Town of Trenton, Dodge County, WI tornado, Sept 1916


Severe Wind Storm Tuesday Afternoon Causes Heavy Damage in the town of Trenton.

A sudden squall, which at times assumed the proportions of a tornado, swept down upon the town of Trenton between three and four o'clock Tuesday afternoon, inflicting thousands of dollars of damage upon farm buildings and standing corn.

The storm had a general northeasterly direction, traversed a narrow path and descended to the earth only at intervals. Wherever it touched the evidence of its force is apparent in the destruction wrought.

After crossing Beaver Dam lake the wind first descended to the earth at the Phillip Gutgesell farm, where a chimney was blown down from the house, a small out building was leveled and the corn knocked down. Traversing the Fox Lake road no other sign of the storm is visible until the Paul Madigan farm, some six or seven miles northeast of this city, is reached.

It was here that the storm reached its greatest violence and that the greatest destruction was wrought. Nearly all of the farm buildings, with the exception of a comparatively new residence, a smaller residence and the concrete silo were wrecked. The large basement barn, 116x34 feet in size was completely leveled with its foundation with the exception of the north wall which remains standing, tilted against a pile of hay that was in the barn at the time. A tool shed 22x80 feet in size and weighed down with its contents of many tons of heavy machinery was picked up and moved some twenty feet from its foundation and then flatened out at one end by the force of the wind. A new carriage and scale shed 30x50 feet, which was securely anchored to a concrete foundation was completely demolished, not a stick of timber being left on the former site of the building. A large steel windmill which stoon near and towered above the house was buckled about fifteeen feet from the ground and fell with its top piercing the roof of the house. Just north of the house a fine orchard of large trees, covering several acres, was almost completely destroyed. Trees, the largest of which were twenty inches in diameter, were either bndily [sic] uprooted or had their heavy trunks twisted off a few feet above the ground.

Just across the road from the Madigan farm are the buildings of the Wm. Bowe farm, which also suffered from the wind, although in a much less degree. Here a buggy shed housing an automobile and other vehicles was blown away, but the auto remained in its original position and suffered but slight damage which consisted of a broken wind shield. The large barn on this place was moved a few inches on its foundation and badly wrenched, while a large number of trees on the place were blown down. Two calves, belonging to Mr. Bowe were killed, probably by flying debris.

Mr. Madigan estimates his lose [sic] in buildings and contents at between six and seven thousand dollars with no insurance. In speaking of the storm Mr. Madigan said: "My brother and I, together with the hired man, were at work in the yard changing the wheels of a wagon preparatory to going to town when a heavy rain came up. We all sought shelter in the barn during the down pour which was brief. As it slackened and the clouds gave promise of an end to the rain, I started for the door, when the wind struck the building. I started to close the doors of the barn but they were blown inward before I reached them.

"My brother and the hiredman had gotten into the basement and I started to descend and was stepping over a large coil of hay rope, oue [sic] end of which was attached to the rafters of the building, when the roof shot upward. I became entangled in the coils of the rope and was carried upard ten feet or more before a became disentangled and fell to the barn floor. Fortunately, I landed between two piles of debris which bore the weight of several timbers and other debris which pinned me down. The force of the wind was spent in perhaps two minutes and I was soon rescued from my dangerous position under the wreckage." Aside from a bruise across the small of his back, Mr. Madigan suffered no injuries. The other two men, who succeeded in reaching the basement in time, were unharmed, as were also the horses and cattle in the basement.

The neighbors were notified and the work of clearing the debris was at once commenced and carried on through the greater part of Tuesday night. A large crew of men with teams were at work on the place yesterday afternoon, hauling the grain, some fifteen hundred bushels, to Fox Lake, clearing the roads of fallen trees and removing the wreckage. It is the plan of Mr. Madigan to restore the destroyed building at once.

An old house that stands on the Madigan farm within twenty feet of the carriage shed which was completely demolished, escaped unscathed, in spite of the fact that stands upon a foundation eight or ten feet above the ground in a very exposed position. The fine new residence, which is occupied by Mr. Madigan and his family, suffered but slightly, the greatest damage being done to the roof by the fallen windmill. In the garrett of the house is a large window facing the barn. Flying boards from the barn were driven through the window and alighted upon an unoccupied bed on the upper floor. A cultivator which stood in one of Mr. Madigan's fields was driven across the farm, through three wire fences, plowing a furrow as it went.

In its limited area, the storm was the most destructive that has visited this section in many years. Aside from the damage done on the Madigan and Bowe farms, other farms in the path of the storm suffered quite heavily in the partial destruction of corn fields and damaged outbuildings.

The Beaver Dam Argus, Beaver Dam, WI 14 Sept 1916