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The Great Tornado of 1883

It’s a cyclone! It’s a tornado! It’s a whirl! It’s a super storm!

Whatever name you use, it was the most awesome, terrifying, all-time, most-significant “event” that ever occurred in the history of Blue Mound (to date). This massive storm was spawned on the evening of Wednesday, June 20, 1883 around 9 p.m. in the southeastern part of Caldwell County north of Braymer. It gained strength as it moved off to the east where it ripped into Blue Mound. It then bifurcated with one “whirl’ going off south into Carroll County while the second whirl wreaked more havoc to the east and northeast. It was a truly profound and devastating natural disaster. There are many accounts and recollections, but I will only provide excerpts from three published ones.

Jim Jones of Dawn, Missouri published his account in the Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune on 15 June 1983 (a hundred year perspective).

Another account was published in the Chillicothe Crises, (a newspaper) on June 28, 1883 (8 days after the event) by an unknown reporter. It was entitled GLOOM! The Death and Devastation by Last Week's Cyclone; A representative of the CRISIS Visits the Solemn Scene.

The third account is from Pages 35 and 36 of Johnny Hoyt’s book, Not Much of Anything: A History of My Life.

Excerpts of these three accounts are below.

From Jim Jones account
THE TORNADO OF 1883 Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune on 15 June 1983.

The weather on Wednesday, the 20th of June 1883 was very sultry, with the temperature near 90 degrees. Many residents south and southwest of Chillicothe took shelter as the weather worsened. About nine in the evening dark clouds, accompanied by a continuous display of lightning, formed in the west. As the storm approached, the wind howled like a banshee, and, above the rattle of windows and slamming of doors, a roar like a hundred trains rumbled through the sky.

The tornado first touched down two miles north of Braymer, smashing the buildings of Christopher Seitter and Newton Motsinger. A mile east, on the Caldwell-Livingston County line, Hiram Morgan lost a barn. Crossing into Livingston County the storm hit old William Pugh's buildings. He had a shoulder dislocated and a rib broken, but was out of danger in a few days. His wife Susan was slightly injured. A neighbor, Joseph Lybarger, lost the roof from his barn. Next, Richard Mutton's buildings were destroyed, and the Hosier School damaged.

Buildings on George Johnson's large farm in southeast Monroe Township were damaged. Johnson Schoolhouse, a 20x24 foot frame building, was blown to bits. Down the road, the Travilla home was partly destroyed. The storm was a mixed blessing to the family, though. Jonathan Travilla and his son, Thomas, had built many homes in the area, and had the prospect of rebuilding many more after the storm.

To the north the Dusenberrys were hard hit. Mary Dusenberry lost her buildings and was injured. Her son, Jack, his wife, and their little boy were cut and bruised. They also lost buildings. Mary Dusenberry's thirteen-year-old daughter Susie was not hurt badly. Her death seven years later was loosely linked with another tornado, though. Just as news was breaking that 900 lives had been lost in the Louisville, KY, storm, young Susie died from heart disease on the morning before April Fool's Day. The newspapers had exaggerated: The final death toll was only 109.

The Snider family lived on the Fisher farm in the corner of Monroe Township. They all reached the cellar except Bert Snider. He almost made it but the house caught his leg and dragged him 50 yards. His brothers and cousins cut him out of the wreckage with an ax and found the leg bruised but not broken. On the same farm the Cunningham family lost their buildings and Mrs. Cunningham was injured.

Henry Glick had moved to the southwest corner of Blue Mound Township from Carrollton eleven years earlier. He had amassed over a thousand acres, planning to give each of his twelve children 80 acres near his home when they married. Even before the tornado bad luck plagued him. A local leader in fattening cattle, he shipped 300 head to Kansas City just as the market dropped drastically. Then 600 head of hogs raised with the cattle died of cholera. In 1880 he had to sell 320 acres of improved land for $18 per acre and was still in debt. At least his home and farm buildings were among the finest in the area -- and then the tornado came.

Nothing remained on the gentle hilltop but a shambles of shattered furniture, boards, tattered clothing, and the piano, which was untouched by the twister but ruined by the rain. Two threshing machines were dropped 20 yards from the barn. All of the residents were in the cellar except Simon Cooper, a hired hand, who was caught in the stairway by the wind. He was unhurt, though. Henry Glick was 54 years old when the tornado ravaged him. He lived another 32 years, but was unable to regain his fortune.

