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Swedish Lutheran Church, Fergus Falls, Minnesota after the Tornado Jun 1919, click to enlarge, View more photos» Grand Hotel, Fergus Falls, Minnesota Tornado, Jun 1919,
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Fergus Falls, Minnesota


June 22, 1919


Fergus Falls, Minn., June 23
—Forty-eight persons are known to have been killed and 150 injured in a tornado which struck Fergus Falls late yesterday. The list compiled today by the state officers, does not include casualties from the surrounding country, struck by the twister. The most deaths occurred in the Grand (correct) hotel which was crushed by the wind. A Great Northern passenger train was blown from the tracks near Fergus Falls: 250 passengers escaped without serious injuries.

Four churches, the jail and court house, buildings of a small college and a number of dwellings were wrecked. Property damage was estimated at between $1,000,000 and $2,000,000.

ST. PAUL, Minn., June 23Adjutant General Rhinow, who reached Fergus Falls today on a relief train, reporte [sic] that there are about 50 dead in that city, following the tornado which wrecked two blocks of the business district, including the grand central hotel last night.

Rhinow said thirty-six bodies had been recovered and that at least fourteen others were believed dead. His report covered only the Fergus Falls. Communication in the outlying sections was cut off almost entirely.

Most of the dead, Rhinow said, were taken from the wreckage of the grand central hotel. He said there were many injured, now well cared for in hospitals.

Rhinow’s first call was for linemen and electricians.

Harold Darker, publisher, of Elbow Lake, who left Fergus Falls early today, said not over sixty were killed but that 160 were injured.

The Evening State Journal and Lincoln Daily News, Lincoln, NE 23 Jun 1919


Fifty Reported Dead
(By Associated Press)

EVANSVILLE, Minn., June 23
—Forty-seven are known to be dead, 106 are injured and in emergency hospitals, and property valued at $6,000,000 is destroyed as a result of the tornado which swept through Fergus Falls late yesterday afternoon. Relief work is under way with plenty of doctors and nurses on hand. There is a possibility that the death list may reach sixty when the ruins of the Grand hotel have been thoroughly searched, as it is known many bodies are still beneath the pile.

The greatest loss of life occurred at the Grand hotel, a three story building. Thirty-five persons are believed to have been killed when the hotel was smashed by the twister. More than fifty guests were in the building.

Special relief trains from St. Paul and Minneapolis arrived at Fergus Falls this morning.

The Otter Tail county court house, county jail and sheriff’s residence were destroyed. At One Mile lake, near Fergus Falls, four children of John Kreidler were blown into the lake and drowned.

Information obtained from the passengers on the Oriental Limited said the rear coaches of the train, which numbered eleven cars, were lifted into the air by the tornado. Only the high banks of the out through which the train was passing saved the coaches from toppling over when the rear coaches slid into the hole gouged in the road-bed by the blast as it swept the baggage car out from the train. The baggage car probably saved the others from going into the Pelican river, which was only 200 feet ahead of the train when the storm came. Twisted across the rails, the baggage car effectually halted the rear coaches, which then toppled over against the bang, remaining almost upright.

Fort Wayne News, Fort Wayne, IN 22 Jun 1919






Relief Train From St. Cloud Reaches Devastated Country—Heavy Rain Follows in Wake of Violent Wind.

St. Paul, Minn., June 23
—More than one hundred persons were reported killed and many injured in a storm which struck eFrgus [sic] Falls, Minn. Late yesterday. eFrgus [sic] Falls was cut off from communication today. Nearby towns were slightly damaged. Meager reports from the vicinity of Fergus Falls, said the death toll will go much higher.

Probably the heaviest casualties were at the Grand Central hotel where 40 or more were said ti [sic] have been killed yhen [sic] the structure colapsed [sic].

Hospitals were packed with injured, and many of these will die, reports said.

The Great Northern “Oriental Limited” was brushed from its track by the heavy wind acompanying [sic] the storm. All but two cars—the diner and the sleeper—were overturned. “No one badly injured reported Great Northern officials.

A relief train from St. Cloud, Minn., reached Fergus Falls district early today, reports said.

Governor on Way to Scene

Governor J. A. A. Burnquist, Adjutant General Rhinow and sanitary trops [sic] were expected to reach the city later.

The storm swept northeast from Fergus Falls and the tail crumpled buildings and crashed telephone lines to the ground os [sic] far as Brainerd, eight-nine miles away.

Heavy rain drenched al [sic] of Minnesota and Eastern North Dakota during the night. Bridges were washed out in many places.

Wendell, Minn., twenty-five miles from Fergus Falls, said reports there hod [sic] it two score buried in the debris of the Grand Central hotel. A. Larsen, real estate man, who drove a motorcycle thru [sic] the rain to ask aid, said he helped take ten bodies from the wreckage.

Great Northern officials could not confirm reports that the railroad depot was wrecked.

Two persons were killed when the storm wrecked the Northern Pacific depot at Fergus Falls. Debris there blocked further traffic.

