El Dorado, KS Tornado, Jun 1871

The late Mrs. B. F. Adams told the story of its work of devastation: How vividly the picture is photographed on the tablets of memory of all who were residents of El Dorado at the close of that eventful day, June 16, 1871. At this time we see little but a sad picture to present, which shows us fully "there is a time to laugh and a time to weep." The day had been intensely hot and as the sun had nearly completed his round, a cloud commenced forming in the northwest. As I lay in my bed with my newborn son, Spencer, south of town (now the F. M. Myers estate) my position was such that I had full view of the cloud from its inception that forboded ill to the town. Its appearance really seemed indescribable; apparently a great wall of inky blackness, from which came the vivid electrical flashes, grand in one sense, yet behind it were the missiles of destruction and death. Soon there was a rumbling sound "as the rushing of a mighty wind," and so it was. A moment later, about 7:30, that bank of blackness had burst upon us in all its fury, and continued with but little cessation for an hour and a half. The appalling sensation at such times cannot be described; it is only realized when felt, and at these times do we fully feel how frail we are and our utter helplessness. Our house, although rocked like a cradle, was left standing. He who stills the winds saw fit to save and shelter us and for which our hearts turned with gratitude. Buff Wood, living immediately north of us, had his house broken and twisted so it was not safe, picked up his sick wife (Bessie Carey) and sought shelter with us, Mrs. Fetterman, Mrs. Wood's sister, with her baby following them through the beating storm, crawling and feeling their way along as best they could. Just north of them lived a widow and her two daughters by the name of Leard, whose house and the contents were entirely swept away and the mother badly hurt. They, too, crawled to our place for shelter and all that came to us for shelter were bruised and beaten by the hailstones. They were indeed a pitable sight and we tendered them all the hospitality in our power. Mrs. McCabe was tenderly binding up wounds and pouring "oil in wine." We could not make a fire for our shivering guests and dry clothing was a scarce article with us. Nothing could be found dry but a couple of pairs of my husband's pantaloons and the same of shirts. But there was no query about shape or fit. The old lady and Mrs. Fetterman donned them with a will and were comfortable in that garb until the next day.

Twenty-one houses were moved from their foundations. Some were damaged considerably, others but slightly. I do not now recollect the number of buildings entirely destroyed. Silas Welch, on South Main street, had just finished a kitchen and porch. All, with the contents of the kitchen, were carried no one could tell where. The main part of the house was moved on an adjoining lot and the furniture badly damaged. William Price and his bride, who were enjoying their honeymoon in their cozy home on South Main street, had their kitchen torn away, the house badly demoralized and themselves set out in the beating storm. Judge W. P. Campbell suffered severely. His house stood on the ground now occupied for the city park; it was entirely demolished, himself, wife and Miss Susie Lawrence all being roughly handled by the elements and their child seriously injured.

Continued