De Leon Free Press

DeLeon, Comanche County, Texas, Friday, August 13, 1926

Ronald Myers Met Tragic Death in Gas Fire

Myers With Six Others Burned In Breck Gas Fire

Ronald MYERS is dead. The shocking news of the terrible tragedy spread throughout this city early Wednesday morning, casting a pall of sadness over the city.

At first information was meager, then little by little his friends heard how he was working along with six others on a huge still at a gasoline plant in the outskirts of Breckenridge, and shortly after nine o’clock p.m. Tuesday, without any warning, Ronald and his six companions were enveloped in flames. All were severely burned. Ronald was the last to emerge from the flaming cauldron. All emerged as veritable human torches, oil soaked clothing burning from their bodies like leaves in autumn.

Just what caused the fire has not been determined. The seven men were on top of a still which they had been cleaning out. The still was an upright tank, half underground, with a platform or floor over the top. Above this floor were coils of condenser pipes, and above all was a circular iron roof. It was beneath this roof that the men were trapped, the fire coming up from below. A man was engaged at scooping up oil from a concrete floor at the base of the still and it may have been that the friction of the shovel he was using on the concrete struck fire. Again, the fire may have been caused from spontaneous combustion. It was not an explosion as was reported, rather a flash of fire.

The horrible spectacle of seeing seven men as living fire-brands spring or fall from an elevation of fifteen feet, screaming and fighting the flames that were literally destroying them, greeted Mrs. Stuart CATE as she stood near the scene. Mrs. CATE was formerly Miss Letha SMI"TH until her marriage a few months ago to Mr. CATE. And to know that her husband, who is manager of the plant was one of those thus suffering gave Mrs. CATE a nervous shock that leaves her in a serious condition.

Around the edge of the still at the top was a steel passage with railing support. After the burst of flames the men rushed from beneath the roof and either sprang or fell over this railing. For some reason MYERS was the last man out. Perhaps he ran against some obstruction, or in some way encountered difficulty in extracting himself from his task. At any rate he fell over the railing and took the 15-foot fall, striking on a pile of lumber and sustained a broken rib. This would not have proven serious but for his burns. The skin was burned from his back, both legs, both arms and face. MYERS lived about 28 hours after the accident and was conscious until perhaps fifteen minutes before his death. He realized that he was going to die. He asked the attending physician once early in the fight if he was going to die. Dr. SELF replied that he had seen men badly burned before who pulled through if they fought for it. Ronald replied, "then fight I will." Later, when he realized that his life was ebbing away, he called his mother and told her he was going to have to die and asked her to hold his hand. That was all. He died bravely as he had lived, manly and unafraid.

Ronald MYERS was the only son of Mr. and Mrs. Kos MYERS. He was largely reared in this city. Wednesday, August 11th, was his birthday, the fatal accident occurring just three hours before the cycle of years had ushered in his twentieth birthday. He died when exactly twenty years and thirteen hours of age. His funeral is today – Friday the 13th day of August. His former pastor, Rev. W.T. HAMOR, now of Anson, Texas, is conducting the funeral service. The hour is 10:00a.m., the place, De Leon Methodist church. Interment will be at De Leon cemetery.

Whatever tribute this paper might pay to Ronald MYERS could not approach nor greatly add to the honors he has won in his short career. MYERS was a general favorite during the years he was in high school. And he was in his second year at Baylor last year when his fellow students elected him president of the Sophomore class and he was chosen "King" in the elaborate May Day festivities at Baylor. His passing has cast a gloom of sadness over the hearts of hundreds who knew and loved him for his manliness, clean and wholesome character and courteous disposition.

Breckenridge, Aug. 11 – An explosion in the still room of the Breckenridge Gasoline Co. plant, a subsidiary of the Hickok company at 9:15 o’clock last night probably fatally injured R.C. MYERS, 20, yardman, and seriously burned six others. All except Myers are expected to recover.

