Illinois Genealogy Trails History Group

Clark County Illinois
Genealogy and History


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Cyclone Hits
Martinsville

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The most destructive storm in the history of Clark County passed over Martinsville last night, leaving death and destruction in its path. The dead is Mrs. George Baker, while her husband is at the point of death from injury and exposure. The loss of property includes the buildings at the fair grounds, several homes, a large number of barns livestock, crops in the field and woods and orchards.

The cyclone which devastated Martinsville was between 9:15 and 9:20 Tuesday evening. It passed quickly and in a few moments only the wreckage told that a storm of such violence had passed. The storm first struck in the vicinity of the fair grounds tearing down all the stalls, amphitheatre and other buildings and scattered the timbers for more than a mile.

Across the street from the south side of the fairgrounds, it struck the residence of Joseph Byram. This house was blown from its foundation and the house and contents completely destroyed. Northwest from the fairgrounds, it struck the home of William Berkley moving it twenty feet from its foundation, completely wrecking the home. The room in which Mr. and Mrs. Berkley were sleeping escaped the falling timbers and the family suffered no injury.

One quarter of a mile from the Berkley home, it struck the home of Mr. and Mrs. George Baker. Here the storm seemed to of been at its height and to have vented its full furry. The Baker home was utterly destroyed. Mrs. Baker was thrown more than 50 feet from the house and was probably instantly killed by falling timbers and by the fall. Mr. Baker was also hurt in the debris of the falling house. He was badly injured but struggled to his feet and tried to get to a neighbors in search of aid. After going a short distance he became unconscious and the searching parties found him lying in a nearby field. He was immediately cared for but owing to his age, it is thought that the hurt, shock and exposure will prove fatal. Mr. Baker is seventy-five years of age and his wife was seventy-three. Having taken its awful toll of human life, the storm passed on to other scenes of destruction. Across the lot from the Baker home, the house of William Sloan was demolished. The freak of the storm at this place was the tearing away of the roof on the north side of the house and leaving the porch and the south side of the roof uninjured.

The barns belonging to Frank Berger, William Brosman and Thomas Husted were completely wrecked. Much livestock and many chickens were killed. Most of these farmers had hayed stored in their barns and this was a total loss. The cyclone came from the southwest and traveled to the northwest and the path of the storm was from a quarter to a half mile wide and about two miles long. Corn standing in the field was shucked as clean as if done by human hands. The house in which Frank McCormick was staying was completely destroyed as was the barn on the premises but Mr. McCormich and his horses escaped without injury.

In the Taggart woods, the storm cut a path 200 feet wide, laying low the timber as neatly as if it had been done with an ax. Another freak of the storm was in picking a pump out of a well at the fairgrounds and laying it out straight and uninjured in front of the well. The pump taken from the well was 20 feet long.

Telegraph and telephone wires suffered greatly and there is only indirect wire connection with Martinsville today. Fresh reports of damage are coming in today and the total will reach many thousands of dollars.

Fortunately the storm missed the business portion and the more closely settled residence portion of the city or the damage and loss of life would be greater.

This is said to of been the most violent storm this county has ever known. From the path of the storm one would judge that it was not so much in the shape of a twisting cyclone as a straight one.
[Marshall Herald - 15 November, 1912 - Submitted by: Cindy McCachern]




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