Before My Time is about the ancestry and extended family of my four grandparents: John Samuel Krentz (Indiana/North Dakota), Margreta Tjode Hedwig (Gertie) Buss (North Dakota), Rosmer Pettis Kerr (Pennsylvania/Michigan), and Evelyn Elvina Hauer (Michigan). Archives, Labels (tags), and other links appear at the bottom of the page.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Notes from The White County Democrat, 1916 (Part 1)

This photo of the Jewell Ward home appeared in W. H. Hamelle's
A Standard History of White County, Indiana in 1915, 
the year before it was destroyed. (click to enlarge)

 Friday, March 24 ~ Front Page:
TWO KILLED, MANY INJURED BY CYCLONE'S FURY
NORTH HALF OF COUNTY HARD HIT
LOSS OF PROPERTY IS TREMENDOUS
Houses, Barns, School Houses Blown to Pieces--Fire Added to the Destruction--Much Stock Killed
SCORES OF PEOPLE LUCKILY ESCAPED DEATH

THE DEAD
  • ROBERT RECTOR, MONON
  • INFANT ERWIN, MONON
BADLY INJURED
  • Jewell Ward, Rural Route 3
  • Mrs. Jewell Ward, Rural Route 3
  • Arnold Lucy, Rural Route 4
  • Mrs. Arnold Lucy, Rural Route 4
Both of the fatalities due to the cyclone were in Monon township. One of the victims, Robert Rector, lived alone in a cabin that was demolished by the wind. His dead body was found in a field this moning fifty feet away from the spot where his cabin stood. He was employed in the Monon stone crushing plant and was quite old.

The other victim, an infant child of Mr. and Mrs. Al Erwin, residing south of Monon, died this afternoon from the result of injuries received. The child, an infant in arms was blown out of its mothers arms and carried away by the wind to a distance of 150 yeards into a field. Two other children were hurt  but not seriously. The house and barn on the Erwin place were blown to pieces.

In the wake of the cyclone which followed a path about five miles wide from east to west, and which swept over the county about 10 o'clock on Tuesday night, left a waste of houses, barns, school houses, orchard and forest trees, dead animals and chickens.

The toll in death which the storm took in this county was 2 lives, the fatalities occurring at Monon. Several persons were more or less injured, but taken as a whole, and computing the opportunity for scores of fatalities, there was cause for thankfulness next morning when an inventory of the storm's damages was taken.

The rumbling and roaring of the wind shook houses in Monticello and those who were awake were much alarmed, but no damage was done here. The storm spent its fury on a strip of country five miles north and the center of its activity was in Liberty township in the Cullen Creek neighborhood. Roads leading to the north, particularly on the Buffalo Pike, were littered with trees that had either been uprooted or broken off, telephone poles and wires, wire fences and posts and all sorts of debris imaginable. Hardly a single farm escaped damage in the whole path of the storm from west to east and over a territory about five miles wide. Telephone connection on all lines north of the Panhandle railroad was destroyed and it was a very difficult matter to get particulars of the actual damage done. Nearly half of the telephone poles between here and buffalo were blown down. Manager Hanway estimates that the company is damaged fully $2500. Telegraph wires and poles were also blown down and the Western Union was without service all day between this city and Logansport, as well as points west.

Liberty township seems to have bourn the brunt of the wind. There also, the wind played some of its most freakish stunts. The home of Jewell Ward, north of Sitka, was blown down and afterwards caught fire and was consumed. There were thirteen people occupying beds at the Ward home. They were all carried away by the wind when the house collapsed but escaped death by a miracle. Three daughters, who were occupying a bed upstairs were carried away with the bed and deposited, bed and all, in a berry patch several hundred feet away. None of them were hurt. One of the girls went half a mile to the nearest neighbor for assistance, barefooted and with nothing on but her nightclothes. One daughter was found in the middle of a field several rods away and another member of the family, a son, was in the cellar, where he had been buried. A piano was blown out into a cornfield. Mrs. Ward was the only member of the family who was badly injured. When Dr. McCann attended her next morning he found that she was bruised all over, but there were no bones broken. Mr. Ward and some of the children were slightly injured but none of them badly hurt. The premises were searched for bed clothes and enough found to make the sufferers comfortable in the barn where they remained until they were taken to the homes of neighbors.

Arnold Lucy and his wife were among the badly injured. Their house stood on the west side of the road and was lifted up by the wind and deposited on the east side of the road and nearly two hundred feet from the place where it originally stood. The house was demolished. Mr. and Mrs. Lucy were hurled fifty feet east of the road and 150 feet from the place where they had been calmly sleeping. Mr. Lucy sustained a fractured collar bone, was badly bruised on the back, and had a number of cuts and bruises on his head and body. Dr. Cray was in the neighborhood attending another patient and was called to go to the assistance of Mr. and Mrs. Lucy. When found, Mrs. Lucy was unconscious and was in that condition when Dr. Cray arrived. She had sustained a bad injury to her back, the extent of which could not be determined at the time. It is feared that her back was broken.