Those burned were Stewart CATE, son of J.B. CATE of Cisco, superintendent; W.J. PALK, yardman; N.O. GRAY, gas-o-lite operator; J.D. GRIMES, plant operator and George WALKER and Joe RUSSELL, yardmen.

The men were engaged in placing a new cap on the manhole of one of the stills, in all of which fire had been extinguished. However, the still under repair had been leaking and it is supposed that vapor from this gasoline became ignited in some unknown manner, causing the explosion.

R.L. ELLIS, an office employee of the company and living nearby, was awakened by the blast and turned in a fire alarm. The Breckenridge fire department responded to the call and with the aid of other employees of the company who were not on duty, put out the flames. Ambulances carried the injured men to the West Texas hospital nearby, where all except MYERS were reported resting well on Wednesday afternoon – Cisco Daily News.

Recent Births

Born to Mr. and Mrs. W.L. LOCKE, of De Leon, Rt. 4, on Saturday, Aug. 7th, a 10 lb. boy.

Born to Mr. and Mrs. Jeff HALBROOKS, of Route 4, on Friday, Aug. 6th, a fine boy.

Born to Mr. and Mrs. George LOWREY, of Rt. 4, on Thursday, August 5, a baby daughter.


The marriage of Miss Mae Bell WINKLES and Mr. Bob SCOTT took place at Comanche on Saturday, July 31, 1926 at 2:30 o’clock.

The Rev. HEARN, pastor of the Christian church of that place officiated. Only close friends of the bride and groom witnessed the ceremony, those being: Mr. and Mrs. Geo. DENIS of Leuders, Texas; Misses Addie JOHNSON and Eva MORRIS and Cleburn DAWKINS.

Miss WINKLES is the eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. W.L. WINKLES of the Duster community. She is charming, loveable indeed, one whose amiability of character will make her a pleasant and devoted companion, as well as a helpmate.

Mr. SCOTT is the son of Mr. and Mrs. John SCOTT of the trinity community and is popular among both the old and young. He possesses the highest of character and ability. He is a professional and progressive farmer.

They will make their home in the Trinity community. Their host of friends wish them a long and happy life together and may all their future years be illuminated with the brightest of sunshine and happiness is fervent wishes from their intimate friends. – A Friend.


The Free Press has just been informed of the marriage of Miss Gladys CARNES, only daughter of Mrs. J.W. HAYNES, to Mr. Leonard KIRKLEN of Dublin. The wedding was not announced immediately after its occurrence on the 20th of June. In fact some of their close friends are just finding it out.

The happy young couple have gone to McKemie, Texas, in the Big Lake district, where he is employed by the Parkerburg Rig & Reel Co., holding a position of trust with the big oil field corporation.

Both these young people have hosts of friends in De Leon and Dublin and the most lavish of good wishes have been showered up on them.

Rev. Strickland and Wife Back From Calif.

Rev. and Mrs. J.M. STRICKLAND returned last week from a visit of several weeks with his sister, who lives in San Diego, Calif. This is the sister of Rev. STRICKLAND from whom he was separated immediately following the close of the Civil War and he had not heard of her for half a century. In their old age they were reunited in her home at San Diego about the first of May.


Last Saturday afternoon, July 31, Miss Rozelle SMITH entertained a gay bunch of youngsters with a circus party in honor of her cousin, little Miss Sarah Janet PATTERSON of Rotan, Texas. Many games were played and little Miss Daphane Marie SHOOK received the prize for cutting the cleverest elephant. After Eugenia GENTRY and Sarah JANET had given a sample of the Charleston, the children were directed to the dining room where they found in the center of the table, a large circus tent with the circus ladies and clowns ready to perform.

Red lemonade and animal crackers were served to the following little folks:

Margaret SHARP, Ruth AYERS, Ray NELL and Spencer LIGHTFOOT, Eugenia GENTRY, John Travis MOHON, Daphine Marie SHOOK, Sarah Janet PATTERSON of Rotan, Lucile FOOT of Plainview, Thelma Jean NOLEN of San Antonio, Ruby TODD, Martha Frances RUSSELL, James HAMPTON, Lucile KEE, Cecil FUNDERBURGH, Stewart THOMPSON, Mary Ruth HAMPTON and Grace SMITH.

