BABY TORN FROM HER PARENTS' ARMS
At the John Edwards place the entire family was at home, when four people and a baby from Balaton stopped to seek shelter. 'The air was stifling hot and an ominous stillness was remarked as the clouds banded up in the west obscuring the settling sun. At about 5 p.m. they first realized that a bad storm was at hand and preparations were made to seek a place of safety. It was just at this time that one of the children cried, 'The bee-house has gone,' this being one of the small outbuildings. Immediately the west side of the house crashed in and Mrs. Edwards, giving the nine-week-old baby to its father, cried, 'It's too late.' What followed after this no one on the place knows as the storm with a deafening roar, mingled with peals of thunder and continuous flashes of lightning tore the heavens. The air was filled with flying debris, timbers, plaster, dirt, straw and rain, and for a few minutes hell seemed let loose and no one knew what had become of the other. After the tornado moved on they found themselves together in a heap, but Mr. and Mrs. Edwards and the baby were torn from each other and entirely separated. The mother for a time could not find any trace of the baby, until Mervin, one of the boys with his face bruised and bleeding and with one arm broken, discovered a bundle in the mud which was actually the infant with its little face and flesh matted and grimed with dirt so as to be almost unrecognizable."
A terrible hailstorm followed the tornado, which pelted Mrs. Edwards and her son, Floyd. Mrs. Edwards, her other children and the baby found shelter for a time from the hail storm under a 1,200 pound safe that had been flung into the yard by the storm. A daughter, Ethel, was found at one side of a fence post to which she was wrapped with hay so that she was unable to move. Floyd's ankle was hurt, Harold and Mervin both had a broken arm, Irvin escaped with a few scratches, Viola and Mrs. Edwards were badly bruised.
The Roy Allenbaugh farmhouse was just across the road, maybe thirty rods from the Edwards home. Allenbaugh lost all his buildings except for the house and it was badly damaged. But after the storm, when they got out to survey the destruction they were horrified when they looked over to the Edwards place to find that it was completely wiped out. They at first feared that the family had all perished but soon saw some figures moving among the ruins. Mr. Allenbaugh rushed across to find out if any were injured and was met by a dirty figure coming for help. It proved to be one of the Edwards' boys so disfigured that Allenbaugh did not at first recognize him. Then they started to search for Mr. Edwards whom the family had not yet found. He was found several rods from the house in a field, battered, bruised and groaning in pain. The Garvin Leader reported that: 'The doctor found Mr. Edwards's chest had been crushed and a large depression made in his skull. Just as soon as help could be obtained to get him to town he was rushed to the Tracy hospital where he died two hours later. The remainder of the Edwards family were taken to Allenbough's home where they were washed and cared for.'
EDWARDS' BABY LIVES TO BE 85 YEARS OLD
Jean Etta Edwards Dorsey survived the tornado and did not die until April 22, 2009. Her father perished in the storm so she was raised by her mother and brothers and sister. In 1942 she graduated from Tracy High School and traveled to California to work - and died there.
(Continued next week)