Friday, June 14, 2013


Here is a newspaper story about the different storms in Kentucky and surrounding areas on the same day as the Ohio County tornado:

The Hartford Herald – April 2, 1890


A Cyclone, on Its Way From the South-West to the Atlantic Ocean,
Sweeps Down Upon Kentucky With Its Death-Dealing Whirls,


Counties Suffer, Cities Demolished, Towns Blown Down, While Many Citizens Lie Buried Beneath Palling Ruins.

Railroads Injured, Telegraph Wire Down, and for Three Days After , the Great Storm Only Meager Reports Were Obtainable.



Sergeant Burke gives his views: "At 8 o'clock this morning, 75th meridian time, the tornado was central around Leavenworth, Kansas, moving northeastwardly at a high rate of speed, with rains and a low barometer preceding it. Its course, like that ascertained for all storms of this type, was toward the northeast from its center. As it progressed, it appears to have increased in force, and when it centered over Nebraska this morning, it had become what was predicted for it, the most intense cyclone storm of the present season.”


"When the storm reached Louisville the wind had gradually increased from eighteen miles per hour to a velocity of forty-eight miles; the latter being attained twice before the chief force of the tornado made itself felt, and being sustained each time for a period of five minutes. But, at 8:30 o’clock, P. M., or close upon that time, the tornado manifested its full violence, and the wind then had a velocity for about a minute of not less than fifty-three miles per hour, being accompanied by frequent lightning and succeeded by a heavy fall of rain; amounting in all, during the passage of the storm, to thirty-eight hundredths of an inch, and followed by a clearing sky."


About 8.30 o'clock P. M. Thursday Louisville was stricken by one of the direst  catastrophes from which any section of the country ever suffered. A mighty tornado, with a velocity and violence incalculable, struck the city at its southwestern limits and tore across the West End in a southeasterly direction, ploughing an appalling path of desolation and death. Square after square of residences and business houses were wrenched from their foundations and scattered like chaff.

The mighty stroke of the tornado fell with a suddenness that scarcely gave time for quickened heart-beats before those hearts were stilled in death. Twice before the wrenching asunder of life and homes and castles of trade, the impulse of the gale fought impatiently to accomplish the work reserved for the whirling tiger of the air, whose avant couriers they were. Twice, for five furious minutes each, they strove, and passed on screeching their balled rage. Then came a lull; but only for a little space, and then the tornado thundered over the doomed territory with terrible lightenings (sic) constantly ablaze.

From Eighteenth and Maple streets, diagonally across the city, crushing dwellings and business blocks like eggshells, toppleing (sic) down church steeples and wrenching warehouses to fragments, the dread visitant passed to the riverfront, leaving to mark the boundaries of ruin, a broad swath of wreckage and dead and mangled humanity impaled and weighted down or burning in the ignited debris. The belt of destruction extended from the west side of Sixth street as far as Ninth on Main, and an equal width across to the point where the city was first touched.

The situation at the Water Works is serious, and the city is threatened with a water famine. The massive standpipe was used to help force water into the reservoirs, was twisted and broken off about thirty-three feet above ground and the top was hurled fifty feet away, where it now lies a mass of brick and mortar.

On Market Street, for three squares north of Ninth street nearly every business and dwelling house was devastated. Houses were hurled into the street, and the debris in many places was piled thirty feet high.

The Union Depot at the foot of Seventh street, owned by Mr. C. P. Huntington, is a total loss. Not only is the valuable structure ruined, but a number of passenger coaches, which were standing under the shed, were mashed into a shapeless mass. The depot owners will have to stand this loss. The iron train shed was new and the C., O. & S. W. officials estimate the entire loss at not less than $75,000.

At Falls City Hall a Lodge of the Knights and Ladies of Honor was in session, two-thirds of the attendants being women, while in the same building was a dancing school of perhaps seventy-five children. The building was dashed like a house of cards, burying in  the debris souls, most of whom were either crushed or suffocated to death.


The Pickett, Farmers and Globe warehouses escaped serious damage. The Old Kentucky, Ninth Street, Falls City, Green River, Enterprise, Louisville, Central, Cresent,  Sawyer, Wallace & Company and Old Rock Warehouses were totally wrecked. Headly & Company were partially wrecked by the falling walls of the Phoenix Storage Warehouse and Sawyer, Wallace & Co’s building.

There are various estimates as to the material loss. A conservative calculation makes it about $2,000,000. Most place it at considerably more than that, and only one at much less than that figure. Dan’s estimate is $2,500,000.

Prompt measures are being taken for the relief of the sufferers. The City Council has appropriated $20,000 for this purpose and $20,000 more has been subscribed by citizens of Louisville.  This sum will be increased in proportion to the requirements, and there is every reason to say to sympathetic outsiders that Louisville alone can and will prove equal to caring for her unfortunates.

Carefully estimated results place the dead at about one hundred, while several hundred are more or less injured.