Duster News

Arthur PLUMLEE, son-in-law of Will HUDDLESTON of Rising Star, was badly injured Friday evening when a casing truck crashed into the car. His father was killed in the accident.

Mr. FLETCHER and Elmo STARK of Snyder arrived Saturday night to spend a month with their sister, Mrs. M.J. DUKE.

Bowman News

Mrs. J.T. QUINN is reported to be on the sick list this week with a case of flu.

Jim HUCKABEE, who has spent the spring in West Texas is visiting relatives in this community, spending most of his time with his daughter, Mrs. George PINSON.

Miss Mary WALKER was visiting home folks Sunday. She is attending summer school at Tarleton.

Mother of Mrs. Easterling Died In Oklahoma

Mrs. L.W. EASTERLING received a message Wednesday morning from Ardmore, Okla., apprising her of the critical illness of her mother. About six o’clock the same afternoon she received a second message stating that her mother was dead. Friends accompanied her to Dublin where she caught the north bound Frisco, accompanied by her children.

Lewis, the young son of the family , has been at Ardmore for some weeks. Free Press hopes to present a more detailed account of the death later.

Another Family Reunion

By ten o’clock Sunday morning on August the eighth, the entire family of Mr. and Mrs. M.L. MORRIS had gathered at their home one-half mile north of De Leon for their annual reunion. The weather was intensely hot but the meeting was a great joy to the father and mother who are growing years, father being 75 and mother 70 years.

The day was spent in eating, drinking, laughing and talking and a good time in general.

Those absent were spoken of during the day. Those present were: Mrs. J.D. COLLIER and three children of Troup, C.Y. MORRIS and children of Rule, Felix and Jesse MORRIS and families and Lee MORRIS and family of De Leon.

Absent ones were: J.D. COLLIER and son Terry of Troup; Otho MORRIS of Big Lake; Oren MORRIS of Mexia and Mrs. C.Y. MORRIS of Rule who was at the bedside of a sick brother.

Others present were Mr. and Mrs. J.L. VAUGHN, Mr. and Mrs. Frank McCRUMB, Ora and Odet GILLOCK, Flora MORRIS, Ruth OGLESBY and Gladys WARREN. – Contributed

Local News

Jeff ROSS is home from Ft. Worth this week after an absence of several months from the city.

Mrs. T.J. KELLEY of Plainview has been here during the week, a guest in the home of her father, J.L. LEWIS, near Rucker.

Mrs. WILLIAMSON, mother of Mrs. B.F. COX, is visiting her daughter this week. Her nephew, Mr. BUMPUS, was also here.

Miss Maude KINCHEN is away for vacation visiting in the home of her sister, Mrs. Gaylord KLINE near Houston.

Ralph DUKE returned home from a sanitarium at Brownwood last Friday and is much improved. He suffers from kidney trouble and has been treated there for some weeks.

Free Press has heard the report that W.W. GREGORY has resigned his position in the hardware department at Higginbothams and will again go on the road selling hardware.

Mrs. W.C. CARAWAY of Eastland was spending several days this week with her sister, Mrs. C.L. HUDDLESTON.

Alabamans Hold Get-Together At McCharen’s Lake

Last Sunday afternoon a large party of Alabamians and ex-Alabamians held a get-together at the McCharen home three miles south of town. Making a statement for the party, Rev A.F. NABORS expressed the desire of everyone that this meeting be the "first annual Alabama Reunion."

There was no fixed program at the gathering, it being wholly informal. It was the first opportunity some of the Texans had had of meeting the visitors here from Alabama, The SCOTT, GUNN, and DUNCAN visitors. Indeed, many of the Texas-born members of the party who are grown and married had never seen their aunts and cousins from the old state. It was a joyous occasion and one which every person present will be glad to have occur at this season year after year.

After a beautiful spread under the McCharen grove a roll call was made and it was found that 182 persons were present as follows:

Mr. and Mrs. Fletcher SCOTT, Alexander City, Ala.

