Story of the Storm
Part 2: Storm continues
The Scene at Pomeroy
The Director visited the stricken town on the day following the disaster and again on the 14th, accompanied on the latter by Dr. George M. Chappel, Local Forecast Official of the United States Weather Bureau, and Assistant Director of the Iowa service. A careful inspection was made of the debris and other visible effects, to determine, as far as possible, the nature and special characteristics of the storm which wrought such appalling destruction in so short a space of time.
In Fig. VI we have a photo-engraving from a pencil sketch, showing a plat of the town, the area of total or partial destruction being indicated by the dark lines, which are also made to show the direction of the wreckage of buildings, trees, sidewalks, etc. The arrows, in line with the debris, show the direction of the air currents which formed portions of the whirling column. The long arrow, pointing southeastward, is at the center of the belt of total destruction. The town plat contains, as will be seen, about thirty blocks south of the Illinois Central Railway. The business houses are mainly located between First and Second streets, nearly all the private residences, together with the churches and schoolhouse, being south of Second street. From this statement it will be seen that eighty per cent of the residences were destroyed or rendered uninhabitable. Fully twenty blocks were swept clean of human habitation or other buildings, nothing remaining but the debris and few mounds above the caves wherein many lives were saved. The blocks of the town are about 300 feet wide, and the streets the usual width. From this it will be seen that the average width of the belt of complete destruction is about 1,200 feet, and the track of total and partial destruction is 1,800 feet.
The force of the storm was evidently much greater at the right than at the left of the central line. The fact should be noted, however, that the southern portion of town did not contain as many residences to the square as did the central and northern tiers of blocks.
Fig. III, which was photographed from the center of the belt, looking northeast, gives a general view of the area of total destruction, and the distribution of debris, and also shows a fringe of partially wrecked houses on the north.
On the left of the central track (north side) all the wreckage of buildings, sidewalks, trees, etc., was carried to the southwest, on the line shown by the arrows in Fig. VI. At the northwestern point, where the storm first struck the town, a residence was pushed bodily six rods to the southwest, over trees and shrubbery, scraping the sod as it went, forming a bank of earth on its south side three feet high. A little over a block south of it stood the German Lutheran church, the largest and strongest structure in town. That was blown in pieces,. and most of the debris was carried toward the northeast. At the extreme east of the town plat, near Third street, stood the Catholic church. An intelligent resident states that he saw that building lifted up bodily in the air, whirled around, and then dashed to the earth. The wreckage is strewn toward the southwest. A little south and east of that building stood another smaller church, which was wrecked and blown toward the northwest. On the extreme south side of the path of the storm houses were moved and loose debris carried towards the northeast, as shown by the lines and arrows in the diagram. In the central belt the smaller debris, and in fact all forms of wreckage, were found distributed on the direct line of the storm. This fact led some reporters to the conclusion that the greater work of destruction was done by a straight blow from the northwest. There was quite likely a straight wind of hurricane force following directly in the wake of the revolving shaft of destruction, and that wind undoubtedly had a part in the distribution and direction of the debris. On the flanks however, the same degree of uniformity is not visible.
The trees on the flanks, and the few gnarled twisted trunks of trees and shrubbery left in the center of the track, all bore mute testimony as to the character of the storm. On the left they were partially denude bark on the north or northeast sides, and the broken or uprooted trees pointed to the southwest. On the right flank reverse effects were seen. And in the central portion of the track the stubs and trunks were almost wholly divested of bark, and bore the scars of contact with great variety of flying missiles from all sides. In many cases the bark must have been ground off by attrition, the stubs being too heavy to have been peeled by twisting. By the same attrition fowls were divested of their feathers, numbers of which were seen in the debris. The human victims of the tornado's fury, the dead wounded, bore evidence on their persons of the fact the air was filled with an infinite number of swiftly moving splinters, sand, mud, plaster, limbs of trees and other movable objects. In fact, some of them were literally tattooed.
