Saint Cloud Tornado

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St Cloud Headline
Saint Paul Daily Globe, Thursday Morning, April 15, 1886, Volume VIII, Number 105, Page 1




The Wicked Demon of the Clouds Descends Upon the Cities of St. Cloud and Sauk Rapids,
And Ruthlessly Crushes Out Many Human Lives.

The Dead Number at Least Three Score. Twenty-Two Bodies Recovered at Sauk Rapids,
Several of Them Being Those of County Officers.

A Bride and Groom Meet Death at the Altar. The President of a St. Cloud Bank Killed
And a St. Paul Man Dangerously Wounded. Meager Reports of Dreadful Results at Other Places.
St. Paul and Minneapolis Physicians Hurried to the Scene.

Thousands of Dollars’ Worth of Property Destroyed, Including a Manitoba Freight House and Many Dwellings.  Churches, Depots and Court Houses in Ruins.

The Story in Detail of the Whirlwind’s Devastation.  An Appalling Disaster.


Joseph Giskaskie.
Mrs. Straus.
Charles Goviskie.
Mrs. Stein.
Minnie Stein.
Johnnie Waldron.
Mrs. Tramp.
Edgar Hull.
Carrie Stabold.
Nicholas Junemann.
August Junglen.
Dina Junglen.
Mary Junglen.
Gregory Lindley.
John Renard.
A. H. Lake.
Maurice Stayr.
Ernest Albrecht.
John Swanson.
Clara Berg.
Ella Berg.
Mrs. Fletcher.
Ollie Carpenter.
Mrs. Peter Fink.
Mrs. Pappenfuss.
Henry Bernharnd.
Six persons unidentified.

Special from a Staff Correspondent.
ST. CLOUD, April 14. – This city was today visited with a calamity, the ghastly details of which have never been equaled since the harvest of death at New Ulm and Rochester a few years ago, and the city is now groaning and wailing under a pall of grief that is intensified as each hour brings to light fresh evidences of the terrible work of the elements.  The sun rose on the city this morning where happiness reigned in every family, and their peace was not marred by the shadows of the terrible pall of gloom that settled down on the community before the sun had sunk to rest.  A few minutes past 4 o’clock the


Sketch of 1886 Saint Cloud Tornado



with dark clouds, and a great black mass rose over the hills southwest of the city and came with terrible velocity towards the western outskirts in a direct line for the Manitoba freight yards.  The clouds hung low and rolled over and over like smoke over a battle-field, and were accompanied by a loud roaring and crackling that resembles a holocaust in its fury.  The cloud was funnel-shaped and the point dragged along the ground like the tail of a huge aereal beast, lashing everything that came in its path into atoms.  Citizens hardly had time to flee to their cellars and seek other points of refuge before the


and the air was filled with flying boards, shingle, bricks and other debris that was strewn over the country and piled in promiscuous heaps.  The cloud came from the southeast and moved in a northeasterly direction until it reached the river, where its course was diverted and it followed the river banks until it reached Sauk Rapids, where it diverged to the left and passed directly through the center of that town.  The utmost excitement prevailed.  Women and children rain from their houses and fled aimlessly about in the midst of the dark cloud of dust and the avalanche of boards and bricks.  Men lost their presence of mind and stood awed into


in the presence of the wind demon.  It was hardly noticed before it was on the city in all its fury, and the people were not warned of their danger before it was upon them, and they fell like grain stalks before the reaper’s sickle.  The portion of St. Cloud struck by the cyclone was the southwestern, and was the residence portion occupied by the laboring class of people, the majority of them being foreigners employed on the railroads.  Their dwellings were light board houses, and became easy prey to the monster that had so viciously pounced upon them.  They were like cockle-shells in the grip of the whirlwind, and were picked up, tossed in the air, rent into


and scattered to the four winds of heaven.  The earth was plowed up in the line of cyclone, and the track over which it passed to the width of nearly a quarter of a mile looks as though it had been upheaved by a terrible volcanic eruption.  It had hardly begun its terrible work before it was finished, and the scene that greeted the eyes of those that caused the stoutest heart to shudder.  The cries and shrieks of the wounded rent the air, and the ground was strewn with the bodies of the dead, among whom were stalwart men,


and weaker children.  The citizens almost to a man rushed to the demolished district, and summoning physicians began their work of rescuing those who were still living from beneath the piles of dirt and fallen buildings.  Brainerd was promptly telegraphed to for medical help, and she promptly responded by sending a dozen physicians and surgeons by special train, but was late in the evening when they arrived on the scene.  St. Paul and Minneapolis were also appealed to, and a special car was sent out with twenty-three surgeons and physicians for the scene of the disaster.