Nearby, Henry's son, John Glick, got his wife and child out of bed and started for the cellar. They were still in the house when the area was swept clean. John was carried about 100 yards away. He started toward his home site and found his six-year-old daughter Katie crying and crawling on her hands and knees. He picked her up and soon found his wife, Amy, lying unconscious. His injuries kept him from moving her but he managed to carry little Katie a quarter mile to his brother Peter's home. Peter sprained his back carrying Amy to his house where Dr. Kittridge was spending the night. Despite prompt medical help, Amy died two days later without regaining consciousness. A piece of pine wood was removed from Katie's head and she was blind for two days, but soon recovered. John Glick had back injuries, two broken ribs, and many bruises on his head and limbs. He recovered, remarried, and became the father of Vernon R. Glick, for whom Chillicothe's American Legion post is named. Some debris from John's house was found about 100 yards northeast of ts foundation, along with the heating stove and a couch. Thirty yards southeast of the foundation were the pieces of a smashed sewing machine and a baby doll with its head, a leg, and a hand gone. Peter Glick's home was a little south of the tornado's track, and little damaged.

North of John Glick lived his brother-in-law, George Poole. George remained in the house while his wife, three children, and two employees sought shelter in the cellar. When the summer kitchen blew in against the house, George joined them. Then the kitchen departed to the northwest and a little later the rest of the house was smashed to the ground 20 yards southwest of the foundation. The cookstove from the kitchen was found 160 yards due south. When the north and east walls of the cellar caved in, everyone was huddled in the southwest corner and remained unscathed. The barn was demolished but two horses in it were not hurt. Forty acres of corn were swept away. George had insurance against fire and lightning, but not against storms.

A little beyond Pooles, all of Morgan J. Hughes' buildings were destroyed except the barn. Morgan had been watching the storm and headed for the cellar with his daughter, Maggie, in his arms. His wife, Margaret, had the older daughter, Annie, in her arms when the wind tore the house from around them and blew them into a hedge fence row. Mrs. Hughes was injured in the leg and bruised on the face. The others fared better, and little Maggie became the oldest survivor of the tornado before she passed away a hundred years later. A hired hand, Bill Harris, was asleep on the kitchen floor when the house blew away. He was unharmed, and according to some Hughes heirs, not even awakened by the commotion.

In the neighboring house of William James ,eighteen-year-old Anna James sat on the floor with her back against a door to keep the wind from tearing it away. The house held and the family was safe.

A mile east of Henry Glick, the Tom Jenkins home shifted three feet on its foundation. Part of the roof blew off, the windows were smashed, and the clothing sucked out of the house and lost. The summer kitchen was demolished. A 44 ft. square barn a hundred yards from the house, and closer to the center of the storm, exploded in all directions. Most of the roof couldn't be found anywhere. Three of the six animals in the barn were injured, but none killed.

Further east, John E. Hughes, his wife Margaret, their daughter Katie, and a nephew were in the house when the wind tore it away. Mrs. Hughes suffered several injuries, including a large gash in her hip cut by a stove leg. Her condition was critical for some time. Mr. Hughes was temporarily blinded, but soon recovered. Their daughter received many bruises. The boy was unhurt.

Nearby a son of William Lewis decided to stay in the house when the rest of the family went to the cellar. He stayed until the wind forced a door open against his weight, then he ran and rolled to a post outside and hung on for dear life. The house moved a foot on its foundation and its windows shattered. The other buildings were lost. A new house on the same farm occupied by William's son, Fred Lewis, blew off its foundation and turned about 90 degrees around.

William Lewis sent his sons to check on the neighbors. They found William's daughter, Katie, her husband, Chase Glick, and their children knee-deep in water in the cellar where they had remained more than an hour after their little one-story house was scattered for half a mile. Their clothing, furniture, and implements were gone. One horse was killed and another badly injured. The storm was not so kind to their neighbor. Six and a half years earlier Edward James had bought 39 acres at $5 an acre and built a modest one-and-a-half story home. He saw no need to fear the storm. His wife, Phoebe, was at the door between the front room and the kitchen and hurrying to the cave when the kitchen blew to the west and the rest of the house to the south.

She clung to a tree and was windwhipped, bruised, and dazed. Their horses remained tied in the barn when it was whisked away from them, and she found some shelter among them until rescued.

Henry Lewis found Edward James lying in an oat field a few hundred feet from the house with his dog between his feet. Both were dead. There was no sign of injury on him, and his niece, Annie James, suggested that he had perhaps been drawn up into the storm cloud or struck by lightning.

The Lewis boys were unaware that 17-year old Maggie James was safely away visiting for the night, and they searched two hours for her, expecting to find her dead. She was unharmed, though, and had over half a century left to live.

