OHIO GENEALOGY EXPRESS
A Part of Genealogy
History & Genealogy
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
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 PROPERTY DESTROYED
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
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
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
* From Quincy Correspondence Cincinnati Gazette, June 12th,