Livingston County, Illinois
Genealogy and History
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Train Wrecks, Fires, Weather and other Calamities
News Stories




By Telegraph Expressly for the Daily Journal.
Bloomington, Jan. 30, 10PM - There are seven cars fast in the snow, five miles south of Dwight, on the Chicago and Mississippi rail road, with no prospect of moving soon. From two to three hundred passengers dispersed on Friday morning, to Dwight, Pontiac and Odell. Passengers all safe. No severe suffering from cold or hunger. Teams went to their relief from Pontiac with food and fuel. [Sangamo Journal / Illinois State Journal, 31 January 1855]

A convict by the name of Airly, who escaped from Alton a short time since, was run over and killed on the Railroad at Pontiac on Friday. [Sangamo Journal / Illinois State Journal, 19 December 1855; Sub. by Pam Haag Geyer]

Pontiac, Livingston county, was a serious sufferer by the flood last Sunday night. The river at the bend above town broke through the levee, and cutting a wide deep channel, submerged half of Pontiac, carrying away lumber yards, wood piles, buildings, &c.[The Ottawa Free Trader, Volume 29, Number 47, 3 July 1869; Sub. by Pam Haag Geyer] The warehouse of Parker Dresser, at Fairsburg, Livingston County, Illinois, was burned down on Tuesday night. Loss $16,000. [Date: 27 Mar 1856; Paper: Albany Evening Journal - Sub by Teri Colglazier]

Fire at Livingston

A gentleman from the neighborhood of Livingston, Ills., informs the Joliet Democrat that a fire broke out in that place, not long since, and consumed a whole square. [Sangamo Journal / Illinois State Journal, 6 May 1857; Sub. by Pam Haag Geyer]

Terrific and Disastrous Hail Storm.
We learn that one of the most frightful and disastrous hail storms that has ever been known in the West, visited the town of Dwight, in Livingston county, on the line of the St. Louis, Alton & Chicago Railroad, last Saturday. The facts are scarcely credible, but we vouch for their correctness as stated below: The hail stones were like pieces of cut ice, and some of them were seven inches in diameter They fell in perfect torrents, striking down cattle, men, shrubbery and crops, as if beaten down by a shower of stone. Thousands of acres of corn, that was getting along finely, with the promise of an excellent yield, were cut down as if by reapers, and rendered a total loss to the farmers. Orchards were stripped, and gardens and oat and wheat fields beaten to the earth. Mr. John C. Spencer, who owns a large farm at Dwight, informs us that he had 240 acres of corn, which is all ruined--- also 550 acres of wheat and 110 acres of oats, which met the same fate. Scarcely a whole window pane can be found in the town, all having been broken by the hail. Window sashes and roofs were also in many cases badly cut and split. The cattle that happened to be in the fields at the time had gashes cut into their flesh several inches in length, and we hear of at least one man who was so badly cut and bruised by the heavy hail stones that he is laid up, and not expected to live. After the storm, we are assured, the earth was completely covered with hail several inches in depth. How far the storm extended has not yet been ascertained, but it appears to have passed across the St. Louis Railroad about three miles, but how far from the road on either side we are not advised. The amount of the damage done in the immediate vicinity of Dwight alone is estimated at thousands of dollars. [Sangamo Journal / Illinois State Journal, 11 August 1858]

THE HURRICANE.-- The hurricane, on Friday of last week, which was but slightly felt here, proved very destructive in other portions of this State. From many other quarters we also hear of houses being unroofed, chimneys being blown down, etc, but in no place does it appear to have been more destructive than in Pontiac, Livingston county. The court house, a solid brick structure, was unroofed and the cupalo blown down, at least half a dozen buildings in the place were blown down, and barns, grain stacks, and the like innumerable blown down and scattered. --The damage in Pontiac and vicinity must amount to many thousand dollars. Fortunately, no lives were lost. [The Ottawa Free Trader, Volume 20, Number 15, 3 December 1859; Sub by Pam Haag Geyer]

