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St. Louis, Missouri Tornado

May 28, 1896


Graphic Stories of the Awful Tornado--Path of the Cloud Demon


Loss of Life Over Five Hundred--Thousands Injured--Fire and Toppling Buildings Add to the Terror and Fright--Disasters on the River--Eads Bridge Partly Wrecked--Death at Liggett & Myers' Factory--Night and Day Accounts of the Cyclone Visitation.


St. Louis, May 28.--Death and destruction reign supreme in St. Louis and vicinity at 1 o'clock this morning as the result of the most terrible storm that ever visited this region of the country. So widespread is the destruction in both St. Louis and East St. Louis that it is impossible to estimate the amount of damage and the loss of life. Buildings of every description are in ruins and as a result hundreds of people are reported dead and injured. But until daylight comes and order is restored it will be impossible to make a definite estimate.

Reports are in circulation that seven steamers lying at the wharf boats on this and the East St. Louis side of the river have been sunk with all on board.

The city is nearly in darkness as the electric lights and trolley wires are down. With one or two exceptions all the street car lines in the city are at a standstill and thousands of people were compelled to stay on down town or walk home.

The storm broke at 3 o'clock in the afternoon after a most oppressively hot day and rain began to fall. It soon developed into a fierce thunder storm with winds from the east. A little later the wind had gained a velocity of eighty miles an hour, driving the rain before it and tearing loose signs, cornices, chimneys, and everything in its way. Many buildings of every description were demolished and set on fire by lightning and downed wires.

The fire department responded to fourteen alarms. The streets were full of people going home from work and a panic ensued as soon as the storm broke. Men were picked up and hurled against buildings, horses and carriages sent flying here and there, and falling wires full of deadly fluid added to the horror of the scene.

Suddenly the wind veered around to the west and completed the destruction. It is asserted by some of those who have traversed the down town part of the city, that there are but few buildings in St. Louis that have not suffered in some way from the storm.

The wagon way of the Eads bridge on the East St. Louis side is a crumbling mass of mortar and stone, and parts of the tower and pier No. 1 are also torn away. The roof of the Republican convention hall was blown off and twenty-foot sections of the western wall of the city yard are clear down, exposing the interior. It was during the exercise hours and the prisoners who were exercising in the building were panic stricken. They were too frightened to try to escape. Jailer Wagner was on the scene in a moment and with the aid of a number of detectives and policemen, the prisoners were placed in their cells.

Convention hall and the Four Courts were in the past of the cloud as it passed from the city hospital toward the river. Convention hall lost a part of the roof at the eastern end, was punctured in several places by flying timbers, and sustained some derangement of the interior. Ten days work and the expenditure of $5,000 will make the hall good again. A section of the brick wall of the jail went down, and the prisoners were panic-stricken.

In the district between Sixth street and the river and northward from Chouteau Avenue the tornado tore a diagonal path. The district comprises business houses, many of them of the older type. Every building within the path sustained damage. Smoke-stacks and chimneys were toppled over. Walls were leveled. Roofs were lifted.
Thousands of windows were smashed. Miles of telegraph and telephone wires were left in a network on the ground. Through this district the streets were impassable. They are covered in places with debris ten feet deep.

Along the Levee front the hawsers snapped and boats were sent adrift; some to go down, others to go ashore on the eastern bank. The loss of life which might have taken place at this point was averted by the hour at which the tornado came. A little later the excursion steamers would have been going out. None of them had left the wharf. One up-river passenger boat had gone an hour before, and, although not heard from, probably had passed beyond the path of the storm.

The death dealing cloud crossed the river at such an angle as to strike and wreck the upper works at the cast end of the Eads bridge, and to sweep a part of East St. Louis. The list of the dead and injured on the east side of the river will not be complete until hours of daylight permit effective search of the ruins. Enough is known, however, to show that more lives have been lost on the East side than upon the West side. The injured number hundreds.

Perhaps the most impressive evidence of the storm cloud's force is to be seen in the wrench of the eastern end of the Eads bridge. There the tornado dealt with stone masonry. It tore off and tumbled down tons upon tons of this masonry. Beginning with the big eastern pier, and extending to the foot of the incline, the cloud cut off the upper part of the structure as if it had been a flimsy trestle instead of a structure of world-wide fame for massiveness. What the tornado did to the Eads bridge will not be believed unless the eyes see it.

Fire added much to the loss account. Down wires, wild currents of electricity, crushed buildings, all contributed to this element of destruction. The alarm system was paralyzed. Approaches were blockaded. A $200,000 conflagration on the St. Louis side was supplemented by a dozen lesser fires. In East St. Louis a mill was burned and two other considerable losses were sustained. To the enormous total, fires added at least $500,000.

Incidents of the Tornado in St. Louis.

A lady whose name was not learned was standing at the northeast corner of Twelfth and Clark avenue. She was picked from the ground and hurled to the southwest corner. She landed at the entrance of a saloon and save a shaking up was uninjured.

The Famous company, Broadway and Morgan suffered the loss of three immense plate-glass windows, and thirteen windows on the second floor were also broken. The damage to stock by water, which flooded the stock rooms, is estimated at $35,000.

