SEVERE WX : Severe Thunderstorm Warning View Alerts

Local Weather History: A Few Examples of November Severe Weather Outbreaks Prior to 1900

These are three severe weather outbreaks in parts of our area & the state prior to 1900.

Posted: Nov 8, 2019 10:02 PM
Updated: Nov 9, 2019 11:10 PM

I have more to add to this, including graphics, but this is what I have uncovered for now regarding these particular events.

November 21, 1856 Severe Weather

The Storm of Yesterday-Items, Incidents, &c.

Yesterday afternoon about 3 o'clock, the wind from the south-west commenced blowing “great guns”, and continued with unabating fury for about a half an hour, doing considerable damage in different parts of town. We father the following items and incidents:

The bridge over the canal at the foot of South street, we understand, was blown down.

The composition roof on Weaver's block was literally torn to shreds, and scattered to the winds.

Much apprehension for the new Reynolds Banking House on the west side of the square. The masonry is not yet entirely finished, and the walls being green, it was thought almost impossible that it could withstand the fury of the storm. Messrs. Short & Woollen, who occupy the frame tenements on Main street, in the rear of the building, left their turkies and chickens to “keep grocery,” and fled to avoid the risk of being buried alive under five stories of brick and morter which towered threateningly above them. Fortunately, the building weathered the gale, and escaped with light damage.

The roof of Lamb's pottery on Wabash, near Ferry, was blown off. We understand one or two persons narrowly escaped the loss of their lives by the falling roof.

The gable ends of W.K. Rochester's new building on Illinois street, below south, were blown down. The north gable, a thirteen inch brick wall, fell upon a little one story frame house adjoining occupied by H. Van Zant. The roof was crushed in, and the furniture demolished. Mrs. Van Zant was sitting in one of the rooms with her child, a babe of less than two years beside her when the roof fell. She had barely time to snatch up the infant and escape from the room before the roof was crushed in; and the very chair in which she had been sitting, was buried in the ruins.

A new brick building in the southwest part of town, recently erected by P. & O. Ball, was blown down.

The Gothic spires on the cupola of the Second Presbyterian Church were blown off, but old Boreas did the job so neatly that no damage will be claimed. The style is simply changed from the Gothic to the Ironic.

The New Albany & Salem Depot sustained great damage. As the storm came up, the sliding doorson the south end and a few on the west side were closed, but the sqall [squall 1] was so sudden & furious that the doors on the upper end could be reached, a considerable portion of the roof was sailing through the air. The tin with which the building was covered was peeled up before the wind like paper and carried off with such force as to seriously damage a number of houses in the neighborhood. The heavy timbers of the roof struck a small house which stood about fifty yards from the depot and leveled it with the ground. The house was unoccupied. One of the large bundles of tin from the roof was carried the distance of at least three squares and struck a two story frame building crushing in one side to the great consternation of the inmates.

An outbuilding, used for storage, at Lane's low and wagon shop, on Main Street, was blown down.

The cupola of the Catholic Church, on Mississippi street, was moved several feet from its position, and it was thought last night that it would fall before morning. It leaned considerably to the northwest, and is liable to tumble at any time. Stand from under.

The wind took the roof in one of the corners of the Court House and twisted it off like a pipe stem. Awnings and signs were torn down on the principal streets, while fences and stables were damaged in every part of town. The damage on the Wea Plains and Shawnee Prairie has doubtless been very great. Such a tornado has not been before experienced on the Wabash within the recollection of the “oldest inhabitant.” - Lafayette Journal

In addition to the above the roof of the foundry of Moore & Nicoll, in the lower part of that city, was entirely carried away, with a portion of the gable end of the building.

In Thorntown two frame buildings were injured. A passenger on the Wabash Valley Road from Logansport to Lafayette informed us than an immense quantity of timber was blown down on the line of that road. He states that it appeared as though thousands of choppers were at work felling trees. Many fell on the track causing considerable detention. As far as we can learn the storm was general, doing immense damage. We expect to learn of numerous disasters on the Lakes. 1 From the Editor

Weekly Indiana State Sentinel, Indianapolis, Indiana, November 27, 1856 Page 2

TORNADO.-We were visited yesterday evening by a tremendous wind storm—one of the most violent we have ever witnessed. A large portion of the roof of one of the wings of the Methodist Female College was blown off; and considerable damage was done in all parts of the city to chimneys, eaves, troughs and tin spouting. Fort Wayne Sentinel, 22nd.

