Janesville, WI Tornado, Nov 1911

Cyclone Kills Nine and Half Million Loss

Janesville, Wis., Nov. 11

Nine persons are dead, another is dying, many are injured and nearly half a million dollars' worth of property was destroyed in a cyclone that swept over Rock County this afternoon.

Near Orfordville the whole SMITH family, three daughters, a son and the father was killed. MRS. JOHN CROWDER, 80 years old; MRS. PROEDE, a bride of a few months; FRED LENTZ, carpenter, and AMY KERBAN, 8 years old, met death. WENZEL KERBAN is dying.

The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne, IN 12 Nov 1911


Details of Fatal Wisconsin Cyclone

Janesville, Wis., Nov. 12 - Splintered timbers, broken furniture, crumbled rock and plaster, scattered farm produce and dead farm animals littering the ground over an area of a quarter of a mile in width and twenty miles in length indicate the tremendous force with which southern Wisconsin's worst cyclone swept a path through Rock County, killing eight persons, injuring many more and doing damage to the extent of nearly a million dollars.

Of the injured, one, ALBERT SCHMITT, 14 years old, of near Hanover, will die. His father and two sisters are dead. At least one more may die. The dead:

ANTON SCHMIDT, 55 years old, Hanover, blown from barn and instantly killed.

ALICE SCHMIDT, 18 years old, daughter of Anton Schmitt, blown across the road and found nearly buried in a field.

REGGIE SCHMIDT, 14 years old, sister of Alice Schmidt, found dead beside her sister's body.

HELEN AUSTIN, six years old, Milton, instantly killed.

MRS. JOHN CROWDER who lived between Brodhead and Orfordville.

LEO LENTZ, 16 years old, Hanover, blown from barn and instantly killed.

AMY KERBAN 8 years old instantly killed when her home was demolished.

Wire service was demoralized last night and it was not until today that details of the catastrophe were obtained. A steady downpour of rain added to the confusion Saturday night and made identification of the dead difficult.

Saturday night the thermometer dropped to nearly zero and it was a fearful night for grief-stricken survivors, many left without a roof to cover their heads.

The cyclone originated in the vicinity of Orfordville, 12 miles southwest of Janesville, traveled northeast for several miles and then turned to the east. The greatest damage was done near the point of origin and at Milton.

Darkness and Downpour The cyclone lasted only a few minutes. Although it occurred about the middle of the afternoon it was dark as night. The blinding downpour made search for the dead and dying a terrible task.

Of the Schmidt family, three quarters of a mile east of Hanover, there is only one survivor. He is Albert Schmidt, the fourteen-year-old boy. Physicians say he cannot recover. Alice Schmidt and her younger sister were in the house. The bodies were blown across the rode [sic], the house being demolished over their heads. Their necks were broken, skulls fractured, and it required two men to pull the half-buried bodies from the ground. Anton Schmidt, the father, and a tramp, were in the barn. The tramp, who was not injured, says Mr. Schmidt was blown through the barn door. His body was found in the hog yard.

Watches Bride Killed Mrs. Elizabeth Proede, a bride of a few months, was instantly killed when the house was carried away. Her husband stood in the barn door and saw the house carried away and discovered the body of his bride after the cyclone had passed. The Proedes lived near Orfordville.

Leo Lentz, 16 years old, was blown from a new barn he was helping erect.

Near Milton there was one death, Helen Austin, 5 (sic) years old, daughter of Alfred Austin, a farmer. Mrs. Austin was seriously injured and it was thought for a time she would die. Her sister, Mrs. Elizabeth Hume, was also badly hurt. Helen's sister, Florence, was badly bruised and her collarbone broken. Austin was in the field. When he reached home he found nothing but sticks and stones of what was once a fine country home.

There were many freakish incidents connected with the cyclone. At the Douglas farm, a buggy was carried into a tree and bent around the trunk, where it hung, the rim of one hind wheel encircling the front axle. At the home of William Little, a six-by-six timber was driven through a cow. At the Schmidt farm a hog was cut in two by a plow. At this same place a cook stove was carried to an adjacent field where it was deposited right side up, apparently undamaged.

The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne, IN 13 Nov 1911