Pieces of Edward James' brand-new farm wagon were found scattered over a large area, recognizable by the fresh red paint. Maggie James' hat was found 1¼ miles southwest of the house. Only a few other small items were recovered. A broom was driven handle first into the ground, up to the brush, near the James home.

In a valley in the timber half a mile northeast of the Edward James home lived Jack Wilson. Jack, his wife, and their little son had just left their home for shelter at her brother's when the tornado caught them. She was blown into a wire fence and died almost instantly. Ten month old Roy was torn from his father's grasp and carried several yards. Although Jack's arm was mangled, he managed to get the child to shelter under the floor of their little log cabin. The rest of the cabin and their other buildings were destroyed. Some time later a neighbor, William J. Jones, walked across the cabin floor and heard Jack crying in pain. An attempt to save his life by amputating the arm failed, and he died the next night. Jack's brother-in-law, Ben C. Johnson, lost all of his buildings also, but was uninjured.

Then the storm cut a swath visible for decades through the sparsely populated wooded hills west of Blue Mound before finding its next victim. Charles Brown had moved here from Canada about nine years earlier. He passed his 70th birthday just five days before the storm. He followed his young wife, Margaret, and their many children into a cave beneath the house just as the storm struck. All their buildings were lost but the family was safe. With a name like Charlie Brown, he could hardly let a little thing like a Missouri tornado discourage him, and he spent the remaining 23 years of his life here.

Half a mile beyond lay the settlement of Blue Mound, scarcely larger then than now. The Wilson W. Campbell family usually sought shelter in the cellar of his father-in-law, John Knox, in threatening weather. This night Wilson's sister, Alice Campbell, thought there was no danger and refused to go. When one side of the house blew out, she ran through the new opening just before the rest of the house departed. She eventually found safety beneath a corn crib. A neighbor, John M. Hoyt, recorded that the wind gently dumped her on a straw stack minus her clothes. Thereafter she always led the way to a cellar when the weather looked stormy.

Three years before the tornado, Charles McAlear traded farms with his neighbor. The old place was spared, but his new farm was devastated. He had been watching the weather and roused his family just in time for the nine of them to crowd into their 4 x 6 ft. cellar. Charles and a son were barely able to hold the cellar door shut as all the buildings were swept away. The farm wagon, implements, and the orchard disappeared. McAlear had maintained the Blue Mound Post Office in his home. He found one unopened envelope of stamps lodged in a tree. All the other postal business was lost. Nearby the Burner Schoolhouse was also destroyed.

A quarter mile east of Blue Mound lay Joseph Knox's farm. He saw the storm coming, got the family and guests to the cellar near the house, untied four horses and turned them out of the stable, rescued his valuable papers from the house, and barely beat the storm back to the cellar. The nine people crowded into the cellar were unharmed, but the house was smashed to bits. The barn and 175 trees in the orchard were lost. One horse was injured. Several chickens were killed and plucked clean of their feathers. His farm wagon was mangled.

John M. Hoyt writes of Sarah, Joseph Knox's wife, riding to shelter on an old blind horse after the tornado. She didn't even mention the destroyed home, but loudly lamented the loss of her barrel of homemade soap. The house was insured against tornados for $500.

The storm then turned south-southeast to John C. Mead's farm. His family remained safe in the cellar while one end was blown out of it. The log barn was wrecked, although three horses inside were uninjured. All other buildings were lost.

After hitting Mead's, the storm lifted and seemed to split into two parts. One continued east-northeast to strike the home of a Mr. Barrett west of Avalon. He and his wife were blown 200 yards and his four children 200 yards in the opposite direction. One child was seriously hurt and Mr. Barrett was critically injured.

The other part of the storm tore into Carroll County. Charles Hardy's house at Coloma was blown to bits. William Little's house was blown 40 yards, remaining intact and not injuring the family in it.

Hailstones up to ten inches in circumference pelted the settlement of Van Horn, near the present cemetery of the same name. Peter Young's house was carried 20 yards and demolished without injuring the occupants. The blacksmith's home twisted halfway around. Dr. Haren's stable scattered over an acre.

Van Horn Church was ruined. Further south the top was torn off Squire Buzzard's barn. The Liberty Church, seven miles northeast of Carrollton, was a wreck. After another tornado demolished it again many years later the congregation gave up and moved to Carrollton. Big Creek was flooded higher than ever known before.

The tornado was followed by intense lightning and extremely heavy rain for an hour and a half. Four inches of rain fell on the Morgan J. Hughes family as they huddled in the hedge row where they had been blown. Clear Creek, normally just a trickle, became a torrent southeast of Dawn. Young Robert W. Jones watched a mare and colt seeking shelter in a barn try to swim across. They were swept a quarter mile downstream before gaining the other side.

