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Princeton, Owensville & Griffin, Indiana Tornado

March 18, 1925

INDIANA DIGS OUT ITS DEAD

Upwards of 300 Persons Reported to Have Been Killed.

Evansville, Ind., March 19.
– Three Indiana towns, Princeton, Owensville and Griffin, today were engaged in the work of digging their dead and injured from the wreckage of homes, stores and office buildings by the tornado.

Upwards of 200 persons were reported killed and hundreds injured.

At Princeton 20 were reported killed and 60 injured.

At Griffin, six were reported dead and many injured, while at Owensville the casualties will run nearly as high.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, Davenport, IA 19 Mar 1925

       

List of Dead

Following is a list of those killed in the tornado who have been identified:

Elizabeth, Ind.

GEORGE JOHNS, MRS. JOHNS, MRS. JOHNS’ mother.

Princeton, Ind.

VIOLA NUTHMAN 10; MRS. FRANK METZGER, 42; MARIETHA BROKAW, 10; ROBERT BRAMEMR, 70; ORA PERRY, 40; RILEY REEVES, 35; AUDREY RAUKIN, 35, of East St. Louis, Ill.; MRS. CLYDE OSBORNE, 32; MRS. THOMAS NASH, 50; MISS NELLIE COOPER, 17; MISS HAZEL MCGARAB, 16; EDNA WILKINSON, 12; GEORGE WILkINSON, 10, brother of Edna; JAMES WALLACE; JAMES WHITTEN, 4; MRS. ARCHIE MCCLURKIN; HARRIET MCCLURKIN; MRS. MARY MILLER, mother of Mrs. McClurkin; ADA MCCLURKIN, 4; SAM KEY and his two children.

Griffin, Ind.

CHARLES MAJORS; MRS. CHARLES ELSTERMAN; WADE STRATTON, 14; CLARISSA YOUNG, 14; VERA YOUNG, 9, sister of Clarissa.

Owensville, Ind.

WILLIAM KING, WALTER KING, MRS. WALTER KING, LUCY KING, HARVEY JOURDAN, MRS. HARVEY JOURDAN, and small daughter, LEMUEL WATTERS and small son, RICHARD WATTERS, three JONES sisters, MR. and MRS. ELVIS WILLIAMS.

At Elizabeth, Ind.

MRS. MATTIE HOKE, MRS. CHARLES RHODES, VIVIAN HOKE.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, Davenport, IA 19 Mar 1925

       

PRINCETON AND GRIFFIN, IND., ARE LAID LOW

Only 50 Persons Out of 800 at Griffin Are Known to Have Survived

At Princeton Railroad Shops Costing $1,000,000 Completely Destroyed


(By United Press)

Evansville, Ind., March 19. – The unofficial count of known dead in the Indiana tornado at 2 p.m. stood: At Griffin, 50; Princeton, 21; Owensville, 19; Stewartsville, 2.

Evansville, Ind., March 19 – Casualties in the cyclone which laid southwestern Indiana prostrate late Wednesday reported at nine a.m. today were:

Twenty known dead at Princeton, Ind., possibly twenty-five or thirty bodies still in wreckage and one hundred persons injured.

Twenty-five known dead at Griffin. Scores of others believed killed or burned to death in fire that swept wreckage of houses and business buildings.

From five to twenty reported dead and thirty injured in Owensville. The town is completely isolated and only meager reports as to the extent of the damage are obtainable.

Five reported killed at Poseyville with 20 to 30 injured.

Centers at Griffin

The greatest toll of life was at Griffin, 30 miles northwest of here. Only about fifty persons out of a population of 800 were accounted for this morning.

Three hundred homes were destroyed and fire swept the ruins with indescribable scenes of horror.

Scores of injured were believed to have been burned to death, when trapped in the debris of their homes.

The odor of burning flesh was noticeable for miles around as volunteer fire fighters struggled frantically to check the flames.

The Heinz pickle factory at Princeton was totally destroyed and from 20 to 25 bodies were found in the ruins.

Of the eighty employes, only 50 have been accounted for.

Rail Shops Wrecked

The Southern railroad shops at Princeton were demolished with a loss of $1,000,000. Most of the workers had gone home for the day when the storm struck and only two were reported killed in the shops.

The total property loss at Princeton was estimated at $2,000,000.

Princeton was under martial law proclaimed by the captain of a national guard company there.

Two Counties Suffer

All the northern part of Posey and the south central part of Gibson counties were struck by the storm, which picked up dwellings and buildings bodily and twisted them into kindling wood.

Eighty city blocks at Princeton were knocked flat. Spectators described the tornado as a greenish looking cloud that swept in from the west.

As the tornado struck, the crash of buildings and noise of the wind caused a terrific din and hundreds ran in terror to the streets.

The town of Princeton was in a turmoil today. Thousands of persons were flocking to the city, some to hunt for relatives and others to offer help in the rescue work.

Stevens Point Daily Journal, Stevens Point, WI 19 Mar 1925

       

And in Griffin, tho not a house is left standing, one aged man announced he would return and rebuild, “I don’t want to die anywhere else, “ he said.

