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'The Tornado' Sweeps Over Central Iowa and Illinois ~ 1878


Posted By: Deborah Brownfield - Stanley (email)
Date: 3/19/2004 at 23:56:55

The Chariton Leader, Chariton, Iowa
Saturday, April 27, l878



It Sweeps Over Central Iowa and Illinois


A Regular Spring Cyclone -- It Destroys a Large Amount of Property -- Several Lives Lost.


Lockridge, Iowa; April 22. -- A destructive tornado passed over this township about five o'clock last evening. Its course was about parallel with the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad, and two miles north. I followed the trail of this storm for about three miles today in this township. Ten houses, nine barns, one church, one school house, and four orchards were wrecked and most of them totally destroyed. The church was full of people; it being Easter Sunday, a large meeting was in session.

I never saw such a wreck. It is scattered for miles. One of the oak sills, eight inches square and forty feet long, laying upon a solid wall imbedded in lime mortar was carried more than twenty rods. All the men, women and children were standing, sitting or lying upon the ground where the church stood, wondering how they had escaped. None were hurt. I hear of many buildings destroyed west of this county. No lives lost. Some horses were killed by stables falling on them. I never saw such destruction by fire, water or war as this tornado did as far as it went.

-- A.R. Pierce.


Fairfield, Iowa; April 22.-- A tornado swept over our county yesterday afternoon about three o'clock. The storm cloud gathered in the west and northwest about two o'clock, and broke in all its fury, with wind, rain and hail. Its course was due east, from one-fourth to one-half mile wide. We first hear of it at SHANSTROM's, four miles west and one mile north of Fairfield, demolishing his barn, out houses, orchard and fences; then at John YOUNG's, one mile farther east, whose large barn was blown down, and large frame house badly damaged. Next was DWYER's, three fourths of a mile from YOUNG's east, whose house, a small frame, was completely demolished; three of the family were injured. One and a half miles east from there, Dr. Charles REED's house was badly damaged and outhouses, sheds and barn destroyed. Sim SACKETT's, near Dr. REED's had his barn unroofed, and the end of his brick house torn down. C.J. REED's opposite, had a fine new barn utterly destroyed, his new frame house partly turned around, and moved four feet from the foundation.

Throughout the course of the storm desolation marks its track, in the destruction of orchards, haystacks and fences. At John BOOTH's, on S.S. JORDAN's farm, one-half mile north of Fairfield, the house was utterly destroyed. Mr. BOOTH, his wife, and two children, were in the house at the time. When the wind struck the house each caught up a child. In a moment the house was carried four rods, when the floor dropped out and let the family down safely without injury to anyone. The house was carried over their heads, part of it carried a half mile away and all broken to pieces; his stove, bedsteads, furniture and clothing all ruined and scattered. North of BOOTH's a short distance, Mr. CURRY's barn was blown down. One mile east of BOOTH's the storm struck Wm. BALL's barn, unroofing it and tearing off much siding. The next we hear of is the unroofing of the barn of Anthony DOWNING and the destruction of all his out houses. At W.D. CLAPP's, five miles east of Fairfield, a very large barn was blown down, one horse killed and several injured; at Andrew CASSEL's, north of Glendale, dwelling house unroofed, barn and out houses torn down; at Four Corners, Fairfield, and north of Lockridge, the German Church was lifted over the heads of the congregation of about one hundred, and nobody hurt; here, also Mr. KAUFFMAN's barn and four or five small buildings were blown down. Farther east, near Skunk River we hear that Henry SCHEIBER's barn was blown down. It is wonderful that so few persons were hurt, no one killed, and no one seriously hurt. At Mr. SACKETT's two of the family were slightly injured; at DWYER's , three. Many fine orchards are ruined, and no fencing left standing in the track of the tornado. A heavy hail storm accompanied the tornado. Its width was greater, extending six miles, four north and two south of the tornado, doing great damage to windows and fruit trees. Our citizens have sent many hands from town to help repair fences,etc.


