The morning of June 1st was bright and tranquil, but later in the day clouds gathered, and early in the afternoon the wind, accompanied by a slight fall of hail, began gently blowing from the southwest. Immediately after the hail ceased falling, a wind from the northwest arose, and, continuing probably ten minutes, was succeeded by a suffocating calm of about three to five minutes' duration. Within twenty or thirty minutes after the falling of the hail, the clouds in the southwest seemed to be falling apart for a moment or two, presenting ragged edges; then, suddenly, streams began to shoot out from the margins of the clouds, and to mingle together by a twirling, intertwining motion.

The calm above alluded to was caused by the current from the northwest meeting a similar current moving in the opposite direction. After this momentary cessation of wind, a strong breeze from the southwest set in, followed by a violent rush of wind, the immediate precursor of the terribly devastating cyclone that was to follow almost instantaneously.

The wind began its destructive work about three miles southwest of town. Moving in a northeasterly direction, it struck the railroad at J. S. Hughes & Co.'s coal shaft; then turning northward,it struck six tenement houses, occupied by miners, and owned by J. S. Hughes. These houses were moved out of position and otherwise damaged, though not seriously. Leaving the tenement houses, the cyclone slightly injured six dwellings situated next to the railroad. The upper story, back wall, and porch of W. R. Jackson's house, in the extreme southeastern part of the city, were torn off. The next house in its northward course, was that of Dr. Noah Gaines, a one story frame, which was considerably wrecked but not torn down. Bounding across the street at this point, the storm unroofed the old homestead residence, a one story brick, of Jacob Whitmer. Mrs. Haynes was struck and damaged seriously.

In its onward passage north of Dr. Noah Gaines, it levelled to the ground a small frame building, occupied by a colored family; next a large one story frame building, property of the late Major Sevier, but occupied at the time, by one Mr. Deer and family. The house was utterly demolished. Striking, next, the fine brick residence of J. S. Hughes, Esq., it blew down the ell and unroofed the main building.

Next in the storm's pathway stood the Bidwell property, occupied by a man named Berry, and his family. The building, a two story frame, was totally destroyed; and so, also, was the large two story frame residence of W. R. Holman. Veering to the west from the residence of J. A. Hughes, it struck and completely destroyed the residence of G. A. Hughes, as well as his very fine young apple orchard. The residence last named is on College street; west of it and on the same street, are the residences of Judge Charles J. Hughes and Messrs. B. J. Menefee and P. V. Bernard, all of which were injured. Of the three houses mentioned, Mr. Bernard's is farthest; it is a one story brick, was unroofed, and a portion of its walls blown in. This building marked the western limit of the storm's fury, in the city.

The cyclone was somewhat narrowed in its destructive course through the city, after leaving South College street, which extends east and west; yet from this street in its northward passage, it extended over two entire blocks of buildings, as well as wrecking some, and wholly demolishing other of the buildings on the east side of the college grounds; and first of the latter was the one and a half story cottage residence of Mrs. Bassett, occupied by C. J. Hughes, Jr., which was totally destroyed. Dr. H. P. Jacobs owned and occupied a new and beautiful residence, which in its fury, the storm-god spared not; every vestige of the building was swept from its foundation. Neither did it respect the Presbyterian Church, a large, costly and substantial brick structure, but razed it to the ground. The next building to the northward, was the story and a half residence of Mr. E. Spear, which, though not blown down, was greatly damaged; then the one story brick of Philip J. Woodson, Esq., was unroofed. Next, to the northward stood the Baptist Church and residence of R. E. Brown, Esq, side by side, which were likewise swept away by the irresistible rotary current.

We have followed the storm in its desolating progress to Lexington street, and, going back again to south College street, and beginning with the block next east of the one last described, and separated therefrom by Thornton Avenue, we mention first the two story frame dwelling of Judge Joseph E. Black, which was entirely destroyed; then the residence of Captain G. N. McGee, a total loss; next the one story residence belonging to Mrs. Mary Brown, but occupied by a tenant, also completely demolished, and the residence of Ephraim Holman, which shared a similar fate.