Weekly Indiana State Sentinel, Indianapolis, Indiana December 4, 1856 Page 2


Friday afternoon and night this section of the country experienced the effects of the most violent gale that has passed over it for many years. It seems to have been general, as we hear of its disastrous effects in every direction. On the line of the Michigan road between this city and Rochester, many trees were blown down and some damage done. Between here and Kokomo several trees were blown accross the track of the railroad, breaking or bending the rails. In the country the destruction of timber is extensive.

In this city considerable damage was done, though not as much as might have been anticipated from the force of the storm. Tipton's brick block on Fouurth street was so effected that ceilling joist next the roof fell and broke through the floor of the upper story, and the tin roofing was loosened. The chimnies on the east gable of the stone residence of Williamson Wright were blown down with a portion of the gable wall. The chimneys on the residence of Geo. E. Adams were blown and broke through the roof of the wind, injuring it materially. The chimneys on the residence of John M. Ferrell were blown down and other damage done. Damage was done to windows, shade trees &c., in different parts of the the town. The principal damage seems to have been done about 4 o'clock P.M., although the gale (after abating about dark ) was severe during a part of the night. We have not heard of any persons being injured in this section.

The Covington Friend of Saturday says that on Friday afternoon that section experienced “one of the most devasating tornadoes ever witnessed in the Wabash Valley. Sixty or eighty feet of the bridge roof was torn off-houses unroofed and blown down, and fences swept away. A wagon was blown off a bridge, a child five years old killed, an one man badly and another slightly injured.” The Friend says that as far as it can learn, great injury as been done in every direction.

The Fort Wayne Sentinel says the tornado on Friday afternoon; “blowed off a large portion of the roof of one of the winds of the Methodist Female College, and considerable damage was done in all parts of that city.” Logansport Pharos

New Albany Daily Ledger New Albany, Indiana November 28, 1856 Page 2

The "lone tree" stood on a ridge about half a mile south of the site of the courthouse in Fowler. The tree was a wild cherry, three feet or more in diameter. Its large spreading branches could be seen for miles in every direction, serving as a guide for those crossing the trackless prairie. The top of the this tree was blown down during a heavy windstorm in November 1856. For several years the trunk served the same purpose as did the tree.

History of Benton County and Oxford 1915 Page 244

From a Wabash paper of November 22, 1856—The Lagro bridge, built eight years ago by the residents of Lagro and nearby areas, at a cost of $5,600 was destroyed by a wind storm

Early Bridges & Bridge Builders In Wabash County By Leola Hocket Newsletter of the North Manchester Historical Society, Inc. Volume XXX, No. 4, November 2013

EFFECTS OF THE STORM.-.......................a portion of the roof and the top of one of the corners of Smith & Smyzer's extensive flouring mills, at the head of the Falls, on the Indiana side, were blown down. The damage is not very great.

Since the writing the above we learn of other destruction of property in this city by the storm. The back wall of Jacob's new buildings, in Third street, was blown out; a roof of one of Dr. Weing's new buildings, in Main street; the roof of a new buildings, in Breckinridge street, and a portion of the roof of Rowland & Smith's buildings, just above the Galt House, were blown off in whole or in part.

Daily Louisville Democrat Louisville, Kentucky November 22, 1856 Page 3


As far as heard from, the late storm was very extensive, doing a great deal of damage. The destruction of property in this county was very great. The Fountain Ledger says:

"The heavy wind on Friday evening did considerable damage as we learn from our exchanges. Sixty or eighty feet of the roof of River Bridge at Covington was carried away by the violence of the storm. Houses were unroofed, huge trees were uprooted or twisted off, and fences blown down. A two horse wagon was thrown from the Plank road bridge east of the river bridge, containing two men and little boy only six years old. The boy was killed almost instantly, and the two men both seriously injured. They were on their way to Iowa."

The Indianapolis Journal says: "We hear of the effects of the storm on Friday from all quarters of the State. In Lafayette it blew down houses, blew off roofs, broke down bridges, cut off church spires, and seared sundry individuals. In Terre Haute it spoiled awnings and chimneys, and blew down the Fillmore pnle. In Evansville it injured a new brick house, the windows of which were not yet put in, by entering through the vacant windows and pushing out the whole front of the third story. Fences and trees have been thrown about very promiscuously."

The South Bend Register in speaking of the storm says: .........In the country many fences were blown down, and in this town several chimneys were leveled, and the tin roof on the front part of the St. Joseph Hotel building was torn off, together with some of the rafters and roof boards. This accident has not in the least interfered with the business or accommodations of the House."

Tho Delphi Journal says:

.....At Logansport the damage done was considerable. Also at Perrysville, Eugene, Danville, &tc.

At Terre Haute the walls of the old Prairie House were blown down, and the new building adjoining considerably


Other buildings were more or less injured.

