May 21, 1858


The heavy storm of Thursday last week seems to have swept with much greater violence over a scope of country fifteen or twenty miles south of here, than in this locality. Its effects were most severe in the range of Galesburg, Peoria, and Bloomington, in each of which cities a great destruction of property took place. The tornado seems to have crossed this State from northwest to southeast, with a terrible force, leveling the trees and unroofing and blowing down hundreds of houses , in its track. It crossed the Mississippi at Oquawka, at which point a large livery stable was blown down and entirely destroyed, and several horses killed. Two mills were also ruined and several houses unroofed.

At Galesburg, many buildings were blown down and houses unroofed. At Peoria much damage was done - Every church spire in the place was blown down, fifteen or twenty houses unroofed, one steamer had her cabin blown away, and three canal boats were sunk. A stiff, on the lake, containing Alderman Beesman, and his wife and three children, was capsized, and all except the father were drowned.

The Gas works were completely destroyed, and serious damage done to the railroad bridge over the river. The round house of the R.I.R.R. was partially blown down, and several engines damaged. Nearly every house in the city was more or less damaged, and the loss, it is estimated, cannot be short of $75,000. The following further particulars of the ravages of the tornado we glean from the "Peoria Transcript".

As the excitement in Peoria in relation to the great tornado wears away, a more definite estimate of the damage done can be arrived at. We think the amount of property destroyed has been greatly overestimated. Fifty or sixty thousand dollars will undoubtedly cover the entire loss in Peoria, but in the country surrounding, the damage is much more extensive.

We learn from a gentlemen who came through Washington Saturday, that the town sustained considerable damage from the recent storm, but nothing of a serious nature compared with other points. Plank sidewalks were torn up and whirled in the air, and a large portion of the steeple of the Methodist church thrown down.

A fine brick house built last fall by Benjamin Crawford, was totally destroyed. The two story building of Mr. John Bell, injured to the extent of $2000. Major Edward's new house was totally demolished, with many other small houses, barns and shops, prostrated.

We are informed that fifteen houses were demolished in this town, besides much other damage sustained. The most melancholy part of the report is that three lives were lost at this point during the progress of the gale. A passenger from Chenoa informs us that a man named Felter, was instantly killed by the timbers from the roof of his house. He had been plowing in a field near by, when observing the approaching storm he hastened homewards, put up his horses, and was on his way from the barn to the house, when the roof of the latter was blown on to him, burying him among the ruins. His wife is said to have been looking out the window at the time, and was a witness of the tragic scene.

Along the lines of the B.V.R.R. below Lacon, the ravages of the storm were on every side visible; miles of the telegraph moved, the posts being lifted from the earth and carried with the wire long distances. Houses and barns unroofed, some totally destroyed and others moved wholly from their foundations. The river was full of floating trees, some two feet or more in diameter, twisted and broken off like small saplings, while others were taken up bodily with all the roots clinging to them.

A family becoming alarmed fro their safety, by the rocking of the house, determined to fee for safety, preferring to risk the elements out of doors; at the moment they all left the building on one side, the whole was blown into a pile of ruins in an opposite direction, not even a scratch upon the person of any of them being inflicted! EUREKA Three new houses were blown completely to pieces and many moved from their foundation. In every direction through the grove, large trees, some of them three feet in diameter are crushed down, or else twisted like a rope. SECOR But little damage is done. One small shop which stood on the back part of a lot, was blown about 20 feet to the front of it, and one man, who had got over his line with his house, had it blown back on to his lot. We regret to learn, however, that a two story farm house two miles west of Secor, was blown down, killing one man instantly and injuring five other persons, more or less seriously. A

A family consisting of husband, wife and child, residing six miles southeast of Washington, had their house blown to atoms from over their heads: Horrible to relate, the mother and child were instantly killed, and the father had his back broken in two places! When taken up he was nearly dead with no probability of his recovery.

Six houses were demolished and several more moved from their foundations, or partially unroofed. The Central hotel was unroofed on one side and much damage done to other buildings.

Four miles south of El Paso, suffered severely, many buildings having been scattered in fragments.

The station house, Emery's eating house, and the Bush house were unroofed, and the timber carried about four hundred feet. Some of the joists were carried with such violence as to go completely through a freight car standing on the side track and some of the rafters which struck endwise, penetrated the earth to the depth of nineteen inches. Three houses were blown completely to pieces, nothing remaining of them but a few boards, yet some fragments of the sides containing windows were so gently laid down that not a pane of glass was broken. Many other buildings area blown off their supports or twisted endways. Five freight cars, standing on the side track were upset, some of them trucks and all. The wind took twelve cars out of the side track, and breaking the bolt that confined the switch, (A patent split rail) placed them on the main track, and blew them three miles east, up one grade of thirty five feet to the mile, one of the cars having a truck off the track, and bumping over the sleepers the whole distance.

The Junction with the Chicago Branch, I.C. Railroad, one large store, recently built, fell completely collapsed by the wind, and three other frames, just raised, were leveled to the ground, one of them being a new Catholic Church.

The tornado in its progress performed some curious freaks. At El Paso, on the Eastern extension railroad, it blew some houses to splinters, and yet broke not one pane of glass in the windows it carried some distance. At Kappa, two ladies were blown away and have not since been heard from. - they probably wore hoops. At Chenoa, it demolished a house completely, and yet left a book case that was in it, without a scratch or a broken pane of glass. It carried a mirror 60 feet and laid it down unbroken. The next morning after the storm a man was seen to crawl from under a barn, who, after being questioned, stated that he was coming across the prairie and the wind picked him up and carried him a half mile setting him down in a pond of water four feet deep; he waded out and got on a little rise of ground, when the wind took him again and hurried him with violence against the side of the barn, under which he crawled and spent the night.

The most wonderful feat of all, however, occurred at Chenoa. A farm house was blown at two jumps no less than 300 feet from where it stood, and set down so easily, that the plastering was not cracked or the dishes knocked off the table, which was set for supper. A similar occurrence took place at Gilman, where a kitchen was blown from the side of a house into a slough, without a plate being broken, and when our informant left, the inmates were journeying back and forth on a raft to get the cooking utensils for breakfast.

There was a marked discrimination in the storm all the way easterwardly from here, as if the storm was spending its force; so that we shall probably hear of few disasters east of our State line. The storm was about 30 miles in diameter, and greatest force did not occupy a greater width than five miles. At Bloomington and Pontiac some wind was felt, but no damage done. The most damage was along the line of the storm centre, which followed very nearly the line of the Peoria & Oquawka and Eastern Extension Railroad, oscillating from one side to the other of the road in a series of spirals peculiar to this class of storms. It reached Gilman at ten minutes past seven having thus traveled 86 miles in one hour. This, however, was the direct motion, the average speed of the wind around its storm centre, being much greater, and probably exceeding 150 miles per hour.

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