The business part of the town was not left unscathed. The brick drug store of Mr. Mullan, near Second street fronting east, was badly wrecked. The glass front broken in by the strong current from the northeast, the entire south wall, a foot thick, was blown over to the southward. Another brick store in the next block was also demolished.
The value of caves was well attested by this storm. Seven or eight of these places of refuge in the devastated district sheltered forty to fifty people, protecting then from all harm. They are cheap and frail looking for most part, built necessarily mainly above ground on account of the damp and undrained nature of the sub-soil, covered with mounds of earth rising four to six feet above the surface; and yet they admirably served their purpose as tornado-proof structures. If every family had been provided with such a place of refuge, and had heeded nature's danger signals, no fatalities would have been recorded. Their cost is trifling, and at such a time a very poor hole in the ground is worth more to a family than the richest gold mine-in America.
The cellars of Pomeroy afforded a measurable degree of protection to those who made timely flights thereto. We made diligent inquiry, but heard of no well-verified instance of fatal injury to people who took refuge in their cellars, but many were bruised by falling debris, or pierced by flying splinters, and few came out of the cellars wholly unscathed. Observing the amount of stones, brick, wreckage of furniture and other debris piled in the cellars, it seems a miracle that any person came out alive. Near the center of the track we were shown a cellar, 8 by 12 feet, wherein a woman and two children were saved from serious harm, and yet while they were crouched near the door at the west wall, a stallion weighing 1,600 pounds was blown in from the east side and remained floundering in its death struggle until the storm had passed and the people were rescued. Columns could be filled with narrations of miraculous escapes, and other columns with the sad details of death and suffering.
Notes and Observations
"Indications of the uplifting force of the tornado have been noted at all points. It has been stated that over Storm Lake it lifted a column of water 100 feet high. This must be taken with a grain of allowance, for no one was near enough to its track to discern the column through the mass of vapor accompanying the storm. But the fact is well attested by reliable eye witnesses, that while the storm was crossing the lake the waters at the north shore receded rapidly, a hundred feet or more, leaving bare ground at the pier where the small steamboat lands. After its passage the waters rushed back with a tidal wave several feet high.
A great number of intelligent people, who were near the path of the storm, testify to the fact that light structures where lifted many feet, whirled around in the air and then dashed to the earth. In some cases they saw, or thought they saw, buildings whirled over and over, somersault fashion, as if the revolving column had for the moment whirled on a horizontal axis.
Near the center of the track in Pomeroy a number of buildings evidently exploded outward, from the force of the expanding air within, the roofs being carried away, and the sides and ends of the structures were left lying as they fell toward the four points of the compass. On the north of the track, in the area of partial destruction, the buildings bore striking evidence of the expansive out-rush of air toward the south. Parts of roofs were carried in that direction, and windows were broken from the force within, the glass being carried outside. Numerous houses were seen partially wrecked, their southern sides or wings being blown toward the track of the tornado. There seems to be no room for doubt that the main destructive force in this storm was its tremendous uplifting power.
As to the roaring sound of the storm there is abundant testimony. One man whose family were saved in a cave, remarked, as he urged them to flee, that it was either a very bad storm or a very heavy train of cars coming. It proved to be the former.
Postmaster Mallory, of the town of Jolley, five miles south of Pomeroy, writes that the loud roaring noise was distinctly heard at his place. In his description, Mr. Mallory says the advance part of the cloud, as it approached Pomeroy, was rolling over and over, parallel with the ground. This was closely followed by two funnel-shaped masses swiftly revolving, the clouds from the southeast being drawn toward the center. The lightning and thunder were unusually violent.
