Tuesday, June 11, 2013


The Hartford Herald – April 2, 1890


A Terrible Tornado Tears Its Terrific Way Through Ohio County,

The Trail of the Whirling Cyclone Sweeps Everything Before It.

Houses Blown Down, Barns Destroyed, Fences Leveled, Timber Felled, and Ruin Follows the Path of the Angry Tyrant of The Air.

Many People Left Houseless and Homeless in a Moment - Miraculous Escapes From Death - Two Children Killed Outright, Others Fatally Injured


Never in the history of Ohio county has such destruction of life and property occurred as was witnessed last Thursday night. As early as 5 o'clock in the afternoon the atmosphere became oppressive, foreboding a terrible visitation from the elements. Just as darkness was beginning to come over the earth, a long line of black and angry clouds was seen looming up in the northern and western sky from which the glare of angry lightning flashed its lurid gleam. About 7:30 the first dashes of the storm was felt in this vicinity, and soon the heavens were one blaze of light and lightning. Deep rolling thunder shook the earth as though trembling from an earthquake. The winds blew in strong and fitful gusts shaking houses and now and then breaking trees and felling fences. All over the county, such phenomina (sic) were visable (sic). But a narrow strip probably three quarters of a mile wide from one side of the county to the other, was doomed to the destructive effects of a tornado terrible in its power. In the path of this tornado, the sky was black as erebus save when it was lit by the flashing gleams of angry lightning. Terror seized many of the people subjected to its mad winds and dashing rains, while other bravely sought to protect life and properly. From eye witnesses and from messengers sent to the afflicted districts, the Herald obtained the following detailed account:

The tornado crossed Green river about midway between Point Pleasant and Smallhouse, giving a farewell touch to McLean county by tearing down the dwelling of Thomas Bishop, who lived just across the river and in the track of the cyclone. The first house struck in the county, was James Bullocks. Following the line of the tornado through the county, we find almost nothing left standing. Large trees were broken like small weeds, fencing was blown down, or chards totally destroyed, and in many places the very earth was torn up by the fury of the winds. It is wonderful that amid all the loss of property so few lives were lost.

Beginning with the western limit of the county and following the storm, we find this summarized statement of casualties:

James Bullocks - Dwelling, stables and all outbuildings blown down. A child was blown some distance into shallow back-water, was recued.
Jim Ben Brown - Dwelling torn to pieces, barns and other buildings destroyed. Blew one of his boys over two hundred yards from the house. After the fury of the storm had passed the boy got back to the house, being only slightly hurt.
W. L. Brown - House unroofed and badly damaged) outbuildings injured but not destroyed.
Henry Iglehart - House blown down to the floor and left the family unhurt. Outbuildings totally destroyed. Pieces of plank blown over a mile and a half. Mr. lglehart slightly injured.
Sam Bilbro - Fared pretty much the same fate as Henry Iglehart. House and outbuildings  destroyed. Pieces of shingles being blown over two miles.
T. B. Iglehart - House down and outbuildings demolished.
J. P. Tichenor - Tobacco barn, containing a large crop of tobacco hanging on the stick, blown down, and tobacco destroyed. Meat house destroyed, stables blown down.
Wing James - Dwelling unroofed and twisted. Barns, stables and cribs blown down. Wheat scattered all over the place.
Widow Everly - Farm touched on one side. Barn damaged and trees uprooted.
Jacob C. Bennett - Here the tornado crossed the Centertown and Point Pleasant Road. Dwelling unroofed, part of the house moved off its foundation. Mr. Bennett had built a fine, large grain and stock barn a year or so ago, this was blown down. In it were horses, cattle, hay, corn, oats, tobacco. Strange, as in many other such instances, nothing was hurt A new 700 pound wagon standing in the lot was lifted over a high fence and carried 80 yards or more, breaking two wheels and an axle. Stock barn on adjoining farm destroyed. This is one place where the storm was particularly severe. Rails, planks, boards were scattered all over the place.
Wood Stearsman - Dwelling blown down.
George Stearsman - House blown down and burned. Family ran to a neighbor's during the hardest of the storm.
Tom Boyd - House damaged.
W. T. Bennett - Barn and stables destroyed. A fine young mule killed. One horse was covered ten feet under a pile of hay, but was taken out alive and not much hurt.
W. J. Ross - House unroofed, stables injured. Barn full of tobacco a total wreck,
W. H. Williams - Smoke house down. Small dwelling on the place destroyed.
Clayton Stevens - House blown literally into splinters. Bedding and clothing scattered all over the farm. The escape of the family alive was almost miraculous.

