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Henry County
Illinois
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1860 Tornado
The Geneseo Republic, Geneseo IL, May 23, 1860

About 7 o'clock, Sunday evening, our town was visited by one of the most terrific tornadoes, that was ever witnessed in this vicinity. The destruction of property was very great, but strange to say, not a life to our knowledge was lost. The wind during the afternoon had been blowing moderately from the East and continued so up to within a few moments before the hurricane struck, when it veered round, very suddenly to the west. The clouds wore a singular appearance and danger was apprehended. The blow did not continue more than five minutes, but during that time, the wind boxed the compass, producing in its rapid changes, a complete whirlwind and to this fact may be attributed the greater part of the damage done. Buildings, trees, fences, chimneys, side walks, lumber and everything that could possibly be moved, were taken up in its course and dashed to pieces. The north side of the town suffered the most severely.
Buildings Blown Down

Starting at the North end of State street, the first building demolished was the new brick dwelling house owned and occupied by S. Kendall, the upper story of which was destroyed. Mr. K. and family were in the cellar and escaped injury. His loss of building and clothing is large. Mr. W. P. Blackiston's large fine brick dwelling, almost finished was completely demolished. The roof was taken by the wind, carried several rods and literally smashed to atoms. The new frame dwelling house of Mr. Small, into which he had lately moved, was taken from its foundation and placed in a situation not exactly designed by the builder. None of the inmates were hurt. The large wooden building on the east side of State street, occupied on the first floor, by the German Evangelical Society and in the second story by a family, was completely wrecked. Not a timber in it is whole. A moment before it fell, the family had left the house. Damage to the Evangelical Society about one hundred dollars. The next building on this street, which come down, was the dwelling house, South side, owned by O. J. Stough and nearly completed. This is good for nothing but kindling wood. On Mechanic street the stable of P. H. Beverage was blown down, burying two horses in the ruins. The horses were saved without injury. A short distance from town, the house of Mr. B. Paul was destroyed; also one belonging to Mr. Baker. The wife of Mr. Baker and one of his children were buried in the ruins, but were rescued without material damage. Another of his children was taken up by the wind and carried several rods without injury. A large number of stables were blown down and the materials and contents scattered to the four winds of heaven. The buildings unroofed are as follows:

Amos Kinsey's house was unroofed; Sayers' house occupied by himself and one near it occupied by Mr. Blackiston were completely riddled by the flying timber; house occupied by Mr. Buckles, and one owned and occupied by Mr. Giesler were removed from their foundations. A large building on State street owned by Mr. Souers was unroofed.

A portion of the front of Mr. Daily's dwelling was razed to the ground. The glass and sash in the large, open front buildings, North side occupied as Shoe Store & c, were destroyed. The dwellings of George Bernard and John Sauders were severely injured by flying rails, boards and timber. The entire roof of McGinley's New mill was taken off and several windows stove in. Their damage is considerable.

The L. part of Col. Stone's house was lodged in Mr. Harrington's yard, several rods distant and every chimney on his elegant new brick house was thrown down. Some four or five freight cars were taken by the wind and run completely over State street and that too, without any track. The stables of E. Eldrich, Mr. Rich, Mr. Reed, Mr. Lyol, and how many more we know not, come out of the "breeze" in a deplorable state. There is scarcely an out house standing on North side. At least one hundred chimneys were blown down. So far as trees are concerned, our town looks like a "felled piece." Locusts, a foot in diameter were twisted off, as one would twist a tender twig. Garden fences were nowhere.
So far as we have learned, only John Rose, who was struck by a flying sidewalk plank; Geo. Bernard, Esq., Hinman, of this place were injured. Mr. Rose is seriously hurt.
The Neighborhood.

W. W. Wood's (three miles from town) house and barn were unroofed. A portion of Mr. Richard's house was demolished and his new barn racked severely. He has a stove and a large lot of furniture destroyed. Judge Harper's barn bit the dust and that of the Misses Boon was removed from its foundation. A fine house, belonging to Judge Harper, in process of erection, some two miles from town, was carried 12 feet North, 9 feet west and left in a very unseemly condition.

Pink Prairie
Several houses were partially and some entirely destroyed at Pink Prairie. The dwellings of Mr. Brown, Wm. Duncan, Mr. Little and other were more or less injured. One man, whose name we have forgot, was severely hurt. The tornado was terrific on Pink Prairie.

Oakley
The destruction by the wind at this place was great. The store of T. F. Davenport, Esq., was entirely stove to pieces and his large and valuable stock of goods was found Monday morning, laying around promiscuously over an area of one hundred acres. The Steam Mill was destroyed, besides several valuable houses.

Railroad Bridge
The long covered Railroad Bridge of the C. & R. I. Railraod, over Rock River was blown down and in a perfect wreck. This will be a serious inconvenience to the company, besides being a severe loss. It will doubtless be speedily rebuilt.

We repeat that a tornado, so severe and destructive in its course, was never before experienced in these parts, not even by the oldest inhabitants and the great wonder is that no lives were lost and no more persons injured. It was almost a miracle that they were saved. The amount of damage done in this town, we cannot at this time estimate, but it is very large and falls heavily upon some of the sufferers. We nearly forgot to mention that several of our citizens received "calls" from the wind which left its cards in the shape of chimneyless houses, broken windows, shattered cornices, &c, among whom were Mr. A. Soule, Geo. Perry, Dr. Morce, Dr. Wells, Mr. Reed, Mr. McArthur, Mr. Mannington, John Wilshire, Perry & Spaulding and numerous others whose names we cannot now call to mind. They would do well to heed so emphatic a warning.

Oakley - we were misinformed in relation to the amount of damage done by the tornado in the town of Oakley. Mr. C. W. Davenport, informs us that the store belonging to his brother was entirely destroyed, but that the injury to the stock of goods which was owned by himself and brother in partnership does not exceed one hundred and fifty dollars. Luckily there was no rain during the tornado and before the rain commenced their clerk had removed all of the good into a warehouse nearby. Some calicos and other light articles were carried three quarters of a mile. The steam mill was considerably injured; a barn blown down and the depot building somewhat shattered. The whole loss was not very great.

Mr. E. Aldrich, during the hurricane of Sunday night, had a narrow escape. When the wind from the West lulled away and everybody supposed the tornado was over, he went out to "straighten up matters," (his stable having received some severe injury) and while attending to these duties, the gust from the East came booming along and ruthlessly the said gust took Mr. A. from his props, set him carefully over a four foot picket fence, walked him across the street, through a large open lot and very decidedly placed him against a post and rail fence, which neither he nor the wind could move. Aldrich took it very coolly and did not get frightened until the "post and rail" began to quiver; but just then the wind subsided and A. was O.K. Aldrich says the tornado "was some pumpkins."






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