The Cyclone of 1898

More of this story appeared in the Observer, DeWitt, 20 May 1998.  It was found in a scrapbook loaned to us by Jan Hanson and the FCCFH.

According to reports, the cyclone formed in western Cedar Co. About 3 p.m., a large, slow-moving tornado touched down in Stanwood and spun eastward.  It tore through Clinton County, leaving behind a strip as narrow as 50 feet and as wide as 400 feet. 

The twister never hit a town, but came close to Toronto and Massillon, was near Lost Nation and barely missed Delmar.

While the storm spared the town, the farms hit were many.  Though many houses and farm buildings were destroyed, the largest loss was that of livestock.  Trenches were dug to bury the hundreds of animals.

The Advertiser, another newspaper of the time, reported the death of an entire family, living in the hills between Goose Lake and Preston.  The Charles Flory farm was located in a ravine, "apparently one which would be selected as being free from a high wind, but the cyclone apparently dropped down over the hill.  Not a vestige of anything was left standing." The family was buried together the next morning in Grand Prairie Cemetery.  Five small headstones and one large monument mark their resting place.

The following article was in the Clinton Daily Herald 19 May 1898:



Awful Storm Sweeps Through This Part of the State.


Several Killed and Injured -- Immense Damage to Farm Property.

    Last night about 4:30 o'clock a terrific cyclone passed through this county, scattering such death and destruction in a most horrible manner.  The force of the storm struck about three miles north west of Charlotte, where four people were instantly killed and others injured.

    In the track of this cyclone, which traveled in a northeasterly direction, lay some of the best improved farms in the county.  Today, where stood yesterday the very best of buildings, in many pieces there is hardly enough left to mark the sight of a magnificent house or barn.