March 1868 St. Patrick's Day Severe Weather Outbreak

Severe weather struck our region & the state March 17, 1868 after a period of abnormally warm weather.

Posted: Mar 18, 2019 4:49 PM
Updated: Mar 18, 2019 5:08 PM

A big snowstorm hit Iowa, but it was a severe weather outbreak over Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky & Ohio on March 17, 1868.  I have gleaned a few accounts from newspapers from the region, but research continues.  I have typed out some of the accounts from the press at the time.

Hail the size of "quail eggs" was reported just north of the viewing area at Plymouth, while considerable wind damage occurred at Crawfordsville & Lebanon in the form of trees fall, telegraph poles snapping & minor damage ot structures.

Logansport was also affected by structural damage to chimneys of buildings & homes.  Trees were toppled over. 

My goals is to do more research on Greater Lafayette & other points in the surrounding area since I am now back.  Il will be able to view newspaper clippers on micro-film at local libraries.

The the high winds after the storm, the much colder weather after a big warm spell & the snow storm in Iowa, it makes sense that a big, deep storm system pivoting through the region & we were in the warm sector.

Now, the actual accounts...............

Terrific Storm.

Our exchanges contain startling accoutns of damage done by the terrific storm of Monday night. This neighborhood appears to have almost miraculously escaped its destructive effects, no serious damage having been done, so far as we have heard, though it was a regular tornado here also.

A few minutes after 1 o'clock the Eastwardbound train on the I. & C. Railroad encountered the storm just before reaching the bridge across the White Water River. The trains consisted of the engine, tender, two passenger and two freight cars, all well laden. Just as the engine was about entering the bridge, which is a covered one, the wind struck the train, and lifting three of the cars from the track, carried then down an embankment some twelve feet in depth. The fourth car was only partially removed from the tracks. The coaches contained some sixty passengers, and, strange to say, but six or eight were injured, all slightly. Mr. John Eagan, the conductor, was cut in the hand and also about the head. Mr. Cohn, the baggage-master, was also injured, probably more so than any other individual on the train. None of the passengers were injured so much as to present them from walking from the depot, after their arrival in the city about 10 o;clock in the morning. One of the passenger cars was badly wrecked, but the other can easily be repaired. The track was not injured in the least, and the trains are now running regularly.

A freight car attached to a train on the W. W. V. R. R. was from from the track, but sustained no serious damage. At Elizabethtown, the Methodist church, a brick structure, was unroofed , and the walls badly damaged. A brick mill at the same place was damaged to the extent of several thousand dollars. Besides the above, numerous dwelling houses were more or less damaged.

At Newtown, Ind., not far from Lawrenceburg, a small brewery was unroofed, and one of the walls leveled to the ground. Casks were demolished, and beer barrels were scattered in every direction.

At Valley Junction the house of Thomas H. Hunt was partially unroofed, and about fifty forest trees in the rear of John Karr's house were torn up by their roots or broken in two and thrown in the ground.

The Cleves bridge was partially unroofed and the weatherboarding torn off. Several dwellings in the village also suffered damage.

Indiana American Brookville, Indiana March 20, 1868 Page 3

1868, March 17.-Hurricane at Chatham, near Springfield, Illinois. Extended over Illinois, Indiana, &c.

Annual Report of the Chief Signal-Office to the Secretary of War for the Year 1872 1873 Page 195

.........there was a violent storm of wind swept over the southern portion of the county, in the neighborhood of New Paris and Bainter's Mills. Straw sacks, fences, and roofs of buildings were blown in every direction. The rails in a field belonging to Mr. J.E. Winegar were blown high into the air, and then came down endwise with great velocity, entering the earth to half their length. A large number of sheep and chickens were killed, and great (word unreadable......faded 1) prevailed throughout the whole area of the country where the storm passed. We hear all manner of rumors in regard to it, but we get the main facts from Mr. John W. Ezhert, who happened to be in the vicinity at the time, and although, when our report conversed with him, he had not fully recovered from his fright, we think his narrative is not much overdrawn, as it has been satisfactorily vouched for by B.G. Crary and old man Ayers, Herman Elson, and others, who visited the scene of the disaster immediately afterwards.