Daniel Coffey was seriously injured in a stable in the rear of his home while attempting to save two little girls from the storm in the stable, where Mr. Coffey, was at work. Mr. Coffey, seeing that the roof and beams were about to fall, made a rush to rescue the children, who were unable to move from fright. While carrying them forth the roof fell. Coffey thrust the girls under him, made an arch over their bodies with his back, and allowed the beam to break its force on him. He was severely injured, but the children escaped unhurt. When seen at the Hospital last night Coffey said: "I got hurt myself, but I am glad I got hurt myself, because it save those little children. If my pains were twice as bad I would still be glad I tried to save them." Dr. Sutter says that Coffey's wounds, though serious, are not necessarily fatal.

Superintendent Mack, of the morgue, and Adolph Meurer, of the Sprinkling department, had a narrow escape from instant death. The men were occupying a buggy. When at Twelfth and Olive streets the buggy lurched suddenly and in another instant it was on top of the horse. The two occupants of the vehicle were underneath the buggy. A pop-corn stand from across the street flew into the air and landed on the buggy. It was in the middle of the street car tracks and soon a car was bearing down on them. The motorman could not stop his car until he had pushed the horse, buggy and cart several feet. As no one would venture from a building that contained four solid walls the two men were left to themselves to fight their way out as best they could. They succeeded after much effort, and came out almost uninjured. The buggy was totally demolished, and the horse was so badly injured that it had to be shot.

The entire roof of the mammoth warehouse of Martin Lammert, on Second and Walnut streets was uplifted and scattered over several acres of the vicinity.

On Sixth and Chestnut streets the wind caught a heavy four-horse truck and blew it 100 feet up the street without overturning it.

At the stables of the American Express company on Eleventh and Walnut streets, half a dozen of the heavy express wagons were overturned by the wind like so many toy carts.

On Fourth and Market streets, within a space of 200 feet, no less than fourteen overturned wagons were counted during the height of the storm. Four horses were blown out of the harness that attached them to vehicles, and all found refuge in a butcher shop.

Dead and Injured at St. Louis

St. Louis, May 28. -- Below is a list of the dead and injured:

Max Weis, driver for Eberle & Keyes Livery company.
Sophia DeMartina,
402 South Twelfth.
Wallace Bradshaw,
colored, killed at Ewing and Scott avenues.
Katie Claypool,
killed at Ewing and Scott avenues.
Two unknown men; bodies taken to the morgue.
----- Jones,
engineer Etna Iron works.
Frank Fisher,
1944 Papin.
Julius Gall,
bookkeeper of Epstein & Bernstein.
Emma Chaney and Isabella Home,
1432 Mississippi avenue.
Charles Tandy.

Unknown man at 210 South Commercial.
William Winkler,
on Southern electric car at Eighth and Park avenue.
Joseph Dunn,
patient at City hospital.
Francisco Beligo,
a Spanish woman at city hospital.
Fred Zimmers,
chief engineer Union depot railroad power house, Jefferson and Geyer avenues.
Unknown child, about 5 years old, Ann and California avenues.
Child, daughter of Andrew J. Leineke of 1706 Hamilton avenue.
---- Mack, hackdriver for Eberle & Keys.
Fred Mauchenheimer,
1300 South Seventh.
Thomas Killian,
1300 South Seventh.
Harry Killian,
1300 South Seventh.
William Killian,
1300 South Seventh.
Unknown man,
1300 South Seventh.
Unknown Frenchwoman at 101 South Seventh.
Three people, names unknown, at 1333 South Seventh.

At Liggett & Myers.
Mrs. J. P. Herman,
3634 Castleman avenue, at Liggett & Myers Tobacco works.
Robert Wilson,
23 years old, bricklayer, 4214 College avenue.
John Rofferty,
laborer, residence unknown.
Three stone masons, names unknown, working in power house.
Four unknown workmen found in stripping house.

