Saturday, September 18, 2010

Tornado!

In the 1915 Cuba City newspapers, one can find a column called Gleanings by "Old Timer." These are usually nostalgic pieces about life when the author was growing up in the second half of the nineteenth century. The following column describes a tornado that hit the Cuba City area, probably in the mid-to-late 1880s.

From the Cuba City News Herald, September 3, 1915:

Gleanings by “Old Timer”

Some kinds of news a day old is not relished, and if we see that it happened a week ago we pass it along; but time seems to freshen or make new local happenings. Here is a clipping from a Galena paper of nearly thirty years ago. It will surprise some to know that Cuba City ever had such a visitor and will cause old timers to see in memory many old neighbors that have gone, and to talk over again the disagreeable experience. The clipping speaks for itself.

“Our correspondent at Cuba City sends us the results of last Wednesday evening’s tornado which passed over this section, a more severe portion of it striking Cuba City than was given to us here. Following is the damage done:

W. Burn’s residence was struck by lightning; child badly stunned; damaged house about $50. Mary Griffith’s residence, on lots now occupied by Joe Kellner, and fence damaged about $20. Mrs. Brown’s house occupied by F. Layton and F. Conlon, present home of Mrs. Geo. Heitkamp, room damaged. The late residence of John Harker, now owned by G? & Jackson, on north end of Main St., struck by lightning. North end and inside badly wrecked—a narrow escape for Mr. Layton, who that day had moved his furniture into it, intending to move his family the next day. Loss $600. The chimney on T. Mitchell’s residence blown off; this is the Cook home. The art gallery north of the Walsh & Kenney furniture store was blown to atoms, parts of it going through the plate glass front of the Harris & Hendricks store, doing $100 damage. The Harris & Co. machine shed, joining the store, was crushed; the present site of the Dillon Donohoo store. C. Kellner had two chimneys blown down. P. Grimm, the shoe maker, had a donation made of a pair of Jas. Kivlahan’s pants, but they came through the plate glass front of his shop at an expense of $20. J. D. McNaughton’s drug store windows were blown in on the Kivlahan block. Six trees in the park were blown away. The summer kitchen at the H. Kepper residence was taken 200 feet. T. Main’s two horses were so frightened by the flying debris that they ran away, demolishing the buggy, but were easily caught. A strange feature of the storm was the taking of about twenty feet square out of the tin roof of Wilsson & Co.’s store, now R. Dreessen’s store. E. A. Gillham’s ice house was struck by lightning and split wide open. A car on the side track was unroofed. Wilson & Co.’s grain house was struck, now the Kivlahan coal house. The Kittoe building was moved from its foundation. Jas. Laird’s barn was leveled to the ground. The barn of Geo. Laird was turned half around. A. J. Smidt and R. V. Wilson each had a pump taken clear out of their cisterns. M. Burns’ house was badly shaken up and glass broken. R. A. Wilson’s barn was moved about a foot, while Thos. Curtis’ chimneys are gone. S. Clemens’ new residence was picked up and then dashed to fragments, his store being damaged by lightning. The M. E. church was twisted so that the plastering is all off or loose and both chimneys gone. The parsonage was also damaged some. W. H. Kaump’s fruit garden was badly damaged, the Geo. Dent property. John Clemens’ hay shed is gone, and trees blown down. To look over the town now, but three houses show signs of a severe storm as viewed from the outside, but from the inside each shows evidence of a fierce struggle. No one was hurt in the least. Outside of the city the storm was even more severe. The windmills of Ben Carr, A. Foley, F. Carr, J. W. Burns, W. Stephens, B. Ripperda, H. Heitcamp, S. Bowden, J. Wills, James Harvey and T. Willey, were blown down. Hay sheds and fences without number are down. Lightning struck the residence and barn of John Jenkyns, killing some stock, and damaging him fully $500. H. Willey’s barn was demolished. S. Stephens’ corn crib and George Wilkinson’s stone barn are gone. The latter’s residence was unroofed. Twelve barns are known to have gone. Lightning struck eighteen places in a circle of a few miles. The brick house on the T. Banfield farm was unroofed and Thos. McCrea and John Seeley were badly shaken up.”

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