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Decatur County Journal
Leon, Decatur County, Iowa
April 4, 1907

A DESTRUCTIVE STORM

Cyclone Did Much Damage in Decatur and Ringgold Counties
Last Thursday Evening.

One of the most destructive storms that ever visited this section of Iowa caused much damage last Thursday evening about 7 o'clock.

The tornado seems to have formed near Caledonia in Ringgold County, near which place it totally destroyed two large barns scattering fragments of the buildings over two or three miles of territory. It then pounced upon a $2,000 residence south of Cornstalk College leaving it a wreck. Truman GREEN's home was next in the path of the storm and the building was turned around three times escaping with but slight damage. House, sheds and haystacks upon Frank EURITT's farm were torn down, as were the trees in the orchard and the barn at Joe BECK'S farm.

At the home of John WILEY the tornado tore up the house, broke the dishes and furniture, and carried away the greater part of the clothing belonging to the family. A pony at the WILEY home was thrown down and rolled over and over. Mr. WILEY was in the barn, the east end of which was blown out. He received only a few bruises. The remainder of the family were away from home.

The storm divided at that point and one part went north three fourths of a mile to the home of Perry SCOTT, two miles east of Kellerton near the Decatur County line. Mr. SCOTT's corn cribs and outbuildings were considerably damaged. The cattle guards west of Cany MCGAHNEY's place were torn from the railroad track and the destructive cloud sped in a southeasterly direction and again joined with the main cloud. The Battle Hill School House was totally wrecked, not a piece being left standing. The coal house stationed on the east side of the school house was picked up and dropped on the opposite side of the school house site smashing it into bits. The course of the storm was then east, sections of fence belonging to Bert HICKMAN and J. H. PAYTON being leveled with the ground taking the telephone lines with it. As the tornado reached the old SHAW house, it separated, part going on either side of the building, which escaped with but slight damage. The home of J. H. PAYTON was a quarter of a mile away from the danger line. One of the PAYTON boys was down east of the house feeding the hogs and saw the storm coming; he knew that could not reach the house so he climbed into a hog shed. The storm missed him about one hundred yards, traveling in a northeasterly direction, pulling up hazel brush by the roots and breaking all of the trees in its path. Wherever a fence was struck, the wire was torn from the fastenings and the posts snapped off like twigs.

Jesse WION, of Bloomington Township, saw the storm coming just about the time it struck the Battle Hill School House. He started his family for the cave which they reached just as the tornado leaped upon his house. The house was torn asunder, the south part being carried about twenty yards, where the wreck now lies having the appearance of having been crushed to the earth by a mighty force crushing downward from the roof. The roof was stripped from the other portion of the building and the east end blown out. The remains of the house seem to have been twisted in a way that split the lumber and rendered it useless. Parts of a clothes press from Mr. WION's home were found two miles away. As the family of Mr. WION hurried to the protection of the cave, a small dog belonging to the children was left in the kitchen under the stove. When they emerged from the cave, they found their home gone and the dog with it. In about an hour and a half, after the storm had passed over, the dog came limping back, looking like he had been dragged through a mud hole. The animal was terribly frightened and refused to approach any member of the family. It moved restlessly about throughout the night. So far as we have been able to learn, there was but one person injured seriously, but several sustained slight wounds.

The tornado covered a strip from two to twenty rods wide. A number of woven wire fences were twisted into a cable. Storms also destroyed the barns and houses on the farms of J. M. HUNT and John BURCH, near Bradyville, Page County. Cattle were in some places lifted from the pastures in which they were grazing and deposited in other pastures near at hand. Jesse WION describes the storm as follows:

"About 7 o'clock Thursday evening of last week a funnel shaped cloud formed in the southwest and in less than ten minutes it had destroyed our house. It looked like the tail of a large kite moving back and forth and swaying to and fro. We had been in our cyclone cave not to exceed five minutes when the tile, two feet long, used as a ventilator and protruding from the top about eight inches was broken off where the bottom touched the cement and part of the soil was swept away that covered the cave."

The same evening, a number of outbuildings north of Leroy were unroofed. No injuries resulted. Considerable damage was done in Grand River Township [Decatur County] also by the cyclone. A number of barns and sheds were partly wrecked and some timber blown to the ground.

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, July of 2009


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