Rochester, MN Tornado, Aug 1883 - Losses, Dead and Wounded

At Rochester the day had been hot with a strong southeast wind, the air was smoky and oppressive, the heavens were overcast with clouds of a dull leaden line, and there were, apparently, three strata, all moving in different directions. About three or four o’clock the clouds began to concentrate west of the city: a slight shower of rain passed over and for a few moments succeeding the air was perfectly still. The indications were so alarming that the farmers, of whom there were many, hurried out of town. Later, toward seven o’clock, light fleecy clouds were seen scudding athwart the sky at lighting speed, the great dark mass in the west assumed a greenish cast. The rain came down in sheets, the heavens blazed with yellow lightning and a terrible and terrifying roaring was heard. There was a resistless gale from the west, and dense darkness, in which the destruction was wrought almost in a minute. The storm abated and those who emerged from their homes or places of shelter found a wrecked city. Many of the streets were filled with uprooted trees and Parts of buildings. Houses were unroofed or blown down, and the contents of homes scattered and, worst of all, many persons were killed and more wounded.

The business center of the city, including the most valuable buildings, sustained little damage compared to the residence districts, and especially North Rochester. There was no loss of life in the business district; probably because most men had gone home to their evening meal.

George Stocking’s new brick store building, at the corner of Broadway and Fourth street, was demolished, and Wayne Beardsley’s frame store adjoining it. The tin roof was torn off Heaney’s block and Rommel’s block was unroofed. The west end of A. D. Vedder’s agricultural implement warehouse, a brick structure, was wrecked, and he and his wife, who had gone into the cellar, were saved by heavy timbers lodging above them. A frame building opposite Vedder’s, was badly wrecked. The fronts were blown out of the business houses of Bonham & Roth, Leet & Knowlton, Hebbard & George, J. W. Everstine, Seikert & Adler, C. Neiusuess and G. Hargesheimer. The roof and cornice of Cook’s Hotel were damaged. A gable of the Merchants’ Hotel stable was blown in. Part of the front of Perry’s livery stable was blown in. The side of Holtz’s saloon was demolished. A wall of Livermore’s foundry was blown out and the roof driven through the boilershop. Part of the roof of T. P. Hall’s carriage factory was blown off.

C. C. Willson barns were scattered. John R. Cook’s barn was unroofed. George Head’s residence on College street was unroofed. The roof of A. Gooding’s residence was damaged. The spire was blown off the Congregational church. The dome and part of the roof of the court house were blown off. Walter S. Booth’s residence was unroofed. The Porter House and Mr. Schwaub’s residence were seriously damaged. The roof and front cupola of the Central School building were lifted off and the building damaged. Wayne Beardshey’s house and barn were damaged. The chimney of the Baptist church was blown through the roof and the tower injured. The upper part of the west side of the Winona House leaned over the roof, and the roof of the barn was partly torn off. The spire of the Methodist church was blown down, the roof crushed and a wall damaged and the roof of the parsonage damaged. The cupola of the convent was damaged and a part of the roof torn off and the upper story of the Catholic parsonage as demolished. The residence of Mr. Emerick was damaged and Mr. Cammack's barn unrooted. Irving Fox's gunshop was racked.