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Logan County, Ohio
History & Genealogy

Logan County *Tornado

Source:  The History of Champaign & Logan Counties, Ohio from their First Settlement:
by Joshua Antrim: Bellefontaine, Ohio: Press Printing Co. 1872

     A whirlwind is a bad thing to get mixed up with.  People living in cities have little opportunity of judging the entire truth of this statement, but their country cousins are entirely aware of the fact, and their knowledge is based on the vary solid foundation stone, experience.  Their houses are not of the city pattern.  They contain no massive joists, and walls a foot thick, nor is much brick or stone used in their construction.  They are generally wooden structures, rarely over two stories in height, and are not destined to last much beyond the lives of their builders.  Consequently when the wind becomes tempestuous in a country village, the inhabitants of the place are very much concerned about the matter and are at their wit's end to find a secure refuge.  Such was the case with the inhabitants of this little town, and those of DeGraff, its nearest adjoining neighbor, on Friday evening, 7th inst.
     Indications of a storm were apparent to the close observer during the day, but as twilight came on, the clearness of the atmosphere and the strange quiet that seemed to affect all things, gave everybody the cue to what was to follow.  The whirlwind came from the west, and at about half-past 6 o'clock it struck in the vicinity of Quincy, tearing the forest to pieces, and then after leaving their broken remnants behind it, coming upon the town itself.  It looked like a massive balloon as it sped on its mission of destruction, and little clouds appeared to be pursuing each other with lightning rapidity through the upper section of it, while the lower part, corresponding to the basket of an aeronaut's vessel, seemed like the chimney of a locomotive.  As it struck the town, houses, barns, stables, outhouses, buildings of every description, went to pieces with a continuous crashing that sounded like the shock of armies in battle; and the terror-stricken citizens, such as were unhurt, rushed wildly to and fro with irresolute mind but feet of courier swiftness.  Shouts of joy from mothers at finding their lost offspring, from husbands at seeing their wives again, and from children being assured of their parents' safety, mingled with lamentations of grief from those whose search was unrewarded.
     The scenes were such as would have ensued had the end of the world arrived, and their is perhaps no resident of the town who did not for the moment suppose that such was the case.  The terror was universal, and every thought was of self, until the wind had expended its forces.  When the nature of the shock was understood, however, many persons recovered a portion of their lost courage, and their thoughts reverted to their relatives and friends.  They then endeavored to ascertain their whereabouts, and many who left their houses under such circumstances, fell in the streets, struck by flying timbers and debris.  After the shock had lasted about a moment, its destroying force was carried onward to DeGraff, which is situated three miles from Quincy, and there the same scenes were re-enacted among the populace.  The destruction was principally wrought in the best section of the town, but was not as extensive as in Quincy.  The whirlwind seemed to be traveling on a straight line at the rate of sixty miles an hour as it reached DeGraff, and it covered territory from fifty to a hundred miles wide.  After the hurricane had passed over DeGraff, it progressed about three miles further in its course, and then died away with its force expended.  The citizens of the devastated village were then able to proceed about the mournful task of hunting out the victims of the disaster, and the work was one to which all hands were turned and which was soon completed.  In DeGraff about fifteen persons were hurt.  The house of Jonathan Roll, a large two story frame, fronting on the main street of the hamlet, was badly riddled and the roof torn off, and during the alarming crisis the occupants became overwhelmed with terror, and rushed into the street.  Mr. Roll in person carried his little daughter Lillie, a girl seven years of age, in his arms, and had scarcely left the building before a mass of flying wreck struck and knocked him to the earth and covered his body and that of his daughter out of sight in the ruins.  When the rescuers reached him after the accident, the little girl, the pride of his heart, was still clasped in his arms; but her eyes could never more twinkle the delight she felt while in his company, and her tiny hand could never more pat his cheek - she was dead; and the form five minutes before all grace and beauty, was now distorted into a shape that wrung copious tears of sorrow from those who viewed it.  Her injuries were so terrible that death could not have been delayed long enough for her to know that she had received them.
     Mr. Roll, personally, suffered a broken shoulder blade and numerous and several bruises.  His wife and Levanda Moses (her daughter by a former husband) met with an equally terrible misfortune in their effort to seek safety.  The girl's brains were dashed out, and she was mutilated as badly as her half sister, and Mrs. Roll had her left forearm crushed, and received internal injuries of so serious a nature that her recovery is entirely conjectural.  The names of the other victims I can not recollect.  Suffice it to say that they are receiving every attention, and, with the exception of a boy named Warner, who was blown a distance of one hundred yards, some assert, are in little danger.