On both sides of the tornado's track several suffered from the effects of the wind, having many out-buildings blown down or injured, orchards uprooted and fences leveled to the ground.

Here the tornado crossed the river.

The first house in its path was:
Dock Ward's - House blown down. Family had moved out on account high water.
Joe Condit Barnett - All outbuildings blown down.
Will Delaney - Top story of house blown away, Three large outbuildings blown down.
John Sam Bennett - Outbuildings partially destroyed and orchard destroyed.
Dr. I. Foster - Barn partially destroyed.
No Creek Churches - The M. E. Church was moved from its foundation about eight feet, twisted so as to loosen the upper plates, plastering fell off, rendering the house practically useless. The M. E. Church South was lifted from its foundation and blown into a thousand pieces. The grove of beautiful trees near the churches was totally destroyed. The school house at this place was a total loss.
John Ward – House moved off its foundation. Large stock barn and other buildings destroyed.
James Ward – Chimney blown down. Door of the dwelling blew open, striking Miss Ophelia Ward - knocking her backward. She was not seriously injured.
John F. Wallace - Top story of house, kitchen, dining room and porches blown away. Barns and all outbuildings razed to the ground. Killed one cow and calf. Farming Implements badly damaged. A fine new buggy blown a hundred yards and shivered into kindling wood. The storm was particularly severe at this point. The divisions which were made at the creek, joined at Mr. Wallace’s and left almost nothing standing on his place. That no one was killed is due to the fact all the family was downstairs.
William Edwards - Top story of house and cook room blown away. Large barn containing stock blown down.
Joe Jeff Bennett - Upper story of dwelling gone; outbuildings destroyed. An apple tree standing about 30 feet from the house was torn from the earth and carried over and beyond the house, a distance of 200 yards. Loss comes heavily on this venerable citizen, he having twice lost his house by fire.
Baylis Davis – Outbuildings destroyed.
William Milligan - Stock barn destroyed.
Alexander School House - Was lifted from its foundations and moved about 8 feet.
The Bridge Across No Creek on the Hartford and Owensboro road was blown down to the floor leaving the bridge so as to be passed over.
R. A. Anderson - Tobacco barn blown down. Tobacco bulked, but injured some.
A. C. Ellis - Barn partly unroofed, porch blown away. Hay stacks overturned.
Sam L. Baird - Two large barns down. A hay and feed barn fell on stock-only one cow killed.
James Baird - Upper story of house gone. House badly sacked. Beds and clothing blown a hundred yards or more from the house. During the storm, Mr. and Mrs. Baird ran from home to Mr. S. L. Baird's amid great personal danger.
Tom Webb - Crib and part of stable blown away. Two barns partially unroofed. 80 acres fine timber a total loss.
Fletcher Ward - Tobacco barn and corn crib unroofed.
John W. Stevens - Meat house and crib down. Roof off stable, small outbuildings destroyed.
Widow Wesley Stevens – Two barns, meat house, granary, tobacco barns down. Kitchen unroofed.
Wood Tinsley – House blown down level with the upper floor. Every other building on the place razed to the ground. The escape of the family from death seems miraculous, but not one was hurt, except a little girl, and she seriously. Chickens and geese almost all killed.
G. B. Hocker Farm - Barn blown away.
I. K. Westerfield - Dwelling down. Outbuildings destroyed.
Mrs. Fannie Taylor - House blown down, Mrs. Taylor received a scalp wound from a falling timber. Her little girl lying in bed was covered by falling timbers, doing her serious injury. Two young men living with Mrs. Taylor were slightly bruised.