The Tornado at Pomeroy
The point at which Iowa's greatest tornado seemed spend its force in one final, grand effort of destruction was at Pomeroy, a flourishing town of about 1,990 inhabitants located in the extreme northern part of Calhoun county. The land on which Pomeroy is built, as well as the country roundabout for at least ten to twenty miles in every direction, was originally flat and marshy prairie land, with not a tree nor shrub to break the monotony of waving luxuriant grass beneath and blue skies above. On account of the unattractive topography of the country and the wetness of the land, this part of the state was one of the last sections of Iowa to be brought under subjection by the tillers of the soil, the early settlers having taken first what was considered the choicer lands Where natural drainage is provided by the beautiful streams for which the Hawkeye State is famous. Twenty years ago the section country of which Pomeroy is now a prominent trading point was populated only by a few poverty-stricken "homesteaders," many of whom lived in sod houses and were compelled to use prairie hay as an article of fuel. But during these two decades a wonderful change has come. Those first pioneers doubtless had hardly a hope of gaining anything like a competency from the products of their wet land, but it furnished a home for their families and they were content that hard, patient toil brought them enough to keep the proverbial wolf at least a short distance from their humble doors.
In order to raise anything on much of the land a great deal of drainage was necessary, and the task of subduing the soil that Uncle Sam, with doubtful generosity, had donated to those who would take and live upon it was, therefore, a doubly hard one. But, gradually and very slowly at first, the task was accomplished, though not without many discouragements; and, as they progressed in the work, the fact began to dawn upon them that this black, ugly soil, properly handled, is simply a mine of wealth, and this at about the time that some of the farms farther east, that were so specially favored by natural drainage, began to show signs of wearing out, or, at least, were found to not withstand sometimes the test of a droughty season. Many of these farmers, therefore, sold out their dry farms and moved over to the once despised and popularly considered worthless, wet land; drainage by tiling came into vogue, and in a comparatively few years the poor pioneers of northern Calhoun and southern Pocahontas counties became well-to-do farmers and stock-growers, with plenty of prosperous neighbors, with handsome homes, big barns and fat herds upon every hand, while dense groves of trees and well-tilled, fertile fields transformed the wilderness into a landscape full of beauty. In the midst of such a country Pomeroy-twenty years ago a desolate way station in a swamp on the Illinois Central Railroad-grew, naturally and healthfully, to be the lively, well-built town of 1,000 inhabitants which it was on July 6, 1893, when visited by the terrible tornado. For some time prior to this catastrophe it was generally remarked that Pomeroy was growing to be an uncommonly bright and lively little city. During several seasons previous it had been enjoying a substantial and quite rapid growth, at a time when neighboring towns were mostly at a standstill. As the surrounding country developed and improved, the town enjoyed a greater volume, as well as a better class of trade, and the results of this were being shown in more home-like homes, in larger and more substantial business buildings and in public improvements of various kinds. A glance at the maps furnished herewith will give the reader a pretty good idea of the situation and size of Pomeroy. The business houses of the town are nearly all located on the central three blocks on the south side of First street, extending along the south side of First street and one block south, or nearly so, on Otsego, Ontano and Cayuga streets. The rest of the town plat as shown, is south of Oak and Second streets, and east from Seneca to Cayuga, was almost solidly built up with homes, some quite pretentious and luxurious, many the more modest abodes of those who were simply "in fair circumstances," and others the humble though generally quite comfortable cottages of those who were considered poor people. But all were homes, with at least the full average of contentment, peace, prosperity and all things else that go to make up the life of a community of industrious, intelligent and happy people in free America. What a wise provision it is that the future is rendered impenetrable to human gaze! How well that fate unfolds not in advance the sometimes fearful scenes she has in store for us in that mysterious realm! Had the average Pomeroy householder given a thought to the subject on the morning of July 6, he would no doubt have considered that no home on the face of the globe could be more secure, or at least stood less chance of being destroyed that day, than his own. There was no possibility of invasion by a foreign enemy; no river nor reservoir of water was near that could by any chance turn loose the element of destruction that devastated the Conemaugh; neither was there a rival of Vesuvius near to enable history to repeat the downfall of the once proud Pompeii. Pomeroy's prospects, therefore, for continuing in the even tenor of her way so long as the rest of the globe remained intact could hardly have been improved upon, from the human point of view.
