Cedar County, Iowa
Community News

Transcribed by Sharon Elijah, November 8, 2020

The Lowden News, Lowden, Iowa April 14, 1965

Clarence, Lowden, Toronto Area Ripped By Tornado; Many Farms Heavily Damaged
Palm Sunday, April 11, 1965 will be a day long remembered by residents of this area.

Farmers who were victims of the tornado which hit between 12:30 and 1:00 p.m. are still digging out of the debris resulting from the demolished buildings and trees. Assisting them are neighbors, friends and relatives who have laid aside their own work to extend a helping hand to those unfortunate ones living in the path of the storm.

Richard Dircks, farmer south of Clarence whose home was demolished, remains in serious condition in the University Hospital, Iowa City due to injuries he received during the violent storm. Mrs. Dircks, who is recovering from shock and bruises and their son, Dewey made it to the basement in time but Mr. Dircks was taken with the house to a distance of 100 feet where he was found buried in the rubble. Altogether eleven buildings were demolished on the Dircks farm.

There are no known personal injuries in the Lowden area which is most fortunate as the tornado gave little warning and only those who happened to be outside or looking out to the southwest saw it approaching.

Three of the hardest hit in this area were the Hugo Kruckenberg, Arnold Wenndt and Albert Nieting farms north and west of Lowden. Practically every building on the Wenndt and Kruckenberg farms are ruined including the residences. Both houses stayed intact, however. Part of the roof was torn from the Nieting home and windows blown out. Out buildings and trees were also extensively damaged.

The twister also played havoc with buildings, trees, etc. on the William Pasold and Larry Stolte farms, south of Nietings. It took the barn on the Stolte place and only yesterday, temporary milking quarters on a concrete platform were set up for Mr. Stolte. A long row of evergreens were snapped off in the middle almost forming a straight line. One of the oddities of the storm is a missing cistern pump which was set in cement on the Pasold farm. Windows were blown out and the shingles blown off of the roof of the Pasold house.

Other farms in the path of the tornado included those of Harry Hamdorf (former Otto Koch farm) where several buildings were downed; Richard Kintzel farm east of Massillon where only one building remains (the house was destroyed by fire there last fall); McDermott Bros., also east of Massillon where part of the house was swept away by the gale; Myron Conrad farm, west of Lowden where part of a barn roof was torn off and other small buildings damaged.

The Raymond Hasenbank place south of Clarence was another farm hit. A barn, brooder house, garage and machine shed are a complete loss. Windows were blown out and glass scattered all over, two doors were blown off and still are missing. It is thought that the tornado began its path of destruction at this point.

Also hit by the torrent winds was the Hugo Schroeder farm southwest of Lowden where two large barns and a hog house were taken. Traveling northeastward, the storm then pounced down on the Fred Kahl and Lester Rowald farms where barns were destroyed and other damages reported. A machine shed on the Harlan Pruess farm in the same neighborhood was also destroyed.

Heavy damage also resulted at the cabin area on the Wapsie river north of Toronto owned by Jas V. Milota. Completely destroyed were two cabins owns by Mr. Milota and one owned by Carl Ruprecht, Lowden and Chas Wentworth of Wheatland. Several buildings were also felled on the Charles Caes farm, adjacent to the resort area.

Telephone and electrical service was disrupted in the stricken areas. Sunday evening, the entire system of the Iowa Electric Light and Power Co. was knocked out causing an outage which lasted 2 ˝ hours. This was due to a high voltage line being torn down by a tornado in Indiana.

Several of the farmers report losses of livestock due to animals being trapped in the collapsed buildings.

This section has been declared a disaster area by the Red Cross and this organization is assisting the stricken farmers by providing food to feed the persons who are helping to clean up the debris. It is also reported that much help and food is being brought to the distraught families by thoughtful individuals of this area as well as from outsiders.

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Tipton Conservative, Tipton, Iowa April 15, 1965

Northeast Cedar County Cleaning Up Debris From Tornado

Farmers along a 12-mile strip through Fairfield, Springfield and Massillon township==where a tornado cut a past 200 years wide through the northeast part of Cedar county—are going ahead with the task of cleaning up from on the of worst winds of Cedar county history.

The tornado, which struck shortly before 1 p.m. Sunday, took only a few minutes to lay waste to 2 dozen farms. This week neighbors, friends and relatives are assisting with the work of clearing up and repairing smashed homes, barns and farm buildings.

The sound of chain saws started early Monday morning followed by the smoke of fries as farmers began burning the debris from the twister.

A devastating tornado ripped through northern Cedar county Sunday afternoon, critically injuring a Clarence farmer and causing more than a half-million dollars damage to farms in the Clarence-Lowden area.

In serious condition at University hospitals is Richard J. Dircks, former member of the county board of supervisors, who was carried in the wreckage of his home from its foundation to where it was smashed to splinters more than 50 yards away.

Dircks is in the intensive ward at University hospital where he is being treated for head and internal injuries. He also has a broken arm.

Dircks, 65, was pulled from the wrecked by his wife and son Dewey, who were able to get to the basement before the storm struck. The Clarence farmer was in the living room of his 2-story home as the tornado hit.

Dewey Dircks said that he saw the storm coming from the west and hurried to a window on the south side of the farm home. He said, “As I looked out, I saw the machine shed door disintegrate.” He said he shouted “tornado” and followed his mother to the basement. His father did not reach the basement before the tornado struck.