1 From Me

Fall Tornado In Putnam County In 1867

The damage by the storm of Friday seems to have been more serious than was at first supposed. From all quarters in the track of the tornado, -which seems to have been from southwest to the southeast,-we hear of houses, fences, and trees being blown down, though, fortunately, without lost of life. In the Eagle Creek neighborhood the storm was terrific. J.J. McClure's new frame house, partially completely, was badly damaged. Chislett's new frame, at Crowm Hill cemetery, strongly built, two stories high, was completely demolished. On Said Stout's farm a large breadth of timber was blown down, fences leveled to the ground, and shocked corn scattered all over the country. The fences on Jesse Pugh's place were blown down, and 40 mules escaped. Some of the roads are impassable on account of the fallen timber. In Warren township a good deal of damage was done. The gable end of Lee Cox's house was blown in, and some of his children hurt, though not seriously. East of town the damage was considerable.

A tornado-or cyclone as it is now called-which struck the city at eight o'clock in the evening, November 8, 1867. The current issue of the Banner contains a detailed account of the disaster which is too elaborate for insertion here. The storm, which came from the southwest, after blowing over dwellings, barns and everything else in its path, next struck Asbury University, smashing in the windows, tearing the bricks from the walls and starting the immense roof, which for a wonder it did not carry off. Had the roof gone, two hundred students who were in the building at the time would have been buried beneath the ruins. Simpson Chapel and Old Seminary were next struck and almost entirely unroofed and parts of the walls carried away. The upper room in Simpson Chapel was a complete wreck-furniture, chanderliers, everything, in fact, broken to pieces. The roof was precipitated into the yard of Mr. Westerfield, doing considerable damage. The old Seminary is injured beyond repair. A part of it was carried across the street and landed in the yard of J.F. Duckworth. The Baptist church was then struck and entirely destroyed. It was a brick building, erected only a few years since at a cost of five thousand seven hundred dollars. It seems impossible that buildings apparently so strong could be so utterly destroyed-the walls torn down within a few feet of the ground. As near as can be gathered the loss will exceed thirteen thousand dollars.......the church building was almost completely destroyed by a cyclone. This was a heavy blow to the congregation, but, nothing daunted, they resolved to rebuild and the present structure was the result.

Weik's History of Putnam County, Indiana By Jesse William Weik 1910 Pages 114 & 243

The Unreal Tornado in Indiana. [From the Indianapolis Herald, November 11th.]

The damage of the storm of Friday last seems to have been more serious than was at first supposed. From all quarters in the track of the tornado—which seems to have been from the southwest to the northeast, we hear of houses, fences and trees being blown down. though, fortunately, without loss of life. In the Eagle Creek neighborhood the storm was terrific. J.L. McClure's new frame house, partially completed, was badly damaged. Chislett's new frame, at Crown Hill cemetery, strongly built, two stones high, was completely demolished. On David Stout's firm a large breadth of timber was blown down, fences leveled to the ground, and shocked corn scattered all over the country. The fences of Jesse Push's place were blown down and forty [unreadable 1] escaped. Some of the roads are impassable on account of the fallen timber. In Warren township a good deal of damage was done. The gable end of Lee Cox's house was blown in, and some of the children hurt, though not seriously. East of town the damage was also considerable.

A correspondent writes the following account of the destruction in Greencastle:

Greencastle, (lnd.), November 9th.— Thinking that some of your readers would be glad to learn something of the loss sustained by our city in the recent tornado, I shall attempt to give as near as possible an account of it. Last evening at about half-past six o'clock, there appeared In the northwest an unusually dark and threatening cloud, ccompanied by vivid lightning. In a few moments a rumbling and roaring, more fierce and terrible than the confusion of forty railroad trains, was heard in that direction, and in a moment it was upon us. It came from a southwesterly direction, -occupying a space of about two hunded yards, in which scarcely anything was left. Entering the city as it did, the first prominent building which came in its course was the college (Indiana Asbury University), where nearly two hundred students had convened at the library societies, and an evening prayer meeting, which was also being held in the college building, was in session, all of which broke up in a general stampede. No one was hurt, but all very badly scared. The loss sustained by the college building was slight, principally in the chimneys and windows. The damage done to the campus, in loss of trees, was by no means slight. The next public building in its course was the seminary, which was almost unroofed, leaving the cupola and a small portion of the roof next to it removed with a part of the walls. The next building of note was the Methodist Episcopal Church, a two-story brick building, whose roof was carried entirely away, leaving the walls only, very badly damaged, standing. The next public building, and the one which sustained the heaviest loss, was the Baptist Church, which was wholly destroyed, the building being razed to the ground — a very beautiful little church, which had just been completed. As the church was comparatively new, and composed of but few members, most or whom are not wealthy, or at least not sufficientlyable to rebuild immediately, this will be an irreparable loss to them. The total loss of property is estimated at not less than 180,000, Never before was such a tornado felt in this community, nor may it ever witness such again.

