On April 30, 1936, a very large tornado started near Sheldon, Iowa went through
Dickinson County, on to Estherville, Iowa and Fairmont and Blue Earth, Minnesota.
Killed were MRS. JULIUS HEUER, Everly; HERMAN ROSKINS, Rural Dickinson County;
RAY SCHELNESKI of Fairmont, Minn.; and EMMET BARNETT, Martin County, Minn.
The storm started a little before three in the afternoon.

NOTE: I tried to be as accurate as possible in this story, but different newspapers gave differing information.

The first sign of the tornado was four and a half miles northeast of Hartley in O'Brien County where it struck a plowed field.

The JOHN STEINBECK FARM, four miles north and two west of Everly, had the barn badly damaged.

The GEORGE RAUSCH FARM, was located northwest of Everly. Mrs. Rausch was home with two children. She took the two children to a dugout and they were unhurt. The farm was destroyed. Mr. Rausch was away from the farm, and the other children were at school. The hired man was was plowing and with five horses was carried away but not hurt. The farm was owned by LINK THIELE.

The CLAUS HEUER FARM was about 6 miles straight north of Everly, everything was leveled but the house and granary.

On the GUS JURGENS FARM the windmill, cattle shed and barn were torn down.

The WILL ROST FARM was on the same mile and everything was destroyed except the house. It was owned by a loan company

THE FIRST FATALITY was at the JULIUS HEUER FARM. All buildings were destroyed and MRS. (CAROLINE) HEUER was killed. They had a baby girl Marietta only 5 days old, and Mrs. Heuer was still bedridden. MRS. META (Matia?) BERTRAM of Hartley was caring for the baby, MARIETTA, downstairs. Mr. and Mrs. Heuer were upstairs. Another employee, MISS IMOGENE ROST, was in the kitchen with an 18 month old boy. Another boy was in school. Mr. Heuer was not sure what happened but he found himself in the basement. He went looking for his wife and found her dead in the grove several hundred feet from where the house had been. Mr. Heuer went to the south looking for help at the Rost family. Mrs.Bertram and the baby were unhurt. (Marietta, the "Cyclone Baby" passed away at the age three from polio. Another daughter died at birth. Julius passed away in 1947. After the death of his wife, Mr. Heuer moved four miles east of Primghar. He passed away in 1947, his obit can be read HERE.Their sons were HARRY and VERNON HEUER.)

The HENRY SCHMIDT FARM was a quarter mile north of the Heuer farm. The place was vacant and the buildings were demolished.

The CLARENCE SIERCK FARM was just across the road from the Schmidt farm and about a quarter mile northeast of the Heuer farm. Mr. and Mrs. Sierck took refuge in a well and were uninjured. The farm was wiped out. The hired man was HERMAN ROOS.

The SECOND FATALITY was at the HENRY WINTERBOER FARM two miles northeast of the Heuer place in Dickinson County. Mr. Winterboer and two hired men, HERMAN ROSKINS and HOWARD KEMP (KEMPF?), took refuge in the barn, as they were unable to get to the house. Mrs. Winterboer and her 2 grown children were in the house and took refuge in the basement. A horse flew thru the air and Mr. Roskins was pinned under it. He was rushed to the hospital where he died. Mr. Winterboer was badly injured and Mr. Kemp was bruised and wrenched. The house was badly damaged and a lot of other damage was done to the farm.

The CONRAD WINTERBOER farm was across the road from the Henry Winterboer farm. A salesman was at the farm and he suggested they get in his car and drive away. They went about 2 miles south and watched the cloud destroy the farms. This salesman later took Herman Roskins to the Milford Hospital.

The W.A.COGDILL and VICTOR BEAN FARMS were a mile west of Winterboer's and were totally destroyed.

The WILLIAM (WILHELM) NIELSEN farm was about a half mile north and quarter mile west of the Winterboer farm. Mr. and Mrs. Nielsen were in the house with their son and daughter and hired man, TED SORENSON. They watched the storm and thought it would go west when it suddenly turned east. They all ran south to the VICTOR BEAN place about a mile southeast to go to their basement. They got about 300 or 400 feet from the house and they were hurled to the ground near a fence. Mr. Nielsen held his wife and Mr. Sorensen held the girl. The boy either kept running or was picked up and was found wandering near the Bean place. Mr. Bean held him, he and he rest of them were bruised. All the buildings were destroyed.

