Woodford County, IL Tornado, Oct 1875

[Roanoke] township in 1875 was visited by one of the most violent tornadoes that has ever been known in this part of the country. Though confined to a narrow belt, in some places not exceeding 50 yards in width, the destruction of all within its swath was complete. Houses, barns, tree, cattle, and horses were swept away. The whirlwind struck in the southwestern part of the township, demolishing the school house that stood a mile from the west and three miles from the south line. The teacher, seeing the storm approaching, dismissed school and only just in time, for they had gotten but a dozen yards outside the track of the storm, when the school was crushed to fragments. From this point the tornado passed across the road and completely destroyed the house occupied by the Bingham family who barely escaped by taking refuge in the cellar. The Bullington home shared the same fate, and the Gideon Jeter and C. Waldron homes were also destroyed. No lives were lost, although a number of persons were injured. The freak winds were extremely curious, and in many instances, almost incredible. Large stones, partly imbedded in the earth, were scooped up and carried long distances. Horses were carried through the air and fence posts were drawn from the ground. A child was blown from its mother's arms, deposited safely in a straw stack, and found later when someone heard its cries.

The Woodford County history : Woodford County Board of Supervisors, 1968, page 168


The second great storm occurred October 19th, 1875. This time it was a fierce tornado, which crossed Roanoke and Clayton townships, doing vast injury to property and causing consternation among the people. This storm was first seen in the vicinity of Washington, and had the appearance of a great revolving mass of clouds in the air. There were abundant evidences of impending danger should it come to the ground. It did not come down, however, until it reached Woodford county, in the neighborhood of Roanoke township. It struck the Bingham school house and dashed it to pieces. School had just been dismissed and but for the foresight of the teacher, who just succeeded in getting the children outside the path of the storm, some of them would undoubtedly have been killed. It destroyed the house of E. E. Bingham, the family escaping by going to the cellar. At Thomas Marshall's, part of the house was destroyed, and a great stone in front of it was moved several feet. The storm took its course toward A. C. Bullington's house. Here the building was dashed to pieces, and Mr. Bullington and children saved themselves by clinging to the hedge. The Jeter school was next in its course and was broken into a thousand pieces. A part of the blackboard is said to have been found in Minonk township. C. H. Waldron's house was destroyed as was also Gideon Jeter's barn. Mrs. Charlotte Stimpert's house was destroyed. All the family but Philip succeeded in getting into the cellar. He was carried some distance with the house, but was finally dropped without serious injury. Mr. Stimpert still has a vivid recollection of the storm and its results. He remembers that they had four wagons, two of which were new, and the storm took the spokes out of every wheel but one. The front part of one wagon was carried a half mile. The house of Mrs. Mary de Freise was destroyed, and she was injured. Georg Leonard's house suffered the common fate, as did also MR. SNYDER's home. He was the only one killed in the county as a result of the storm. The barn and trees about Henry Memmen's place were blown down, and Wait Uphoff's house was completely destroyed.

The storm was not wide, the main track of it being a little over a hundred feet in width. Corn, which was just ready for husking was blown to the ground, and husking was done with great difficulty. There were numerous freaks of the wind in its wild flight across the prairies. At George Leonard's the baby was picked up and left on a straw stack, practically uninjured but with its clothing torn from its body.

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