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Tornado hits Tracy on Sunday, June 22, 1924

May 14, 2012
By Ellayne Conyers , Marshall Independent

Part II:


'Striking the schoolhouse of District Number 72, it scattered the building and its contents in a northeast direction for a quarter of a mile or more. The bell was broken as if it had been sawed off and about half way between the top and bottom.' People from Lamberton found schoolbooks from District Number 72 marked in them, in the fields near the city. The school itself was scattered to the four corners of the compass by the tornado, not a trace of it being left on the foundation or school grounds. The books must have been carried by the twister about 25 miles.


The headline of the June 27, 1924, issue of the Tracy Headlight-Herald proclaimed '3 dead and 37 families made homeless by Sunday's catastrophe.' (Although the newspaper headline proclaimed three dead there was only one death documented in the paper.) This newspaper editor wrote: 'It is impossible by words to picture the complete destruction wrought by the twister as it traveled thru one of the most prosperous and finest farming sections of the United States. Words are inadequate to give the reader the completeness of the disaster, which came like a bolt from a clear sky on Sunday afternoon, June 22. The great extent of the storm and the many places destroyed makes it almost impossible for a newspaper to give an adequate description of the devastation wrought.'

'Farm loss heavy farm homes, stock, machinery and much of crop destroyed by one of the severest storms in the state.' The Kingsbury farm just south of Russell lost everything all the buildings and the entire crop after which, Mr. Kingsbury abandoned the place and moved away. The Persons three claim, a 10-acre plot of walnut, butternut and other varieties along the shore of Rock Lake was completely erased. The Dan DeBrake barn was badly wrecked and was later replaced by material salvaged the ruins. Robert Meyers lost all his buildings except his house.


At the Gust Dennin farm the numerous buildings that could constitute a small village were literally pulverized, while a binder (harvesting) machine was blown from the demolished implement shed and catapulted thru the air for hundreds of feet and jammed thru the wall of the house penetrating the kitchen where the storm left it to reside. The house remained standing but was severely damaged. The opening created a suction that pulled the door from its hinges and with it Mrs. Dennin who was thrown into some trees in the yard. She received a scalp wound and was severely bruised. Mr. Dennin was also injured and confined to his bed. The Dennin farm received the greatest loss in the tornado's path.

The Will Town farm lost all the buildings except for the house. Horses, cattle and other stock were severely injured. Mr. Tow sustained a severe blow on the back of the head, the shock of which combined with bruises and exposure made him quite ill.

The L.D. Brown farm buildings were totally destroyed where every building was torn from its foundation and scattered a great distance. Another farm, operated by a tenant farmer William Hensaline, there was nothing left to indicate that the place was once built up and inhabited, save for a few tree stumps that were even stripped of the bark that once encased them. This was the most complete wipe out in the trail of the storm. The Hensalines were left entirely destitute, and were generously cared for by friends and those who considered his circumstances as being extraordinarily unfortunate. The children of the Robert Goltzes were found safe inside the house, which withstood the storm - the parents were away from home at the time. The Dr. Germo farm, Liebhardt farm, Sherman Anderson, L.L. Anderson, Dayland Brothers, Andrew Kelson, Ben Olson, Anton Bolig all lost outbuildings but survived without a scratch. Another densely populated grove of trees on the Steele Timber Claim was leveled to the height of fence posts and badly twisted and distorted. Deep within the grove was a small farmhouse where a three-day-old baby and the sick mother were occupied. The house was left standing but the roof so stripped of shingles that the torrent swept in and the mother and baby were left wet and chilled. Other people sought refuge in this house and were also saved. The E.F. Whiting farm suffered total loss amounting to $16,000.

(Continued next week)



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