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Harvest Journal: Memoir of a Minnesota Farmer, Part II: 1904-1938

In Harvest Journal, Part II (1904-1937), we rejoin Fred, Rose, their children, and grandchildren. Even with the advent of electricity, automobiles, and telephones, life on a farm is difficult and an extended family is essential to survive. In addition to area events, Fred's journals document the turmoil leading up to World War I, the economic hardships of the Depression, and the shock of the Lindbergh kidnapping. In his later years, Fred struggles to deal with his own frailty and mortality.


The History Channel

Tornadoes DVD

With winds that can reach velocities of over 300 miles per hour and speeds along the ground exceeding 60 miles per hour, TORNADOES are the most violent and chaotic storms on earth. Every year, some 800 tornadoes touch down in the United States alone, killing an average of 80 people (total) and causing millions of dollars in damage.



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St. Cloud & Sauk Rapids, Minnesota Tornado

April 14, 1886



St. Cloud and Sauk Rapids Visited by a Whirl Wind – The Loss of life Appalling – Great Confusion and Excitement Render Particulars Meagre [sic] – Help Sent From St. Paul.

ST. PAUL, Minn., April 15.
-- St. Cloud and Sauk Rapids were swept by a terrible destructive cyclone about 5:30 yesterday afternoon. The first knowledge of the disaster was contained in the following telegram sent to Mayor AMES, of Minneapolis from St. Cloud, asking for help:
“To Mayor AMES Minneapolis: A destructive cyclone passed over St. Cloud and Sauk Rapids late this afternoon. There has been terrible destruction here. Please send up all the assistance you can immediately by special train. Send physicians and surgeons.”

Telegrams to the following effect were received from Sauk Rapids:
“To Mayor AMES, Minneapolis: Can you send a special train with physicians to this city? A cyclone passed over the city this afternoon. A great many are believed to have been killed, but the number is not yet known.”

Immediately, upon the recept [sic] of these messages, preparations were made to respond to the call for help. A train for St. Cloud left at 6 o'clock.

The cyclone began about 3 o'clock in the basin of the Masonic cemetery, forming a whirlwind about 1,000 feet in diameter. It took almost every tree in the circle from the ground or twisted it off at the trunk. Great stones were tore up and carried along with the wind. Moving slowly along in a southeasterly direction it wrecked the Catholic chapel and several houses in its course across the prairie adjoining the town. It completely demolished JOHN SCHWARTZ'S large brick house and scattered fifty or more smaller frame houses like so many feathers. In most cases nothing was left to mark the site of dwellings but cellars. The prairies were strewn with timbers, furniture and clothing. The freight depot of the Manitoba road was a total wreck. Numerous cars loaded with freight were blown half a mile and rails wrenched from the track. It passed the limits of the town just west of Lieut. Gov. GILMAN'S residence, killing several horses. It crossed the Mississippi at the Sauk Rapids wagon bridge which it demolished. It here widened to six hundred feet, and levelled [sic] STANTON'S grist mill. From there it swept through the center of the town, taking the best of the business part of it, including the court house, hotel, public school and every important business building in the town except WOOD'S store. The village is virtually wiped out, four-fifths of the buildings being leveled. The fatalities in St. Cloud, though great, are not equal in number to those in Sauk Rapids. In every house most all of the inmates were more or less hurt.

The dead at St. Cloud, so far as known, area as rollows [sic]:
and little girl and a son 4 years old.
a widow.
A son 4 years old, of P. WALDORFF.
a railroad man.
An unknown railroad man.
Two young children of MR. CENS.
A baby of AUG. KNOLL.

The dead at Sauk Rapids are:
J. BERG, a merchant, and two children.
county auditor.
county treasurer.
Two children of C. G. WOOD, merchant.
Child of P. CARPENTER, clerk of the court.
judge of the probate court.
president of the German National bank.

A brief dispatch has just been received saying that between 40 and 50 bodies have been recovered from the ruins at St. Cloud and the search is not completed. The town presented a scene of utmost desolation as seen by the light of flickering lanterns and the groans of the wounded and lamentations of those who have lost relatives are heart rending in the extreme.

