History of GRATIOT CO., Michigan. Historical Biographical, Statistical

By Willard D. Tucker pub. 1913 Press of Seemann & Peters, Saginaw, Michigan


1911, Dec. 4-Chas. A. Oswald, a highly-respected citizen of St. Louis, was killed in a runaway accident about three miles north of Wheeler. He was on his way in a buggy to the farm of Frank Howland where he was building a new house. A team of horses and a heavy beet-wagon ran over his rig from behind, and Mr. Oswald was so badly crushed that he died within a few hours.

1912, Nov. 27-John Elwell Collin, aged about 30 years, grandson of the late Col. John A. Elwell, and well-known in St. Louis, was killed in a railroad wreck in Pennsylvania. His home was in Pittsburg; burial in Oak Grove Cemetery, St. Louis.

1913, Nov. 18-Kenneth Allen, little son of Charles Allen, aged eight years, was killed by the accidental discharge of a revolver in the hands of Vern Allen, a brother, aged 16 years.


One to be Remembered -1890.

A cry severe storm in the nature of tornado passed diagonally over the county from southwest to northeast Saturday afternoon, May 24, 1890, and did a lot of damage all along its course. In west Fulton the large stock barn of Lewis Reynolds was unroofed; orchards and fences were spread over the ground, Henry Stitt alone having two miles of fence prostrated. In New Haven N. H. Wells' house was relieved of its porch and a hay barn was unroofed. John Wood's barn was picked up and thrown away, leaving his horses standing to mark the site, and unhurt. Newark and North Star people had experiences, and in Emerson there were a lot of sufferers. Wm. Phillips, house frame blown down; Mrs. Eichorn, barn turned around; Wm. Eichorn, house and barn both moved out of place; school house at Beebe damaged; Tim Sullivan's barn roof carried 15 rods, into a neighbor's field; Albert Crites' barn wrecked: fences, orchards, timber and small buildings tossed around in great confusion. It was called the worst storm that had ever visited that region up to that time.

Ithaca Got a Sufficiency in 1896.

Here is the way an eye-witness details some of the particulars of the storm that struck Gratiot County and especially Ithaca, Monday morning, August 10, 1896, at about two o'clock. Many will doubtless recall the incident from the description; and if they don't the description stands anyway:

"This seems to be a year of great and disastrous storms. We have read of their ravages in other states and in various parts of this state, and have felt somewhat grateful that Gratiot was being skipped. Our turn came, however, last Sunday night and Monday morning. The weather had been fearfully torrid and cyclonic in its characteristics for two weeks past, and several good, brisk showers had given us all the moisture that seemed necessary. But the storm of Sunday night overdid the matter decidedly. At about 11 o'clock that night a heavy shower got in its work, but between


two and three o'clock Monday morning the boss deluge of the season came along; and it came on the wings of the wind. Now this is not written to enlighten any of the people of Ithaca and vicinity. No! They know about the shower. They were present and witnessed it. They even got out of bed to take it in. And they literally took it in - by way of the windows, and through the roofs and d9wn the chimneys. The storm was of that riotous, boisterous nature that not only drives in at every crack and crevice, but comes in any old way, crevice or no crack. The kind also that not only drives the folks from the upper stories down to the ground floor, but even into the cellars. Many would have been glad even to have got under ground if they hadn't been kept busy holding in the doors and windows.

"The wickedest man in Ithaca says that as the worst of the trouble was passing away, the hired girl got down on her knees and thanked a kind Providence that had spared their lives; and this wicked man says that in all his born days he never heard anything sound so good as that prayer. Good and bad were all scared alike.

"The morning light revealed the fact that a good deal of miscellaneous damage had been done. Many sheds and small buildings were promiscuously scattered around and many shade trees were down; some glass was broken, several chimneys and windmills laid low. No lives were lost and we only hear of one person being injured. Frank Coleman attempted to close a door that had blown open, and as he did so he either received a light stroke of electricity or else got a large-sized nervous shock, for he tumbled down in a heap and was rendered unconscious for some time.