J. P. Herman, fatally injured.
Miss Clara Herman,
fatally injured, both of 3634 Castleman avenue.
John Timmons,
1435 North Sixteenth street, ankle and wrist crushed.
Jamas Lahan,
2810 Biddle street, head injured.
Unknown man, skull fractured.
Pat Rooney,
1435 South Thirteenth street, internally injured.
Pat Tracy,
2028 Adams street, head cut.
Dr. Max Starkloff,
arm dislocated.
David Clanzey,
Fourteenth near O'Fallon, head bruised.
Wm. Gabin,
1823 Papin, hip and leg crushed.
Robert Wilson,
colored, bruised at Twelfth and Gratiot by flying bricks.
M. M. Buck,
3012 Adams street, head and body bruised.
Frank Reichert
and Eric House, bruises on head and body.
Peter Horn,
injured in falling house at 606 South Seventh.
Pat Moran,
Ironton, Pa., right leg broken.
John Taylor,
injured about the head.
Wm. Flint,
3001 California avenue, leg broken.
Thomas May,
1847 O'Fallon, bruised on head and back.
Fred Mack,
superintendent of the morgue, and Adolph Meurer of the sprinkling department, bruised by overturning of the buggy.
S. Sankey
of 1827 North Market, cut in head and arms.
John O'Conner,
2109 Adams, badly injured.
Gertie McKenna,
2108 Eugenia, head severely cut.
Bridget Gunn,
2722 Sheridan, fatal injuries.
Albert Raven,
colored, 118 North High, cut on head.
John Fox,
1223 Blair avenue, right foot cut.
J. W. Rowden,
4232 Connecticut avenue, scalp wound.
Alfa Elberfield,
913 Locust, scalp wound.
Edward Lackbehler,
4208 Clayton road, injuries in face.
Martin Finan,
4356 St. Ferdinand, head cut.
John Scott,
struck on head at Seventh and Chonteau avenue.
---- Gunther,
2324 Whittemore place, leg broken.
scalp wound.
Man at 1803 South Ohio avenue, injured internally.
Phil Medart,
1721 Missouri.
Herbert Rowe,
163 South Compton avenue, struck by falling bricks.
Three firemen at Union depot power house, Jefferson and Geyer avenues.
John W. Judlim,
2023 South Jefferson avenue, burned by live wire at Lafayette and Missouri avenues.
Burt Johnson,
yard clerk Wiggins Ferry company, arm broken.
Three persons on Waverly place, treated by Dr. W. A. McCandless, 2319 Lafayette avenue.
Mr. Epstein,
of Epstein & Bernstein, internal injuries.
Charles Ramast,
head cut.
Abe Fredman,
1014 Julian street, cut in head and face.
Charles Ventula,
head cut.
Joe Ramag,
leg broken.
H. H. Sawyer,
internal injuries.
W. H. Shaw,
2834 Market, right arm broken.
John Sawyer,
1728 Chouteau avenue, internal injuries.
Henry Abtor,
serious injuries.
George Benel,
fatal injuries.
George Poper,
2114 Gratiot, internal injuries.
John Williams,
2107 Singleton, right side hurt.
G. C. Popditz,
2501 South Broadway, fatal injuries.


Eleven persons in eddy at Pittsburg dyke, supposed to be from steamers Libbie Conger and Pittsburg.
Crew and passengers of steamer Bald Eagle, which was blown down the river and has not been heard from--20 persons.

All but three members of the crew of the steamer J. J. Odil, which blew up and sank. Three passengers--12 persons.
Passengers and crews of two South St. Louis ferry boats--20 persons.
Blown off a Loomis Ice company barge five--not known whether saved.


Fires Under Control--Ambulances Going--Search Lights Used to Find Sufferers.

St. Louis, May 28.-- Shortly after midnight the fire department secured control of the conflagration at East St. Louis and the members of the department began to assist the ambulance corps in caring for the wounded. No attention was paid toward taking care of the dead. The streets were in Egyptian darkness and searchlights were placed on patrol wagons in an effort to reach the location of the injured. The ambulances were run at breakneck speed and inside one hour at least twenty-five seriously injured were carried to the dispensary. Their wounds were dressed as rapidly as possible and they were carried to houses to await the result of their injuries.

The scenes of death and suffering in East St. Louis are beyond the power of description. Men, women, and children fell victims to the sudden swoop of the elements and the clang of the ambulance only notified the survivors of the death of another citizen. Railroads both east bound and west bound are stalled at the entrance of the Eads bridge with no hope of proceeding farther for the next three days. Every ferry boat on the river has fallen victim to wind and waves and there are not over two crafts in the river tonight that dare cross the Mississippi. Men bringing information of the condition of affairs in the ill-fated city of East St. Louis are obliged to climb on hands and knees across the broken girders of the Eads bridge.

Superintendent Jones of the Western Union telegraph corps of repairers made the perilous trip at midnight and reports the situation one of horror. The people are panic stricken and nearly 200 are homeless. In addition to this is the horrible fear that some of their relatives have fallen a prey to the elements.

It is utterly impossible to get a record of the dead as carried into the improvised morgues. So far, seventy-four bodies have been found and at this hour messengers are constantly notifying the authorities of finding the remains of unfortunate victims in ditches, under trestle works, railroad wreckage and in the demolished residences and railroad depots.

At the east telegraph switch tower of the Eads bridge twenty unidentified bodies are stacked in ghastly rows on the pine floor. Of these it is assumed that fully three-quarters are well known and prosperous citizens.

The identified dead so far include Judge Foulke and his wife of Vandalia, Ill., who were among the victims of the relay depot wreck.

Daily Republican, Decatur, IL 28 May 1896



Passengers in C. & A. Coaches Owe Their Lives to the Engineer.

St. Louis, May 28. -- While the storm was at its height No. 7 of the Chicago and Alton road pulled out on the bridge from the Missouri side on its way east. Engineer William Swoncott had only proceeded a short distance when he realized the awful danger which threatened the train. The wind struck the coaches at first, startlingly, causing them to careen ominously. At that time he was half way across. Overhead telegraph poles were snapping and tumbling into the river, while several large stones were shaken loose from their foundations and came toppling down into the water. Fearing that every moment his train would either be blown into the river or else the bridge would be blown away beneath him, Swoncott, with rare presence of mind, put on a full head of steam in an effort to make the Illinois shore.