An awful scene met some men who went to a fallen house near Rineyville after the storm. A freight train was wrecked and part of the crew, responding to cries for aid, found the ruins of a large brick house, where nine maimed and bleeding victims were crying piteously for aid, or were hushed forever in the silence of death. The family, an old gentleman aged 80, and his wife, with a married daughter and her family, made up household. Of these, two were killed outright, while all the others were more or less injured. The old man, whose name was Panby, had been ill, and is no doubt dead from exposure and the shock. At last account one little girl had not been found, but was still beneath the debris.


The storm lasted for several hours, and was the heaviest that has been witnessed here in many years. The roof of the Southern Methodist church was blown off. The Breckinridge News building was also partly unroofed by the storm, but damage was slight. People all over the town were considerably alarmed during the storm.


The storm was very heavy near this place. Mat. Adams and wife were both badly hurt their house blown down. All of John Pickerel's buildings, Wm. Bell's dwelling, John Heffner's barn, George Husk's house, Dr. Drury's barn, J. H. McDaniel's barn and Isham Metcalfe's house were blown down  There were eight people, besides a sick woman, at Metcalfe's, but nobody was hurt One of the children, a girl of ten was carried over a hundred yards by the wind.


Every business house in the town was literally torn to pieces, and every dwelling except one was either torn down or badly damaged. Several were killed, and many more badly injured. Henry Burch's house was carried fifty yards. Mrs. Burch was bruised up somewhat. Her baby, three weeks old, was found 150 yards from the house, entirely uninjured.  J. L. Blandford had a miraculous escape. His store blew away, leaving him penned up in an incredibly small space. He found his wife sitting on top of a fallen wall and his two-year old child under the wreck of the house, surrounded by fallen timbers. Both were entirely unhurt. The total estimated loss on business houses and dwellings amounts to more than $21,000.


The L. & N. freight, No. 57, J. H. Burch, of Owensboro, conductor, was wrecked between this place and Sebree. The engineer, Peter Burns, and head brakeman, W. W. Powell, were killed, and George Bridges, second brakeman, very badly hurt.

The cyclone blew a number of trees on the track, and the train ran into one of them. The engine was derailed and nine cars were piled on top of it. Burns and Powell were buried at bottom of the wreck.

Conductor Burch and the other train men saved themselves by jumping. The wreck is the worst the Henderson division has had for a long time. Two wrecking trains were at work on it all day.


The swath of tornado which wrought such terrible destruction, is clearly marked through the State. Reports from Paducah, near which place the whirlwind must have entered Kentucky, give details of much damage. The new town of Grand Rivers, on the Cumberland river, was destroyed, and several people were killed. In Lyon county, many houses were razed to the ground. From Crittenden county the same story comes. Heavy storms are reported from nearly all the river counties. In Christian and Trigg, and in the southern part of the State, the life of and property was very heavy.


Thursday's storm according to delayed reports, did considerable damage in Marshall, this State, before sweeping across the Tennessee, and so badly destroying Grand Rivers. In Marshall many houses and barns were destroyed, but, most fortunately, the loss of life was small. A full dozen of farms were swept clean and the loss of buildings alone will reach into thousands. The loss of life at Grand Rivers has been increased to three; a negro being found killed near that place, while the wounded numbered twenty-five. At that place, loss in property was $20,000.


The cyclone struck the bridge of the N. N. & M. V. road, spinning it around on the piers, and dropping the entire bridge into the river. Bridge a total loss.


The track of the storm is a quarter of a mile wide, and it traveled thirty miles across the county parallel to and almost in the same track of a storm that occurred in 1852. At this hour four deaths are reported, and as many more possibly wounded seriously. The wounded will reach fifty-five or more. Residences were totally destroyed and a number of horses and cattle killed.


At Sturges hail one inch in diameter fell, and the wind unroofed several barns. At Sullivan, the wind was worse, destroying many outbuildings and wounding ten or twelve men and women. For several miles in Webster, between Clayville and Dixon, it swept everything away. Bed furniture and clothing have been found all along the road from Morganfield to Dixon. The killed and wounded at Webster will number not less than fifty.


The little town of Bremen, McLean county, was almost totally demolished, only two houses being left standing. A number of horses and cattle were killed, but no destruction of human life is reported, though several persons were badly wounded. The new brick school building, recently erected at a cost of $4,000, was wrecked.


A house near South Carrollton, occupied by a Mrs. Davis, was picked up and blown 500 yards, literally tearing it to pieces and killing Mrs. Davis almost instantly. In the same neighborhood there were eight houses within two miles leveled to the ground.


Much damage reported from the districts overflowed by Green River. Many buildings that were surrounded by water were blown down, many of the wrecks being entirely submerged. Many buildings containing hay and corn that had been placed out of reach of the water were blown down, and their contents scattered in the water and destroyed.


The storm was very heavy here, doing much damage in different parts of the county. Caledonia and Bellview sustaining great damage.


This town, a small station of the Nashville and Chattanooga railroad was blown away. No one killed.


This beautiful little city suffered heavy losses in property and life. Large buildings were blown down to the lowest foundation, and their occupants killed or crippled. All over Sumner county, the storm was very severe. 

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