Among the injured is ex-Senator E. G. HULBERT, formerly of Binghamton, N. Y., but at present Northwestern agent of the New York Mutual Life Insurance company. He is not expected to live.

ST. PAUL, Minn., April 15. -- From Sauk Rapids, the storm struck Rice's Station, Benton countg [sic], demolishing the village and killing or injuring nearly the entire people. The wires are down and no definite information is obtainable from that point.

ST. PAUL, Minn., April 15. -- The reports of the cyclone at St. Cloud, Sauk Rapids, Rice Station and other points in that vicinity last night were not exaggerated. At 3 o'clock this morning in the places named there were 49 persons dead and very nearly 200 injured, with many still missing, whose bodies probably will be recovered by night. Just enough houses are left in Sauk Rapids to form a fringe around the village limits. The debris is not piled in heaps, but is scattered far and wide. The sign at Sauk Rapids on the Manitoba depot and a basketful of books were found in Rice Station, 15 miles distant. This shows the terrible power of the storm. No reports have yet been received from outlying districts, where it is believed great destruction of property and loss of life has been wrought. The storm extended from Jamestown, Dakota, through Minnesota and into Wisconsin, though its most disastrous effects are to be found in the three places first named.

ST. PAUL, Minn., April 15. -- The city council this morning voted $5,000 in cash to aid the cyclone sufferers and Gov. HUBBARD dispatched a carload of provisions to Sauk Rapids. The car was accompanied by a committee of the Jobbers Union who will offer all the assistance in their power.

DR. DENSLOW who with others went last evening by special train for St. Cloud returned this morning and was at once called upon by a reporter. Upon reaching St. Cloud, he said, the physicians from St. Paul and Minneapolis divided, part going to Sauk Rapids. DR. DENSLOW was on the force sent to the St. Benedictine Sisters Hospital and they were kept busy until 4 o'clock this morning. The reports are in no way exaggerated. The storm was fully as disastrous as reported and may in the end prove worse. Fully twenty-five injured were brought to this hospital alone and he does not know how many more were cared for in private houses. Two of those brought to the Hospital will probably die.

One is a woman who has broken her collar bone, both bones of the left forearm and both bones of the left leg fractured, and the pelvis broken, an accident seldom chronicled in the annals of surgery. The head and face are bruised beyond recognition, yet, strange to say, the woman is conscious and talked freely saying her hip hurt some, but otherwise she felt no pain. The other probably fatal case is a young man 20 years old. Both legs were so badly crushed they had to be amputated midway between the knee and thigh. One man, lying in the hospital badly injured, said three of his children were dead.

DRS. DENSLOW and RITCHIE, shortly after midnight, went across to Sauk Rapids to render what assistance they could there. Twenty three dead bodies had then been found and doctors from Minneapolis were busy caring for the injured.

BIG LAKE, Minn., April 13(?), -- DRS. HIGBEE and DELLIVER of Minneapolis have just arrived. The latter told an Associated Press reporter that new bodies were being recovered hourly from the debris and being brought in from the country. Twelve injured people were brought in. Some of these will die. Druggist SCHAUBERT'S remains had just been brought in. Four have died of wounds since this morning. At a church cast of RICE'S thirteen of a wedding party were killed including the officiating minister.

At Sauk Rapids 31 are already dead. The list will be swelled to 40. DR. AMES of Minneapolis, on duty at St. Cloud, told DR. DELIVER at least 30 deaths can but result there. Capt. FARLEY, an old settler of Sauk Rapids weighing 280 pounds was blown 400 feet in the air.

The Daily Northwestern Oshkosh, Wisconsin 1886-04-15

Submitted & transcribed by Stu Beitler  Thank you, Stu!


On April 14, 1886 (4PM) the deadliest tornado in Minnesota history razed parts of St. Cloud and Sauk Rapids, leaving 72 dead and 213 injured. 11 members of a wedding party were killed including the bride and groom.

Minnesota Tornado History and Statistics


View photos of the tornado at Sauk Rapids from the Minnesota Historical Society


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