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The following is a chapter from "The History of Jefferson County, Iowa", Pages 431-432, published by the Western Historical Company of Chicago in 1879.



According to the memory of the "oldest inhabitant" of the county, John Huff, whose knowledge of the incidents and happenings of this bailiwick dates back to 1835, six notable hurricanes or windstorms, have swept through different portions of the county, five of which are here mentioned.

The first of these storms occurred in 1842. Its force was so terrific that great trees were twisted off as if they had been but pipe-stems. The barn of a Mr. Gray was entirely demolished. Live-stock that chanced to be grazing in its course were lifted up from the pasture, carried high up in the air and then dashed to death on the earth below. After leaving the vicinity of Mr. Gray's farm, the storm passed to the open prairie beyond, where its force was lost in open, unoccupied wastes. Fortunately no human lives were victims to its fury.

Old settlers say the hurricane of 1851, was the most destructive that ever visited the vicinity of Fairfield. It came from the southwest and first struck the earth between 3 and 4 o'clock P.M., on Cedar bottom, near the southwest corner of H. B. Mitchell's farm, where large hickory-trees were twisted off as if they had been weeds. The first building damaged was the University of Fairfield, the roof of which was taken off and the walls partially demolished. Mr. Hoffman's house next suffered, the roof of the rear portion, which was log, deposited on the brick portion higher up. Reed Wood's dwelling-house, a quarter of a mile north of town, occupied by John Fulton, was completely destroyed. Mr. Fulton was away from home and Mrs. Fulton, with her boy five and little daughter three years old, was alone. The mother lost consciousness through fright when the wind first struck her dwelling, and her last recollection was of hanging to an upright studding of the house and her feet "flapping in the wind like a rag." When she recovered her understanding physically and mentally, she was on the ground near the house, her little boy clinging to what clothing was left about her. The sides of the house and roof were gone, and the ceiling lying on the floor. Her first thought was of her little girl whom she last saw playing on the floor near a large iron pot. She fled, screaming that her child was killed, and assistance soon arrived to discover the little girl between ceiling and floor, saved without a scratch, by the good iron pot. A wagon standing near the house was rudely treated by the angry wind. One wheel was broken short off and carried nearly a mile away, another wheel three-quarters and another a quarter of a mile. the remaining portion of the wagon was picked up bodily and deposited a few rods distant, with such force that the coupling-pole was driven into the ground nearly four feet. The house of Mr. John Clinton, half a mile north of the present city limits, suffered the loss of a summer-kitchen attached to the rear. A corn-pen built of rails was carried away, and the corn with which it was filled, was left in the shape of a hay-stack, the ears trimmed from the sides and corners, amounting to about one hundred bushels, scattered over the prairie. After damaging the brick house of Mr. Tweed and the dwelling of John Noble, short distances further north, the cyclone left the earth and was no more heard of. The damage to fences was very considerable, as well as to timber, orchards and out-houses.

Atain in 1853, Jefferson was "taken in " in the course of another hurricane, that played many fantastic tricks. Trees two and three feet in diameter were either twisted off like twigs, or dragged out by the roots and carried up in the air and deposited at great distances, as if they had only been a feather's weight. The track of the storm did not reach the more thickly-settled districts, and hence the damage to farm improvements was but trifling.

On the 22d of March, 1858, Round Prairie was visited by a windstorm that leveled fences, entirely demolished some houses, and unroofed many others. Among the houses unroofed was the dwelling of Joseph Tilford. The storm was no respecter of persons, and "cavorted" around the home of this old pioneer as recklessly as if he had been the meanest "claim-jumper" that ever sought to infringe upon the rights and possessions of honest "squatters." Fortunately, however, no damage was inflicted on persons, and after whirling around among the farms and farmhouses for awhile, the hurricane hurried away to the open, unoccupied prairie, where it soon lost its force.

On a Sunday afternoon, in the month of ------, 1878 (sic), a furious hurricane crossed the county from west to east passing Fairfield about one mile to the north. A few houses in the course of the storm fiend were almost completely demolished, and others were seriously damaged, but fortunately no person was killed. The cyclone struck the German Church building in Lockridge township, while services were in progress, and, in the twinkling of an eye, the congregation were piled up in a promiscuous heap in the center of the floor, and the roof and walls of the building picked up and carried away. Strange to say, only one person, a young lady, was severly injured.

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