The Goshen Democrat Goshen, Indiana March 18, 1868, Page 2

1 From Myself

The wind storm on Wednesday night and yesterday morning was very severe. A large number of trees were blown down, while hanging signs were scattered in profusion all over the city. The telegraph wires were all down, and no communication could be had with the outside world. The very hard rain had the effect to clean the streets nicely. The weather now is decidedly Marchy.

The Indianapolis Journal Indianapolis, Indiana March 18, 1868 Page 2

About 12 o'clock last night this vicinity was visited by a most terrific storm of wind and rain, destroying property and creating alarm among the people along the Louisville, New Albany and Chicago Railroad. The storm was severe, and the wind blew a perfect gale, tearing down telegraph lines, uprooting trees, carrying away fences, and doing other damage.

During the severe storm of last night the extensive woolen factory of Andrews & Mattock, in Jeffersonville, Indiana was unroofed and a portion of the front wall blown down.

Boats were compelled to tie up, as navigation was impracticable. A coal fleet had to tie up the boats in the harbor, and have all escaped harm.

The Indianapolis Journal Indianapolis, Indiana March 18, 1868 Page 1

The train on the Indianapolis and Cincinnati railroad was lifted from the track leaving the struck standing. John Eagen, conductor of the train, was severely hurt and several passengers were badly bruised........We learn from passengers that a large number of houses between this point and Indianapolis were unroofed. We have heard of no accidents of the person of any one.

Parties arriving from all section information that the forests adjoining the track of the railroads over which they came were despoiled of their finest ornaments.

A brewery at New Lisbon, Indiana, not far from Lawrenceburg, was entirely destroyed.

A barn belonging to Rev. Dr. Williamson, at Anderson's Ferry, six miles from Cincinnati, was blown down, and a carriage which was inside broken to fragments; loss probably $2,000.

The roof of a large stone house near Andrew's Ferry was carried off and falling near the railroad track demolished all the telegraph wires adjoining. None of the inmates of the buildings were seriously injured.......

The storm was violent on the river, and the waves were mountain high. All the packets under weigh were tossed about unceremoniously. The Telegraph, Boston and R.R. Hudson were compiled to weather it out. The Lady Grace, Spray and Carrie Williams were torn from their moorings by the gale, and carried across to the Kentucky shore, where they landed among a lot of coal barges, damaging some of them seriously. The United States escaped injury, though also out in the storm, as she was running with the wind. The Duncan, however, took it broadside, and went leeward on her beam ends. The waves washed and rolled over her forward deck, and of her firemen stood waist deep in the water. On the leeward side, near her boilers, the wood boxes stood two feet in the water..........

The Indianapolis Journal Indianapolis, Indiana March 18, 1868 Page 1

Fort Wayne, Ind., March 17.

Our city was visited by one of the most terrible tornadoes that has occurred in Northern Indiana for many years. The destruction of property in this vicinity is immense. Roofs were torn from houses, walls demolished, windows smashed in and trees uprooted. The hurricane which lasted for several hours, appears to have come from the south-west, traveling in a north-easterly direction. The destruction of property in this city was principally on Columbia street; whole blocks of buildings were unroofed and walls partly torn down, and the contents of the store-houses, &c., destroyed by the rain which fell in torrents. It is thought that $35,000 worth of property was destroyed in this place alone. No lives were lost, but two men had each of their legs broken by falling debris.

Plymouth Weekly Democrat Plymouth, Indiana March 19, 1868 Page 2

This morning about one o'clock, a portion of our city was visited by one of the most terrific tornadoes that has ever swept over this part of the county. Houses were unroofed, trees uprooted, out-houses were raised from their foundations and carried many hundreds of feet from where they had been erected by their owner. A small frame swelling house in the west end of the city was blown over, and like a ship in a storm, thrown upon its beams' end. The rain fell in torrents, the eye was blinded by frequent land rapid flashes of lightning, and the ear almost deafened by the heavy peals of thunder. The heavens were dark as Erebus, and it seemed as through the elements had combined to make war upon man and his property. The path of the tornado was not over one-half square mile, and appeared to from a southwesterly direction. It flashed on us for a moment, and then was gone, but it left its imprint with us, and in its course took everything before it. No deaths-several injuries.

Fort Wayne Daily Gazette Fort Wayne, Indiana March 18, 1868 Page 1

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