Passing east, in our description, to the residence of Doctor Frank Gaines, on Lexington street, we have to mention that building as also a total loss. The residence of Mrs. Amelia Jacobs, in this neighborhood, was also totally wrecked.

Again returning to South College street, we begin with the block east of the one last mentioned; and first, the dwelling house of Paul Wertz was literally blown away; and so, also, were the residences of N. P. Warriner, and of Mrs. Morrison, and Mrs. Carson.

Proceeding with his melancholy task, the writer has again arrived at Lexington street, at a point where the cyclone again narrowed its destructive work, and thence northward, embraced only two blocks. First, on the west, starting northward, is the lumber yard of Brown & Limerick, which was completely wrecked; the calaboose, a stone building, was partially blown down, but the blacksmith-shop of Ball & Asbury was totally destroyed. In the same block, but east of the buildings mentioned, stood the residences of the late Judge Burgess, Colonel Dodd, and Houston Jacobs, all of which were swept away.

East of this block, the residences of George Jacobs and Wyatt Baker were destroyed. The Shaw House (now, 1881, Wasson House), the next building north of Ball & Asbury's (now Asbury's) shop, suffered great injury. Its east wing was blown down entirely, and every portion of the building received considerable damage. Prior to the storm it was a threestory building, but has since been repaired, without replacing the third story. East of the Shaw House was the residence of James Harmony, and east of that the elegant two-story residence of John P. Leeper, occupied by Doctor G. W. Buchanan, both of which were entirely destroyed. Immediately east of the buildings last mentioned stood the wagon factory of Burgess Bros., the buggy factory of O. T. Dickenson, and the residences of Isaac Burgess, Captain Ben. Wigginton, and R. F. Asbury, all of which were swept away.

Our description has brought us to South Main street. In the two blocks of buildings on this street, extending to the northern limits of the city, were about twenty-five houses, all of which were utterly demolished, among the number we may mention the residences of David Whitmer, Benjamin Jacobs, Fritz Lierman, William Marshall, Thomas Word, J. W. Garner, Samuel Nading, John G. Ballard, T. J. Casey, F. W. Joy, Thomas McGinnis, and George Warren.

The above were all one and two-story buildings, and were a total loss. In this were located the African M. E. Church, and the school-house of the colored people, both of which were torn to fragments.

On the street leading northward from the public square, and which is west of the buildings last mentioned, the residences of Mrs. Mary Brown, Thomas D. Woodson and W. A. Donaldson were greatly damaged; Mrs. Brown's residence being blown to the ground.

The following business houses on the east side of the public square sufferred material damage, viz: The three story brick dry goods store of S. R. Crispin & Co., at the southeast corner of the square. The Masonic hall was in the third story of this building, and was completely destroyed, as the third story was blown off, as well as part of the second story; the house occupied by C. Sayre; W. R. Jackson & Co.'s furniture store; Jackson & Asbury's saloon; boot and shoe house of William Marshall; drug store of Taylor & Smith (now Smith & Patton); and the store house of Monroe Bros. All of these, except the first mentioned, were two story brick buildings.

Just north, and across the street from the last mentioned, the lumber yard of Jackson & Patton, and the wagon manufactory of Powell & Son, were destroyed.

South of the public square the business houses of J. P. Quesenberry, Dr. M. C. Jacobs, and Kiger & Wertz were partly unroofed; and the same is true of Mosby & Son's drug store and the Ray county savings bank.

The post office was literally blown away. The court house was unroofed and otherwise damaged. The livery stable of C. W. Schweich & Co. was considerably injured.

Thus have we given a minute description of the entire devastated portion of the city, which included fully one-third of its area. The total loss of property was estimated at over $200,000.

This devastating wind current was a genuine cyclone, its motion being rotary and irresistible. It was funnel-shaped in appearance, resembling a water spout.

It is said that during its passage through the town, not a drop of water fell. There were ascending and descending currents, and flying fragments darkened the earth. After the cyclone had passed, its desolated pathway presented the appearance of having been deluged with muddy water. This was owing to the fact that a heavy rain preceded the cyclone a moment or two.

