Site of White Point Mass Graves
of 1919 Hurricane Victims
On Saturday, September 13, 1919, the last swarms of vacationers who packed the Corpus Christi beaches were warned that a massive hurricane, which had gathered strength in the Gulf for two weeks, was approaching the shore. Most ignored the warnings in favor of the last weekend of the summer season. By Sunday afternoon the buildings on North Beach, battered by winds up to 110 miles per hour and storm tides up to 16 feet, began to break up.
By Monday morning, bodies and debris had begun to wash up on the shore at White Point. Black oil from the storage tanks near Port Aransas covered everything. Over the next few days, more than 200 people worked to rescue survivors and retrieve the dead. Bodies were taken to the West Portland schoolhouse on this site. Identifying the remains proved difficult; the bodies were broken, covered in oil, and in some cases whole families had perished, leaving no one to identify them. The remains were weighed on a cotton scale and taken almost a mile back toward the beach where they were found. They were laid to rest in a mass grave dug with a slip scraper.
More than 30 separate graves were dug from Indian Point near Portland to a spot about 20 miles up Nueces Bay. Some of the larger graves measured 1400 feet wide and 3200 feet long. Evidence indicates that all the bodies were moved to Rose Hill Cemetery in Corpus Christi and to other sites about a month later. The official death toll was 284; estimates place the actual number, including those lost at sea, at about 1,000. Property damage from the 1919 storm was estimated at about 20 million dollars. This gravesite and the others serve as a reminder of the power of the elements. (2000)
FM 893 / FM 1074, 7 mi. W of Portland
Source: Texas Historical Commission