Dunkel Station, IL Tornado, May 1917

Fifty years ago, May 26, 1917 a tornado hit Dunkel Station. I, Louella Duncan McDonald, had started to Assumption to deliver the week’s supply of butter and eggs to the grocery store for my mother. I got as far as Dunkel Station, when a storm brewing in the northwest grew suddenly worse. I returned home, which was one-half mile distant. Our farmhand, John Bowers, put my team away. He kept watching the clouds. Soon, a tornado was spotted. My mother, two sisters, my brother, and I sought shelter in the cellar. John stood on the porch and watched it pass north of our house; it had done no damage except uprooting ten apple trees in the orchard. The tornado touched down at the home of Gottlieb Berner in Section 22 of Assumption Township — the place where John Maihoit now lives — and demolished it. The family of ten were saved by getting into a cave. After the storm, the coal stove was in the yard —with freshly-baked bread that Mrs. Berner was baking, still intact. Dunkel Station was damaged, and Dunkel School to the northeast was completely destroyed. The tornado caused further havoc as it moved on and killed approximately ten people.

Illinois sesquicentennial edition of Christian County history Jacksonville, Ill., 1968, pages 127-128



The family of John Berner which consists of his wife and twelve children at Dunkel was probably the hardest his of any tornado victims in this section. Their home was smashed flat. Luckily the mother gathered her large family and took refuge in their cave. At that one end of the cave was knocked in. The mother and infant have been sheltered in the home of Joseph Carman since the storm. The other children have been distributed about the community with other families. A fund was raised by subscription here Sunday evening.

The Daily Review, Decatur, IL 30 May 1917


DUNKEL -- Elevator badly damaged and school building wrecked.

F. W. MIELKE, Bloomington, fireman on Illinois Central, struck by flying timbers near Dunkel. May die.

The Daily Review, Decatur, IL 27 May 1917


The one-room school built on the northeast corner of the Humphery farm was one of the larger schools in the area, having an attendance of 70 pupils in grades one through eight.

In May 1917 a tornado completely destroyed the building. It was rebuilt and that building was destroyed by fire in 1920.

Illinois sesquicentennial edition of Christian County history Jacksonville, Ill., 1968, page 128