The train had scarcely proceeded 200 feet when within about the same distance from the shore an entire upper span of the driveway of the bridge was blown away. Tons and tons of hug granite blocks tumbled to the tracks, where the train loaded with passengers had been but a moment before. At about the same time the wind struck the train full on its side, upsetting all the cars like playthings. Luckily no one was killed in the wreck, but several were taken out severely injured.

The wrecked part of the bridge is just east of the big tower, near the Illinois shore, and extends east for about 300 feet. The entire upper portion, traversed by the cars and carriages, is carried away, while the tracks are buried in debris, in some places eight feet high.

Daily Republican, Decatur, IL 28 May 1896


The Story of the Cyclone's Deadly Work Told After Daylight.


Corrected List of the Dead in St. Louis and East St. Louis--Judge Foulke, of Vandalia, One of the Victims--Action By Congress

St. Louis, Mo., May 28. -- Two hundred lives were snuffed out in the city and as many more in East St. Louis, property destroyed, in value running into the millions is the record of yesterday evening's tornado. This is a conservative estimate. No possible idea of the number killed in the tornado in this neighborhood, in Missouri and Illinois can be made at this time. South St. Louis is littered with the bodies of the dead. East St. Louis is a gigantic cemetery. Under the debris of buildings in that city scores are buried whose bodies will not be brought to light for many days, perhaps never. It was the most disastrous storm from every point of view in the history of the city. It did little damage in the business and northern portions of the city, save along the river front, where the destruction cannot be estimated. Nor will it ever be known just how many gave up their lives in the waters of the Mississippi where the tornado tore all the boats in the harbor from their moorings. The channel is full of wreckage. In South St. Louis, where the storm spent its force, all the way from Patin street to Carondolet it put a stamp on the face of the city that will not be effaced for years. Strong buildings fell before the wind like houses made of cards. From where it entered the city in the southwestern suburbs to where it left near the Eads bridge, there is a wide path of ruins. Factory after factory went down and piles of brick and timbers mark the spots on which they stood. Dwellings were picked up and thrown in every direction. Business houses were flattened with no chance for escape of the occupants who are now in the ruins covered with bruises, mangled bodies that will not be recovered until a systematic search is made. Thousands of families in South St. Louis are practically homeless, and temporary hospitals shelter hundreds. Early in the storm the plant of the Laclede Gas company was destroyed and a large portion of the central part of the city was cut off from the gas supply. Wires were torn down all over the city, elevators blown down, boats sunk, church and school houses demolished. After the wind and rain had done its work, fire added to the destruction. The destruction of the water works early in the storm cut off the water supply and Chief Purdy and his men fought fire with a bucket brigade as best they could.

There is no way of estimating the number of lives lost on the river craft that happened to be near when the cyclone came. Hundreds of barges were moored all along the river bank, in some instances with as many as ten to twelve persons on board. The men were blown into the water and the barges were capsized. The destruction of life in this way is certainly large. A rumor that the excursion steamer Grand Republic had gone to the bottom with 500 excursionists is denied by the officer of that company, who said the boat left for Alton at noon. The storm struck the city on the southwest, just north of Tower Grove park, and traveled in a northeasterly direction to Grand Avenue, then followed the Miller Creek valley to the river. At the levee it swung almost at right angles, and swept straight up the river to Madison, where it veered east again. Judging from the reports of the greatest damage the path of the storm averaged ten or twelve blocks wide with an extreme of sixteen blocks wide. In places where large manufacturing building went down are piles of dead. At Seventh and Rutger streets, more than twenty bodies are imbedded and as many more in Fred Mannhemeher's tenement; twenty-nine of the employes at Liggett & Meyers Cigarette factory, and twenty-five of the employes (sic) at the St. Louis Wood Ware factory.

A wild current of electricity crushed the buildings, and added to danger from fire alarm systems which were paralyzed. A $200,000 conflagration on the St. Louis side is supplemented by a dozen lesser fires. In East St. Louis a mill was burned, and other losses bringing the total to half a million. In comparison in size of fatalities and losses, East St. Louis exceeded those on this side of the river. A larger part of the central portion of the city was razed to the ground; on the flats on the north of Adams bridge not a house is left standing. In the latter portion the loss of life is terrible. Scarcely a family escaped without fatality. Many instances of whole households being wiped out of existence. A conservative estimate of the dead is 150. The list of dead included all the boarders at the Martell house, except Judge Hope, of Alton, Ill.; all boarders estimated at 16 at the Tremont house; twenty unidentified bodies at the bridge tower; six unidentified bodies at the electric railway stations; seven unknown dead in the Dublin house and Policeman Thomas Griffin and his family of three.

Daylight Scenes.