The late gale did much damage in Livingston county. The Court House in Pontiac is in a half ruined condition, the tower, chimney and roof being completely shaved off down to the brick wall, and some damage done inside by the falling rubbish. Estimates of the damage range all the way from two thousand up to five thousand dollars. Quite a number of houses were pushed off their foundations, and some of them turned quite around, also several barns unroofed. One case is reported, where a wing of a house was torn to pieces having several women and children in it at the time, who however escaped unhurt.  A young lady in another house was badly injured and it was feared she would not survive.  It was understood that three houses were blown down at Odell,  that a Frenchman had his leg broken in two places, and that another man was badly hurt.  It was also said that two houses were demolished at Dwight, and that some persons were hurt there. We take the above from the Bloomington Pantagraph. [Sangamo Journal / Illinois State Journal, Volume 29, Number 14, 7 December 1859; sub. by Pam Haag Geyer]

FIRE AT PONTIAC --The telegraph advises us of a serious fire at Pontiac, in this State, on Monday evening, and what grieves us most of all is, that the printing establishment of the Pontiac Sentinel owned chiefly by our old friend and former townsman, Jas. Stout, Esq., was totally destroyed. The Sentinel was a "live" paper, and making a good living for its proprietors, who had little else to depend upon. We hope their loss is well covered by insurance. Besides the Sentinel office, the fire destroyed Croswell & Son's drug store, Huber & Snyder's meat market, and Mr. Snyder's dwelling  house. Total loss about $13,000. [The Ottawa Free Trader, 14 December 1867; Sub. by Pam Haag Geyer]

The town of Fairbury, Livingston county, about a quarter of which was destroyed by fire six months ago, has been visited by another destructive conflagration. It occurred on Saturday night, Feb. 22, and seems to have raged with intense fury. "In the short space of one hour and twenty minutes," says a correspondent of the Peoria Democrat, "twenty-eight business houses were consumed and 12 private families driven from their homes with nothing saved but one article of wearing apparel. The confusion and excitement was intense. At one time it was thought the whole town was going. There was hardly a roof in the town which was not started to burn."
The following is a list of the principal losses.
Brucker & Son, clothing; Lewis, butcher shop; Rettemyer, saloon; Francen, saloon; Blackburn & Zimmerman, extensive drug store; Bryant & Co., boots and shoes; McDowell & Co., hardware; Wakelin, bakery; Hoffman, barber shop; Moran, grocery; Carpenter, jewelry store; Wright & Cooley, furniture; Bowen & Hazzard, groceries; R. Cressy & Co., groceries; Ottenheimer, Philadelphia dry goods store; the printing office over Brucker's store, two or three millinery shops and the billiard saloon. [The Ottawa Free Trader, Volume 28, Number 29, 29 February 1868]

Pontiac, Livingston county, was a serious sufferer by the flood last Sunday night. The river at the bend above town broke through the levee, and cutting a wide deep channel, submerged half of Pontiac, carrying away lumber yards, wood piles, buildings, &c.[The Ottawa Free Trader, Volume 29, Number 47, 3 July 1869; Sub. by Pam Haag Geyer]

Pontiac, Livingston County, Illinois, has suffered as much proportionally to its size by fire as Chicago did. It was laid waste on the evening of the Fourth. The damages are estimated at $125,000. Cause, fireworks.
[Date: 17 Jul 1874; Paper: Lowell Daily Citizen and News - Sub by Teri Colglazier]

Livingston County, Illinois, pretends that sand from a cloud fell there last week to the depth of an inch.
[Date: 06 Jul 1875; Paper: Indianapolis Sentinel - Sub by Teri Colglazier]

Livingston County, Illinois reports that four inches of hail stones fell there yesterday, with great damage to crops, etc.
[Date: 15 Jun 1877; Paper: Boston Journal - Sub by Teri Colglazier]

Chatsworth - Miss Nellie Hall was severely burned about the hands and arms last Friday, while cleaning a pair of white kid gloves. She had them on her hands and after washing them with petroleum fluid, she held them over a lamp to dry. Her hands were blistered very badly and caused her intense suffering. [The Pantagraph, July 12, 1878; sub. by PHG]