A rescue party from Dawn had to detour four or five miles upstream to cross Clear Creak. Finally teamster Robert Ward's grey horses could ferry the 18 men across one at a time. Even Grand River was on a rampage, and 150 ft. of the Jimtown bridge was washed out. The river remained out of its banks for more than a week after the storm.

The tornado left four people dead or dying and a few more were not expected to live. Perhaps two dozen suffered serious injuries, and some never completely recovered.

The following families not mentioned earlier were among those who lost their homes: Jacob Bunch, S. H. Burner, Jim Carr, George Cowen, William Duggard, William J. Grimwood, A. Geirty, Adam Jeire, Jackson Johnson, Thomas Kimber, Eli Lundy, Tillmon B. Lynch, Nelson Moorman, E. A. Morris, Marion Motsinger, James Oster, H. Stephens, Ben Street, William Stoughton, Elliot Wolford, and L. Ultman.

All together more than 50 homes were destroyed. Others were damaged. The twister bypassed some homes to strike stables, barns, and grain cribs. Orchards were uprooted, equipment smashed, and even fences destroyed.

Many of the crops that escaped the wind washed away in the floods. Sometimes the tornado seemed to be playing. A package of straight pins was driven nearly halfway into a hedge post at John Glick's. Straws and even feathers were driven into posts.

An estimate of the damage in Blue Mound township alone was merely $54,150. However, prices and wages were very low by modern standards. Some homes had been valued at only $300; a new home could be built for $700, and even Henry Glick's mansion was worth only a few thousand. Farm hands were paid room, board, and about $15 a month. Hogs were selling for $6 a hundred pounds. Peter Glick played in the Dawn band, and his B flat coronet was claimed by a proud local reporter to have cost $40. Even then men's toys were expensive.

More than $2000 was raised to help the destitute victims. Homes and barns were rebuilt. The long process of replacing orchards was begun. Injuries healed. But for decades many families dated events not just by the calendar, but whether they happened before or after the tornado.

From the Chillicothe Crises account
- June 28, 1883 GLOOM! The Death and Devastation by Last Week's Cyclone. A representative of the CRISIS Visits the Solemn Scene.

The cyclone, of which we gave a short account last week, which visited the south west part of this county, on Wednesday night of last week (June 20th), was more destructive to life, limb and property, and the region visited by it more extensive than was at first reported here. The high waters almost cut off communication between here and the stricken district. The destruction begun near Catawba, in Caldwell county, from whence the demon of destruction traveled almost due east for about 14 miles. It entered this county near the south-west corner and cut a swath of one-third to three fourths of a mile in width, the south line of which was from one half to three fourths of a mile north of Carroll county line. At Chase Glicks, 8 miles east of where it entered this county it veered a little to the north, but got back on the line of beginning again, and went on east to the northwest corner of 36, 56, 24 where it turned S. S. E., swept away John C Mead's buildings in the center of 36 and then rose.

On Tuesday, the Editor of the CRISIS went to the scene of destruction, viewed some of the ruins and conversed with some of the sufferers. Nothing that can be said by word of mouth or pen can make one comprehend the force of the storm or the completeness of the destruction. We have read accounts of the awful work of cyclones; heard people tell of it, but until last Tuesday never even imagined the desolation these demons leave in their paths. We say to all, visit the scene. That is a most beautiful and fertile country. It was all enclosed and well Improved. It is high rolling prairie. The farmers were in comfortable circumstances, with probably a few exceptions, but some of them are needy now and must be in want. Just think! A man has a nice comfortable house; within it the usual furniture, carpets, beds, books, ornaments made by wife and daughters' hands, and the many things that make a house comfortable and beautify it; the beautified door yard; farm machinery necessary to run his farm; buildings to shelter his stock and crib his grain; his necessities are all supplied; he is at home and he and family have retired for the night; they are aroused by a mighty roaring and are seized with dread; in their night clothes they hasten to the cellar; in an instant the storm has passed on; they look out and see that everything is gone; they have nothing left but the naked land and their night clothes!