When the sun arose on St. Louis and vicinity this morning it showed a scene of terrible ruin, disaster, wind, rain, fire, combined in a mission of destruction. Two hundred lives were lost in this city, and as many more in East St. Louis, while thousands are injured, many so severely that they cannot recover. The exact number will not be known for many days, perhaps never, for the debris of ruined buildings all over the city covers hundreds of corpses. The destruction of property will aggregate many millions of dollars, but cannot be estimated with any degree of accuracy. The terrible tornado which caused this destruction struck the city yesterday afternoon at 3:15. All parts of the city and East St. Louis felt its effects. The greatest damage on this side of the river was inflicted within a three miles strip along the Mississippi. Many buildings were totally collapsed, others unroofed, very few escaped some injury. Depressing sultriness, puffs of wind, by turns from all points of the compass, heavy clouds around the horizon were characteristics of the afternoon. For hours the currents shifted and winds blew hot and cold, and a storm centre developed. In the west a thunder storm developed, and came up slowly at first. As the black rim mounted higher its arch embraced more territory to the north and the south. A strong wind from the east began to blow in the face of the storm. It was a lower current. It raised a dark cloud and brought it forward faster and faster. Suddenly the wind stopped blowing from the east, there swept from the northwest a terrific gale which made the best build structures tremble. When the hurricane broke over the western part of the city, there came a deluge of rain. For half an hour from 3 to 3:30 the hurricane blew from the northwest. Then came a lull, the current shifted and in the southwest a funnel shaped storm cloud formed and burst upon the city from that direction, and struck the city hospital, and tore away through the city to the river in a northeasterly course. It wrought such havoc as will long leave traces in that part of the city east of Seventh street and north of Cherry to the Eads bridge. Boats at the wharf were torn from their moorings and set adrift or capsized. The storm crossed the river, demolished the upper work at the east end of the Eads bridge then wreaked it fury on East St. Louis. With the storm though the sun was still an hour high, daylight gave place to the darkness of midnight. By midnight, reporters for the Associated Press visited all the stricken portions of the city and suburbs. The list of dead discovered fell far below the first estimate, but long enough to be appalling. Crushed beneath falling walls, hurled against the sides of buildings, struck by flying timbers, cut by splintered glass, shocked by torn down wires, humanity suffered in ways innumerable.

Hospital in Ruins

The city hospital looks like a ruin. The surgical ward is partly demolished and portions of the other buildings are unroofed and the walls cracked. Physicians at once began the removal of patients to temporary quarters. The weakened structure it is feared will collapse. Four hundred and fifty-six were in the hospital when the storm came, and a number were injured. The convention hall and the four courts were in the path of the storm. The former lost a part of the roof and the walls were punctured in several places by flying missiles. It can be restored in ten days. A section of the brick wall of the jail went down but the prisoners were too panic stricken to escape. In the district between Sixth street and the river, north from Chateau avenue, the tornado tore a diagonal path through the older portions of the business district. Every building in its path was damaged. The streets are impassable in this section. Had the tornado came a little later the loss of life on the river would have been much greater as the excursion steamer would have been going out.

A million dollars will not cover the damage to property. How any person in the path of the cyclone escaped is a mystery to all who passed over the devastated region. Four square blocks were absolutely swept away. Many inmates are beneath the ruins. The Lake house, the Groes building, Tremont hotel, Martell house, Vandalia round house, with twenty dwellings around it, the Howe Institute, the Vandalia freight house in the last of which all were killed, are a few of the buildings which went down before the blast. The boats known to be sunk are the S. C. Club, Henry Stockman, Tug Rescue, Milsken, Christie, Wiggins, Medill and all the wharf boats. It is asserted that not a perfect line of wire remains in the western states.

The Death Roll.

St. Louis, May 28 -- 3 p.m. --The following is a corrected list of the dead in East St. Louis: Charles Wait, William Surrer, Mrs. Stock. J. A. Porter, Cincinnati drummer, name unknown, L. Richardson, flagman Vandalia road, Amelia Suiter, John Reams, Scott Hayward, Peter Walmsley, John Anderson, Mrs. Bruce, Emma Sullivan, Jacob Kintzet, P. J. Scrickle, unknown woman and two children, near Drury ice house, messenger boy on bridge, seven unknown dead in the Dublin house, Michael Kildea, Thomas Keef, Bert Farrell, Wm. Farrell, Frank McCormack, Joseph Franks, unknown man and woman near Broadway river, ex-Policeman Thomas Griffin and family of three, Frank Rose, foreman at Elliott's works, Robert Bland, John Valentine, City Collector David S. Sage and wife, Phillip Strickler and mother, Judge Foulke of Vandalia, Ill., Mrs. Martell and all the boarders of the Martell house, except Judge Hope of Alton, A. R. and Mrs. John Hayes, Will Hayes, all boarders at the Trenton house, estimated at sixteen; Tyler Mitchell, Wm. Mitchell, six unidentified bodies at the bridge tower, two of whom are supposed to be William Sullivan and wife, Mrs. John Reid, Patrick Dean and family of six, John Buchart, two boarders at Stacey's boarding house, Edward O'Brien, John Breen, Ida C. Labdue, Mrs. Roofe, Albert Volkman, Joseph Mitchell, John Sullivan, Wm. Rickey, unknown man on Collinsville avenue, son of Mr. Ira Kent, Henry Winterman, Jacob --ert and sixteen unidentified bodies at Winslay park.