Pontiac - William Chamberlain's residence was almost entirely destroyed by fire last Friday morning. A defective flue was the cause. The contents of the upper stories, including the clothing of the family, were destroyed. There was no insurance, and the loss is heavy to Mr. C., who is a journeyman tailor. A subscription for his relief has thus far raised sixty-nine dollars and several days work from carpenters in rebuilding. [The Pantagraph, July 12, 1878; sub. by PHG]

The house of Henry Bartels, five miles from Pontiac, Ill., was destroyed by fire Monday. A child four years old perished in the flames. [The Pantagraph, June 23, 1880; sub. by PHG]

THOMAS STOALEY'S barn, Pontiac, Ill, was burned the 28th ult. Two children perished in the flames - a boy of seven and an infant nine months old. [Farmers' Review 2 September 1880; sub. by Pam Geyer]

The Flour mill of Taylor Bros., & Co. at Pontiac was destroyed by fire on Monday, entailing a loss of over $50,000. [The Ottawa Free Trader, 20 March 1886]

On Wednesday afternoon at three o'clock, a terrific wind and hail storm passed through northern and central Illinois, causing a general destruction of property.  The severest effect of the gale were left at Odell in Livingston county, where a great deal of property was destroyed and a number of persons killed. [The Ottawa Free Trader,15 May 1886; Sub by Pam Haag Geyer] 

A very severe storm swept over Livingston county last week, doing immense damage to the oats by laying them flat on the ground. The good prospect up to Tuesday evening was knocked completely in the head by this storm. The south part of the county is in worse shape than the northern part. [The Ottawa Free Trader, 14 July 1888; Sub. by Pam Haag Geyer]

The residence of John Welch, situated one mile north of Ocoya, burned to the ground early Tuesday morning between 2 and 3 o'clock, the occupants barely escaping with their lives. The origin of the fire is unknown. [The Weekly Pantagraph, Dec. 6, 1889; sub. by PHG]

The little town of Odell,  Livingston county, had a fire in the business portion of the village on Saturday, resulting in a loss of $5,000. [The Ottawa Free Trader 26 April 1890; Sub. by Pam Haag Geyer]

A Wabash freight train broke in three parts near Reddick and a collision between two sections followed. Ten cars were demolished and traffic considerably delayed. [Note: A very small portion of Reddick is in Livingston County... [True Republican, 25 June 1892; Sub by Pam Haag Geyer]

Fairbury, Ill., Sept. 1 - The drought still continues in this section. Some portions in Livingston county have not had any rain for three months and the situation is serious.
[Date: 02 Sep 1893; Paper: Inter Ocean - Sub by Teri Colglazier]

Big Fire at Fairbury.
Spontaneous combustion among the oils and paints in the basement of the two and one-story brick building at Fairbury owned and occupied by Walton Bros. with a stock of general merchandise, while the second story was occupied by offices, caused a total loss of  $200,000. The occupants of the buildings had to flee for their lives and many had narrow escapes.  [True Republican, 22 April 1896]

Fairbury, ILL., April 15. --- Fire breaking out at noon Tuesday in the basement of Walton Brothers' great general store destroyed the four-story building 100x150 feet in dimensions with all the stocks it contained. The McDowell building near by, containing Walton stock, also was partially consumed. Walton Brothers' loss on building and stock is over $200,000; insurance, $100,000. Other losses amount to $25,000. The city was threatened with total destruction. The fire department of Chenoa rendered assistance. Sydney Swark was probably fatally hurt by inhaling smoke. [True Republican, 18 April 1896; Sub by Pam Haag Geyer]

A building owned and occupied by Walton Brothers with a stock of general merchandise was burned at Fairbury, ILL., the loss being $250,000. [True Republican 22 April 1896; Sub by Pam Haag Geyer]

The large stock barn on the farm of C. H. Allen, ten miles southeast of Fairbury, was burned with its contents, including nine head of choice horses. [True Republican, 12 May 1897; sub. by Pam Haag Geyer]

The barn of Mr. Aaron Farner was struck by lightning in the storm of Saturday and burned, with its contents of hay, grain, harness, etc. A stallion and a driving horse were also burned to death. [The Weekly Pantagraph, July 1, 1898; sub. by PHG]

