Pioneers Recall Tornado Which Struck Here 35 Years Ago Friday

From The Osceola County Tribune May 8, 1930

High winds in this section this week, with tornadoes in nearby counties, recalled to the minds of pioneer residents of Osceola county the destructive tornado which visited this county in 1895-exactly 35 years ago Saturday, May 3.

Following is the story of the tornado as told to The Tribune of that date:

Osceola county was visited by the worst tornado in its history last Friday afternoon, May 3, at about 3:30 o'clock, and in a twinkling death and destruction was strewn in its path. The storm came up during the afternoon, the dark clouds hanging off in the southwest for several hours, until at about 3:30 rain began to fall. The wind grew stronger, and in the midst of the rain the tornado cloud formed. It first swept down on Sioux county near Sioux Center, then lifted near Hull and descended again in Gilman township on the west side of section 19, where FRED EICHMAN's fine home was. The barn was torn from its foundations, the house tipped up, and the granary thrown through the southwest part of the house.

(A mile and a half northeast) The storm then skipped to WALTER POPKE's place and scattered the buildings over 40 acres. The family miraculously escaped. The storm widened somewhat then, but continued on a direct line north. It skipped PETTINGILL's, tore a few shingles from the TOWNSEND school house, left the TOWNSEND farm unhurt and then hit the WILBERN place, where PETE POSS was farming, wrecking the barns and killing one horse. The NEEDHAM boys on the PUSHAK place lost their barn and had one horse injured. (Continued southwest of the MELCHER SCHOOl house on 31 Holman township) The barn on ELMER KRUGER's place was unroofed and one side was torn out.

One of the most fortunate incidents was that there was no school at the MELCHER SCHOOL HOUSE that day, because of the absence of the teacher, MARY REYNOLDS. The school was picked up (first blown to the east then picked up and thrown northeast) and dropped in the road, smashing it completely.

Further (north on the section) along the section line JOHN GRONEWALD's barn was completely wrecked and the house lost a few shingles. Across the road at the (OTTO) ROSSBERG place everything was destroyed and carried away for great distance. The pump was pulled out of the well and the trees stripped. One boy was cut about the head severely, but the rest of the family were uninjured. The storm went northeast a mile (section 20) to the PETE HEEREN (Heron?) farm and destroyed the barn and granary. West from there on the southwest corner of section 17 was the WHITNEY SCHOOL. This has been dismissed a few minutes before the storm struck. The building was swept twenty feet from its foundations and smashed.

Going further west (a mile) the tornado made kindling of WHITNEY;s big barn and took the chimney from the house.

At JOHN COUGHLIN's place not a board was left standing. A hundred chickens were killed and the grove north of the house was filled with furniture, bedding, and various personal effects. The family was able to get into an old cave before the storm struck and so was uninjured. (The farm was owned by P. Heron)

The only FATALITY occurred at the home of JOHN WALTERMAN on the southeast quarter of section 7, four and a half miles west of Sibley. Here the tornado came from the southwest past the HAMLIN place where the barn was destroyed. (It was occupied by the H. BOGG family.) It then caught the kitchen at the WATERMAN home and tore it to pieces. The main part of the building was unroofed, torn apart, and then thrown flat onto the ground, carrying Mr. and Mr. WATERMAN and a small baby with it. Mr. WATERMAN and the child escaped. (Mrs. Waterman was killed.) A son (WILLIE, 17) and daughter(Susie, 12) were somehow blown out of the house. The boy received a crushed shoulder but the girl was uninjured.

The storm then jumped east(south side of section 8) catching the barns and machinery of CHRISTIAN JOHNSON and C.F. BLACKMORE. The house and barns of JOHN FREY (northeast of 17) narrowly escaped. although they were damaged to some extent.

Damage on other places visited by the storm was not so great. Those whose property suffered some damage were:

MR. PARK (Barclay section 16) House was knocked off the foundation.

(Across the section northeast) DAVE LITTLECHILD (farm where C.N. FLOWER and his father lived) there was damage to the house and granary.

(On the same section the new German Church was damaged.)

R.STAMM (had damage to buildings.)

T.P. NORMAN (southwest of 26 in Viola) lost roofs on shed and granary, house was skipped.

FRANK KENNEDY farm (on 26 house nearly going while they were in the cellar).

The storm after having cut clear across the west end of the county (through Wilson township) disappeared into Minnesota, west of Bigelow.

Later that afternoon, another tornado and hail storm struck the eastern part of the county in Baker and Ocheyedan townships. It was not as extensive as the one in the west end of the county but damaged no small amount of property.

Those whose farms it visited were:

(I could find no more information on the second tornado.)
The original story with pictures from 1895 can be seen HERE.

Osceola County Iowa Genealogy - The IAGenWeb Project