Olmsted County, MN Tornado - Viola, Quincy, Cascade, Oronco, July 1883

G. Podolske had a new house torn to pieces and a house built of large logs scattered as if the logs had been weeds. Mrs. Podolske and a daughter were seriously bruised. John Klu, a neighbor of Podolske, lost only his kitchen, and into the upright part of his house he gathered the families of Sonnenberg and Podolske, making with his own family, twenty-four persons, eighteen of them children and five in bed with wounds and bruises. On the farm of A. Joselyn every one of a grove of large burr oak trees, surrounding the house, was destroyed.

In Haverhill township a stone school house was demolished. The home of F. McIntyre, opposite the school house, was almost destroyed. He was in bed, an invalid; his leg was broken and his head and face cut. His wife was badly injured. Charles Simonds, a blind man, was carried a hundred feet; a harvester was carried two hundred feet and the barn was carried a hundred feet and set down in the timber. The stone residence of Fred Harvey and the frame residence of George Harvey were both totally demolished. Out of five wagons on the farm only one was useable. Their mother, an elderly lady, was nearly buried in the ruins of the stone house. E. F. Dodge and his wife started for their cellar; Mrs. Dodge reached the stairs and he was entering the cellar door with a baby in his arms when the house was lifted from the floor, carried eighty-five feet and left standing with Mr. Dodge and the baby inside, unhurt. The house and barn of Sumner Snow was torn to pieces and the furniture and dishes scattered over the farms. W. H. White’s barns were badly damaged. C. E. Stacy’s barn and crops were greatly injured. A house of Thomas Brooks, occupied by Joseph Hines, was badly damaged and moved two hundred feet from its foundation; on an opposite farm, an expensive hog house, sheds and cribs were blown away. The largest piece left of the Fitch school house was the black board. Amos Welch lost a wind mill; P. Walker lost a granary and sheds and W. Southwick a barn and sheds. A house, occupied by August Berendt, was destroyed and all its contents scattered. The family, including six children, escaped.

There were nineteen dwellings destroyed in the county, several of them being of the best of farm houses, and thirteen barns, many of them large and well built structures. And there were three school houses destroyed. There were eleven houses and nine barns unroofed and moved from their foundations, making, in all, fifty-five structures destroyed. These were estimated to be worth, with their belongings, $44,000. The storm swept over 17,000 acres of land, 13,000 of which was under cultivation. The loss on crops in the county was estimated at $65,000. It was believed that the total property loss was not less than $110,000. Twenty families were rendered destitute. Only one person, Mrs. Middleton, was killed outright, but three others were believed to be fatally injured. Twenty persons were so injured as to require medical or surgical attention. The number of casualties was marvelously small.

Passing into the adjoining county of Wabasha, the storm wrought greater havoc, striking Elgin, a village of about two hundred and fifty people, destroying or badly injuring every business building and leaving scarcely a habitable residence. There, as in Olmsted county, the casualties were comparatively very few. One woman was killed, another had her skull fractured, an old gentleman’s thigh was broken, a child’s spine was injured and several persons were slightly injured.

As in all such cases, relief for the unfortunate was prompt and liberal. Meetings were held in Rochester, committees were appointed and contributions collected throughout the county, the county commissioners appropriated $470. About twenty-five hundred dollars was raised within a few days and more later, so the immediate wants of the needy were supplied. Viola township also contributed $500 for its neighbors of Elgin.

A most appalling calamity was the cyclone that struck the county, and especially the city of Rochester, Tuesday evening, August 21, 1883, just a month to a day after the one that so nearly destroyed Elgin.

History of Olmsted County, Minnesota by Joseph A., Leonard; Chicago: Goodspeed Historical Association, 1910, pages 140-150