A Lucky Escape.
Pontiac, June 23 -- Word reached this city today from Lodemia of what might have been the most terrible accident which has ever happened in Livingston county, if not central Illinois.  Thirty men were engaged in assisting William Tavener in erecting a large double barn on his farm near Lodemia Tuesday when the accident occurred. The framework of the barn is composed of huge timbers. These had all been cut and modified ready for erecting and were lying about the foundation of the large barn which was soon to be raised. The men had succeeded in raising one large bent composed of four large upright posts connected with several cross timbers, making a mass of timber which probably weighed about two tons. This bent was put up and instead of bracing it with timbers or securing it with guy ropes, the men thinking it would be secure on account of there being no wind blowing at the time. Leaving this bent standing the men started preparations toward erecting the other one. They had proceeded quite well with it and had gotten it up and were connecting it with the first one put up when the entire mass seemed to sway, then hesitate, and with a swish and roar as it went through the air fell to the ground. Immediately under tho two bents were thirty men who wore assisting in putting the bents up. Of these five were severely injured, while twenty-five escaped in some miraculous manner. The five injured were John Bodley, Jr., B. Tavener, these two being the most seriously injured; Joe Banker, formerly of this city; M. Brickner and Charles Tavener. They were rescued from beneath the fallen timbers and taken to their homes, where medical assistance was soon summoned. They are reported to be resting easily today. [Daily Pantagraph, 29 June 1901]

The mine of the Pontiac Coal Company, the upper works of which were destroyed by fire a couple of weeks ago, is now being worked to its fullest capacity, a large number of miners being employed. The repairs which have been made are only temporary and will be replaced as fast as possible by more substantial ones. The new engine and boiler rooms will be of brick. [The Weekly Pantagraph, Apr. 12, 1901; sub. by PHG]

Paducah, Ky., May 27. -- Telephone wires are down and but meagre details have been received of the tornado which is reported to have destroyed the village of Liberty, Pope County, Ill. No fatalities are reported. Damage of not much extent was caused in Smithland, Livingston County, Illinois, by hail and wind, at Hamletsburg, a few miles above Smithland and also at Birdsville, a short distance from New Liberty.
[Date: 1904-05-28; Paper: Columbus Daily Enquirer - Sub by Teri Colglazier]

Paducah, Ky., May 28 -- Damage of not much extent was caused in Livingston County, Ill., by hail and wind.
[Date: 28 May 1904; Paper: Anaconda Standard - Sub by Teri Colglazier]

Shoe Company Sustains Damage of $75,000.
Pontiac,  Ill., Dec. 9 - A fire today destroyed the main building of the Pontiac Shoe Manufacturing company. The loss is $75,000. [The Rock Island Argus 9 December 1904; Sub. by Pam Geyer]


Hundred Guests Forced to Flee From Central at Pontiac at Dead of Night. -- TWO JUMP AND ARE HURT.
Pontiac, Ill., Jan. 25. -- Early today the Central hotel caught fire and was entirely destroyed. A hundred or more guests had barely time to make their escape in their night clothes, leaving their personal effects and valuables. One woman and one man jumped from second story windows and were severely hurt. The loss is $15,000. [The Rock Island Argus 25 January 1908; Sub. by Pam Geyer]

Odell School Burns
The school at Odell was completely destroyed by fire. The building was of brick and modern in every respect. Loss $30,000. [The Ashton Gazette 31 December 1908; Sub. by Pam Geyer]

Large Barn Burns.
Pontiac, Ill., Sept. 21. - A destructive fire occurred on the farm of Joseph Gschwendtner, east of this city, last night. The fire is supposed to have been started by an incendiary. A large new barn was destroyed, together with a large corn crib and a cow shed. Twenty tons of hay, 1500 bushels of oats, and a number of sets of harness and farming implements were burned. The loss is only partially covered by insurance. [The Weekly Pantagraph, Sept. 25, 1908; sub. by PHG]



John Cummings, Wife and Son of Pontiac Are Injured While on Boom Trip - Woman May Die.
Pontiac, June 22:  An automobile driven by John Cummings and containing his wife and seven-year-old son who were participating in the trip through central Illinois advertising Pontiac which consisted of 30 automobiles and 150 citizens of Pontiac, was struck by an electric car of the McKinley system near Mackinaw. The car was utterly demolished. Mrs. Cummings was seriously injured and may not live. The seven-year-old son was also severely injured. Mr. Cummings received but a few slight bruises. Mrs. Cummings and son were taken to a Peoria hospital. The party of auto-ists were en route from Bloomington to Peoria when the accident occurred. [Urbana Daily Courier, 23 June 1910; Sub. by Pam Geyer, who adds this Note: The boy died and the parents survived, and all 3 are buried at South Side Cemetery in Pontiac, Illinois.)

