Charlotte, IA Tornado, May 1898

Last night about 4:30 o’clock a terrific cyclone passed through this county, scattering death and destruction in a most horrible manner. The force of the storm struck about three miles north west of Charlotte, where four people were instantly killed and other injured. In the track of this cyclone, which traveled in a northeasterly direction lay some of the best improved farms in the county. Today, where stood yesterday the very best of buildings, in many places there is hardly enough left to mark the sight of a magnificent house or barn.

At 3:15 this morning a Herald reporter took a train for Charlotte in order to view the ruins of the storm. Words utterly fail to picture the destruction wrought by this cyclone... Trees, many inches in diameter, had the bark entirely twisted off, pumps were lifted out of wells; wagon wheels were twisted into kindling wood and tires were bent in all manner of shapes. The path of the cyclone was about one-half mile wide and everything in its course met with utter destruction. Dead horses, cattle, hog, sheep, etc, are litterly strewn over the ground, also pieces of farm implements, furniture and other articles. One man this morning picked up a razor. Where all these things come from no one known. But it is no wonder that such is the case, for some of the farms had nearly everything swept away and no trace of them can be found. Animals with broken legs and otherwise injured are seen over every hand. Eye witnesses say this cloud from which the cyclone came was of the funnel shape and that it keep up a rapidly revolving motion, the roar of the mighty winds were heard several miles distance. The clouds were very dark and the approaching ugly mass warned the people of what was coming and many made their escape by going into cellars and ditches.

Those Who Were Killed.

Martin Hines, an old man who lived with his son, Michael, two and one-half miles northwest of Charlotte was in the barn when the storm struck. He was found dead in the debris. Every building on the place was utterly demolished. Mr. Hines owned a fine herd of sheep and all were either killed or crippled.

John Clark lives three miles from Charlotte, and here Frances Solan, the 8 year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Michael Solan, met her death. She had been at school, but the teacher saw the storm approaching and dismissed the pupils. The little Solan girl and her teacher had just reached the home of Mr. Clark when the storm struck them. With Mr. Clark’s family they started for a creek near by, but before they reached a place of safety, the wind caught up the little girl and threw her violently to the ground. The others could do nothing to save her and barley escaped with their lives. The house and other buildings were utterly torn to pieces and five horses were blown into the cellar.

Jay Breen, aged eight years, and Maggie Maloney, aged 26, were killed at the residence of Mike Maloney, grandfather of Breen and father of the latter. Their bodies were found in the field after the storm. Nothing whatever remains of the Maloney home.

The destruction was terrible at the home of H. C. Hansen, one of the wealthiest men in the county. His two barns, one 52x112 and another 58x80 were utterly demolished with their contents, among which was 180 tons of hay. His house containing 17 rooms was badly wrecked and is almost a total loss. He had lots of stock nearly all of which was killed or badly injured. Out of 370 head of hogs and pigs, only a few remained. His loss is estimated at $10,000, with $2,500 insurance.

The loss of Michael Hines and John Clark will amount to over $5,000 each. ...

Killed and Injured.

There are rumors of many being killed and injured whose names could not be learned. However, the following is a correct list of the dead as far as reported.....

-Near Charlotte.

Martin Hines
Frances Solan
Jay Breen
Maggie Maloney
-Near Charlotte.
Wm. O’Meara

Notes of the Cyclone

Sheep are seen in many places hanging in the trees. The cyclone moved very slowly, but with terrible force. Not a drop of rain fell before or directly after the storm. Charlotte people turned out in masses to aid the unfortunates. At the Hansen residence the carpets were blown from the floor. In the path of the storm were some of the best stock farms in Iowa.

Clinton Daily Herald , Clinton, IA 19 May 1898


... the storm moved rapidly in a north eastern direction, passing over the northeastern part of Clinton county, the northwestern part of Clinton county and the southeastern portion of Jackson county. This section of the state is thickly settled. No towns were in the path of the storm but farm houses and barns were torn to pieces by the score. The storm was seen approaching my many of the farmers and they sought refuge in the cellars. At least 25, however, were unable to find shelter and probably as many more were seriously injured by flying timbers. The path of the storm varied from 40 rods in some parts of Clinton county to 80 feet in Jackson county. Trees and outhouses were torn to pieces. Roofs of farm houses were lifted like straws and carried half a mile along the path of the storm and then hurled against the walls of big stock barns, cutting them in two and killing hundreds of cattle which had taken shelter in the sheds from the storm's fury. Half a dozen school buildings are known to be destroyed, but it is not thought that any of the pupils perished, most of them having just about reached home when the storm broke.

Lima Daily Times, Lima, OH, 19 May 1898