From our interviews we gather that the situation just before the destruction was as follows: In the west there was a black cloud approaching; to the north west it was denser; the display of electricity was continuous and the thunder constant; the wind was blowing from the southeast. Mr. Wm. Lewis, who is a thinker and well read, and withal a philosopher, gave us his theory of the formation of cyclones, made up in part, we suppose, from his observations that fatal night.  We stopped over night with him and had more time to talk with him than with others. As we understand him his theory is as follows:

A warm moist current next to the earth comes from one direction and a cold and higher current moves in the opposite direction. When these currents approach each other, the one being charged with positive and the other with negative electricity, a commotion ensues and when they have mingled to a certain extent the warm, moist current endeavors to rise above the cold current and finally forces an outlet through the cold current above and then rushes up this chimney, as it were, of a mile, more or less, in height, producing the powerful suction and whirl.

All called the destructive power "the whirl."

This destruction occurred between 9 and 10 o'clock. A clock at Henry Glick's stopped at 25 minutes after nine. All who took refuge in cellars and caves were saved without injury. The awful noise of the approaching cyclone is what warned so many to their caves and cellars. The cyclone lasted a very short time-variously estimated at 2 to ten minutes, and was followed by the greatest rain storm, accompanied by lightning and wind, that ever visited that section, which lasted an hour and a half; every little hollow would float a barge. Clear Creek was almost Instantly raised a dozen feet or more. A relief company from Dawn had to go four or five miles east, up the creek in order to get across it. Robert Ward's horse was used as a ferry and eighteen were ferried across, one at a time.

We only spent a half a day in the path and did not see but about one-seventh of the ruins. We had time to call on but a few of the sufferers.


The first cyclone sufferer we meet is Charles McAlear whom we see in Dawn. He had been watching the clouds on the fatal night and was dressed in his work clothes. The other members of his family were in bed. The cloud's appearance prompted him to go in the house and notify his family to get up and dress and be ready. He again stepped out to view the storm and concluded they had best make for the cave. The family had been slow about getting up and dressing and he grabbed one of the children, yet asleep, from the bed, threw his overcoat around it and they all run into the cave. The oldest boy came in last and saw the cloud when quite near, he describes the cloud as the revolving funnel-shape, such as visited Marshfield and other places. They had just got into the cave when the cyclone was upon them. The cave is about 4 by 6 feet and it was pretty well filled when Mr. McAlear, his wife and their seven children got into it. It was all Mr. McAlear and his son could do to hold the little door shut. When they emerged from the cave, they found the house, barn and all other buildings swept away; furniture, clothing--everything gone. The upper floor and roof gone, he knows not where, and the lower floor lodged in a locust tree to the east. The children's trunks in which were their best clothes were locked, but they can find nothing of them. A boot of one of the boys was found with the heel off; a shoe with the sole off; some few clothes found scattered here and there, all torn and soiled. One of his girls has literally nothing left but her night gown. He loses everything; wagon and farm implements all gone he knows not where; his orchard gone, apple trees that had stood the storms of 30 years taken off to parts unknown. McAlear was postmaster of Blue Mound and the office was at his house; the whole outfit is gone. He says the government is very particular about mail locks and he made thorough search for the bags and locks, but can find nothing of anything; all he found connected with the postoffice was an envelope of $15 in postage stamps which he had received from the government and had not yet opened; he found it lodged in a tree. The cloud roared mightily, not claps of thunder, but a sound a person once hears can never mistake it afterwards, he says. Mr. McAlear's house was on N. E. 35, 56, 24, due south of Chillicothe.


Wils. Campbell lived north of McAlear's 80 rods and his house was on the north edge of the storm's fury, while McAlear's was on the south edge. Campbell, his two children and sister and James A Smith and family were at the house that night. They all, except Miss Campbell, went north to Campbell's father-in-law's, who had a cellar. Miss Campbell would not go she did not think there was any danger and she remained at the house. The storm blew out one side of the house and she run out at the opening and got under the corn crib where she was found safe, she had just gotten out of the house when it was swept away. From McAlears the storm passed on east 80 rods to Joseph Knox and then turned south, south-east.


Mr. Mead lives south, southeast of Knox's about the center of 36, 56, 24. His house and other buildings were swept away. He and family had taken refuge in the cave and were saved without injury.

Near Meads the cloud seems to have risen and the next serious damage we hear of was at Van Horn in Carroll county, where a church was blown down and other houses in the vicinity.

The next sufferer we meet is  G. W. POOL.

He is on the scene of his demolished home. His house was a story and a half frame. His family consisting of wife and three children had gone to the cellar. Mr. Pool remained upstairs until the summer kitchen came against the house. The wreck of the kitchen went to the northwest. In about ten minutes after this when all were in the cellar the house went to the southwest, as complete a wreck as can be imagined.

As we write this we see the mass lying all broken and mashed, flat upon the ground about 20 yards southwest of where it stood. The cook stove lays 160 yards due south. It was in the kitchen. The first puff came from the ease, the next from the west and the whirl from the southwest, says Mr. Pool. The cyclone had a continuous roar as loud as thunder.