The tornado here crossed the creek again.

At Mr. F. W. Pirtle's, the wind did considerable damage. In the creek near Mr. Pirtle's, was John Thomas of Hartford in a fishing boat. His description of the storm as it tore across the creek above and around him is thrilling. The waves rolled against his boat, but did not rock John to sleep. After the fury of the storm had passed it was many moments before John could content himself to sleep. He was back in Hartford betimes next morning, but did not know then of the great damage done by the tornado.

From Doc Ward’s to the Iron Mountain

As related by our correspondent who went over the ground:

I will give you an outline of the destruction of the cyclone as I have seen it from John B. Ward's to Mrs. John Taylor's. I hear it crossed the creek about Doc Ward, destroying his house and outbuildings, also the outbuildings on the Widow Stevens' land. John B. Ward's and Wm. Delaney's barns destroyed, and Delaney's dwelling damaged. John S. Bennett's outbuildings injured. M. E. Church, South, completely destroyed. M. E. Church, North, removed from foundation and badly deranged. All of John Wallace's outbuildings a complete wreck, also a part of his dwelling, all of it greatly damaged, and a cow killed and a calf wounded. Wm. Edwards and Joe Jeff Bennett left without a building of any kind and without shelter. Ballis Davis lost two barns. Dick Ward's barns on the Baird farm destroyed, containing a crop of tobacco. Alexander school house removed from foundation and badly damaged. A. C. Ellis' barn unroofed and badly damaged, porch and meat house damaged. S. L. Baird's barns on the Stevens farm completely destroyed, also house on same in which Jas. Baird was living. One cow and some hogs killed. His barns had a quantity of hay, corn and oats in them and his machinery. R. A. Anderson's tobacco barn, containing a part of his crop, destroyed - stables damaged. J. F. T. Ward's tobacco barn unroofed, containing two crops of tobacco, stables and corn crib unroofed. T. E. Webb's tobacco barn unroofed, also stables and corn crib. John Stevens' barn and meat house blown down and stables unroofed. The barn, stables and kitchen on the old Wesley Stevens farm blown down. Barns on the G. B. Hocker farm unroofed. Wood Tinsley's dwelling unroofed and barn blown down. Knox Westerfield’s dwelling and outbuildings blown down. Mrs. John Taylor's dwelling and all outbuildings all blown down, and Mrs. Taylor and child slightly injured. In addition to the above the barn on Wm. Milligan’s farm down, also bridge across No Creek. Add to this the complete destruction of all timber, fencing, orchard, household effects damaged by the rain, the homeless condition of seven families, to say nothing of the frightened condition of the people along this line, and you have a brief history of the worst effects of the cyclone of about three-fourths of a mile in width. A great deal of fencing and some timber were blown down outside of this line.

From the Iron Mountain to Barrett’s Ferry.

Where the tornado passed through the forests in Rough Creek bottoms it looked as though the timber had been flattened by enormous rollers. The first house struck after crossing the creek at the Iron Mountains, was:
Mrs. M. A. Coombs - Dwelling injured. Kitchen and dining room blown down. Stock barn and smaller out building destroyed.
Madison Duke - Outbuildings destroyed.
John Taylor Lowe - House down, part of floor blown away, family unhurt. All outbuildings down.
Pig Wimsatt - One room of dwelling blown down, remainder of house unroofed. Stock barn destroyed. New wagon blown to atoms.
Dave Duke - Outbuildings blown down. '
T. D. Duke - Dwelling unroofed. Stock barn leveled to the ground.
I. N. Duke - Stables blown down.
George Hines – Stable unroofed.
John Russell -. Large double log dwelling blown down.
John Tucker - Dwelling down.
Luke Hunt - House blown down.
Basil Acton - Dwelling unroofed.
Jake Hooberry - Dwelling blown down.