On leaving the town, the cyclone veered slightly to the east; thence north, striking Crooked river; thence west, demolishing the residence of Thomas J. Bohannon, and carrying down the iron bridge at that point; thence its course was northeast, to Hiram Settle's, seven miles from Richmond; there it rose from the earth, and moved directly east, passing over Morton, a small village in the eastern portion of the county. It again descended to the earth at Highsinger's, a point twelve miles from where it arose, at Settle's; thence taking a northeasterly direction, it lay waste everything in its course.

The storm is estimated to have been three minutes in passing through the city. It swept over that portion of the city in which were located most of the mechanical shops and factories.

The destruction of property was great, indeed, but that was not irreparable. The energetic and enterprising citizens have so repaired and rebuilt the desolated district, that now (1881) scarcely a vestige of the great cyclone of 1878 remains. The buildings which were destroyed . have been replaced with new, more costly and more substantial ones. The loss of human life makes the saddest recollection of this terribly destructive cyclone. The following persons were either killed outright, or died from injuries received:

Captain William M. Jacobs was caught in front of C. D. Sayre's, by the falling debris from the store and the Masonic hall, and completely buried, and was not found till eleven o'clock the following day (Sunday).

Squire Bellis was buried by the fallen debris of Jackson & Patton's lumber yard. Mr. Bellis resided in the country, and was killed while seeking safety in the lumber yard.

John Campbell had started from M. C. Jacobs' drug store for his home in the eastern part of the town, and when having reached a point on Lexington street, just beyond Brown and Limerick's lumber yard, was killed by the passing missiles.

Mattie Holman, aged five years, a child of W. R. Holman, was killed.

Miss Martha A. Ross, who was living at Ephraim Holman's, was crushed by the falling building, and died in a few moments.

Mrs. Mary Joy was struck and killed by the falling house of F. W.

Mrs. Martha A. Casey was instantly killed.

James Duncan, at Powell & Son's shop, was caught up by the wind, carried one hundred yards, and mortally wounded. A missile was driven into his head, entering near the nose. He lived but a few moments.

Miss Josie Couch, at the residence of William Marshall, was disemboweled, and died in a short time.

William A. Donaldson, Esq., was on his way from his law office to his residence, when he was struck by flying debris, and died in an hour or two.

Mrs. Alvin Child was mortally wounded, and died in a short time.

Andrew Nading, son of Samuel Nading, was killed in the wreck of his father's house.

Miss Florence Word, whose thigh was broken, died on Tuesday evening, and was buried the next day.

Francis M. Ball, severely bruised about the head, legs and body, died on Monday.

An infant child of Charles Ottman's lived till Tuesday, when it died of injuries received in the storm. Mrs. Salina Bohannon died on Thursday morning.

Miss Sarah Burgess, Berry Fox, Thomas J. Bohannon, Laura Washington (colored).

Following is a list of those who were seriously wounded: F. W.Joy, leg broken; C.J. Hughes, Jr., leg broken; Willie Buchanan, Miss Emma Shackelford, Miss Pauline Shackelford, Mrs. Perry Jacobs, Robert Asbury, Charles and Lee Asbury, Dr. G. W. Buchanan, George Warren, George Crispin, James Donaldson, Blanche Harmony, Mrs. Thomas McGinnis and four children, Thomas Bohannon and wife, V. P. Bernard, Miss Mollie Streets, Colonel T. J. Dodd, Mrs. Paul Wertz, Robert Offutt, Mrs. Belle Warriner, H. C. Burgess, Thomas Burgess, Isaac Burgess, Mrs. William Marshall, William Burgess, Miss Mary Hughes, Mrs. Carson and two daughters, G. W. Schweich and infant child, Miss Laura Belle Hughes, Albert Flumen, Mary E. Sheets, Thomas Word, Mary E. Casey, David Whitmer, G. T. Limerick, Mrs. Julia Shweich.

« ForrigeFortsett »