I recently received the following essay from Bill Bolin of Tracy. Bill's wife Sandy's father, Earl, was the son of Roy Allumbaugh and he was 14 years old at the time of the tornado. Earl wrote the following in his genealogy accounts. Earl's family lost many of their buildings. Earl's sister, Blanche, married Bill Edwards whose father John Edwards was killed during the storm.
I wish to thank Sandy and Bill Bolin who gave permission for me to submit this account to the series on the June 22, 1924, tornado.
"One of the biggest disasters was the cyclone. On a Sunday afternoon around five o'clock June 22, 1924, we were destroyed by a cyclone. Dad and I were visiting the Edwards halfway up from their lane watching the storm come from the west. Our lanes joined at the main road. Neither man figured it was a cyclone. It was rolling along the ground covering a wide area in the west. Both men thought it was very bad and possibly a terrible hail storm. At this time there were no funnels in sight but the black clouds were rolling along the ground. It seemed that the whole western sky was black and on the ground. A Mr. Tenhoff of Balaton drove into the lane and said he wanted shelter for his wife and baby. He said it was a cyclone. We ran home while Mr. Tenhoff went to Mr. Edwards house. As we only had an outside stairway to the basement and Grandma Susie was a heavy woman Dad said we had better go into the basement. Dad tied the basement door open and just before it broke the tie and slammed shut a large hailstone fell on the steps. Dad picked it up and held it in his hand and said, 'It is going to tear the siding off the house.' At that time he grabbed Blanche and Mother grabbed me and pulled us to the west wall of the basement.
I remember the great roar and the house shuddering and then all was quiet. As we came out of the basement we saw a four-foot wall of water rolling back to the west shore of the lake. We could see a couple rods of muddy bottom before the water covered it. All the trees were so flat we could look right over them, many had to be cut and others raised up themselves; no chain saws then. All the buildings but the house and corn crib were gone. The car with the top blown off was drawn out the south door of the corncrib and close to the kitchen door. Chickens started running around with feathers off. As the storm kept going east and still on the ground we saw several funnels. Shortly Mervin Edwards was climbing over the trees and holding his arm. It was broken. He said that 11 people in the house were scattered as the house broke up. Mr. Edwards was found about two blocks east of the house all muddy in a field. He was carried to our house on a door slab by Dad and the neighbors who rushed over to help. He had a hole in his chest and died that night in the Tracy Hospital. The younger brother of Mervin, Harold, had a crushed elbow and it gave him trouble for many years. Outside of bruises and cuts the rest were not hurt. The Tenhoffs were OK and the infant girl (Gene Edwards) whom was held by Mr. Edwards was found lying by the foundation of the now non-existent house. All were brought to our house for a while, all because John Edwards did not believe in going into a basement. We stayed that night with Grandma Hill in Tracy. I remember the train coming into town during the night and I woke up afraid.
We lost 10 head of brood sows; very likely they were in the lake. The cows and horses were in the pasture south of the buildings and were not hurt. For several days they were restless. We milked the cows outdoors in makeshift stalls for many days.
As usual the road was lined with curiosity seekers all hours of the day and night for some time. Sherman Hill was hired by the county sheriff until the National Guard came. We had two guardsmen at the end of our lane, one for Edwards and one for us. They were issued a few shells a day to help pass the time away. This privilege was taken away after they shot holes in the mailboxes and one bullet split the tongue in a new hay rake standing close to the house. One Sunday Father went to the guard and asked him to let the sight seekers in the yard. They stormed around so fast coming right into the house and rummaging through barrels and stealing that father asked the guard to remove them. He went to the south edge of the people and started hollering for them to get out.
(Continued next week)