Pontiac, Ill -- Eight cars of fancy stock on way to Live Stock Exposition burned to death. [The Day Book, Volume 2, Number 55, 2 December 1912]

Pontiac, Ill.,- Wabash passenger depot at Cardiff burned after freight engine crashed into it. [The Day Book, 2 December 1912; Sub. by Pam Haag Geyer]

Pontiac, Ill.,- Two filled grain elevators burned to ground. Owned by Graymont  Farmers' Grain Co. $70,000 loss. [The Day Book, 10 January 1913; Sub. by Pam Haag Geyer]

Pontiac - The Illinois hotel at Fairbury burned. Guests escaped without injury. Insurance of $24,000 will cover all losses.
(Friday, 12 Dec 1913 - Ste. Marie Tribune, Jasper County, IL - Sub by K. T.)

Pontiac: The business section of the village of Reddick, located north west of this city, narrowly escaped destruction by fire. Fire started in the hardware store of L. C. Daggley, which was destroyed, together with a building adjoining, and had it not been for a shift in the wind all of the business buildings would have been destroyed. The only means of fire [fighting] in this town is a hand fire engine, which was of little use.[The Ashton Gazette 30 January 1913; Sub. by Pam Geyer]

AUTO PARTY HIT BY TRAIN; TWO KILLED; Victims Were Touring Country and Engine Went Dead.
Sheldon, Ill., Aug. 29.-- Two persons were killed and another was probably fatally injured in a grade crossing accident three miles southeast of this city. An automobile containing five passengers was struck by a fast running Big Four passenger train.
The dead: Mrs. Jacob Rediger, of Chenoa, Ill.; Elnora McMullin, adopted daughter of Mrs. Rediger.
The injured: Clarence J. Rediger, son of Mrs. Rediger.
The Redigers had left their home in Chenoa at noon for a touring trip through Ohio and a visit with relatives in that state. In approaching the grade crossing the motor car slowed down and the engine went dead on the railroad tracks. Benjamin Rediger and his father, Jacob Rediger got down from the front seat to inspect the engine and start it. They failed to see the approach of the train until it was almost upon them. They shouted a warning to the three occupants of the rear seat and then leaped back as the locomotive struck the automobile. The train was twenty minutes late and running close to sixty miles an hour. [True Republican, 30 August 1913, submitted by Pam Geyer, who adds this Note: Mr. and Mrs. Rediger are buried at Waldo Cemetery in Flanagan, Livingston County, Ill.; Sub. by Pam Geyer]

Houses Wrecked by High Winds.
Bloomington, April 27.-- Northwestern McLean county and southeastern Livingston county were hit by a heavy windstorm, accompanied by rain and hail. Many farm buildings were wrecked, houses moved off foundations and windows broken. Fairbury, in Livingston county, was cut off from communication for several hours and was reported to have been struck by a tornado. When communication was restored,  it was learned the storm had passed four miles south of that place, but had disabled telephone wires. Mrs. Benjamin Ross, wife of a farmer, had an arm almost torn off and Roy Frey was seriously injured. [Urbana Daily Courier, 27 April 1914]

Fire in Cullom Barber Shop.