Superintendent of transportation P. H. McCauley said he received a report that 200 were killed. He said it was possible there were many casualties thru [sic] the country northwest of the town not yet reported.

A wrecking crew sent to Fergus Falls said the Northern Pacific railroad tracks will be cleared in six hours.

The Evening State Journal and Lincoln Daily News, Lincoln, NE 23 Jun 1919


Victims of Twister at Fergus Falls

(By Associated Press)

Fergus Falls, Minn.,--At noon today it was announced that the bodies of forty-three persons had been removed from the wreckage and identified. Six additional bodies of men had been removed, but not identified.

The names of sixty-six of the injured had also been tabulated.

The known dead are:

MRS. W. FOSSEN, Fergus Falls. WILLIAM JONES, Minneapolis. M. BRADY, trainman, Fergus Falls. OLSON, trainman, Fergus Falls. H.E. LARSON, Fergus Falls, W. A. FRAZIER, Fergus Falls. FLORENCE HASKINE, Foxholm. MARION JOHNSON, Balmoral. VIOLA NELSON, Fergus Falls. F. M. JOHNSON, wife and son, Fergus Falls. M. INGBLAD, Fergus Falls. W. A. DOUGHTERY, Fergus Falls. F. M. WARD, Fergus Falls. MRS. J. S. NELSON, Fergus Falls. M. JOHNSON, Fergus Falls. STRADER (negro) address unknown. HERMAN STEIN, Fergus Falls. T. TOMPAVE, Fergus Falls. JOE BAREAU, address unknown. MR AND MRS. AUGUST PALM and daughter, Fergus Falls. L. E. LARSON, Fergus Falls. W. W. BRADEN, Fergus Falls.  NETTIE THOMPSON, Fergus Falls. M. HAULBERG, Fergus Falls. ADA NELSON, Fergus Falls. W. FOSSEN, Fergus Falls. EMMA JOHNSON, Fergus Falls. E. T. THOMPSON, Fergus Falls. SISSENIRE SLETTEDE, Fergus Falls. ALMA HAUGBERG, Fergus Falls. A. BRANDENBERG, Fergus Falls. GEORGE WOODHOUSE, Fergus Falls, Four KREITZER children, Fergus Falls. Six unidentified men.

Evansville, Minn.,--The following list of victims was sent here from Fergus Falls:


The address of the victims were not listed.


MR. AND MRS. J. M. JOHNSON and son, GEORGE WOODHOUSE, proprietor of Grand hotel, ALONZO BRANDENBURG, president of First State bank (believed to be in ruins of Grand hotel).

An unidentified girl was found in Lake Alice. Night Clerk Strand of the Grand hotel, was rescued from the debris. Both legs were broken.

State soldiers and volunteers began clearing the debris this morning. Bridges over the Red river were destroyed.

Before the death list was compiled this forenoon, the work of clearing the debris was well under way. The first masses of wreckage removed did not disclose the bodies.

It was not necessary to establish military law or to enforce drastic quarantine regulations. Adjutant General Rhinow declared he had received unusual assistance from city officials and other volunteer workers.

Alfred Jacques of St. Pauls, [sic] United States district attorney, was in the Grand hotel a short time before the storm struck, but he and his assistant escaped injury. His personal effects and papers were in his room when the building collapsed.

Carpenters, electricians and waterworks employes [sic] were detailed to reconstruction work on municipal properties.

It is expected that the electric light plant will be in operation tonight.

The Daily Northwestern, Oshkosh, WI 23 Jun 1919



Two Minneapolis traveling salesmen were killed when the Northern Pacific freight and passenger station collapsed. The victims were Harry E. Olson and W. W. Braden. The state insane asylum at Fergus Falls escaped serious damage. The business district was hit hard by the storm.

The Ottertail county courthouse, county jail and sheriff’s residence were destroyed. At One Mile lake, near Fergus Falls, four children of John Kreitzer a farmer were blown into the lake and drowned.

The Daily Northwestern, Oshkosh, WI 23 Jun 1919



The burial of the city’s dead commenced this morning, the first funeral being that of Sissenine June Slettede, the four year old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James Slettede. She was killed in the ruins of the family home.

Another death occurred this morning when Baby Fennock, colored, died of injuries at the Wright hospital. Father and mother of the child are injured and are in the same hospital where the child died.

.....With the death this morning of A. L. Zulauf, the number of dead in the tornado that struck Fergus Falls Sunday was today increased to fifty identified and one unidentified with three persons still unaccounted for. The missing are Mrs. Emil Hauge and child, and A. E. Brandenberg, president of the First State bank.

The Daily Northwestern, Oshkosh, WI 24 Jun 1919

Articles transcribed by Patty.  Thank you, Patty!


June 22, 1919, (4:45PM) 59 lives were lost when the second deadliest killer tornado in Minnesota history roared through Fergus Falls.

Minnesota Tornado History and Statistics


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