     The ravages of the wind in DeGraff are made plainly apparent to the occupants of passing railroad trains, and they still look confused and widespread, although every effort is being put forth to restore the town to its former shape.  The chief thoroughfare abuts on the railway depot as Baymiller does to the C. H. & D. Depot in Cincinnati, and a view of it in the present condition is not gratifying.  The last building on the east side of the street was a barn, which belonged to Newt. Richardson, and adjoining it was the barn of Dr. Hance.  Next to the last named came the frame house and stable of T. J. Smith, and then the Methodist church, a large frame structure.  These buildings were all some distance back from the street, and were leveled flat.  In front of the church was the dwelling house, store, and barn of Mrs. Christine, and not an erect timber in either building is left standing.  Mr. Roll's house and stable were situated next to Mrs. Christine's property, and the stable was wrecked completely.  Adjoining the Roll homestead on the west was Mrs. Lippencott's house and barn.  The house was bereft of its roof and otherwise damaged, while the stable was resolved into lumber on the spot.  The last buildings on this side of main street were a small brick building, occupied as a tin and stove store by Samuel Pratt, and the frame cabinet shop of H. H. Rexer, both of which were ruined.
     On the west side of the street the destruction was not so great as on the east, but the number of buildings partially destroyed was about even.  The list opens with Newt. Richardson's frame business house, which lost its roof, as did the adjoining store of Conrad Mohr.  The dwelling of John Van Kirk came next, and was similarly treated, and the owner's saddle and harness shop next door also suffered scalping.  The next house was Schriver, Wolf & Co.'s dry goods establishment, which, in addition to unroofing, was battered and broken in many places.  A good sized frame next to this last named, occupied as a dry goods store, and owned by Benjamin Crutcher, was unroofed and otherwise damaged, and the hardware store of Grafford, Crutcher & Co., adjoining it met with back luck,  being nearly destroyed.  On Boggs street, in rear of Main, Mrs. Russell's dwelling house (a large building, ) Lippincott & Hersche's cooper shop and barn, and Lippincotts stable, were all very badly damaged, and on the west side of this street the dwellings of John O'Hara and David Gainey suffered severely.
     C. H. Custenborder, a farmer living half a mile distant, lost his house and two barns, all of which were blown to atoms.  The grist and saw mills of Shriver, Wolf & Co., near DeGraff, were injured to a considerable extent.  In Quincy about seventy buildings are believed to have been all or partially destroyed, and an estimating committee who reckoned up the matter calculated that the loss would reach sixty or seventy thousand dollars.  Among the chief losses are the following:  Baptist and Methodist churches, frame buildings, both are down.  Wm. Cloninger's blacksmith, cooper and wagon shops, leveled with the ground, and dwelling house rendered uninhabitable for some days.  The dwelling house was moved twelve feet from its foundations.  Large frame house occupied by Daniel Clark and Edward Fitzgerald, was rendered almost valueless by the damage inflicted.  Henry Keyser's frame house, demolished.  widow Offenbach's dwelling house, roof off.  Elias Walburn's carriage shop, partially destroyed.  D. S. Wolf's hotel and pump factory - roof off the former and the latter destroyed.
     These are but a few of the heaviest losses.  Very few buildings in the entire town seemed to have escaped the visitation.  Several people were caught and imprisoned in the ruins of their own houses as they tell, and had to wait some time before succor came to them.  The force of the hurricane was felt very plainly in Quincy, and as instances, timbers of a thickness of eight or ten inches were blown from the Methodist Church a distance of ten yards, and in one place after the storm, a shingle was found driven into some weatherbording, just as if it had been steel and as sharp pointed as a razor.  In DeGraff, also, it drew a pump from a well of Alexander Corry, and threw it ten feet and over his house.  A large piece of tin roofing was carried away from the town hall in the latter village and was thought by imaginative countrymen, in its progress, to be a winged gray horse.  Masses of rubbish were carried several miles and deposited in fields, on the tops of forest trees and elsewhere.