St. Louis, May 28. -- The following is a list of dead so far as known: Watchman on board the Dolphin, name unknown, drowned; Benjamin Desilva, unknown man at Borham's quarry; Alex. Churinger, driver for Western Star Daily Co.; James Dunn, Francisco Roderiquez, Fred Well, 3 years old; Theresa Well, 8 months old; Mrs. Carter and child, unknown man, driver; Peter Diedrich, employed at bagging mill; Max Weiss, Malacy McDonald, Supt. Walter, Pierce Oil Co.; Mr. Jones, engineer Aetna Iron works; Frank Fisher, Emma Fisher, Isabella Horn, Sawyer Mfg. Co.; Charles Tandy, Sawyer Mfg. Co.; ----Zimmerman, killed at Union depot company's house; Katie Claypool, D. Hassings, Mrs. Lewis, Fred Jondock, Mrs. Anna Gardiner and a six-month's old babe; Mrs. Augusta Jalm, aged 63; Robert Hold, Charlotte Ender, widow, 62; Jos. Miller, Mrs. Helix, Wm. Bowler, Rose Duggan, George A. Hurbert, his two children, Harry and Willie, 7 and 9; Tina Rux, 17; Matilda Rux, 56; John Loberlin, 53; unknown man, two-year-old child; Peter McGivens, Anna Leva, Peter Deadrick, unknown man.

The Cyclone in East St. Louis.

East St. Louis, May 28. -- The residents of the stricken city gathered in little knots on the streets. They did not mind the drenching rain. Nothing except the wind which left death in its path possessed any terrors for them. The court house and the police headquarters were blown away. Officers know not where to find the chief. In the course of time, however, temporary police headquarters were established. Drays and wagons were pressed into the work of removing the dead and dying. Several bodies were found transfixed by huge timbers. Others lay moaning and groaning under timbers. Every courier brought fresh tidings of calamity, until those who received their reports became inured to the tales of horror. East St. Louis and its ruins is one huge mausoleum covering no one knows how many dead. Almost every house had relatives or friends among the dead and injured. Mothers, sisters, other relatives ran from one temporary morgue to another in search of missing ones. Miss Dean sat speechless in the car stables, her dead father lying at her feet, her mother not far away, her two younger brothers lying mangled on the floor near by. It was an awful spectacle but duplicated over and over again. Often times some survivor of a family watched over the mutilated dead of a neighboring family. Mothers, sisters, fathers, brothers, weeping or dry-eyed dug for hours through the debris at the Vandalia freight depot and waded elsewhere in an attempt to extricate loved ones. Many waded through water and slush in the ruins of the Martell and Tremont houses. The rescuers came upon the bodies of two dead infants and then upon a woman pinioned beneath the timbers. She said the children were hers. Her name is Werler, her home in Litchfield, Ill.

Discomfort at St. Louis.

St. Louis, May 28. -- The complete suspension of the telephone communication and street car traffic has multiplied the inconveniences and general discomfort. There are few means of summoning ambulances for the removal of the dead or injured and many of them must be conveyed in wagons or on litters. The city dispensaries are overcrowded. Scores of volunteer physicians have tendered their services and are assisting in caring for the wounded. The demolition of the city hospital has prevented the use of that institution but the old house of the Good Shephard has been substituted and all available supplies are hurried there.

Fifty School Children Killed.

St. Louis, May 28. -- Very brief reports from the northwestern part of the state say that at the Rush Hill school house was torn to pieces by the tornado. Fifty children were killed. It is reported that at Renick great property damage was done and a number of persons killed.

Daily Republican, Decatur, IL 28 May 1896.


Lightning struck an oil tank near the express house and set fire to it, and it is feared that the building might have also been burned.

The Grand opera house and the Standard are in ruins.

The front of the Southern hotel is a mass of ruins, the debris falling into the office. The entire kitchen end of the structure is swept away.

The Simmons hardware Co. has offered all of their axes and picks for the use of the relief committees.

The storm is reported to have struck St. Louis near the corner of Fourteenth and Olive streets and did not do much damage in North St. Louis, confining its work to South and Middle St. Louis and then jumping across to East St. Louis.


A Big, Broad Road to Liberty, but the Prisoners were Too Terrified to Accept It.

A twenty-foot section of the western wall of the city jail blew down, exposing the interior.

It was during the exercise hour and nearly 200 prisoners were in the “bull ring.” They were too frightened to run although escape would have been easy. Instead they set up a concerted yell of terror, and many voluntarily sought shelter in their cells.

Jailer Wagner was on the scene in a moment, and with the aid of a number of policemen and detectives, soon had the noisy crowd behind the locks.

A special detail of police was hastily summoned, and will be on guard all night.

The Four Courts was otherwise badly damaged, and Judge Harvey’s court was adjourned in confusion.

