Ferryville, IA Tornado, Jun 1915




Chicagoan Is Decapitated When Body Is Blown Through Side of Building While at Work.


Survivors Report That Tornado Came Suddenly with No Earlier Signs of Trouble.


Oldest and Youngest Members of Family Party Killed and All but One of Ten Injured

(By N. D. Tevis.)
The work of the man, and the work of the Creator, alike, were erased from the face of the peaceful ridge, just below Ferryville early Saturday night much as a fly would be brushed aside by a provoked hand. As quickly a cyclone which made the fertile country a barren waste, was gone.

The Mississippi river towns and communities on all sides knew nothing at the time of the agony on Finley ridge, the center of the cyclone's path, and hours passed before news of the fearful calamity reached the outside world.

Nine persons are known dead - four on the Iowa side of the Mississippi, a score are severely injured; three not expected to live, and more than forty persons are homeless - in several instances their dwellings gone and other property destroyed.

Finleys Hard Hit
The family of T. C. FINLEY, on Finley Ridge, three miles down the river from Ferryville, suffered the hardest in the tornado. Two persons were killed outright, seven injured, of whom at least one will die, and house and farmstead completely wiped out. The two dead were the eldest and youngest of a family party which had just seated itself at the dinner table, MRS. MARIE FINLEY, the mother of T. C. FINLEY, and the year-old son of MRS. MARGARET FINLEY.

A sorrow of tearless eyes and closed lips, reigned on the ridge country yesterday as those who escaped death and injury added their mite to efforts, to make lighter the burden.

That the cyclone struck the Wisconsin side of the river at a point about one mile below Ferryville, is an established fact, but the belief of some, that it originated at that point, is disproven by the circumstance that four persons were near Lansing, at some distance inland, on the Iowa side of the river.

MR. FRED COPSEY, Ferryville, and a few others, standing on a high point in Ferryville, saw the "funnel" coming. The sky was a ghastly color. Green bordered the black botch which whirled and twisted and seemed to travel like a phantom, and a peculiar yellowish hue pervaded the whole horizon.

Passes By Ferryville
Ferryville was not touched. As the small group watched the storm, it was probably one mile south of Ferryville. The ghostly yellow of the cyclone cloud made it seem as though it were a short distance away. The water of the Mississippi was picked up as with a mammoth scoop. One witness says the water rose high in the sky, and the phenomonon[sic] is proven by the fact that Ferryville people felt a veritable tidal wave reach the docks of the slough which front the village.

The cyclone turned a right angle one mile below the town, heading in a southerly direction and then taking a southeasterly course.

Practically no warning was given the unsuspecting inhabitants of Finley and other ridges four miles below and some distance inland from the village of Ferryville. The morning had been an ideal one, and clouds did not appear in any strength until a short time before until 4 o'clock in the afternoon was there a sign of even rain. A light wind came up from the south with the clouds. I have often heard of the heaviness of the air just before a cyclone, and I can say that this condition was lacking until a few minutes before the wind struck our house.

"None of the family paid any attention to the clouds nor the slight wind."

"The atmosphere changed very little from the time the clouds first appeared until it was all over. The chores had been done, and we had just commenced the evening meal. There were eleven of us at the table."

"Everyone felt in the best of spirits. MRS. DALEY, my sister, was visiting us from Atlantic, Ia., and we had the whole family present."

Suddenly Grows Dark

"Just before we heard the awful rumble which came before the wind, it suddenly grew dark. I arose from the table and went to the front door."

"The sky was the most peculiar color I ever imagined it could be. Way down south was a black cloud. It seemed to be edged with green, with a ghastly yellowish color stretching up into the sky."

"There was no time to think. The cyclone covered the ridge country faster, it seemed, than time, and the memory of just what happened in the house is not distinct in the memory of one of my family. I turned back towards the table when the cyclone hit the house. I was pushed forward and it felt as though the world was falling on top of me."

Aged Mother Killed

"The life was crushed out of my mother in a second. She was seventy-four years old and growing feeble, and I do not think she realized what had happened."

"My sister's baby sat on its mother's lap. We found it more than half a mile away. Some of the others were found down in the coulee near our home."

"My sister LORETTA, who has been blind since birth, was probably worst hurt. We found her cut and bruised not very far from the wreck of our home. She had no conception of what a cyclone was and she has failed until now to realize what calamity came upon her."

No trace of a barn can be seen on the FINLEY farm.

With the exception of a pile of what looks like rubbish where the homestead stood, the farm has the appearance of one never occupied by man.

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Ferryville is on the

Ferryville is on the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi, not the Iowa side.