     The first reliable intimation of the coming destruction was given to the inhabitants of DeGraff by a countryman, who drove through town in his wagon as fast as his lame and antiquated government mule could hobble, and shouted to the people to vacate.  Nobody understood the cause of his alarm, however, and many thought the volume of dust sweeping on toward them was caused by a runaway team.  When the storm broke, a citizen named Johnson, who possessed the first requisite of a good Cincinnati Councilman, a capacious abdomen, laid himself down beside a stone wall, and had not been there thirty seconds, before Mr. Graffort, the hardware man, came gliding along and speedily ranged himself on Mr. Johnson.  It wasn't a good fit, however, and the next man was a Kentucky doctor of about Johnson's size, who settled won on the two members of the stone wall brigade, with all the lightness and ease of a three story brick house.  He found, however, after he had done so, that the wall was not high enough to shield him from the destroyer, and so got up again, thereby saving himself the unpleasantness of acting as principle in a murder trial, as Johnson's breath had ebbed down to almost a thimbleful, and he could not muster up a whisper of remonstrance.
     The most miraculous event that occurred in Degraff is believed to have been the escape of a French stallion - a splendid animal - that was lodged in a stable back of Main street.  The stable was leveled flat with the ground, and a surface of perhaps one hundred feet square was covered with corn cobs and rubbish, and the animal was found afterward standing where his stall out to be, and calmly feeding upon the loose hay strewn around him.  A similar incident was the escape of a brood of pigeons.  This last event was chronicled by one youngster to another (as overheard by a bystander) in very grieved tons, "There wasn't one of the old pigions hurt," and the event was sufficiently singular to excite comment among older people than the boy.  On Hay street a small frame dwelling house occupied by John Van Kirk was turned half way round with the gable and to the street, without a board being displaced.
     The Ministerial Association of the Bellefontaine District was to have met in the Methodist church today, but upon second thought concluded they would not do so.  The funerals of the dead girls, and also that of Mrs. Glick, in Quincy, took place on Monday, and were not very largely attended, owing to the other interests that claimed the absorbing attention of the people.  The towns have been visited the absorbing attention of the people.  The towns have been visited by thousands of people since the disaster, and the relief movements are in good shape, and promising an abundantly satisfactory return.  In DeGraff the houseless ones have all been provided with shelter by their neighbors, but in Quincy the destruction was so general that many had to be sent to the country, and thrown on the hospitality of the farmers.  In many houses in Quincy the occupants can be seen at their work, sewing women plying the needle at the windows, where sash, glass and all are missing, and domestics washing in apartments with apertures in them large enough to admit a horse, seemingly.
     The following curious poster, written with ink, meets a person's gaze on nearly every dilapidated house front in the place:
     "Blown down, but alive and ready to do duty in my dwelling house, one door north of the old stand.  SAM. FRANTZ.   "Stoves, Queensware &c."
     Half a dozen persons in the two towns were carried some yards by the strength of the wind, and one by the name of Johnnie parks, living in Quincy, says he held to the post as long as the post stood it, but when it went he went too.  He couldn't resist the inclination.  It is most probably that the whirlwind's power was brought chiefly to bear upon the forests before it had reached Quincy.  The scene in these uninhabited tracts of land is most convincing evidence of the wind's terrible power.  Trees as high as the Opera House, and thick beyond the capacity of two men's arms to encircle, lie here, wrenched out of the very ground by the airy monster.  Some are split in two, and their branches lie strewn around in endless confusion.  Others are taken short off at the base, and others still have had their branches lopped off.  These that are still standing are beat and insignificant-looking when compared with their former erect position.

* From Quincy Correspondence Cincinnati Gazette, June 12th, 1872.

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