Sacramento Daily Union Sacramento, California December 2, 1867

1 From Me

November 1879 Tornadoes

Irve Dunn had a hive of bees to swarm on last Thursday, Nov. 13th. 74 degrees is what the thermometer marked in the shade, and the bees were impressed with the belief that spring had come again.

Crawfordsville Star Crawfordsville, Indiana November 20, 1879 Page 1

A heavy storm of wind & rain swept Ohio and Indiana, extending into Illinois, yesterday morning, doing considerable damage to property.  But one life was lost, though several narrow escapes were made.  Terre Haute, Princeton, Geneva, Falmouth, Paoli, and other towns in Indiana suffered damage.  On Secretary Thompson's farm, near Terre Haute, the fences were blown down.  Hamliton, Urbana, Mt. Vernon, Canton, College Corner, Oxford, and other places in Ohio, were visited, houses unroofed, church steeples demolished, and other damage done.  At Cairo, Illinois, a little girl named Alice Morris was blown from the building in which she lived and killed.  Paducah, Kentucky also suffered.

The Indianapolis News  Indianapolis, Indiana November 15, 1879, Page 1.

Last Friday morning Paoli was visited by a terrible storm. Some hours before the climax was reached the heavens portended a deluge, and the wind blew sharply from the west and south-west. At 9 o'clock the skies darkened, perceptibly, and a roaring noise was heard, which all conceded resembled the heart-chilling groans of the cyclone. The immense whirl-wind struck the town with terrific force, and the new building of Messrs. Andrew & Wells, in course of erection, was reduced to a mass of ruin. Mr. John A. Mickey's new building, also in course of erection, was leveled to the ground. Many small buidlings were overturned and larger ones partially unroofed.

So far as we have heard, Mr. Mickey, the architect, is damaged to a greater extent than any other person in this community by this singular storm. He was the contractor on the Andrew & Wells Buildings, and estimates his loss on that structure and his own residence at about $400.

The workmen on the Andew & Wells building, six in number, barely made their escape. At Mickey's residence, two men engaged in digging a cistern, made a narrow escape from the falling timbers.

In the country, hay stracks, straw stacks, fences were leveled with the ground, and the loss in that way will amount to a considerable sum.

The citizens of Paoli, which a generosity is proverbial, raised a handsome purse for the benefit of Mr. Mickey, who was illy able to stand such a loss. The work on the new buildings will be at once resumed, and it is hoped that cyclones will give this places a wide berth in the future. -Paoli News

The Jasper Weekly Courier Jasper, Indiana November 28, 1879 Page 1

On the morning of November 14, 1879, a tornado struck Terre Haute & moved northeast, while the same storm system spawned a tornado at Paoli. The twister moved northeast with rainfall occurring after the passage of the tornado. Cairo, Illinois & Huron County, Ohio were also hit by tornadoes, which occurred at 1 p.m. & 11 a.m., respectively.

1 Transcribed by Me

Reports from Indiana and Ohio show that at Paoli and Princeton, Ind., the wind amounted to a tornado, unroofing houses and blowing down loss of life.

Los Angeles Herald Los Angeles California November 18, 1879

Two weeks days later, on November 28, 1879, tornadoes struck Seymour & Louisville, Kentucky. The Seymour tornado struck in the afternoon & tracked northeastward with width of 600'. 1

Professional Papers of the Signal Service, Volume 1 by United States Army Signal Corps Character of Six Hundred Tornadoes Pages 14-15

1 Transcribed by Me

Greensburg, Ind., 28th, a.m., a heavy wind and rain-storm visited this place, blowing off roofs and tearing up trees. Madison, Ind., 28th, about 5 a.m., a heavy wind and rain-storm, accompanied with severe thunder and lightning passed over the city, causing considerable damage. Seymour, Ind., 28th, about noon a dark and angry looking cloud rose rose in the west causing such intense darkness that it became necssary to light lamps. As it came up it rolled over and over making one revolution after another in quick succession. As it approached the town it rose and fell, sometimes coming below the tree-tops, shaving off every limb it came in contact with as if it had been done with an axe. When above the trees the wind resembled that of a mightly cataract. Its path was not over 200 yards wide and direction from southwest to northeast.

Monthly Weather Review November 1879 General Weather Service of the United States Page 11

A violent tornado visited Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Illinois yesterday, doing great damage.

Sacramento Daily Union Sacramento, California November 15, 1879

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