The cloud was of copper color as Mr Pool describes it. He did not see the whirl. There was in the house Edward Shrader and Hannah Ulman who were working for Mr. Pool. They were all in the southwest corner of the cellar and were saved without a scratch. The east and north walls of the cellar caved in. Barn demolished but two horses in it were not hurt. Loss total, house $600, barn $200, 40 acres of corn swept clean. Fire and lightning but no storm insurance.

A quarter of a mile southwest of Pool's stood the fine residence of his


We sit among the ruins. The ruins here are greater than elsewhere, because the improvements were greater. On this beautiful knoll sloping to all points of the compass, there is a mass of broken timber and boards, furniture, &e., the material of a two story frame house which cost several thousand dollars. The house fell to the south, southeast. The piano is south of the foundation 15 yards among the shade trees. The barn, which was 100 yards southeast of the house, seems to have been crushed together, falling mostly a little north and partly on it's foundation. Two threshing machines fell south of the barn 20 yards. A horse which was in the pasture west of the house was found dead just south of the house. We met here Jonathan Murphy who formerly lived on Al. Fowler's farm near Chillicothe. He and his family consisting of two children and his mother in law, lived at Glick's. The following is his statement: We were all watching the two clouds-one the northwest and the other to the southwest, expecting a storm. It was all cloudy in the west but the two clouds referred to were the most fearful looking. The wind was blowing hard. The last time I looked at the clouds the one in the northwest was of a copper color. It seemed to be coming over us and moving west [sic]. The wind was blowing hard, doors were being blown open and the clouds looked so fearful we all took refuge in the cellar under the north part of the house, except Simon Cooper, a hired hand who was upstairs, and had been in bed but had gotten up and dressed. A strong straight wind blew before the whirl came, and the house cracked from its force, but when the whirl came the house was smashed instantly. Cooper escaped without injury. He was half way down the stairway when the house went. All escaped uninjured.


While talking to Mr. Murphy, Henry Glick came up. He said that he thought always that he was pretty stout hearted, but he had gone twice to the wreck to work but his heart failed him. Mr. Glick is aged 55 years and has lived here on his farm 11 years. In this place he has 320 acres, but it is encumbered heavily, so that with the loss he has suffered his interest in the place is not much. He has had bad luck in the past, but was getting on his feet again financially. His loss is over $5,000.


Here at the Henry Glick farm we meet Joseph A. Knox, another sufferer. He lives or did live 4½ due west [should read due east] of here. His house and barn were completely demolished. He and family consisting of wife and three children saved themselves by going into the cellar 20 feet from the house. He saw the cloud coming, put his family in the cellar and then went to the stable and untied four horses and turned them out, then run to the house, got a tin box containing his valuable papers and got in the cellar just in time to get his back against the door when the storm struck. The house was blown into fragments. John Bowman, wife and two children were at Knox's and also took refuge in the cellar. All were saved without injury. There were three separate puffs, Knox says. Several chickens were killed and were picked clear of their feathers by the storm. One horse injured, Cyclone insurance on house $500, on horses $300. He had a wagon smashed. Spokes twisted from hub of one of the wheels and tire mashed together and broken. Orchard of 100 old, and 75 young trees a total loss. His loss is $1,500 or more.


From the ruins of Henry Glick's place we passed across southwest [should read southeast] to where his son John Glick's house had stood. To a stranger here who had heard nothing of the facts, this scene would not be so sad, as the site of the house is swept clean and little indicates that a house was ever here. But deep sorrow is here. Here John Glick lost his lovely wife. She received fatal injuries of which she died on Saturday. Here his child and he himself were injured. To the northeast of the house about 100 yards lie the heating stove, a couch and part of the debris of the house. Southeast of the house site 30 yards is the sewing machine all broken to pieces; the foot of a child's bedstead, and a doll baby with its head, a leg and a hand gone. How any of the family escaped alive is strange. They had a cellar; had gotten out of bed and started for it. An addition of two rooms to the south had been built to the house recently. They were in the southwest room at the door between the two south rooms when the storm struck the house. He was carried about 100 yards to the southeast. He got up, and coming toward the house found his little girl aged 6 years about 75 yards from the house; she was crawling along on her hands and knees and crying. He picked her up and came about twenty-five yards further where his wife lay in an insensible condition. He, being injured himself, could do nothing more than take the child in his arms and go after help; he went to his brother Peter's (the rain all the time coming down in torrents) about ¼ mile south, and when the door was opened he fell down exhausted from his injury. He told Peter where to find his wife, who with Dr. Kittridge who was stopping at Peter's over night, went after her and carried her to his home. Mrs. Glick had a gash across the forehead and otherwise bruised. She never recovered consciousness. John's back is injured, two ribs fractured, mashed on the forehead and nose, and on legs and arms. He is in a fair way to recover and is sitting up. The little girl was injured on the back of the head and on the side of the temple, over the eyes and was blind for two days. Under the advice of her physician she is kept ignorant of her mother's death, the physician fearing brain fever.