Lima News, Lima OH 21 Mar 1925

       

INDIANA HARD HIT

EVANSVILLE, Ind.
– (By United Press) – The toll of dead in southwestern Indiana from the tornado which spent its fury at Princeton, Ind., after mowing a path of death across southern Illinois late yesterday was estimated today at from 150 to 200.

Hundreds were injured and millions of property damage was done by the twister.

One hundred persons were reported killed and one hundred injured in Griffin, Ind. This comprises two-thirds of the population.

Six were reported dead and 30 injured at Owensville, Ind., while five were killed and 30 injured at Poseyville.

Twenty are dead and one hundred injured at Princeton, Ind., according to latest reports from there.

The utmost confusion existed thruout the devastated area and communication lines were drawn. The casualty list may be greatly increased when a complete search is made of wreckage in which the stricken towns and reports come in from rural districts which were hard hit.

Fire broke out at Griffin immediately after the cyclone and eight persons were reported to have lost their lives in the flames. The town was practically without water supply and it was feared it would be destroyed.

Only a few buildings were left standing.

Lima News, Lima, OH 19 Mar 1925

       

BODIES RECOVERED

EVANSVILLE, Ind.
– (By United Press) – An overnight check of the dead in southwestern Indiana from Wednesday’s tornado placed the total at 92, with the possibility of toll reaching bigger figures when the check is completed.

Fifty bodies have been recovered for Griffith and more are believed in the fire-blackened ruins.

The death list at Princeton stood at 21, while 19 were dead in Owensville and the adjoining territory and two were dead at Stewartsville.

Approximately 500 injured persons had been given treatment by physicians or taken to hospitals.

With national guardsmen and Red Cross workers in Chicago and Princeton, the situation was well in hand. Troops patrolled the streets thruout the night to prevent looting and disorders.

Medical supplies, foodstuffs and clothing poured in from adjacent towns which escaped the tornado’s path.

Homeless were sheltered in tents pitched by the national guardsmen or in public buildings and houses thrown open to refugees.

A heap of burned ruins mark the spot where Griffin a prosperous county town of 400, had stood.

Most of the survivors were frantically hunting thru morgues and hospitals in Evansville for a trace of relatives who were lost in the excitement after the tornado.

A repetition of the looting that was reported Wednesday night at Griffin, was prevented last night by doubling the troops there.

In isolated rural sections farmers and their families huddled around the ruins of their homes trying to salvage some of their personal belongings or apparently too dazed to leave the spot.

The loss in destruction of the Southern railroad shops at Princeton was placed at $1,000,000. The shops furnished employment to 400 or 500 men, and scores of workers, in addition to having their homes swept away, were temporarily deprived of a means of earning a living.

Thousands of sight-seers who crowded to the stricken area furnished one of the biggest problems for authorities.

Militiamen were finally compelled to drive the automobiles of sightseers out of towns to permit the passage of ambulances and supply trucks without hindrance.

Lima News, Lima, OH 19 Mar 1925

       

DEATH TOLL GROWS

GRIFFIN, Ind.
– (By Associated Press) – Trying to be cheerful in the face of climbing death total, survivors of the tornado which struck Griffin turned today toward plans for rebuilding.

The body of SYNDEY HYATT, 35 was found under piles of bricks between the restaurant and general store. Three others, F. R. BIGGERSTAFF, 31, NINA HOUSEK, 34, and RUBY CLEVELAND, 14, succumbed to injuries in Evansville hospitals. This swelled the death to 58.

Money is needed badly, according to G.N. Garrett, former postmaster and owner of one of the grain elevators which was reduced to splinters, if the town is to resume existence. He estimated the property loss as nearly $500,000. Insurance would not aggregate more than $40,000 he said. Mr. Garrett has sidetracked thoughts of his own losses and today was endeavoring to bring about immediate building of stores, a temporary post office, a barber shop and other necessary places.

Children who attended the consolidated schools here will be placed in schools in nearby towns. Residents will be asked to house them.

State health officers arrived during the day, and gave drinking water their first attention. Filter bags were immediately put into use and samples of the drinking water were taken for analysis.

If the Wabash river does not leave its banks tomorrow, the stricken town will be free from flood worry. The river has been at the danger mark for several days.

Lima News, Lima, OH 22 Mar 1925

       

The death toll in Indiana where Griffin and Owensville were razed and parts of Princeton destroyed, was in creased to 112 today. Griffin, in which building operations have started, is not suffering from the rising waters of the Wabash. Fears were expressed however for families in the rural districts, altho a two days supply of food was distributed there Sunday.

Lima News, Lima, OH 24 Mar 1925

       

Storm Stricken Town Marooned by Flood

EVANSVILLE, Ind. March 22
– A staff correspondent of Evansville Courier in a dispatch to his paper late today reported that Griffin Ind. Where more than 50 persons perished in the tornado of last Wednesday, was cut off from all relief avenues except the single railroad when flood waters from the Wabash river inundated roads leading to the town.

A high bridge of the Black river, according to the dispatch, is expected to go out at any time. Governor Ed Jackson who made an inspection of Griffin which was completely demolished, was forced to drive through nearly a foot of water in leaving the town. The corresponded is of the opinion that if the flood waters continue to rise, railroad communication will also be cut off.

The Times Recorder, Zanesville, OH 23 Mar 1925

Articles transcribed by Loraine Jordan.  Thank you, Loraine!

       

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