The JAMES A.WILSON and BERT WILSON FARMS were a half mile east of Nielsen and suffered loss of windmills, barns and trees.

The NORA McNAMER FARM was about 1 mile northeast of the Nielsen place. FRANCIS McNAMERA farmed it. A new tractor and plow were in the driveway. They were not damaged, but every building was blown down. The place was unoccupied. It was north of the Wilson School.

Going northeast to the LLOYD RANGE FARM, livestock was killed, no buildings were destroyed.

The MARK DAVIS, JAKE FRUTCHEY and FRENCH YEAGER FARMS had all the buildings unroofed and barns destroyed.

The HUGH MACKEY FARM was 2 miles northeast of the McNamera farm or a half mile west of the Okoboji school. All the buildings were destroyed and hurled eastward into the road. A spare tire from the FRENCH YEAGER farm, about a quarter mile west was blown into the Mackey yard. Mr. and Mrs. Mackey saw the storm coming and rushed to the KENNETH MARTIN farm east across the road to take refuge in their basement.

At the KENNETH (KEMSETH?) MARTIN FARM all that was left were stumps of a large grove of trees. Taking refuge in the basement besides Mr. and Mrs. Martin and Mr. and Mrs. Mackey were Mrs. Martin's mother, MRS. BERTHA WALDORN, and Mr. and Mrs. Martin's hired man and his wife, MR. and MRS. ALVIN GROFF besides 2 children. The house was lifted up and the debris landed on them. It was a wonder no one was killed. They crawled out and were covered with mud. Mrs. Martin's mother suffered from a weak heart and was later taken to Spencer.

The JOHN MEYERS farm was three west and two south of Milford only the house remained,

The ART GUTHRIE FARM was located northeast of the Martin farm and a mile north of the Okoboji School. The farm was occupied by ARTHUR JAMES and was the old BEN LARGE place. (Mr. James' wife died in 1930 and his 17 year old daughter kept house for him. Daughters were MARJORIE and RUTH). The hired man, MERVIN MILLER, was at the place when the storm struck. The three of them went into the basement. The place was completely demolished. When they came out they were all covered with mud. The daughter was in the corner and was hit with a roll of barbed wire. She had cuts and bruises, but not badly injured.

The WILLIAM MARCKS FARM was located north of the Art Guthrie farm. The storm struck about 3:45. Mr. Marcks and the people who worked there MR. and MRS. GLEN GOODWIN and their three children took refuge in the basement. When Mr. Marcks thought the storm was over he started out the door and was struck by a falling concrete block and knocked unconscious. All the buildings were destroyed. (Mrs. Marcks died by suicide in June, 1925. Mr. Marcks later moved to Windom, Minn. They had no children, but he had one son, Lyle. Mr. Marcks passed away in 1954 in Windom.)

The FRANK HILL FARM was across the road north and east of the Marcks farm, three miles west and half mile north of Milford. It was occupied by MR. and MRS. KENNETH KIMBLE who had moved from Sanborn a year ago. The Kimble's escaped injury and one boy was in school. (Mr. and Mrs. Kimble lost a six year old son, HAROLD MARVIN KIMBLE, to drowning in 1922.They had two other sons, MERLE and MARVIN. Kenneth passed away in 1940).

The OLIVER AALSETH FARM and C.R VAN ORSDEL FARM, across the road, suffered heavy damage.The AAlseth Family had moved from Greenville that spring.

The HAROLD RINGLAR FARM was northeast of the Hill farm and one mile west and three quarter miles north of Milford. The place was destroyed and MRS. RINGLER and her 5 year old son DUANE were injured. Mr. Ringler was unhitching a team of horses when the storm struck. He started to run to the house, but he was knocked down by a flying board and he grabbed onto a tree. Mrs. Ringlar and her son were in the the house and tried to get to the basement, but she could not get the basement door open. They were hurled out of the house and when found they were unconscious. Mr. Ringlar was destitute. J.L. WILLIAMS gave him a change of clothes when he came to town. His friends, ROY KELLEY and ELMER MEYERS, urged him not to give up and other people promised to help.

