CHANDLER, Okla. (KFOR) – The town was only a few years old in late March, 1897.

Manvel Avenue was lined with wood frame buildings and a lot of people from other places who didn’t fully appreciate just how violent Oklahoma weather could get.

Historian Elizabeth Golliver’s family settled here in 1891.

“You can imagine those people didn’t have the kinds of advanced warning systems we have now. They didn’t have shelters or safe rooms.”

She grew up on the stories of what happened to Chandler on the last day of March, six years after the town was founded.

A tornado ripped through the business district leaving hundreds wounded and at least 14 dead, including one of her relatives, a man named Alexander Bishop, who ran inside his hardware store to turn off the kerosene lamps just before the storm hit.

Golliver was told, “A wooden tool box flew off the shelf, struck him in the head, and he went unconscious, and died three days later.”

The nature of violent, swirling winds can leave strange traces behind, devastation in one spot, no damage at all only a few feet away.

Chandler’s 1st Presbyterian Church, a block away from heavy damage, survived intact and still holds services every Sunday in 2022.

Photo goes with story
Nana’s Place. Photo from KFOR.

Quick Stewart’s house, one of the first built in 1891, had its entire front section moved by the storm to the middle of Manvel Ave.

One of the first things re-construction crews did after the storm reattach it.

The Stewart home is another survivor.

“It was one of the first houses rebuilt,” says Golliver.

It’s been remodeled several times.

Sunni Givens opened a bakery in it last year and is quite happy with the uneven floors and a front porch that boasts a nice view of where this part of the house used to sit.

“People leave packages for me on the front porch,” she says. “People sit and eat. It’s a perfect place.”

Townspeople talked about moving Chandler a couple of miles right after the ’97 cyclone.

Instead, they built back strong.

Huge stone blocks make up a row of business district buildings now.

One of them houses the Lincoln County Museum.

Living survivors of that storm are long gone, but the wind still whistles through the town’s oldest home, a survivor once moved off its foundations and put it right back where it originally belonged.

The Quick Stewart Home’s newest tenant served breakfast and lunch, along with candy and baked goods.

Go to the Nana’s Place Facebook page for more information.

For more information on the 1897 Cyclone or the history of Lincoln County, go to www.okpioneermuseum.org.