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Gradyville, Kentucky

Storm & Flood

June 1907

Louisville, Ky. - Twenty-one dead, the village devastated, and several thousand acres of growing crops ruined is the sum total of the havoc wrought by a cloudburst that descended on Gradyville, Ky., and vicinity Friday night.

All the dead are residents of Gradyville, and, although reports are meager, it is believed no further fatalities will be reported from the surrounding country.

The bodies of 10 of the victims have been recovered. The names of the known dead are:
MRS. L. C. NELL, wife of State Senator Nell, and her four children.
and one child.
her daughter and granddaughter.
18 years old.
and her six children.
and one child.

The disaster was due to the erratic behavior of Big creek, ordinarily a small stream, but which was already swollen by recent rains. When the cloudburst precipitated three inches of rain in an hour on Gradyville and vicinity the creek leaped from its bed and took a new course with the impetuosity of a tidal wave.

Asleep When Disaster Comes.

The inhabitants of the town had no warning. Nearly all were abed when the foaming waters struck the place, carrying away six residences, a mill, and a number of smaller houses. Nearly all the victims were drowned, but four were crushed by the collapse of their dwellings when the torrent struck them.

State Senator Nell, who is a physician, owes his escape from the fate that overtook the rest of his family to the fact that he was several miles away in the hills visiting a patient when the storm broke. He was at first reported to be among the dead.

Gradyville is a village of 175 inhabitants in Adair county, six miles from Columbia, and 18 miles from the nearest railroad station.

Columbia was telephoned for assistance and a large number of citizens left that place at once, but owing to the condition of the roads it will require some time to make the trip. Every stream in the vicinity is out of its bounds. The cloudburst did serious damage aside from the loss of life, all bridges in this vicinity being washed away and thousands of acres of corn ruined.

Gazette, Stevens Point, WI 12 Jun 1907

Transcribed by Stu Beitler  Thank you, Stu!



LOUISVILLE, Ky., June 8.-- Twenty-one persons are dead and the village of Gradyville in the southern part of the state is almost destroyed as the result of a cloudburst, which sent a volume of water down upon the place shortly after midnight.

The bodies of the following have been recovered:

Dr. L. C. NELL















The storm began about 10 o'clock last night and increased in intensity until 12.30, when its height was reached.  The cloudburst turned Big creek into a torrent, which poured a great volume of water down upon Gradyville.

Nearly every house in the place was washed away and those who met death were drowned or crushed to death in their houses as they were torn from their foundations.

Gradyville has a population of about 150 and is eighteen miles from a railroad.

The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne, IN 9 Jun 1907


Flood Stricken Town Still Dazed By Horror

Gradyville, Ky., June 10.
Still dazed by the disaster of last Friday night, the people of this little village of 300 seemed unable even today to fully realize the enormity of the damage done by the waters of Big creek, when, in a tremendous wam [sic], they swept down upon the town.

One more name was added Sunday to the names of the known dead, that of the infant of Mrs. Ada WILLIAMS. This makes the total of dead twenty-two. The missing bodies are those of Mrs. NELL, wife of Dr. L.C. NELL, member of the state senate; one of the NELL children and one of the WILLIAMS infants.

Bowed by grief, tired of their long walks through the soggy ground alongside the now receding Big creek, a sturdy band of searchers worked all through a dreary Sabbath day in the effort to discover the missing bodies.

A fund of $250 has been raised by the people of the town to pay men to prosecute the work when those volunteers are compelled by fatigue to give up the task. Joining in the hunt Sunday were many of the crowd of 4,000 who came here from surrounding places to see the terrible work of the flood.

Four miles below here, still intact for the most part, lies the house of Dr. NELL, one of the first cottages in the town to float away. On the small island are the ruins of DIDDLEs rolling mill, and several cottages, the residents of all, save one, having escaped death. From this one, which escaped with slight damage when the deluge came, Mrs. CARRIE WILMORE, her daughter Mrs. ADA WILLIAMS, and her granddaughter, MARY BEAUCHAMP, tried to make their escape, but failed.

Some distance below town, partly wrecked, lies the home of HARTFIELD MOSS, in which seven met their death. The banks of Big creek were washed away, and the total damage is estimated at something like $75,000 to $100,000.

Funeral of Storm Victims.

Nashville, Ill., June 10.
New Minden, seven miles north, which was ravaged by a cyclone Saturday, was in mourning Sunday. The residents were just recovering from the effects of the awful night through which they had passed.

At the home of ERNST WEIHE, father of HENRY WEIHE, who, with his entire family, was killed, the funeral services were conducted by Rev. E. KOESTERING of the German Lutheran church. Neighbors and friends from miles away gathered at the home.

On the way to the Lutheran cemetery the route led through the path of the tornado and on every hand was seen the effect of the storm.

At the home of GOTTLIEB FRIEDRICHSMEYER, in the path of the storm, rescuers found the aged man vainly searching for $600 that had disappeared with the storm. He had secreted the money in a bureau, and it was carried to the four winds. The house was leveled. This, with the money, represented all the worldly possession of this man.

Fields of wheat were razed as smoothly as if cut down by a mower, and not a sign of the projecting stalk was visible. It seemed as if they cyclone hugged the ground the greater portion of the time.

Fear and uncertainty has seized many of the residents. To be twice made the center of such a storm is beyond their comprehension. Since the storm there has been a rumor that some will seek a more propitious location.

The Daily Review, Decatur, IL 10 Jun 1907

Transcribed by Rosemarie  Thank you, Rosemarie!


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