From Henry Glick we get the particulars of his son, Chase's loss. He lived 1½ miles east of his father's, in a one story frame. He and family consisting of wife and two children were saved by going into the cellar. The house was blown to splinters and scattered a half mile to the east. He lost everything, clothes, furniture, implements, one horse killed and another badly wounded. Loss $700.


Son of Wm. Lewis and son-in-law of Henry Glick was at home with his wife and her sister. They were all upstairs but had gotten up and come downstairs. The house was wrecked a great deal but not torn to pieces. None injured.


Peter Glick's house was on the south edge of the storm track and was probably not touched by the whirl. It was wrecked a little. He sprained his back some carrying his insensible sister-in-law to the house, and is hardly able to get around.


lived at the Fisher place, ¾ of a mile south-west of H. Glick's. The house was turned half way around and blown five or six rods to the east, and was badly wrecked. All but one got into the cellar, and the other one, Bert, was just getting in the cellar when the building caught his leg. He crawled along on his hands and one knee and kept up with the building and this saved himself more serious injury. His leg was badly bruised, but no bones broken. His brothers and two cousins, who were there, cut him out with an ax.


Leaving Mr. Glick's we go north to the section line and then east to Morgan Hughes', which is on the north side of the road and 3-4 miles east of G. W. Pool's. Hughes has gone to Utica today, and we get our information from his sister-in-law, Miss Anna James, who, not in the house during the storm, is here on the scene and knows the facts. There was in the house Hughes, his wife and two little children, Wm. Harris, Jim Tewalt and Julia Wilson. Harris and Tewalt were in the kitchen and the others in the front room. The kitchen was blown to the west and the front to the southwest. Harris found himself on the kitchen floor 60 feet west. Hughes and his wife took the children in their arms: the house went leaving the floor and they fell to the south. Hughes was bruised about the shoulders and head. Mrs. Hughes was hurt pretty badly on the temple and her body bruised. The others escaped injury. There was a cellar under the house, but the opening was from the outside and they did not get to it.


Miss James also gave us the particulars of the storm at her uncle Edward D James' house and his death. James' house was one mile east and a quarter of a mile north of Morgan Hughes'. There was no one in the house but James and his wife. They were down stairs (the house was 1½ story). James was in the north room and Mrs James was standing between the kitchen and front room, at the door. The kitchen separated from the other building and went west, the other building went south. When the buildings separated, Mrs. James fell to the ground. James was blown twenty-five or thirty rods to the south, where he was found dead. His dog which always slept outdoors was dead between his dead master's legs. On Mr. James body there were no bruises, and it is not known how he was killed. Miss James thinks he may have been killed by being drawn up in the cloud or by a stroke of lightning. After he was placed in the coffin his face became blue and showed the appearance of bruises. Some say he was bruised on the back of the head, but his brother failed to discover it when he washed him and laid him out.


Mr. Jenkins lives south-east of Morgan Hughes one half mile and a ¼ mile south of the section line. His house is on the s. w. n. e., section 32, 56, 24. Mr. Jenkins says a gale came from the southeast which induced him and family to go to the cellar. In an instant a whirl came from the west. The summer kitchen, four feet from the house, was blown to pieces and the cook stove set five rods due east, while most of the kitchen cannot be found. The house was moved three feet from its foundation, part of the roof torn off, windows smashed out by missiles and most all the clothes of the family blown out of the house and off where they can't find many of them. The house is otherwise badly wrecked. He says his cellar is not much of a cellar, but that he wouldn't have taken a township for it that night. His large barn 44x41, 100 yard northwest of the house, exploded, falling in all directions. About ¾ of the roof cannot be found anywhere. There were six work animals in the barn, three were injured, none killed. Jenkins had eighty acres of corn, running east and west, through which the storm center swept. He had one cow and two hogs killed. His fine orchard is destroyed. His loss is $2,000 or more. We are talking with him with the ruins around us. Yet he says, jokingly, that he has a good start left--a wife and six children, the oldest of whom is twelve years old. He might add that he has 400 acres of fine land.