Four Corners; April 22.--The storm yesterday passed over Four Corners, a small town west of Rome. The German Church was crowded to its utmost, as it was Easter, and when the storm struck it, it took the roof and sides, leaving the congregation sitting without any shelter. Several persons were injured, but not fatally. The storm had taken the roof and sides some distance breaking the lumber up in splinters, not leaving anything but the floor on the foundation. Also three other houses were taken off the foundation and two torn to atoms. One log house was turned around. There were a number of teams hitched at the church and as the hail was large the teams ran away, breaking buggies; some of the buggies were turned upside down before the teams got started. Trees were taken up by the roots. In several orchards there is not a tree left standing. Stables and small houses were all taken by the storm. One mile and a half from where the storm started, could not see any trace of it. I am informed that in the church one lady got a bad cut in the head and another had her hip dislocated.


Galesburg, Ill.; April 22.--Last night a terrible hail and rain storm struck this city, the hail being of prodigious size. One stone measured by business men was said to be eight inches in circumference. Much glass was broken and many fruit trees were badly damaged. At Buda, east of here, houses and stocks of goods were damaged by hail and rain.


Wall Lake, Iowa; April 22.--A fierce tornado struck this town yesterday, destroying a part of it. Three persons were hurt.


Storm Lake, Iowa; April 22.--A wind storm did serious damage here yesterday. Several persons in this vicinity are reported killed.


Sioux City, Iowa; April 22.--A terrible cyclone swept over this county, east and west of this place, at half past three on Sunday afternoon, entering the State above Missouri Valley Junction, and passing northeasterly across to Storm Lake, Pomeroy and Fonda, in Monona County. Trees were torn up by their roots along the rivers. The house of J.R. THURSTON was wrecked completely. The wing of the house of Mrs. REILLY was struck and torn to pieces, and F. REILLY, standing in the wing, was picked up and carried over the main building and some trees nearby and set down uninjured. J.J. HUGHES' house, in the same neighborhood was entirely destroyed. The family were away from home. The force of the storm was terrific, destroying fences, uprooting trees, overturning corn cribs, etc. Horses and cattle were picked up and carried a considerable distance. Near Onawa, the house of Mr. WHITE was destroyed with its contents and scattered for miles. Hardly anything in the house was unbroken. The family fortunately were away. The track of the storm was a half mile to a mile and a half wide. The storm was accompanied by very heavy hail, a number of the stones were fastened together, one mass measuring fourteen inches in circumference. Near Onawa, a man was driving a double team; the horses, wagon, harness and driver were taken up bodily, carried several yards and set down uninjured. On the Illinois Central Railroad, east of here, the damage was more serious, being accompanied by loss of life. The whirlwind or tornado passed over Storm Lake from the southwest. Three quarters of a mile east of town the residence of Alfred KING was struck, lifted from its foundation and dashed into thousands of pieces. Mr. KING's mother was instantly killed and found some distance from where the house had stood. Other members of the household escaped unhurt. The lighter timbers of the house were pounded into kindling wood. Trees in orchards were torn up and carried away. The house of Mr. DEGRAFF, half a mile from KING's was unroofed, some hogs and cattle killed, and a farm wagon and buggy broken up. His loss will be about $1,000. The buggy was carried a quarter of a mile through the air. The water in the lake rose to the height of many feet, one witness says millions of barrels were lifted up. The stable of Mr. WATSON was destroyed. After the storm the town of Storm Lake was crowded with men after surgeons to attend sufferers. It is believed the damage south of there was very great. Reports say that four persons were killed and forty wounded. In GRIFFITH's neighborhood, south of Pomeroy, a man, unknown, had the top of his head cut off by a sharp board being driven into it. An elderly lady was badly hurt by falling timbers in a house at Fonda. The towns of Newell and Sulphur Spring escaped injury. At Pomeroy the house of G.C. LOWRY was blown down, killing Charles PEARCE, an estimable young man. The houses of George WALLACE and S. GILL were blown down, and Mrs. WALLACE and family injured and not expected to live. A.O. HARGIS' house was blown down, injuring several inmates severely. All the houses were very strong and substantial. This is considered the worst storm ever known there.


Copied by Nancee (McMurtrey) Seifert
March 19, 2004


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