Milton, Orfordville, Hanover WI Tornado, Nov 1911
TORNADO SWEEPS ROCK COUNTY LEAVING IN PATH DEATH AND DESTRUCTION.
SEVEN KILLED AND SCORES ARE FATALLY INJURED.
STRICKEN FAMILIES SEEK SHELTER IN SHEDS AND CHICKEN HOUSES.
SNOW AND SLEET FOLLOWS STORM AND FURTHERS THE SUFFERING.
GREATEST LOSS OF LIFE AT OXFORDVILLE [sic] WHERE FOUR PERISH.
Janesville, Wis., Nov. 11. -- At least seven lives were lost and scores of persons were injured, some fatally, in a tornado which swept Rock County at dusk tonight. Hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage was done to crop, buildings and other properties. Tonight dozens of families, whose homes were destroyed, sought shelter in chicken houses, sheds or other small structures out of the path of the storm. In other instances many persons found themselves without a roof to shelter them and because the flooded roads made travel impossible, they were forced to pass the night in open fields.
Measures for the relief of the storm stricken communities, Oxfordville [sic], Hanover, Milton Junction and Milton, have been instituted by citizens of Janesville and Beloit, but because of conditions much suffering necessarily must be undergone.
A cold wave followed the storm and sleet and snow added to the misery of the survivors. The greatest loss of life was at Oxfordville [sic]. There MRS. JOHN CLOWDER, 80 years old, was killed as were also a father and two daughters of a family whose name is SMITH, and a MRS. BROEDE.
At Milton one person, as yet unidentified, is reported dead. AMY KORBAN, 8 years old, was killed when her home just north of Janesville was demolished. Footville, Magnolia, Pewaukee and other villages along the Chicago and Northwestern and Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul railways, are reported to have suffered severely from the storm. It was impossible, however, tonight to verify these rumors.
The storm broke with a fury never before equaled in this part of the country. The farmers and villagers were caught entirely unaware. The high winds had prevailed during most of the afternoon. About four o'clock the clouds lowered and it became black as night. Warm temperature had prevailed during the day. The storm gathered with such suddenness that few had time to seek their homes.
Farmers, who were caught in their fields, sheltered themselves as best they could and many arrived home to find their buildings destroyed, and in some cases wives and children missing. The storm passed almost as quickly as it came up and left the country demoralized.
Attempts to establish communication with neighboring cities were futile. The roads were almost impassible but messengers were at once pressed into service and they made their way to Janesville and Beloit as quickly as possible. Oxfordville is equally distant from both of these cities and assistance from both towns was hurried to the stricken villages.
In the vicinity of Oxfordville [sic], the greatest havoc was wrought by the storm. First aid parties were organized and at once set about giving relieve whereever possible. The loss will run into the millions. According to DAVID ATWOOD, who made a trip into the country immediately after the storm passed this city, the loss to the tobacco crop alone will be more than half a million. Many valuable farm houses were destroyed.
"The storm was the most disastrous this country has experienced in years," said MR. ATWOOD after a trip into the section where the lives were lost. "I started with others to go to the assistance to those who had suffered losses but was unable to get more than five miles into the country."
"The roads were flooded and the whole section is impassible. For that reason there will be much suffering tonight in homes which were damaged. In many cases whole families will be obliged to seek shelter in barns and sheds, many of them will have no shelter. We found that where ever the storm attacked a group of buildings it swept everything clear."
"The usual freak features were present. The SMITH family, which was almost wiped out while seated at supper in their home near Hanover, nine miles from Janesville, the house was picked up and carried across the road and landed upon the roof of another."
"The father and two girls were killed outright when their house was swept away. The father was pinned down by a beam and the mother worked to release him while her children lay dead and dying nearby. The boy was found later in the wreckage and probably will die from their injuries. The two girls were found forty rods from where the house stood with their clothing entirely stripped from their bodies."
The tornado was first heard of at Broadhead. It struck the western edge of the county and swept through Oxfordville [sic], Hanover, Milton Junction and Milton.
The tornado just missed Janesville passing north of the city at a distance of about half a mile. Milton college at Milton escaped unharmed, but the buildings of the Gas company, with fourteen others, were totally destroyed.
MRS. JOHN CLOWDER, 80 years old, was alone in her home near Oxfordville [sic], the house was demolished and the neighbors are now searching the ruins for her body. MRS. BROEDE, a bride of six weeks, was instantly killed in thehome in which she had lived but a few days. She was a former Broadhead girl and was 23 years of age. FRANK WELCH, a rich farmer, living in the path of the storm, sat in his home when he saw his barn, tobacco and sheep sheds, and other buildings torn from their foundation and demolished. The tornado also damaged the house but the family escaped unhurt.
The Rock river is in a dangerous stage, owing to several houses, barns and outbuildings, that were blown into the water, having piled up against the old dam structure. Six hunters at Lake Koshkonong are reported killed but this cannot be verified as all wires are down.
WENZEL KORBAN, injured when his house was destroyed and his daughter killed, will not survive the night. His other three children are in a dangerous condition due to their injuries. Several rescueing parties which started from the cities, have returned, reporting that the roads are impassible. The thermometer has fallen 40 degrees since the storm broke. Hail did several damage after the storm had swept houses away.
Eau Claire Leader Wisconsin 1911-11-12