Mrs. Amelia GUNN, Alexander City, Ala.

Mr. and Mrs. E.W. DUNCAN, Alexander City, Ala.

Mr. and Mrs. E. FORD, Cisco

Mr. and Mrs. Rex MOORE and baby, Cisco.

Mr. and Mrs. Vess MOORE and children, Cisco

Mr. and Mrs. C.B. POWELL, and children, Cisco.

Mr. and Mrs. Velma LOCKE, Cisco

Mr. and Mrs. Val McCHAREN, Cisco

Mrs. Della HEATH, Rising Star

Autrey BALLARD, Sudan, Texas

Mr. and Mrs. Percival WHITLAW and daughter, Comanche

Lloyd LEE, Dublin

Mr. and Mrs. C.C. FINE, Dublin

The following from De Leon and vicinity:

Mr. and Mrs. A.F. NABORS and sons; Mr. and Mrs. W.C. LOCKE and children; Mr. and Mrs. W.O. LOCKE and son; Mr. and Mrs. T.H. LOCKE and children; J.C. LOCKE; Mr. and Mrs. H.W. LOCKE; Mr. and Mrs. Henry DEAN and children; Mrs. Ida DEAN; Mr. and Mrs. Doyle LOCKE; Mr. and Mrs. G.L. LEE and family; Mr. and Mrs. W.J. SCOTT and children; Mr. and Mrs. Wm. DUKE and children; Mr. and Mrs. Albert DUKE and children; R.T. NABORS; Mr. and Mrs. N. NABORS and family; Mr. and Mrs. W.B. RAY and children; Mr. and Mrs. Fred ADCOCK and baby; Joe GUNN and family; Mr. and Mrs. S.W. WILKERSON and family; Misses Della and Delia WALL; Mr. and Mrs. M.D. NORTON; Mr. and Mrs. D.C. NORTON; J.F. McKELVEY and family; Mr. and Mrs. Adrian BALLARD; Mrs. S.F. BALLARD; Mrs. Exa DODSON; Mr. and Mrs. Wayne BELL, J.B. SMITH; Mrs. John T. SOLLEY; Rance SOLLEY and son; Mr. and Mrs. W.M. COLEY and children; Oscar NABORS and children; Little Miss Billie Blue HARRISON, of Austin; Mr. and Mrs. H.C. KENNEDY, W.T. HENDERSON; Mr. and Mrs. A.J. HANCOCK; Mr. and Mrs. M.E. DUKE; Mrs. W.R. SADBERRY and children; Mr. and Mrs. L.B. CHAMPION; Tiller YATES and family; Mr. and Mrs. J.N. PITTS and children; Mr. and Mrs. Lee NABORS and baby; R.L. SCOTT and children and Rev. W.A. NEILL.

New Hope News

Mr. and Mrs. Will TERRY and their daughters, Pauline, Jeraldine and Juanita, arrived Saturday from Arizona to visit in the home of J.L. BOYETT and other relatives and friends. Mr. TERRY and family lived in this community about twelve years ago and have lost their three oldest children since they moved from here.

W.W. HODGES arrived home Sunday from Mississippi where he had been visiting his aged father and other relatives.

Claude PAIR and family were at the bedside of his brother, Earnest PAIR, of near DOCKUM on Sunday and Monday. His brother has been quite ill.

Mrs. Maggie GRISSOM and daughters, Agnes and Mildred returned to their home at Munday the first of the week after visiting for several days in the home of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. J.L. BOYETT.

S.N. WILKERSON and family visited his brother, Riley WILKERSON of near Proctor on Tuesday.

Mrs. H.B. SCOTT of San Angelo was visiting the LOCK relatives in this community last week.


©2004,2005 Judith Michaels.  This transcription is the generous work of Judy Michaels taken from microfilm held by the Newspaper Collection of the University of Texas at Austin with a microfilm copy at Comanche Public Library.  The information may be used for personal research only and not for commercial purposes without specific permission.