"In the country a great deal of damage was done in the way of blowing down fences, forest trees, fruit trees, corn and everything else of a movable nature. Ira Allen's house, over in Emerson was partially unroofed, and F. S. Kelly's and Jas. Moore's barns were more or less demoralized. It is estimated that fully one-third of the apple crop was harvested by the wind. D. C. Gibb's brick yard suffered great damage, sheds being blown down and a large brick smoke-stack came down, smashing a wagon into little fragments.

"The liberty pole at the corner of the court house square came down, breaking off even with the ground. The heavy, ornamental iron cornice on the fronts of Lewis & Yost's and Dr. I. N. Monfort's blocks was wrenched out of shape, and a plate glass in the Savings Bank front was broken and ruined. Frank Scott lost a chimney and three fine shade trees. T. S. Barnes is minus a chimney and that handsome pear tree. N. M. Bowen also lost some trees.

"P. H. Sisson, of Edgewood, had hard luck. His new store building, replacing the one destroyed by fire last spring, enclosed and about ready for plastering, was completely demolished."

This Storm Went After the Cows.

It was one of the worst storms of several seasons that occurred in central Gratiot, Saturday night, May 3, 1902, about a month before the big tornado in southern Gratiot. The principal items of damage were the result of the lightning's pranks, as the wind was not of the destructive kind in this particular case. But what was lacking in wind was fully made up in water, lightning and fire. A citizen of Ithaca alive at the time, made the following compilation from information received: The rains descended and the


floods came, and those who were complaining of tile lack of rain have no more fault to find in that direction. Commencing before 10 o'clock, Saturday night, there was a succession of heavy showers lasting till morning, the lightning and thunder being practically incessant. There was much damage by lightning, the worst in this vicinity being sustained by John Sowle who lives just south of town, (Ithaca). His barn was struck at about two o'clock in the morning and was entirely destroyed by fire, together with three cows, a horse, a large amount of fodder, his milk wagon and much other property. Mr. Sowle succeeded in getting out four cows and three horses, but the fire gained headway so fast that it was impossible to do more.

Perry Delaney, of Newark, was another loser by the storm. His barn was struck and consumed, cremating two horses and burning a new buggy and other contents of the barn. He knew nothing of the fire until aroused from his slumbers by a neighbor.

John W. Martin, another resident of Newark is minus a cow, lightning striking the barn and killing the cow, though. luckily the barn was not burned and John is glad of it. Lightning struck the chimney on the house of Barbara Betz, Of Lafayette, doing some damage to that useful attachment, but injuring none of the inmates of the house. A shed on the farm of Joseph Keeler, Newark, was struck, and another unfortunate cow was killed, shed and cow being consumed by the fire resulting from the lightning's stroke.

The nimble lightning visited the house of Jas. Fisher, Emerson, taking to the chimney, thence down, doing some damage to the house, striking the leg of a bedstead on which Jim's niece was sleeping, but doing no serious damage. On the Knowler Gibbs farm, Newark, lightning got into the barn in some manner and totally deafened a horse; but three others escaped without the slightest injury.

Here is an array of exciting and important incidents crowded into a space of six or seven hours, that ordinarily would be sufficient for the whole season. It is a matter for congratulation that no human lives were lost, and no one received personal bodily injury.

The Big Tornado of June 12, 1902.

In the matter of storms, Gratiot County, since its settlement, has a record of but one that measures up to the dignity of a real, sure-enough cyclone. Not that the county has been skipped in the distribution of severe storms, for it has had many of them; storms that have done lots of damage through wind and water lavishly bestowed. But the one "twister" that has stood in a class by itself for more than 11 years and which it is hoped will remain so for many years to come, was that which visited southern Gratiot Thursday, June 12, 1902. That was something to be remembered by those who experienced its fury, and by those who saw the marks of its visitation while the marks were yet fresh.

The storm came at about 5 o'clock in the afternoon of the day mentioned, and as a storm it was quite general over the county, but its main cyclonic feature concentrated itself along a line commencing on the west line of New Haven Township and extending in an east-southeasterly direction across that township, leaving Sethton a little to the north, passing into Fulton Township and taking a course a little to the north of Middleton and Perrinton and to the south of Pompeii, entering Washington at about the center of the west line, thence passing diagonally across Washington and leaving


Book Index

Back | Next Not Finished

Drop List of Gratiot Co. Pages

Copyright © 1999 [P. L. Hamp]. All rights reserved.