At the time of which we write Pomeroy yet showed signs of having recently indulged in holiday demonstrations of unusual magnitude; for Pomeroy people are patriotic, and they had only two days before celebrated the glorious Fourth with characteristic vim and liberality.
Remnants of bunting and flag decorations yet remained upon some of the buildings which were soon to be turned into hospitals for the wounded and dying. A large dancing platform, laid on the foundation walls for a new brick block in process of erection, helped tell the story of gay and festive scenes so recently enacted there and only three days afterward some of the happy throng of dancers on that Fourth of July night rested upon cots on that same floor, suffering untold agonies and their light of life almost extinguished.
The Pomeroy disaster differed from most others of like magnitude prominent in history in that the people concerned in the former had no certain warning of impending danger. It is true that atmospherical conditions, especially during the afternoon of the fateful day, were what was generally recognized as being favorable to the formation of tornado currents, but as few people, comparatively speaking, had ever encountered a genuine tornado of destructive tendencies, not many were seriously apprehensive at this time, People were at their places of business, or at their work, as usual, and at supper time the evening meal was prepared and partaken of at the various homes and hotels, everyone wholly oblivious of the fact that a mighty Juggernaut of destructive elements was bearing down upon the little city to demolish its homes, and maim, mangle kill its men, women and children.
Looking backward now, it seems almost that someone must have blundered; that a neglect which is criminal must be charged to someone for failing to send by telegraph a word of warning to the towns along the Illinois Central railroad toward which the terrible tornado was tearing its way with such fearful consequences. It is true that no one could foretell its exact course, and it is probable, also, that those who simply saw it at a distance and were in a position to send the warning had nothing like an adequate conception of the extent and destructive nature of the storm; but these facts, it would seem, would not wholly excuse them.
Look at the possibilities for wholesale life-saving that must have been in the hands of someone! At 6 o'clock the funnel-shaped cloud passed over Storm Lake, in plain view of many people in the town on the banks of the lake, and Pomeroy was not destroyed until just about an hour later. A word over the wires at the proper time might have saved a half-hundred lives and preserved the bodies of scores who were wounded.
All the people along the track of the storm could not have been notified, to be sure, but warning could have reached residents of the towns in ample time that nearly all could have been ensconced in places of safety, for this storm demonstrated that caves and cellars afford almost absolute protection to life and limb from the tornado. Of course, the fatal neglect in this case was by no means intentional, nor was it even due to a lack of sympathy for human suffering; and it is, therefore, entirely unexplainable how no one at the several stations passed by the storm before reaching Pomeroy thought to send forth the alarm. But no alarm was sent forth, and the historian has to deal only with events as they occurred, not with what "might have been".
During the afternoon of July 6 the people of Pomeroy noticed heavy black clouds gathering in the west, and toward evening a heavy cloud of a lighter hue hung some distance above the southwestern horizon and seemed to be moving toward the mass of blackness in the west as if for mortal combat. The lighter cloud at one time assumed the shape of a huge crescent, and wonderful gyrations were performed by the two masses as they seemed to meet and tumble over and through one another. Still another cloud of threatening proportions was approaching from the northeast, and they who were in the habit of observing such phenomena remarked that the meeting of the three clouds would surely result in atmospherical disturbances of unusual severity. The day was oppressively hot, the atmosphere close and muggy. More than one expressed the prevailing opinion that it was, "good cyclone weather, " but apprehension in regard to such a visitation was so popularly considered a weakness that none was brave enough to advise a general movement for self-protection in case of an emergency. The grayish fringe of the upper part of the clouds in the west and southwest indicated the presence of hail, and many people consoled themselves and others with the prediction that a severe thunderstorm accompanied by hail would be the extent of the threatened visitation. At 6:30 o'clock the heavens were entirely enveloped in clouds, but the approaching storm cloud from the northeast was still well defined and the wall of blackness in the west drew nearer and nearer to the fated town. It was at about 6:45, as nearly as can be ascertained, when a heavy rainstorm broke, accompanied by high wind. In the course of ten or fifteen minutes there was a perceptible lull, and the majority of those who had sought places of safety thought the storm was over and came forth-many to a most terrible death.