In the same neighborhood Del Rouhier's barn was blown down. The windmill at Lew Tucker's home was blown on to the roof of the house, smashing in the roof and doing considerable damage. John Amich's kitchen was unroofed, window glass blown out and shade trees uprooted.

On the Buffalo pike Victor Hare's fine barn was ruined but none of the stock was killed except two hogs.

The barn on the Samuel Wolf farm and the old blacksmith shop that stood along the road were demolished, also the barn on the Frank Wolf place.

Other barns destroyed in the Sitka neighborhood were on the farms of Wm. Criswell, Bert Luse, Mrs. Wm. Daugherty, Wallace Moore, Mike Criswell, where a cow was killed, and Logan Hughes.

There were nine head of horses and fifteen head of cattle in the Hughes barn. The barn was leveled to the ground and the stock caught under the wreckage. The animals were all down when Mr. Hughes began to investigate his damages and he supposed they were all dead. Not a single head was killed and none of the animals badly hurt. Mr. Hughes was injured by running a nail in his foot while searching the wreckage. Dr. Coffin was called to attend him.

Four school houses in Liberty township were ruined and the house at Sitka was so badly shaken that the trustee would not permit the house to be occupied, school being dismissed.

The school houses destroyed were as follows:
  • White Post, blown down and afterward burned.
  • Amich, blown across the road and entirely demolished.
  • Valley, blown down.
  • Carr, lifted from the foundation and carried out into the road, a distance of about 100 feet, where it was smashed to pieces. This was another of the freakish performances of the wind. The house was lifted cleanly off the foundation and carried in an upright position over a pile of cordwood, without knocking the wood down. It caromed on the ground in two places and lit in the road, collapsing, but without disturbing some of the seats that were left in a row on the floor, with books on top of them. The bell was in the yard fifty feet away from the foundation and the stove was carried out to the road.
The cupalo [sic] of the Cullen Creek church was blown off, but otherwise the building was uninjured. The bell was deposited in the yard about fifty feet away.

The barn belonging to Henry Reid near the old county farm northwest of Monticello, was blown down and six head of hogs killed. Mr. Reid's barn was practically new. He estimates his loss at $2000. The house was also twisted.

On the August Dreifus farm, the old county farm, every building on the place was twisted out of shape and otherwise damaged, but one of them blown down.

A new barn on the Sperry Miller farm in the same neighborhood was also blown down.

Some damage was done to the county house, a part of the slate roof being blown off.

The damage to orchards and standing timber cannot be estimated. In some places orchards were practically ruined. Chickens also suffered from the wind. At almost every farm house there was a litter of dead fowls.

In the neighborhood around Wolcott farm buildings and orchards suffered considerable damage, but the wind did not become very destructive until it had reached a point east of Monon and Reynolds. The latter place escaped damage but reports have been received that considerable damage was done to buildings and trees between there and Monon.

It is impossible to even place an estimate at this time on the [illegible] amount of damage done in the county by the cyclone, but it will run up into thousands of dollars. A great many of those damaged carried cyclone insurance, but their policies do not nearly cover their total losses.

Logansport was hit hard by the storm, there being one person killed and six injured there. Among the injured are Mrs. A. H. Nethercut and her son. The Nethercuts formerly lived at Burnettsville. Mr. Nethercut is telegrapher in the tower at Trimmer, seven miles west of Logansport and saw the house blow over which his family occupied. He could not go to their assistance when the storm broke on account of being detained by his duties. When the house blew over the heating stove fell on Mrs. Nethercut and her body was badly burned. The son was only slightly injured. Mrs. Nethercut and son were taken to Logansport on a Pennsylvania engine where they were treated.

The cyclone also wrought great havoc at Monon and in that vicinity, especially south. The Monon round house at Monon was reported to be badly damaged.

Farm buildings in the vicinity of Monon were badly damaged and a large amount of stock killed. Physicians and their helpers were kept busy all night caring for people who had been hurt.

A cyclone swept over the same section of the county on the 12th of May thirty years ago. Some of the farms that were hit and damaged by Tuesday night's storm were also badly damaged in the cyclone of 1886.

From Sitka the storm swept on eastward scattering devastation over the country north of Idaville and Burnettsville, reaching Logansport at 10:20, where one person was killed and several injured.

A partial list of the damage north of Idaville and Burnettsville follows. Owing to lack of telephone service it is likely that there was much more damage unreported than has been heard of yet.

Many houses in Idaville had windows blown out and roofs damaged. Several plate glass windows in the business houses were broken. The M. E. church was badly damaged.

Much damage was done to live stock, especially where the animals were sheltered by straw stacks.

