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