on the streets after dark was an impressive one.  Knots of men stood on corners discussing the features of the disaster and speaking touchingly of their friends and acquaintances, who had either been killed or terribly wounded.  On the ground the scene was a ghastly one.  Rain poured down in torrents, and hundreds of men wandered over the ground, many of them carrying lanterns searching for bodies among the ruins.  Hotel lobbies were filled with excited citizens, many of whom yet suspected that some portion of their family or friends had fallen victims to the terrible monster.  Women seemingly unconscious of the rain that was falling and converting gutters into

1886 Saint Cloud & Sauk Rapids Map



 glided through the streets sobbing and moaning in their fright.  The scene defies description.  In the track of the cyclone stood the Manitoba freight house, and cars filled with freight.  Down on them the whirlwind pounced, and, grasping the heavy cars, lifted them from the tracks and cast them in shapeless masses.  Iron rails were torn from the ties and twisted like the smallest wires.  Telegraph poles were torn up and wires twisted into curious masses.  The freight house was totally wrecked.  The roof was lifted and blown several hundred feet.  The sides next succumbed and over $3,000 worth of freight was whirled through the air and thrown into heaps and


 over an area of a quarter of a mile.  Fifteen freight cars were demolished.  Operators in the telegraph office and employees at the freight depot saw the cyclone coming and fled to the cellars and thus escaped.  It was 8:30 in the evening when the special car arrived from St. Paul and Minneapolis, bringing Drs. J. H. Murphy, W. W. Day, Ritchie, Abbott and Denslow of St. Paul, and H. C. Ives of the Manitoba road and Lieut.-Gov. Gilman and ex-Senator McDonald, from this city, who were in St. Paul when they learned of the calamity.  The train was drawn by engine 130, under Engineer Olafson and in charge of Conductor Dyson, and the run was made in two hours through a


and the night was so black that during most of the way the engineer was unable to descry objects on the track five feet ahead of the engine.  At Minneapolis Mayor Ames, accompanied by eighteen city physicians, boarded the train, also members of the police and detective forces.  Mr. Gilman was laboring under terrible apprehension that his family had suffered, as his dwelling stood almost in the direct line of the storm as, it was reported to have moved by the specials sent to St. Paul, but he learned upon arriving here that his property has escaped untouched, and he immediately turned his attention to aiding the sufferers.  By 9:20 all


that could be found were taken from the ruins and cared for.  The dead were taken to the Little Giant engine house and stretched out on the floor, while the wounded were sent to St. Benedict hospital, where they were promptly care for by the corps of physicians and nurses, among whom were several ladies who had volunteered their services.  There were twenty-eight wounded stretched out on cots in the various wards, and every facility of the hospital was tested to its utmost to fill the requirement.  The scene in the hospital was heart-rending.  Men, women and children lay in broken shapes, bathed in their own blood, their faces blackened and grimy and their arm and


and their scalps torn and their bodies lacerated.  The scene at the engine house was more horrible.  Eighteen lifeless bodies were stretched on the floor in two rows, draped in sheets and blankets, while around and among them moved men with lanterns, uncovering faces and trying to recognize in the distorted features some familiar outline in which they might trace relationship.  The bodies presented a terrible spectacle.  The clothes they had worn were black with dust, and gravel was ground into the cheeks, while the scalps were torn, and blood flowed from gaping wounds and covered the floor.  Skulls were crushed, eyes torn from their sockets, and tongues protruded from between lips that were cruelly cut and mutilated.  Following is a list of the killed and wounded:


Joseph Giskaskie, 40 years.
Mrs. Straus, 35 years.
Charles Eureskie, 16 years.
Mrs. Stein, 35 years.
Minnie Stein, 15 years.
Johnny Waldron, 12 years.
Mrs. Tramp, 35 years.
Edgar Hull, president of the German American National bank.
Carrie Stabold, 17 years.
Nicholas Jernemann, 24 years.
Four emigrants, names unknown.
A man, apparently a fancy card writer, about 32 years old, name unknown, three Youngler children, two girls and one boy.