The storm struck the residence of Isaac Gidcomb on the old Collin's farm. The stone chimney was blown against the house. The weight of the chimney caused the house to give away and fell with a crash to the lower floor. Mrs. Gidcomb was buried under the debris, but was saved from the fall of the upper floor by an old fashioned upright loom. John Gidcomb, a son 23 yean old, and Minnie Gidcomb, 16 years old, were both killed outright. Two more of the children, both girls, each a leg broken, while two other children were injured slightly. R. N. Fitzhugh and Kin Blanton, who visiting the family, sustained painful though not serious injuries. Mr. I. Gidcomb was not at home, having gone to Evansville on a raft.

John Tucker - House blown down.
Mrs. Lotta Ambrose - Dwelling down. Two barns destroyed.
Elvin Elmore – House and barn blown down.
E. C. Renfrow – Stock barn down.
Jeff Cole – Barn and orchard destroyed.
Sulphur Springs – Dancing hall and ten-pin alley destroyed by falling timber. Five negroes were in a small house near the springs when the house was overturned by the winds. None of the negroes were hurt.
Pardon Tabor - Fine timber destroyed.
Jim Tom Moore - Stable and crib unroofed,
J. T. Shultz - Fine new barn destroyed. Barn had been finished only two days.
Leonard Bunger - Tobacco barn blown down.  Tobacco hanging in barn greatly injured.
N. P. Boswell - Outbuildings and fine orchard destroyed.
Thomas Barrett - Heavy losses in timber destroyed.

The tornado crossed the creek at Barrett's Ferry

Striking Ed Davidson's farm beyond the Ferry, blowing down large stock barn, and ploughed its destructive course along the lowland snapping giant oaks as though they were mere weeds before the wind.
Pink Fentress - House and outbuildings destroyed.
George Fentress - Dwelling down.

On went the mad winds crossing the creek at almost every bend doing great damage to timber. The Herald’s special reporter could not get reliable information from beyond the creek above this point on account of high waters. It is thought by those who witnessed the storm in this section that the track of cyclone followed along the line of the creek for a considerable distance.

Three miles south-east of Fall’s of Rough Mrs. H. T. Edwards was killed outright and a small child fatally injured. Mrs. Edwards was the widow of H. T. Edwards, who was drowned at Spottsville two weeks ago by a raft overturning.


Just above Sulphur Springs a whirl of tornado branches out toward the East doing much damage.

Sam Christian living two miles North of Horse Branch, lost a fine barn by the wind, while his son's dwelling was blown to the ground.


Cul Daniel - House and barn wrecked,
Sim Peyton - Dwelling gone. Meat house blown down and meat scattered through the woods.
William Bean - House blown down and burned. No one was at home at the time, and on coming home Friday morning, found their home in ashes.
John Duncan - House and barn down.
James Burkley - House blown down. Barn unroofed,


The large flouring mill at Rosine was unroofed.
Rough creek is steadily falling at the mouth of Caney creek.
The destruction of chickens, ducks and geese was phenomenal.
Several of our citizens visited the ruins of the cyclone yesterday.
The cyclone's path, on an average, was about three-quarters of a mile wide.
The preservation of life and the destruction of so much property, was wonderful.
The wind was heavy all over the county, blowing down much fencing and timber.
People living near the cyclone suffered much damage by having fencing blown down.
Several were fortunate enough to have their property insured against cyclones and storms.
Several of those damaged most by the tornado can not raise a crop unless they have sorne assistance.
The now tobacco barn belonging to John O. Riley, about two miles east of Hartford, was blown down.
Many people who were rendered houseless and homeless were up all night, caring for what little was left them.
The noise of the storm in the distance - the awful surging roar, the crackling, grinding debris - was simply appalling.
The direction of the storm was well marked, being nearly due north-east, at times dividing and then coming together again.
Neighbors who were not damaged are nobly helping those who were, giving the homeless shelter and administering to their wants.
Such destruction of property is particularly hard on the farmer at this season of the year, when he would ordinarily be planting his crop.
All the timber in the path of the cyclone was felled flat to the earth. Persons can stand in the track in some places and see for miles ahead.

Yesterday, Sunday as it was, was a busy day in the storm stricken territory. The people were putting up fencing and repairing broken dwellings.

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