Ann Dial, Travis Dickerson, Wanda Joyce Dorsey, Alice Dorsey, Ethel Drake, Winifred Melvine Duncan, James Alfred Duncan, Vera Virginia (Sue)	  Eakes, Forest Eugene Ellison, Holly Jo Elrod, Edwin Zone Elrod, Juanita Emberling, George Emberling, Wanda Etheredge, Doris N.	  Fealy, James P. Fentress, Jack Ford, Jack Arnold Ford, Mary Elizabeth Forman, Mary Ellen Francis, Emaloyd Francis, Margine Freeman, Myrtle Frey, Carl H. Jr.	  Gandy, Martha Jean Gauthreaux, Eddie Herman Gerdes, Allen T. Gerdes, Alvin H. Gibson, Marcelyn, Carol Gipson, G. W. Goff, R. A. Jr. Gordon, Betty Kathryn Gordon, Joe C. Greer, Paul Grigg, Edwin Guinn, Tom Howard Gunn, H. D.	  Hale, Norris Thurston Hall, Irene Hall, Oscar G. Jr. Hamilton, Carl Jr. Hankins, Francis Hanna, Lorene Hardy, Leneta Fae Hargis, Martha Jane Harrelson, Coy Dee Harrelson, Helen Louise Harris, James Hasbrook, Charles Hathaway, Y. Jackolene Henson, Graham K. Herrington, Betty Jo Herrington, Mary Ellen Herron, Juanita Hodges, Betty Jo Hodges, Irma Elizabeth Hodges, Betty Jo Hogue, Margretta Holland, Bessie Estelle Holleyman, Betty Catherine Holt, Jessie Elinor Hooten, Mary Frances Houser, Laura Lee  Houser, Imogene Houser, Martha Ellen Hudson, Elisha M. Hudson, Hurbert Hughes, Melba Hunt, Charles Porter  Hunt, Ruby Frances	 Jacobs, Maxine Johnson, Kenneth Jolly, Geneva Lucille Jones, Charles Goodall Jones, Fedelia Lee Jones, Helen C.	 
Kelly Maudine Ketchum, William Kilgore, Cloudell King, Mary Lois Knight, Jaqueline Knipe, Earnest Ray Knotts, Rachel Mae Krauss, Bobby Lee	  Lambert, Robert Austin Latham Homer Latham, W. D. Lechtenberg, Anna May Lechtenberg, Helen Lee, Florence Ruby Lee, Laura Lehew, Mary Ellen Lloyd, Arzell Lloyd, Mary Emily Loe, Virginia Lowe, Helen Charlotte Lumpkin, John	 Maddry, J. E. Maddry, Mazine Manch, Doris Martin, Louise Maxwell, Blondell Maxwell, Charles Henry Maxwell, Louise Mayhew, Evelyn McChesny, Donald Robert McClure, Vincent Howard McCune, Lanny McGovney, Jack McGovney, James McLawchlin, W. C. McQuaid, Shirley Lataine Meadow, Floyd Jr. Melton, Doris Kay Middleton, Arlis Ray Miller, Carroll Evaughn Miller, Sebe Mills, Sarah Jane Milstead, Annie Marie Monday, Alma Moore, Dessie Lometer Morfield, Billie J. Mote, Marion Mote, Patty Ann Myers, Margie Louise Myers, Shirley Elizabeth	  Nail, John Worthley Neal, Mrs. Mary Ethel Nelson, Mrs. J.D.  Netherton, Aubry, Lee Newell, Orrin, Neal Newham, Jackie Norton, Betty Mozell Norton, Vesta Allen	  	  O'Neal, Charles O'Neal, Raymond B.	  Patterson, Marie Payne, Joyce Payne, Lewis M. Peace, Edna Ruby Person, Forest Lavon Petty, James Ray Phillips, James Henrey Phillips, Twillia Ruth Phillips, Virgil B. Pierson, Hazel Marie Pinkerton, Harvey Platt, Ola Christene Powell, Edna E. Powell, Eloise (Same As Eloise Brister) Phillips, Roseann (Roseann Sailsberry) Pride, Garland Propes, J. H. Purcell, Annie	   Ragsdale, Gabe E. Rainwater, Aubrey Rainwater, Evelyn Rainwater, Helen Ray, Delores Reames, Curtis Burton Reed, Ruby E. Rhodes, James Basel Richardson, Dorothy Rider, Betty Jane Rider, Charles Oliver Roberts, Billy Roberts, R. B. Roberts, Holten Dean Roberts, Norma Wayne Roberts, Ruth Rogers, Annie Maxwell Rogers, Thomas Blanton Rowell, Louise Rucker, Ester Fay	  Sallee, Robert Henry Salyer, Robert Basil Scott, David Willard Scott, Earl Jefferson Sevens, Maudine Shaw, Clifton Sambo Shaw, Dorothy Oleta Shaw, Marvin Shaw, Sammie Shoemaker, Robert W. Shoemate, Sammie Smith, Abner Smith, Bobbie Jean Smith, Iva Jo Smith, Mattie Mae Smith, Neomi Jewell Smith, Ruth Willien Smith, Sam Ross Jr. Smoot, Anna Maude Smoot, Helen Sowell, William Edward Staggs, Carl Starks, Marshall Stearnes, Geraldine Steele, Henry Lee Stephens, Philo Stone, Howard Stubblefield, A. W. Sutherlin, Glendell Swift, Lawrence	 
Tate, W. H. Tatum, J. R. (Junior) Taylor, Charles Ray Thiebaud, Marjorie Thompson, Mildren Thompson, Walter Tipp, Billie Travis   Van Haverbeke, Rose Vines, Mary E.	
Waggoner, Anna Belle Walker, Herman L. Walker, Mary Inez Walker, Moreene Waller, Louis Warren, Florine Watkins, Annie Louise Watson, Katie Mae Webb, Mary Jo Wells, Doris White, Dorothy Joyce Williams, Aubry Williams, Doris Dean Williams, Erma Jean Willis, Lucille Willis, Mary Lou Womack, Bernice Wood, Glenn Wooley, Malcolm Wortham, S. Jack Wyche, Doris	  York, Dale May Young, Mozell	 
	 Teachers And Others:

Louise Arnold L.R. Butler Laura Bell Nellie Barnes Mrs. J.M. Gore Mansel Hanna Mrs. J. T. Hunt Mary Ethel Neal Mrs. J. D. Nelson Marie Patterson (Secretary) Mattie Queen Price (Music Teacher) J.H. Propes W.H. Tate Lizzie Mae Thompson Louis Waller Katie Mae Watson


Eddie Herman Gauthreaux Mrs. Billie Moore James Henry Phillips (Age 4) Walker, Mrs. A. L. (Eula A.)

Sourced from New London Museum: