Sauk Centre, MN Terrible Tornado Damage, July 1869



Correspondence of the St. Paul Pioneer
Sauk Centre, Minn.,
Saturday, July 10, 1869.
One of the most fearful tornadoes that has visited our region for many a day, occurred last night, (Friday.) In town things of a loose and movable nature were scattered about promiscuously. Chimneys were blown down, trees uprooted, roofs blown off, lumber piles distributed, fences blown down, &c.
The more noticeable feature of the storm (in town) was the unroofing of the Episcopal Church, which was partially finished. The roof was blown off from the entire edifice, and the timbers were blown to the distance of from forty to sixty feet. The damage will probably amount to $1,000 or more. No lives were lost.
In the town of Raymond, on the extreme west of this county, the storm was more furious than here. It came from a southwesterly direction, and was accompanied with thunder, lightning and rain. It commenced about 1 o'clock A.M., and was at its extremost fury at about 2, during which time the lightning was nearly incessant.
A house in Raymond, owned and occupied by a MR. RICHARD RICHARDSON, a well-to-do farmer, was completely destroyed. This house was what was called a block-house 16 by 24, with the cornices dove-tailed together, and pinned at the corners and in the centre with oak pins, two inches in diameter. There were ten persons in the house at the time, and all were more or less injured. The details, so far as I have been able to learn them, are as follows: MR. and MRS. RICHARDSON, with one child of eighteen months, were sleeping down stairs in the northwest corner of the building; the balance of the family and visitors were up stairs.
Almost instantly the building was unroofed and the logs of the building, with the inmates of the chambers, went flying over the prairie. The oldest son, JOHN, 21 or 22 years of age, was blown thirty-five rods from the house. He was badly bruised externally, and received severe internal injuries. The second son, GEORGE, 13 years of age, was blown thirty rods, had his right leg broken, and was very badly bruised. The third son, WILLIE, 3 years old, was carried thirty-seven rods, into a wheat field, and when found was surrounded with trunks, barrels, boxes, &c., from the lower floor. She was seriously injured internally, and may not recover.
Two small children sleeping together up stairs, were wound together in their blankets by the force of the wind, and (strange as it may appear) carried a number of feet from the building, right in the direction from which the wind came, (southwest) and when found were unharmed. MRS. RICHARDSON, during all the time of the tornado, sat in her bed holding a child of 18 months in her arms. She was scratched somewhat about the face and neck, but otherwise received no injury. The child was unharmed. MR. RICHARDSON was not even scratched. A young man by the name of LIBERRTY BAYMOND, who had stopped over night, was blown thirty-six rods, and had both legs, one arm and his neck broken.
The storm, coming from the southwest, struck the building on the corner, and leveled everything to the ground, excepting some logs on the northwest corner, behind which stood the bed of MR. and MRS. RICHARDSON. Aside from these not a log could be found within from twenty to forty feet from their former resting place. Of everything up stairs, excepting the bodies, not a thing, not even a bedstead or a piece of one, could be found within one mile of the house. Physicians were on hand at an early hour, but the case of some of the sufferers is hopeless. In Pope County a frame dwelling-house of MR. GEORGE ROCKWELL was blown entirely down. MR. ROCKWELL was knocked senseless by the flying timbers, and MRS. ROCKWELL had her collar bone broken. She, supposing her husband killed, went for the neighbors and lost her way in the darkness. The injury to either MR. or MRS. ROCKWELL is comparatively slight.
Two log buildings belonging respectively to HARMON and son were both blown flat to the ground. Their children were blown from twenty to thirty rods, but without serious injury, so far as heard from. In that neighborhood five buildings were blown flat, and ten others were unroofed or otherwise seriously injured. There were no other lives lost so far as heard from at present.
The course of the storm seemed to be from southwest to northeast, and its main fury was in a tract of about fifty rods. At Grove Lake, where the storm passed through the timber, the timber was laid in a swath as though a reaper had been through it -- a strip at that place about thirty rods in width. We expect of course to hear of other casualties. The number of rods given above as the distances to which the different parties were blown is from actual measurement.

The New York Times New York 1869-07-17