A few persons living on the west side of town saw at this time a sight which was awful, grand and harrowing in the extreme to even one possessed of the strongest nerves. The demon of destruction was at hand. The view of it was but for a moment, but that moment must have been fraught with a multitude-of conflicting emotions to those who gazed upon this monster engine propelled by nature's peculiar forces and with death himself holding wide the throttle. And to the minds of those who viewed this wonderful something, as well as of those who have simply contemplated its awful work, the question remains alike unanswered, What was it?
To the majority who viewed the storm at Pomeroy, it did not seem to have the funnel shape that tornado clouds are supposed to invariably assume, although the closeness of the view may have rendered the full outlines undiscernable. What was seen was simply a rolling, whirling, writhing mass of greenish blackness, from and through which millions of tongues of electric flame darted and twisted in fearful, fantastic shapes. Was it a huge ball of electricity, with a wonderful revolving motion, crushing everything in its pathway as it sped over the earth, anon shooting out shafts of the subtle fluid far beyond its main track, while everything was drawn as by a mighty magnet toward the vacuum which its passage through the atmosphere created? This is the way it appeared to some, but what they saw was doubtless the tail of the monster balloon-shaped cloud, which unquestionably did have a distinctly rotary motion and was certainly very heavily charged with electricity.
The sensations experienced by different persons as the cloud passed over were widely dissimilar-this being accounted for by the unlike conditions existing at different points in the track of the storm. Those on the outer edges heard a great noise-the roar of the storm, which seemed to have a peculiar noise of its own, and mingled with it the crashing of timbers and the deafening claps of thunder- while those in about the center of the storm's course heard simply nothing. They felt for the moment as though there was no air in the rooms or places where they had sought refuge~which was doubtless actually the case-and some of these, who were in caves or cellars, sought to open a door or window for purposes of ventilation, when the trouble was not that the rooms were closed up, but that the air had been sucked out.
But it was only a moment that anyone had to note the peculiar sensations incident to the remarkable phenomena of which so many were unwilling witnesses. "It was like a long-drawn moan, " as someone described it, and all was over, but the results left behind in destruction of life and property are seldom accomplished in so short a time. "They who were left to gaze upon the scene of desolation must have been struck with a horror simply indescribable.
As the storm struck Pomeroy, it was traveling in a southeasterly direction, parallel with the Illinois Central railroad track.
After taking the full row of houses on the west side of Seneca street, south of the track, it veered southward about a block, then turned again and went a little south of east, mowing everything clean in its pathway, which, as has been before indicated, was about four blocks in width and through the most densely populated residence portion of the town. Imagine, then, if you can, the feelings of the survivors who first looked over this field of desolation-where only a moment before was a city of homes and scenes of life everywhere, and now not a building, a green tree, nor a thing of life to be seen-everything absolutely flat on the ground. [Those who were on the outer edge of the storm's track and were first to get out and look over the ground after the storm had passed, claim that even the men and animals who were not seriously injured were apparently stunned for the time being, and that not a living object arose to view for the space of several minutes.