CULLOM. Sept. 17. - About 4 p. m. Saturday, a gasoline water heater exploded at J. M. Jeyet's Barber shop. Before the fire department arrived the flames were extinguished by dry powder fire extinguishers. The blaze lasted hardly 3 minutes, but in that short space did damage to the stock and fixtures in the amount of $300. Insurance carried $1,000. The building, which is owned by the Leiserowitz Brothers, was damaged to the extent of $400, no insurance. The ceiling and sides are damaged considerably and had it not been for the extinguishers, the whole structure would have been consumed and 5 other frame buildings in the row would have been more or less damaged, if not consumed, as a strong wind was blowing. [The Pantagraph, Sept. 18, 1916; sub. by PHG]

Hunters are Killed in Illinois
Bloomington, Ill., Dec. 3. -- Deaths from hunting accidents were increased to eight in the central Illinois territory this week when Glenn Campbell and Ray Anglese were fatally injured. Campbell had been seeking birds in Livingston county and in seizing his gun by the muzzle, the trigger caught and the weapon was discharged, the load entering his head. Anglese was killed while seeking birds near Albany. While riding in a hay rack his gun slipped from his hand. The trigger caught in such a manner as to discharge the contents and death was instantaneous. Thomas Fitzgerald, while hunting near Jerseyville, was shot in the side when his gun was accidently discharged while he was using it to dislodge a rabbit from a pile of brush. His condition is serious. Claude Zimmerman of Cincinnati, O., while hunting upon his brother's farm near Williamsville, lost his left arm near the shoulder when his gun was accidently discharged. In receiving a gun which was being handed to him thru a hedge. Zimmerman was shot when the trigger caught upon a twig. Harold Gale of Decatur was shot in the abdomen by Oscar Bowers when the latter's gun was accidently discharged while the pair were hunting rabbits. The victim was removed to a Decatur hospital.
[Date: 04 Dec 1917; Paper: Pueblo Chieftain - Sub by Teri Colglazier]

Dwight, Nov. 23. -- Fire swept over the downtown district today, destroying seven business houses and causing damage estimated at $200,000.  Fire fighting equipment was called from Morris and Pontiac before the flames were brought under control.  The fire started in a barber shop where a gasoline heater exploded. Firemen were aided in keeping it under control by a strong wind, blowing away from most of the business district.[Daily Illini,  24 November 1929; Sub. by Pam Haag Geyer]

High temperature in Pontiac the week of June 9 through June 15 was 89 degrees on June 14
(1971 June 16 - Wednesday - Pontiac Daily Leader - "Remember? June 16, 1931" by: Mary Jean - Sub by Teri Colglazier)


Continued Rains Swell Rivers In Illinois
Endanger Property
CHICAGO, May 12.-- Rains continued to swell rivers in Illinois today. High water in the Vermillion river at Pontiac and Streator where floods caused anxiety and damage, attested to the twelfth consecutive day of rainfall. At Streator schools were closed and a drinking water shortage threatened.  The worst in Livingston county's record was reported, although it was said waters in the Vermillion at Pontiac were abating despite the fact that more rain was threatening. The Vermillion reached its flood crest of 12 feet at noon, showing a 54 inch rise in the previous 19 hours. The high water took the loam soil from planted fields. Some livestock was lost. Near Wing, the river spread out to a mile and a half width, covering railroad tracks. Basements in homes in Pontiac were flooded but the city water supply was not affected. Summer homes and game preserves were inundated. [Daily Illini,  13 May 1933; Sub. by Pam Haag Geyer]

Farmer's Elevator Burns at Dwight
DWIGHT. - The Farmer's Elevator near the New York Central tracks burned about midnight Sunday. The building was a complete loss. The blaze had a big start before being discovered. A fire in a vacant lot near the Otto Jensen home was extinguished by the fire department Sunday afternoon. [The Pantagraph, March 22, 1939; sub. by PHG]

Tornado Strikes Central Illinois
Pontiac Man Killed by Destructive Twister
PONTIAC, Ill., April 29. -- One person was killed and several were injured today by a tornado that struck southwest of here, destroying buildings, uprooting trees and disrupting communication. Fred Weber, 38, blind, was injured fatally when his mother's farmhouse was demolished. Mrs. Frank Weber, the mother, and a daughter were injured, but not seriously.  Mrs. Weber was pinned under a hot stove for a time. A neighbor, Alfred Hanke, who was visiting the Webers, saved himself by hanging on to a heavy refrigerator while furniture and parts of the house were blown away. Unofficial estimates placed the damage at approximately $60,000, not including damage to public service and telephone lines. Most of the twister's fury was spent on a swath it cut from 10 miles southwest of town to the edge of the city. Several farmhouses were damaged badly and cottage camps and service stations overturned. [Daily Illini,  30 April 1940; Sub. by Pam Haag Geyer, who adds this Note:  Fred Weber died in the tornado, and his mother Kate Bauman Weber died from her injuries on June 2, 1940. Both are buried in Rook's creek Cemetery near Graymont, Illinois.)]

