Chenoa, IL Tornado, May 1858
(From the Bloomington Paragraph, Saturday)
Four miles south of Chenoa, the mail train for Chicago which passed here in the afternoon, was blown off the track into the ditch, the engine alone remaining on the track. Many houses were unroofed and greatly injured at Chenoa.
Mr. Darling, of the firm Darling & Thomas, Chenoa, describes the storm at that place as terrific. In his own house there happened to be some five men when the storm struck it, some of them strangers who had taken refuge there from the approaching tempest. They all manned the doors and widows [sic], and by pushing against them kept them from being blown in, and the house was not injured. Most of his neighbors were less fortunate. Sam Emery’s eating house was unroofed, and the furniture &c., badly spoiled by the drenching rain. Damage fall $500. The whole house was about going over when the roof gave way and relieved the pressure enough to save the rest of the building. The station was unroofed, and the platforms around it were litted [sic] from their fonudations [sic] and torn to pieces.
Dr. McMahan’s dwelling, a small one worth about $500, was utterly destroyed and the fragments strewn to an immense distance across the prairie. Dr. M. says this house appears to have been thrown into the air and completely reversed, the roof striking the ground first. The family were inside, but escaped with such slight injuries that they were all able to assist in gathering up the scattered contents of their house.
The Bush House was unroofed. Eight houses were moved from their foundations: One small two story house actually slid for some three hundred yards across the smooth prairie, with a family inside, and finally stopped, remaining upright and uninjured. Mr. Heatberington’s farm house, near town, was destrayed (sic). It was a small two story house worth some $500. No one hurt. Several farm houses on the prairie are reported to have been rolled over, but no serious injury to any person is reported. Eighteen or twenty freight cars were standing on the Peoria & Oquawka road at Chenoa. When the gale struck them they started east like an express train, and were soon out of sight. Mr. D. saw them pushed into Chenoa again by a train coming west on Friday, but did not learn how far they had gone. The conductor of the train reported several houses destroyed at Gilman. Several empty freight cars on the St. L., A. & C. road at Chenoa were blown off the track.
Chicago Daily Tribune, Chicago, IL 18 May 1858
A man named KAPPA was instantly killed by the timbers from the roof of his house. He had been plowing in a field near by, when observing the approaching storm, he hastened homewards, put up his horses and was on the way from the barn to the house, when the roof of the latter was blown on to him, burying him among the ruins.
Chicago Daily Tribune, Chicago, IL 20 May 1858