A big fire was raging at the poorhouse at 6 p.m.


Two Women Fatally Crushed Under Fallen Walls.

As the storm cut through the railroad yard back of the Union station it turned over any number of freight and passenger cars and carried away the northwest corner of the Union depot grain elevator.

This elevator is one of the largest in the city, and as the wreckage came down it crashed through the roofs of a half dozen deserted shanties. So far as could be learned no one was injured there.

But as the storm came on in its fury it struck the saloon at Twenty-first and Clark avenues, owned by a man known to the policeman on the beat as “Steve Brodie.”

The whole east wall of that three-story brick structure was carried away, but as it fell it caught the heavy lines of electric wires and snapped them each in twain.

Then came the crash which buried the two women. Next to the saloon is Mrs. Gunn's grocery store. She and Gertie McKenna were there alone, and as they were standing speechless under the fury of the storm the west wall of "Brodie's" saloon came down through the roof of the grocery store. There was no scream from the women; they were being crushed and smothered.

Patrolman Bart Keany was a block away and he started for the place. As he was making his way through the awful torrents of rain every telegraph pole on the street came down with a crash and the wires came with them. But Keany got into the wreckage and after a half hour's work had gotten to where the impaled women could be seen. After the worst of the storm had subsided the women were taken out.

The girl was so badly bruised and crushed that a physician said nothing could be done for her.

Mrs. Gunn was cared for in the saloon, and there the same physician said she could not live.

The storm carried away the fronts of the brick dwellings at 2035, 2037, 2039 and 2041 Clark avenue, but none of the occupants were injured. The houses were occupied by Mrs. Fay, Mrs. Barry, Mrs. King and Mrs. Hogan.

Every tree was blown to the ground from Twenty-first street to Jefferson avenue.

Over on Chestnut street there was consternation. A series of poles supporting heavy telegraph wires fell to the street.

As they fell one of the poles shot through the side of car 56 of the Market street line and knocked one man out the back end. His skull was said to be broken, and he was taken to his home on Connecticut avenue. The car was wrecked.

Another man was injured in the same accident, but he left before the ambulance came.

In falling the wires caught two horses and a wagon on Twenty-first street near Chestnut. The wagon had been deserted by the drive and was crushed by the wires. The horses were carried to the ground and held there until the wires were cut.

Then the roof of the new storage building of the Liggett & Myer Tobacco Co., on Chestnut street, near Twentieth, was carried away and with it went half of the west wall.

The whole mass crashed though the roof of a paint shop below. It is believed that Herman Houck was in the place at the time, and he has not been seen since.

Chimneys and windows were fun for the storm in the "burnt district," and trees were leveled to the ground.

The above is necessarily, but a partial and imperfect report of the great disaster attempted to be described.


East Wing Blown Off by the Cyclone.

The east half of the Convention hall was blown off, involving the most serious consequences to the Republican convention.

Daily Republican, Decatur, IL 28 May 1896.


Young Dr. John Spaulding in the Great Tornado at St. Louis -- Heard from Today.
St. Louis, Mo., May 28.
-- To Dr. T. B. Spalding , Decatur, Ill: Was in the cyclone, but escaped by the skin of my teeth. Am all right. John B. Spalding.

(John went to St. Louis on Tuesday morning and had planned to remain there several days on business. His parents were very much gratified this forenoon to hear from him.)

Daily Republican, Decatur, IL 28 May 1896



Long List of Holy Edifices Razed by the Cyclone.


In the Neighborhood of Lafayette Park Either Totally or Partially Destroyed, Entailing Losses Aggregating a Quarter of a Million.

A long list of houses of worship ruined and damaged by the storm.
Churches Estimated losses
Lafayette Park Presbyterian . . . . . . . $16,000
Lafayette Park Methodist . . . . . . .  . . 10,000
Lafayette Park Baptist . . . . . . .  . . . .  8,000
Church of the Unity . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10,000
Mount Calvary Episcopal . . . . . . . . . .  20,000
Memorial German M. E. . . . . . . . .  . . 20,000
Holy Cross, Saxon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12,000
Compton Hill Congregational . . . . . . . . 1,000
Compton Heights Christian . . . . . . . . . 1,000
St. Henry's Catholic . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10,000
St. Paul's Evangical . . . . . . . . . . . . .  20,000
Trinity Lutheran . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  18,000
St. Vincent's Catholic . . . . . . . . .  . . .  3,000
SS Peter and Paul . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  30,000
St. John's Episcopal . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13,000
Annunciation Catholic . . . . . . . . . . . .18,000

Over forty St. Louis churches were smitten by the elements Wednesday night.

Rain poured into the unroofed buildings, flooded the basements and ruined the furniture.

Falling steeples added to the general havoc.

Nearly every church near the desolate districts that escaped damage is used for hospital and shelter purposes.

The houses of worship around Lafayette park, all of them of the costliest kind, felt the blow more than the others.

The Presbyterian church at Missouri and Albion was damaged. Rev. S. C. Palmer is its pastor. His home, at the eastern front of the park, was demolished. The roof of the church landed near the center of Lafayette park. The church was of rough stone, and its Sunday school is, next to Wanamaker's in Philadelphia, the largest in the United States.