Nor was there a sound to be heard for a short time but that made by the rain, which fell in blinding torrents. No wonder that nearly every survivor who viewed the scene wondered if he were the only one left in the whole city to tell the tale of wholesale slaughter and devastation! But it was not long until signs of life-in many cases accompanied by pain which would have made death preferable-began to be manifest throughout the ruined district. There were plenty of sights and sounds to greet the two important senses now, but they were such as to increase the terror of the situation rather than to diminish it. Here one found a poor unfortunate pinned to the earth by fallen timbers; over there a woman with bleeding body and broken limbs clasping her child in a close embrace-everywhere shouts for help and cries of pain rising above the noise of the raging elements. The rain continued to descend on the sad scene in veritable sheets, accompanied by hail, and while this added to the discomfort of the wounded and dying and retarded the progress of rescue work, yet it undoubtedly saved many from a worse fate, for the piles of ruins would surely have been swept by flames but for the very heavy fall of water both before and after the tornado did its work.
The comparatively few able-bodied men left in Pomeroy were very soon on the field of desolation carrying the wounded to places of safety and administering to their comfort with all the means at hand. This work, of course, had to be done without any attempt at organization everyone doing whatever came in his way to do. And the amount of thorough and effective work done that night is marvelous. Before 11 O'clock-in less than four hours after the disaster every wounded person in whom the breath of life remained had been removed from the ruins to some sort of covering that afforded protection from the storm. And much of this work was accomplished in the face of difficulties which, under ordinary circumstances, would be insurmountable. Men carried bodies in their arms several blocks with apparent ease that they could scarcely have lifted at any other time, finding their way over piles of debris and avoiding open wells and cellars, in spite of the darkness-and most of the time the storm raging so that one could hardly travel against it with no impediments in the way. To accomplish successfully th'e work done men's finer feelings had to be deadened in about the same proportion that their physical strength and energy was augmented for the occasion. Some with hearts as tender as a woman's would pass by the bodies of friends known to be dead, with hardly a thought, to render succor to a mangled one yet alive whom, perhaps, they hardly knew. The telegraph and telephone wires being down, it must have been two hours or more before much outside help arrived, but messengers were sent by horseback to Manson and Jolley, and the male population of those towns turned out almost en masse in response to the call for help. Fonda was also notified by a special train sent up, and an army of workers brought down from there. As has been said, the wounded were all housed by II o'clock that night, and the dead bodies had also been all removed from the ruins before sunrise the next morning. Rumors were afloat throughout the country of dead bodies being found as late as two or three days after the storm, but these were pure canards. One well-meaning Des Moines man told through the press of being on the ground the day following the catastrophe and pleading unsuccessfully with the guards to allow him to head a posse of men to go into the swept district and search the ruins for the dead bodies which he knew must be there. This gentleman was simply the victim of his own unduly excited imagination. Every soul in Pomeroy on the night of the storm had been accounted for some hours before, but had he gone to those in charge of relief work they would have given him plenty to do in the way of alleviating suffering or caring for the dead. It may be said, in extenuation of the thoughtless wrong he did those who had done and were doing such valiant service here, that others were assailed by the same emotions experienced by him, upon first viewing the wrecked district. One could hardly believe that out of the hundred or more homes so completely wrecked a human being could emerge from any of them alive, and at first thought it would seem that there must be many yet buried in the debris-that it could not possibly have been all gone over in the short time that had elapsed. But in so many cases people were apparently blown from their houses in one direction, while the buildings, went over and beyond them, or in another direction, and in other ways persons had escapes from death which seemed miraculous, that it was simply incredible how so few were buried or pinned down beneath the ruins.
Destruction and Death in Detail
The first residence in Pomeroy struck by the storm was that of William Shneck, being the first house south of the railroad track on the west side of Seneca street. Mr. Shneck had a small cave, and he and his wife and baby, accompanied by their neighbors, Oliver Toll and wife, and four children, Mary Toll, Alfred Oleson, and Mrs. John Larson and baby, took refuge there when they saw the storm approaching, and escaped unhurt. The Shueck and Toll buildings were taken. The next house on the same side of the street was William Billings'. It was demolished, but the occupants- Mr. and Mrs. Billings and five-year-old son, Mr. B.'s father and Mrs. B.'s father and sister-went into a hole under the house and were saved.