East of Jenkins, one half mile, lives William Lewis. He and his family, except his son, went to the cellar under the granary, a rod east of the house. His son Henry would not go, but said he would stick to the house. He stuck until the door blew open in spite of his weight against it, when he ran out and rolled to a fence post in front of the house and held for dear life. The granary blew from over the cellar, going east. The smoke house blew to the east, except the floor of it, which went northwest. None was hurt. The house was moved a foot from its foundation, windows smashed. His stable and outbuildings were swept away. A new house just built at a cost of $600, on another part of his farm, and occupied by his son Fred, was blown off its foundation and turned a quarter way around. Doors smashed and house wrecked: his large barn near the house was unroofed. Some sheep killed. A mile of fence blew down and crops badly injured. A spring wagon, seventy-five yards south of the house was blown, part 100 yards to the northwest and part to northeast of the house. His damage is $1000, but he has 940 acres in his farm and will not suffer. Mr Lewis started his boys out to see how the neighbors fared. They found Lewis' son-in-law,
Chase Glick, wife and children in the cellar, where they had been from the time the house blew away--over an hour--in the drenching rain, up to their knees in the water. They then went to E. D, James'. They found Mrs James fifty yards north of the house, in a dazed condition--out of her mind. She was dressed-had her hat and veil on. James was found by Henry Lewis. They hunted for the daughter about two hours, expecting to find her dead, but she was not at home that night and so escaped.


Southwest of Wm Lewis and a ¼ southeast of Jenkins lived John Hughes, in a two story frame. Hughes' wife, child and nephew were in the house when it was blown down. Mrs. Hughes was badly hurt, a stove leg having cut a large gash in her hip. She is otherwise injured. She is in a precarious condition. Hughes was wounded and was blind for awhile, but is about recovered. The child, a little girl, was bruised up considerable. The boy escaped injury.


Wilson and wife, one half mile east north east of James', down in the valley and in the timber lived in a little log house. They had started to go to Benny Johnson's and had gotten several rods from the house when the whirl came. They then attempted to get over a fence. Wilson, who was conscious up to his death, said the wind snatched his wife from him, and about the same time he was struck by something and his arm broken and otherwise injured. He heard his child crying and went to it. He saw his wife nearby dead. Wilson's arm was terrible mangled, the bone sticking out. He died next evening, without having had his arm amputated.

From Johnny Hoyt’s account
- STORMS - Cyclone

A cyclone came through on June 20, 1883, from the southwest and raised a half mile east of Blue Mound. It killed Jack Wilson and his wife. They had a little boy 10 months old that survived. (I was told later that the boy, Roy Wilson, helped to draft the new state constitution of Nebraska.)
In those days most people made soap by the barrel. The storm blew Joe Knox’s house away, also the barrel of soap. Bell, his wife, as they took her to find a place to spend the rest of the night, did not even mention the loss of her home. When they got Mrs. Joe Knox on the old blind horse there was a man on each side holding each foot, and her husband would say, "Now don’t you faint!" as she would scream, "O, my good barrel of soap!"

The width of the storm at Blue Mound was a half a mile. Willis Campbell lived north of Blue Mound. There had been a bad cloud most every night and they had been going down to Jonathan Knox’s. This night his maid sister refused to go. When the storm struck it took his sister Alice and laid her gently on a straw stack, undressed. From that day on if a bad-looking cloud came up she always made it a point to be the first one in the cave.

The Charles Brown family lived just west of us. They had a hole under the house. There was a large family but they all managed to crawl under the house just as the storm took the house. When the house went they were almost drowned, but all were saved.

The storm raised and I was told that it came down near Kirksville (it actually came from the west). After the storm, caves were the order of the day.

Mrs. Ruth Overton told more about the storm. The Brown family were her grandparents, and the hole under the house was where they kept their potatoes. They had a trap door where they went down, and her father was the last to go down. He was trying to fix the windows, but just as he went down the house went up. There were ten children in the family.

The only surviving artifact of the Great Tornado that I am aware of is a spinning wheel that Ina Jenkins Cameron has in her basement. According to her, the old spinning wheel was one that was put together from two spinning wheels that were blown away in the Great Tornado of 1883. One of the wheels that blew away belonged to her Grandmother Margaret McAlear. The other wheel belonged to a Mrs. Haynes. After the storm they found enough parts to make one complete spinning wheel! Mrs. Haynes told Margaret that she could keep it and it eventually wound up with Ina.  Click here to see a photo of the spinning wheel.

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Blue Mound History - Joe G Dillard
3535 West Arbor Way, Columbia, MO  65203