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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
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. Joy.
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.
A number of colored persons were also seriously injured. Many persons lost everything they had, and were left wounded and helpless. Those who escaped threw open their doors, taking in the wounded and homeless. Every one did all in his power to relieve the unfortunate sufferers. People from all parts of the country gathered in Richmond, eager to lend a helping hand.
On Sunday, the day after the terrible storm, a mass meeting was held and the following resolutions adopted:
WHEREAS, An unprecedented storm has visited our city, leaving much loss of life, destruction of property and personal suffering in its pathway; therefore, be it
Resolved, That a committee of arrangements and relief be appointed to co-operate with the mayor and city authorities, consisting of ten persons, whose duty it shall be to receive any contributions that may be made for the relief of the poor and destitute, and to provide for and take care of the many who have been injured; and generally to make such arrangements as the circumstances may require, in aid of the suffering of our fellow citizens, occasioned by the recent storm, and for the burial of those who were killed.
Resolved, That all citizens who may feel disposed to render any assistance for the object contemplated by the foregoing resolution, will please to make application to some member of this committee, or to the mayor or members of the city council, who will see that all contributions are honestly and strictly applied for the relief of those needing it. That the thanks of this meeting are hereby tendered to our neighbors from the country, and citizens of other counties, for the interest and sympathy they have manifested and the aid so freely, and cheerfully given, and to the medical fraternity for their prompt and skillful attention rendered to the suffering
At a meeting of the relief committee the following resolution was adopted:
Resolved, That Berrien J. Menefee, be, and he is hereby appointed treasurer of this committee to receive all contributions and donations made to the relief board in money or other things, and that he apply the same under the direction of Judge Chas. J. Hughes, chairman of this committee, or of George I. Wasson, mayor of the city, and that full reports be made from time to time to this committee of the amount and character of the contributions made and how distributed.
The following general committee was then appointed, viz: A. W. Doniphan, James Hughes, B. J. Menefee, C. T. Garner, Sr., Dr. W. W. Mosby, Captain J. L. Farris, Colonel J. W. Black, George N. McGee, Thomas D. Woodson and John C. Morris.
On motion, Judge Hughes was made chairman of the committee. On motion of J. T. Child, a committee composed of gentlemen from each township, to solicit aid, was appointed.
At a called meeting of the relief committee on Monday evening, the following action was had:
On motion of James W. Black, Major R. S. Williams was instructed to employ a sufficient number of hands to remove the debris from the streets. The daily wages for laborers was fixed at $1.25. The proposition of Major McKissack, to furnish ice and transportation free was accepted, and the magnaminous offer properly acknowledged.
The committee of relief met Tuesday morning. A number of telegrams were received, which the mayor was instructed to answer. Judge C. J. Hughes was directed to instruct the different towns, as to the condition of Richmond. C. T. Garner, W. P. Hubbell and W. 1). Rice, were appointed to ascertain the real condition of the sufferers, to take their names and ascertain their actual wants.
At the suggestion of many citizens from the country, a public meeting was held in the court house yard on Monday. This meeting was attended and participated in by a large number of citizens from different parts of the county. This meeting resolved that the judge of the county court be requested to make an appropriation, if in his judgment such an appropriation was needed, to the sufferers of Richmond.
Committees were also appointed in all of the townships to solicit aid from the citizens, and to receive and forward all contributions to the relief committee at Richmond.
Besides the human beings enumerated, about ninety head of stockhorses, cattle, etc., were killed. One team of horses was lifted up and blown over the brick lumber yard of Jackson & Patton, and, being dashed to the ground, in the back yard, were killed. Chickens and geese were literally stripped of their feathers, and trees which were not blown down or torn up by their roots, were barked from bottom to top.
On the west side of the cyclone, the debris moved south, on the east side it moved north, showing the rotation to have been from right to left.
The postoffice building was a light, two story frame, on the east corner of the north side of the public square. It was totally demolished, and the contents scattered along the pathway of the cyclone for many miles.
A registered package of stamped envelopes, intended for Millville, was found eight miles out of town.
One package of envelopes for registered letters, was found in Caldwell county, twenty miles north of Richmond, and returned.
One dead letter addressed, Michael Reeves, was found near James Hughes' home farm, eight miles northeast of Richmond.
One package of paper, weighing two pounds, was found on a straw pile, four miles from where the postoffice stood.
A registered letter was found thirteen miles north of town, lying against a house. The letter was picked up by a farmer, who, finding it contained two fifty dollar bills, returned it to the post master at Richmond.
A letter was found near Tinney's Grove, twenty miles to the northeast, in Grape Grove township.
A photograph of a Mrs. Engler, blown from one of the demolished residences of Richmond, was found near Tinney's Grove, twenty miles away.
Thousands of persons visited Richmond for several days succeeding the storm. Nearly all came, and did all in their power to relieve the immediate wants of the sufferers.
The destruction was complete over two entire blocks of buildings, from the southern to the northern limits of the city. Outside of those blocks, on either side the buildings and property, generally, were injured to a greater or less extent along its entire path.
We find in the first issue of the Ray Chronicle after the cyclone, the following observations:
1. It was not over three hundred yards high. 2. The breadth of its forward motion was not more than eighty yards. 3. No rain fell during its passage.
4. The head, source, or place where the power was applied was after the cyclone was perfectly formed, a dark cloud, moving with the firmness of a mountain, and the rapidity of the swiftest horse.
5. The rotary motion gave it a lateral diameter of one hundred and fifty yards. The rotation was often so rapid as throw air waves to either side, with very destructive effects, and sometimes reaching a distance of three hundred yards beyond the main path.
6. There was no particular development of heat, as to scorch green substances or to burn persons. The ground was soaked with rain twenty minutes in advance of the cyclone, and the soil was worked into a thin mortar, and smeared overything; hence the appearance of a flood.*
Two members of the city council were killed, and the council adopted the following tribute of respect:
RICHMOND COUNCIL Room,
Wednesday, June 5, 1878. City council met, and was called to order by the mayor, George I. Wasson. The roll was called. Present, the mayor, and councilmen, J. W. Black, James W. Garner, George A. Hughes, and William Wilson.
The following resolutions were then presented by J. W. Black, and adopted by the council:
WHEREAS, Our city having been visited on last Saturday afternoon, by a most terrible cyclone, carrying, death and destruction in its pathway, and many families were rendered houseless, and the home circle bereft of of its loved ones, stricken down in its devastating course, and among that number our esteemed fellow citizens and members of the city council, Wm. A. Donaldson and Francis M. Ball; therefore be it resolved by the council, of the city of Richmond,
That in the death of Wm. A. Donaldson and F. M. Ball, their families
*We are indebted to the Ray Chronicle, of June 7, 1878, and to Dr. G. W. Buchanan for the history of the Richmond cyclone.