James Van Winkle returned home from Brokaw Hospital, Normal, where he was confined seven weeks following an accident. Mr. Van Winkle’s back was broken when he was thrown from a horse about nine weeks ago.
 (1971 June 16 - Wednesday - Pontiac Daily Leader - "Remember? June 16, 1946" by: Mary Jean - Sub by Teri Colglazier)

Wabash Passenger Train Strikes Auto, Kills 6 Children on Way from School.

CAMPUS, Ill., Six children were killed yesterday when a Wabash railroad passenger train struck the automobile in which they were riding home from school. The car's driver, Leo Kane, 46, also was killed. Coroner Vernon von Qualen said the auto was struck at an unguarded crossing near the school in this small Central Illinois town in Livingston county, 10 miles southeast of Dwight. The dead children were George Frederick Johnson, 8, and his sister, Judith Kay, 9; Barbara Seabert, 8; Alice Mae McCarther, 11, and her sister, Ethel, 13; and Mary Helen Ziehr, 13. [Daily Illini, 28 April 1950]

A heavy rain and severe wind storm swept Livingston County last night causing considerable damage and raising the level of many county streams. The river rose 13 inches at the water company plant here between last night’s rain and 9 a.m. today. Two hundred telephones in the Pontiac area were put out of service by the wind and lightning. Lightning struck a barn at the Earl Schneider farm seven miles north of Pontiac.
(Source: Pontiac Daily Leader; 23 Jun 1971 -- Remember When 23 Jun 1956 By: Mary Jean - Sub by Teri Colglazier)

Man Killed in Hotel Fire
PONTIAC, Ill., --Police said Thursday night that one person was killed in an explosion and fire in the Imperial Hotel. They said an earlier report that a second person was missing was false. The victim was George Dronenberg, 30, a bus company employee who perished in his third-floor room. [[Daily Illini, 21 December 1956; Sub. by Pam Haag Geyer]

Flaming Crash Kills 6, Hurts 3 Near Dwight - 4 Red Cross Nurses Die in Collision - Illinois 17 Six women were killed and 3 were injured when two passenger cars collided on Illinois Route 17, 6 miles east of Dwight on Thursday morning. Four Red Cross nurses died when their Red Cross vehicle burst into flames, and two others were seriously injured. In the second car, two women were killed instantly, and a third was injured. The nurses were on their way from Peoria to work at a Bloodmobile in Kankakee. The other local women were on their way to Kankakee to go shopping. Mrs. Louise Koerner, 50, of Cabery, the driver, and Mrs. Margaret Ginter, 59, of Cullom, were both killed instantly. Margaret Dietz, 48, of Cullom, was injured. There are no known witnesses to the accident, but a passerby pulled 3 nurses from the front seat and was able to drag only one of the three from the back seat. The remaining two passengers in the back seat were impossible to reach and perished in the flaming wreckage. The passerby received minor burns in his rescue efforts. The Peoria area dead are: Mrs. Douglas Proctor, of Washington, 48, Miss Jean Schmidt, 43, Mrs. Charles Olson, 53, and Mrs. M. Rseit Tuzon, 60, all of Peoria. The injured are Margaret Dietz, 48, of Cullom, and Mrs. Paul Cady, 43, of Bartonville, and Mrs. Donald Terry, 28, of Peoria. Mrs. Koerner's funeral will be at 10 A.M. Saturday at St. John's Catholic Church with burial at St. John's Cemetery. Mrs. Ginter's services will be in Iron Mountain, Michigan on Sunday and Monday, with burial there. Local visitation will be until 10 P.M. tonight at the Cullom Stewart Funeral Home for Mrs. Ginter and Mrs. Koerner. [The Pantagraph, Friday, Sept. 23, 1966; sub. by PHG]


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