Lafayette Park M. E. church, Rev. S. C. Werlein, Pastor, at Missouri and Lafayette, was partly ruined by the falling steeple. The pink stone walls littered the vacant lot on the north, as well as the auditorium. This church is noted for the sociability of its young people.

On the north side of the park, corner of Armstrong and Park, is the Church of the Unity. This is a white stone building, rather small, and is on an elevation. The roof was lifted off and deposited in sections in the park.

Southeast of the park is the Baptist church, at Lafayette and Mississippi, a brick building, which sustained about $8,000 damage.

The Baptist Orphans' home, immediately east, was partly wrecked.

Southwest of Lafayette park, Mt. Calvary Episcopal church, Rev. P. Fauntleroy rector, at Jefferson and Lafayette, was entirely wrecked. Part of it is on the Union club and the rest of it covers the street car tracks.

Following Jefferson avenue south, the Memorial M. E. church of brick, corner of Accomac, was leveled.

Smaller churches and parochial schools, with damaged fronts, can be seen further south, and at Miami street the old Saxon church of the Holy Cross is a heap of ruins.
The Concordia seminary and the publishing house are well battered up.

North and west from Lafayette park, St. Kevin's church, on Park and Cardinal, escaped unscathed. Compton Hill Congregational church, Lafayette and Compton, had its cornice and part of the roof sheeting detached; Compton Heights Christian church, St. Vincent and California, lost many bricks, and the Episcopal church, on Grand and Lafayette, suffered slightly.

St. Henry's church, California and Caroline, is wrecked.

Rumor has it that a priest and some nuns are still under the ruins.

East of Lafayette park there are a number of German families that will lose thousands of dollars.

At Ninth and Lafayette is St. Paul's Evangelical church, Pastor Jacob Irons, of which only about 15 feet of wall remains. The monster steeple crumbled like dust.
Trinity Lutheran church, Eighth and Lafayette, shared the fate of all high structures and collapsed. Pastor Hanser lives next door and his family narrowly escaped destruction.

St. Vincent's church, Ninth and Park, did not lose its steeple, though there are no trimmings thereon. Like a lone sentinel it stands, a mute witness to the general leveling of man's handiwork.

St. Peter and St. Paul's Catholic church, probably the wealthiest German congregations in the city, is desolated compared with the grandeur that the parishioners boasted of before the tornado.

St. John's Episcopal church at Hickory and Dolman is minus its steeples and a wing. Expenses of repairing will amount to $13,000.

The German school at Eighth and Marion was gutted.

The Annunciation parish at Sixth and La Salle is a heavy loser. The steeples fell, and besides crushing the adjoining row injured Father Head and Miss Head.

No additional bodies have been recovered from the ruins of the tornado-stricken district in St. Louis and only one additional death has been reported. Those reported as missing now are:

James T. McGurk, Cincinnati, O.; George Mallory, 28 years old, worked for Missouri Car and Foundry company; William Nolan, 31 years old; Julius Gohering, 45 years old, machinist; Gustave Dertling, 36 years, 3524 North Broadway.

The Perry Bulletin, Perry, IA 11 Jun 1896

Articles transcribed by Jackie Harral.  Thanks Jackie!



St. Louis, May 28. ---
Yesterday the weather was oppressive all day and at 4 o'clock in the afternoon the entire western horrizon [sic] was backed with clouds. The growing darkness gave the people the first warning of the coming storm.

Shortly before the tornado reached the city, funnels were observed to shoot down from the clouds. The came the outburst.

Three funnels approached St. Louis while lightning played among them and the thunder was almost incessant. Men, women, horses and everything were picked up and carried hundreds of feet. So irrisistible [sic] was the cyclone that some of the staunchest business blocks in the city went down before it.

Massive stone fronts caved in and iron beams were torn from their festenings [sic] and carried away blocks as if they were feathers. Not once during the passage of the funnels through the city did they rise from the ground, as is usual in the case of small towns.

It is now estimated that 300 were killed in this city and 200 in East St. Louis. It is generally thought that this estimate is under, rather than over the number, as nearly that number of bodies have already been recovered and the search of the ruins has scarcely begun.

The property loss is placed anywhere between ten and thirty millions. Among the prominent buildings destroyed by the cyclone was the great auditorum [sic] where the republican convention was to be held. The East roof of this building was blown off, and the entire interior of the building was flooded by the rain which followed the tornado. It is not believed that the building can be repaired in time for the convention.

Following is the list of the dead so far recovered:
TWENTY EMPLOYES of the LIGGETT & MEYERS Tobacco company.
TWENTY men employed in the St. Louis Wooden Gutter and refirgerator [sic] factory.
janitor of St. Paul's church.
CAPTAIN SEAMAN, WIFE and THREE of the crew of the steamer Libbie Conger.

Aspen Weekly Times Colorado 1896-05-30

Submitted & transcribed by Stu Beitler  Thank you, Stu!


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