The beginning of the numerous tragedies enacted in Pomeroy at this time was at the house on the corner of the next block south, the home of Silas Rushton and family. The family consisted of Mr. and Mrs. Rushton, a son and daughter, Charles and Mabel, aged four and two years respectively, and a brother of Mrs. Rushton, Willie Pruden, aged nine years. A neighbor saw Silas Rushton standing in his door about five minutes before the storm struck, and it is presumed that the rest of the family were in the house and had no thought of their approaching doom. The house was torn in splinters about them. Silas Rushton was killed instantly by the flying debris, Mrs. Rushton had one leg broken in two places and was otherwise injured. She died in hospital at Sioux City some two or three weeks afterward. A large sliver penetrated the skull of the boy Charlie, and He died the following night. Willie Pruden had his jaw-bone broken and a sliver run through his nose and into the throat, but his injuries were not fatal. The daughter Mabel was not seriously injured. She went to Sioux City with her wounded mother, and upon the death of her remaining parent was adopted into the family of Mr. C. L. Hebb, an employee of the Sioux City Journal for the past eighteen years. Mr. and Mrs. Hebb are excellent people, and little Mabel will receive the benefits of a refined home and all the love and attention that could be given by a father and mother to their own child.
George T. Johnson and Wife saw the storm coming, but not in time to seek a place of safety. Mrs. Johnson took their little girl in her arms, and Mr. Johnson held the boy, and they all clung together. The house was completely wrecked and carried into the next block, south, the occupants going only as far as the street. Mr. Johnson received a cut in the back of the head, and Mrs. J. was bruised on the head and back, but the children were not seriously hurt. Their household effects were scattered and ruined, about the only articles found in condition to used again being a curling-iron and a watch and chain. The watch was in a vest that was torn to shreds, and when found the chain was buried deep in the earth; yet nothing about the watch was broken.
A Singular Incident
Henry Rosine, wife and two children, living across the street north of the German Lutheran church, gained their cellar in time to see their house taken from over their heads and dashed into kindling-wood some distance away. Dan Roman, wife and three children were also in the cellar with them, Roman's daughter had a leg broken. None of the others were seriously hurt. Here was enacted one of the peculiar incidents, which some persons not familiar with the freaks of tornadoes find it difficult to credit, but the persons who vouch for this are known to be truthful, and there is no reason to doubt their story. Mr. and Mrs. Bottine, an aged couple, lived across the street east and a little north of Rosine's. Their house was completely demolished and the two old people were carried across the street and set down in Rosine's cellar, unhurt. The most singular part of the incident is that the chair in which Mrs. Bottine was sitting when the storm struck their house was carried with her, and she was not removed from it in alighting.
The home of Samuel Maxwell was directly across the street east of Rosine's. Mrs. R. saw Mrs. Maxwell only a few minutes before the storm. They discussed the soot threatening indications somewhat and Mrs. Rosine suggested that the Maxwells better come over and go in their cellar, but Mrs. M. laughingly replied, "No, I don't think we'll all be killed before morning." A very short time afterward the house she thought secure was a mass of splinters. Samuel Maxwell and son Alex were killed, Mrs. M. was very badly hurt, and the little girl nine years old was rendered Insane, for a time at least, by the terror of that night.
On the southwest corner of Seneca and Third streets stood the German Lutheran church, a large, substantial, structure of which nothing was left after the storm but the big bell. South of the church was the parsonage, occupied by Rev. Schliepsiek and family, whose narrow escape is related elsewhere by that gentleman himself. Next to the parsonage was the little German schoolhouse, Which was also taken out clean, as was the residence of Henry Geicke, on the corner below. Mr. Geicke was taken from the ruins fatally wounded, and Mrs. Geicke died of her injuries in hospital at Sioux City. The two orphaned children recovered.