Santee-Sioux Reservation, NE Tornado Destruction, June 1870


The following letters, giving particulars of the tornado which recently passed over the Santee-Sioux Reservation, mention of which was made in our telegrams, are published in the Philadelphia papers:
Santee Agency, Nebraska, June 2, 1870 -- WILLIAM WELSH, Philadelphia, Penn.: Sir: MR. HINMAN requests me to inform you that at 4 o'clock yesterday afternoon a hurricane passed over the Agency, utterly destroying in its passage the Mission buildings and hospital.
There were killed -- MR. DAVIS, a carpenter, and an Indian named ALFRED. Three seriously injured -- MR. ROSS, MR. YOUNG, a painter, and LOUISE ST. CYR. These are all doing well this morning, and will recover.
MR. HINMAN and family escaped uninjured, although buried in the ruins. MR. HINMAN is now confined to his bed, but expects to be out soon.
Every attention is being paid the sufferers by the Agent and his family, and all are comparatively comfortable. Respectfully yours,

Santee Agency, Nebraska, June 3, 1870. -- My Dear Friend: I am sitting up today and not much injured. For the second time in the history of our mission we are left without home or food or clothing, and for the second time God has been very merciful in that we have passed through so fearful a calamity and been saved from a dreadful death and from any serious hurt.
About 4 o'clock on Wednesday afternoon, after a hard storm of thunder and rain, we noticed a whirlwind or water-spout forming in the hills to the south of the agency buildings. It seemed to be bearing that way, but as it came down the valley it changed its course, and bore direct for the Mission-house. Not certain that it would not break before it reached us, and thinking it might pass to the west of us, we remained in the house. One Indian woman fled, having been warned by ALFRED, an Indian, working at the hospital. It struck the house fairly at the tower, and we were all buried in the ruins.
The same Indian man warned the carpenter and painter in the hospital, but before they could fly the building was struck, and came down. The carpenter was instantly killed, and the Indian was carried off into the woods below, and so torn and bruised that he died immediately. The painter was also carried still further off, but he seems only slightly injured. We were dug from the ruins by the Indians, who came in crowds, and carried us in their arms, and kissed us, and wept like children.
By a miracle of Heaven, we are all safe, not even out little children injured.
In almost a moment, over $20,000 of property has been blown away. We are kindly cared for here at the Agent's house; they give us everything -- food, care and clothing. MR. JANNEY has written to Washington to see if Commissioner PARKER cannot help us, or get some aid from Congress.
I await your advice before acting further. The ruin is complete; even the bell was carried into the woods, and many things blown across the river into Dakota.
God will make all plain. If we have friends, we need them now. I can barely write. Very thankfully and sincerely yours,
WM. WELSH, Esq., Philadelphia.

The New York Times New York 1870-06-12