At the Stuhmer farm, one mile north of Idaville, the house was badly damaged, windows all broken, chimneys blown down, large stock barn destroyed. Men from Idaville worked most of the night clearing away debris to liberate cattle and succeeded in saving all but 5 or 6 cows.

Sheds at the Suits farm north of the Stuhmer farm were destroyed.

Several head of cattle and hogs on the Timmins farm south of the Stuhmer place were buried when the straw stack went over.

A barn at the Nulf place northwest of Idaville was picked up and set down several rods away leaving the horses hitched in their stalls.

At Dave Gardner's farm 3 miles northeast of Idaville a barn was destroyed.

At the Allie Carson farm 5 miles northwest of Idaville, occupied by John Morgan, the barn was destroyed and two horses killed.

The Pious Chapel church 6 miles north of Idaville is said to be badly wrecked. Sam McVay, a farmer near by the church, had his barn destroyed and five horses killed.

James Nixon, four miles north of Idaville, had his barn destroyed but all the the ten horses were uninjured.

John Jones east of Mr. Nixon, near the Thomas school house, reports all buildings badly damaged. Harve Thomas, north of Mr. Jones, lost the roof off his barn.

Arthur Pingry, residing mid-way between Idaville and Monticello, had two horses killed.

Two barns on the Capt. Hays farm two miles north of Idaville were destroyed and a horse and several hogs belonging to te tenant Fred Ohman, were killed.

A big barn belong to Milt Mertz at Burnettsville was blown down and a house on the Guy farm northeast of Burnettsville was wrecked by the wind and later caught fire and burned up. Mr. and Mrs. Guy were both badly hurt, the latter's condition being quite serious.

Damages are also reported at the Russow farm west of Idaville, the Geisler farm 2 miles northeast of Idaville and at the John Neel farm northwest of Idaville.

Bert Shafer, who had a thresherman's cabin on wheels in the gravel pit at the edge of Idaville, awoke to find his cabin gone. When he attempted to give chase the wind slammed him into a wire fence from which he was unable to get loose until the storm subsided. When he got disentangled he hiked to his father's home at the south end of town leaving his cabin in flames. Idaville [illegible] who noticed the fire went in search of him and for a time it was thought he had been burned to death but his whereabouts were later discovered and the search came to an abrupt end.

7 April:
THE ERWIN BABY COULD NOT SURVIVE INJURIES
Infant Blown Out of Mother's Arms When the Great Cyclone Came, Died March 30

Infant Erwin, the little storm victim in Monon township, in whom everybody in the county had a solicitous interest, died Thursday of last week. The baby was reported in the list of dead in the first chronicles of the storm, but later reports, to the surprise of everybody conversant with the rough treatment the baby had received, held out some hope of ultimate recovery. During the week preceding the baby's death it had been in convulsions most of the time.

The death occurred at the home of Will Erwin, a brother of Albert Erwin, the father of the babe, and whose house was destroyed by the wind. The anguish and greif of the parents, from the time their babe was found by the light of their burning home, until death came as a merciful liberator, can be best understood by those who have seen their treasures taken from them.
See also: Notes from The White County Democrat, 1916 (Part 2)

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Our Family in Books: A Bibliography

  • My Ancestors in Books (a library of resources and notes pertaining to Reverend Samuel Stone, Major General Robert Sedgwick, Elder John Crandall, and other early Americans in the forest where my family tree was grown)
  • The Zahnisers: A History of the Family in America by Kate M. Zahniser and Charles Reed Zahniser (Mercer, Pa. 1906)
  • History of St. James Lutheran Church [full title: A little of this and a little of that in the 141 year (1861-2002) History of St. James Lutheran Church, Reynolds Indiana] by Harold B. Dodge, published at Reynolds, Indiana, 2002; 170 pages.
  • Lisbon, North Dakota 1880-2005 Quasuicentennial, published at Lisbon, North Dakota in 2005; 391 pages.
  • The Paschen and Redd Families of Cass County, Indiana by Alfred Paschen, c. 2005 (Gateway Press, Inc., Baltimore, MD); 322 pages.
  • Sheldon Community History: Sheldon Centennial 1881-1981, published at Sheldon, North Dakota in 1981; 376 pages.
  • Sheldon, North Dakota 1881-2006 - 125th Anniversary: The Queen of the Prairie, published at Sheldon, North Dakota in 2006; 498 pages.
  • A Standard History of White County, Indiana, written under the supervision of W.H. Hamelle, c. 1915 (The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York).
  • The Roots of Coventry, Connecticut by Betty Brook Messier and Janet Sutherland Aronson, c. 1987 (Coventry 275th Anniversary Committee, Coventry, CT); 206 pages.
  • "Elder John Crandall of Rhode Island and His Descendants" by John Cortland Crandall; New Woodstock, New York, 1949; 797 pages.
  • "The Descendants of Robert Burdick of Rhode Island." Nellie (Willard) Johnson, Pd.B.: H & L Creations, LLC.

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