Buffalo, NY Tornado Damage, June 1866



From the Buffalo Courier, June 26.
This city was visited yesterday afternoon, about 4 o'clock, by one of the most terrific storms ever known, or at least remembered, in this part of the country. But a short time before the storm burst upon the city, the coulds became ominously dark and heavy; flashes of lightning and light peals of thunder alternated; the air was oppressively quiet, and the most expert meteorologist would scarcely have dared to prophesy more than a heavy shower of rain. At the hour mentioned, a heavy rain, intermixed with hail, and a fearful gale, set in simultaneously, and for half an hour the storm raged with a fury which we have never seen before. How to characterize it we scarcely know. It was a gale, a hurricane, a whirlwind, a tornado, a cyclone; it was any or all of these; a wild, wicked, relentless tempest, which seemed bent on the utter destruction of the city. It came almost directly from the west, with slight inclination to the south, and at first directed its strength against awnings, and signs, and everything that lay loose on the sidewalks. Horses took fright and ran in various directions much to the injury of the vehicles attached, many of which were overturned and wrecked. Then chimneys came crashing down, roofs took flight, windows were forced in or otherwise damaged, buildings were blown down and large trees were uprooted as if they had been but weeds in the hands of the gardener. For half an hour the storm raged, and strong buildings trembled and devastation became broadcast; and yet were we not called upon to chronicle loss of life; and serious injuries to several persons, we should, under all the circumstances, consider the damages to property comparatively slight. When we first sought the outside, after the subsidence of the storm, the streets presented a desolate appearance. Signs, posts, drygoods boxes, huge fragments of cornice, and roofing, and trees, lay strewn in thick profusion on street and sidewalk at every turn; and we became at once persuaded that the work of the tempest had been widespread and desolating. But the city proved to be more substantial than we had even supposed it to be, and stood the storm well. Although lives were destroyed; a large amount of property wrecked; and the ornamentation of the city somewhat marred, the casualties and losses are fewer and lighter than we had at first supposed. We cannothope to give, this morning, even an approximate idea of the damage done, and a day or two must probably elapse before a report of the disasters can be completed. The streets running east and west; and the west sides of the streets running north and south, were compelled to bear the brunt of the storm, and of course these suffered the principal injuries.

Loss Of Life.
The storm had scarcely subsided before the sidewalks in all parts of the city were thronged with people anxious to learn of the extent of the damage done; and first among the inquiries were questions in regard to the loss of life. The first case reported was that of MRS. SARAH J. MALLORY, who was killed on the canal boat Monitor, lying in the creek at the foot of Washington street. The schooner Mazeppa, lying near the Sturges Elevator, was torn from her mooring and driven with great force against the schooner Goshawk. The latter yielding to the violence, broke away, and drifted before the storm to the south side, where lay the canal boat. Some of the men on the Monitor seeing the danger, tried to assist MRS. MALLORY out of the cabin, but before they could effect her rescue the schooner came crashing against the boat with terrific force. The woman, who had her child, two years old, in her arms, had got part away out of the cabin. The child was saved, but she was caught between the broken timbers and her body was terribly mutilated. She was at once taken to the canal boat Buffalo, where she died in about half an hour.
Deceased was about 21 years of age, was the wife of the steersman of the boat, and belonged in Kirkville, Onondaga County, in this State. Coroner RICHARDS hald an inquest on the body, and a verdict was rendered in accordance with the facts we have given.
The second fatal casualty was that of a man who was killed near the Rolling Mills at Black Rock. He was standing on the track when a car was blown against him and he was instantly killed. Coroner EDMUNDS will hold an inquest on the body today.

The New York Times New York 1866-07-01