Dircks said that they had to “hold-on in the basement or we would have been blown away, too,” The couple was next to the east wall after the storm had blown over. Mrs. Dircks received several bruises and her son escaped injury.

Among the 11 buildings demolished were 3 large barns, a 4-car garage, hog houses, machine shed and a small storage shed. Three automobiles were also damaged.

Nearly two dozen other farms were damaged as the twister took a half-mile wide path for nearly 20 miles in Fairfield, Springfield and Massillon township between Clarence and Lowden before lifting.

The near straight southwest northeast route of the winds included serious damage on the Arnold Wenndt farm a mile and a half west of Lowden and a farm belonging to Mrs. Werner Kruckenberg north of Lowden. All of the farm buildings on both farms received extensive damage and both houses were damaged, but remained on their foundations.

Wenndt said that the sky turned gray as he was gathering eggs about 1 p.m. and he went to the house. He noticed the twister crossing Highway 30 about three-quarters of a mile away and told his wife to hurry to the basement.

“In less than 5 minutes, all 16 of our farm buildings and our house was hit,” Wenndt added. It demolished a car and a pickup in addition to several pieces of farm equipment.

At the Kruckenberg farm, Hugo, his sister, Dorothea, and their mother, Marie, were all sleeping as the funnel leveled their farm buildings. The house received heavy damage and all three occupants were thrown to the floor as the wind hit.

Other farms in the Lowden area receiving heavy damage included those of Julius Conrad, where 2 large barns were downed; Albert Nieting, roofs ripped from barn, corn crib and house; Lawrence Stolte, large barn flattened as the storm passed between other farm buildings and the house.

William Pasold, top quarter of barn ripped away and 2 other large buildings damaged. Large 2 story house extensively damaged as trees and debris blew into it; Harry Hamdorf, hog houses and corn crib destroyed on a vacant farm; and Herbert H. Kroemer, extensive damage to farm buildings.

Farms in the area south of Highway 30 hit by the storm included Hugo Schroeder, where 2 large barns were hit; Fred Kahl, top of barn destroyed and less serious damage to other buildings; Lester Rowald, 2 large barns destroyed and minor damage to house and other buildings and Raymond Hasenbank, Tipton, received damage to a large barn.

The twister also struck the Bert and Charlie McDermott farm, east of Massillon. Part of the roof of the house was blown away.

Also hit was the Charles Caes farm northwest of Toronto in Clinton county, where a 50 by 60-foot barn was destroyed, along with a machine shed and milk house.

On the north shore of the Wapsie river, two of nine cabins in the MIlota cabin site were wrecked. A cabin jointly owned by Carl Ruprecht of Lowden and Charles Wentworth of Toronto was wrecked.

The twister hit the cabin site and then moved on the Caes farm.

More than a dozen head of cattle were killed in the storm. Nine head were killed on the Wenndt farm and at least 4 heard died on the Kruckenberg farm.

Two houses near Toronto were reportedly damaged by the winds and Peter Pazour, Anamosa Iowa Electric Light and Power company official, said that power in the area was restored by late Monday.

Crews and equipment from Anamosa, Maquoketa, DeWitt and Wheatland were called in to repair the damage in the Lowden area. Crews from the Mt. Vernon office went to the area south of Clarence. The town of Toronto was without electricity as were most rural customers in the Lowden area.

Many Saw Funnel Hit Cedar County

The tornado that ripped through Cedar county early Sunday afternoon was seen by many people. Atty. William B. Norton watched from the window of his home in Lowden as the funnel cloud swept a path west and north of Lowden. Watching the tornado, Norton was surprised that the funnel appeared to be white as he saw it, as though there was no dirt or debris in it at the time.

Mr. and Mrs. Hugo Schroeder and Mr. and Mrs. Floyd Hansen, Clarence, were only a short distance from the Richard Dircks farm when they saw the tornado strike. They drove to the Dircks farm to help. Mrs. Hansen called for a doctor and ambulance.

It was a considerable time later that Schroeder found out that the tornado had also hit his farm, destroying 2 barns, a cow and calf.

Mr. and Mrs. Hugo Lenschow attended church in Lowden Sunday and stopped at the home of their son and daughter-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Delbert Lenschow in Springfield township for a short visit.

They had just left before the storm struck, driving past the Dircks farm and then turning south on the Clarence blacktop. They were about a mile from highway 150 when they noticed the tornado. Mrs. Lenschow thought at first it was a big fire, then realized that what she saw was dirt and debris, not smoke.

The tornado appeared to start with”3 fingers” which merged into one, Lenschow said.

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Tipton Conservative, Tipton Iowa April 22, 1965

Tornado Damage Is More Extensive Than Was First Reported

Damage from the Palm Sunday tornado that struck northeast Cedar county was more extensive than first reported.

An example is the damage to the Ray Hasenbank farm, the first hit by the twister. Lost in the tornado there were a barn, a machine shed and garage and 2 brooder houses. The house will have to be re-roofed and a corn crib door was torn off.

A pick-up truck in the corn crib was partly loaded with corn by the tornado which turned on the loader, then apparently turned it off.

At the Anton Deerberg farm southwest of Lowden a hen house and a machine shed were demolished, and a barn moved several inches off its foundation. Three evergreens from a double row of the trees west of the house were taken.

Debris was littered over the entire farm, and part of a work bench from the Richard Dircks home was found in the northeast forty of the Deerberg farm.

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