The PETER DEIDERICK FARM was located northeast of the Ringlar farm and a mile north and one mile west of Milford, adjacent to Terrace Park The farm was leveled. One granary was left standing but was badly damaged. The house was torn from its foundation and the lumber scattered as far as Terrace Park about a mile northeast. Mr. and Mrs. DIEDERICH were worried about the children at school, two at St. Joseph school and one at high school. GENEVIEVE DIEDERICH was on the school bus and saw the house lift high into the air, turn upside and splinter. The two children on JACK DREXLER's bus were running to the house when the storm struck. Mr. Diederich got them into the basement but was in the doorway of the basement when the storm hit. Mrs. Diederich did not make it to the basement. The two girls in the basement, ZETA MAE and LOIS, were both pulled from the basement. They were all injured. Note: There is some question on the spelling of his name.

ED BEATTY, a state highway worker and another man, V.G. GOULD of Ames, were working at the Diederich farm and stayed in the highway truck. He put the back of the truck to the storm and they rode it out. Also mentioned as being at the Deiderich farm was JOE HOLDEFER of Sioux City. One report says they were all injured, another that they were uninjured.

The BERT DAVIS FARM was just north and a little west of the Dietrich farm. He went to the basement and when he came out he rushed to Dieterich farm to help.

C.C. WALLACE was on his way home from Milford. He was the first to arrive at the Diederich farm and he brought the family to the hospital in Milford.

Two highway inspectors O.J KING of Milford and OTIS WOODS of Estherville were on the road just north of the Diederich farm. Both cars were hurled across the ditch into a field. Both were taken to the Milford hospital.

The storm continued northeast to Terrace Park where it destroyed the RODOME, owned by MRS. HARRY A.(CORA) WILSEY of Spencer. The Rodome was built in 1926 and was a tearoom, which was being made ready to open for the season. Also at the Rodome, were:
MRS. MARY REIMAN of Milford and daughter DONNA LEE, age 5
ARCHIE McCURDY, beer salesman from Spencer
E.J. ROLEY OF Carroll, IA, also a salesman
They escaped injury or death when they rushed to the basement upon seeing the storm coming. In June Mrs. Wilsey rented the lodge at Gull Point while she arranged to rebuild the Rodome. In 1938 she opened the East High Dairy barn in Denver, Colo.

The CASINO at Terrace Park was not damaged but trees were cut down. It was built in 1921 and was owned by DR. and MRS. H.O. GREEN of Spencer. Terrace Park came to be because of a Catholic priest, MONSIGNOR P.F. McGRATH was an instructor in the Charles City seminary. In 1892 he was visiting Rev. Fr. J.L. KIRBY at Milford. He had heard of West Lake Okoboji and Dr.and Mrs. Green took him to see it. The priest loved it and together they bought a 160 acre farm and were landscaping it to make it the most beautiful spot in Iowa. When the old priest died, Dr. Green went on alone with it. In 1905 he opened it to the public. In 1911 a chapel was built to provide a place of worship for those who only had water transportation. In 1921, when cars became available, a new church was built in Milford. It became idle after the tornado, and the chapel became a cottage. In 1940 the casino and 27 acres were donated to the missionary congregation of LASALETTE FATHERS OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH (or MISSIONARIES OF OUR LADY OF LaSALLETTE). Read the story HERE. When the LaSALLE Missionaries built a new seminary, it was again idle. In 1952 BOYS TOWN acquired the property and in 1961 the old casino was dismantled to build a new BOYS TOWN building. In the late 1980's a fence was erected along the road of the Terrace Park Beach across from Boys Town.

A cabin belonging to MR. and MRS. CHRIS BANG was destroyed and RENEE JACOBS, 14, who lived with them, was injured when he was carried away. He was found unconscious in a pile of debris and had broken bones, cuts and bruises.

Other COTTAGES at Terrace Park damaged or destroyed belonged to:
MRS. N.C. BANG, all of Spencer
KINNEY of Sioux City
L.D. MADSON of Council Bluffs
F.L. O'DELL of Sioux Rapids
WILLIAM FRAZER of Mitchell, S.D.
INGELSEN of Sioux City.

OTHER FARMS damaged or destroyed included:
Some of these could be duplicates under a different name

The storm lifted over the lakes and on to the Estherville vicinity then on to Minnesota.

More Pictures can be seen HERE.

Hartley Sentinel May 7, 1936 Page 1     Page 3
Lake Park News May 7, 1936 Page 1    Page 8
Spirit Lake Beacon May 7, 1936 Page 1    Page 8
Milford Mail May 7, 1936 Page 1     Page 2     Page 3     Page 4     Page 5    Page 6    Page 7
Spencer News Herald May 22, 1936 Page 7    Page 14

Dickinson County Iowa Genealogy - The IAGenWeb Project