Josiah Youngle, both legs broken.
Frank Giskaskie, skull fractured.
Mrs. Giskaskie, leg broken and three children badly wounded.
Mrs. Waldron, arm broken and scalp wound.
Sam Lindquist, hand broken.
Florence Steele, scalp wound.
Louis Oster, leg broken.
Annie Oster, scalp wound.
Katie Schuler, leg broken and internal injuries.
Gaspard Trazen, internal injuries.
Willie Caspard, head badly hurt.
Three Kelsey children, internal injuries.
Willie Egber, leg broken.
Willie Seabold, scalp wounds.
Mary Sense, scalp wound.
Marquist Fair, arms broken.
Mrs. Wegler, head fractured.
Lizzie Henler, scalp wound.
Frank Hawkins, leg broken.
Mrs. Frederick Johnson and boy, legs broken.
Mrs. Jenneman, leg broken.


with debris west of town, but a wrecking force is at work clearing them, and it is expected that trains will be running regularly by to-morrow.  A large force of linemen is here at work on telegraph wires.  There are but two lines working east and none west.  A report came to-night from Rice’s farm, about twelve miles from here, that a house in which was a wedding party, was struck by the cyclone and


including the bride and groom.  The loss to this city is estimated at from $125,000 to $150,000.  The damage done at Sauk Rapids is still greater, as the storm passed through the center of the town and demolished a large number of business blocks.  Tracks there are badly torn up, and it is reported there that twenty people were killed and an unknown number wounded.  Among those mortally wounded is E. G. Holbert, an insurance agent of St. Paul.

Dr. Jones arrived here at 11 o’clock as the special representative of St. Paul, sent by Mayor Rice.  Twenty-three dead bodies have been taken from the ruins in Sauk Rapids, and there are more supposed to have been buried in the ruins of the Central house.  No effort is being made to get them out to-night.



Twenty-two Dead Bodies Already Recovered.

Special to the Globe.
SAUK RAPIDS, April 14. – A cyclone struck this city at 4 o’clock this afternoon, and in just six minutes the town was in ruins.  Not a single business house is left standing on the main street, and many residences are demolished.  The wind came from the southwest and swept everything before it for a width of about four blocks.  The storm cloud was as black as night, with a bright clear sky on either side.   The court house is now a heap of ruins, and several of the


were killed.  The Union school house, the Congregational and Episcopalian churches, the post office, flour mill and large machine shop were all converted into kindling wood in less time than it takes to tell.  What was the center of the town is now covered with all sorts of debris, timbers, doors, pieces of furniture, etc., but only the City hotel remains intact.  The Northern Pacific depot was literally blown away, and a large number of freight cars overturned upon the tracks.  At the present time


have been recovered from the ruins and a large number of people are injured.  The bodies are laid out in the nearest houses left standing, and several half demolished buildings are made to answer the purpose of a morgue.  The spectacle is a sad one, the living being not only deprived of their friends, but of all their earthly possessions at the same time.  The total loss of property is not less $300,000, without a dollar of cyclone insurance.  The town is ruined.  The living are caring for the wounded as well as possible, and physicians from St. Paul, Minneapolis and Brainerd are in attendance.  Out of six saloons but one was left, and this furnished liquors for the wounded.  Following is a list of the


JOHN RENARD, county auditor, killed at court house.
GREGG LINDLEY, county recorder, killed at court house.
EDGAR HULL, president German-American bank of St. Cloud, killed at court house.
A. H. LAKE, carpenter at work on Samuel Brick’s house, killed.
ABNER STAYR, fatally hurt.  His son, MAURICE, 9 years old, had his ribs broken and died.
MRS. DR. JENKS, badly injured, not expected to recover.
THOMAS VANETTEN, carried 400 feet, badly bruised, weight 250.
A boy, son of JOSEPH LAUNDRE, from the country, both legs crushed; had to be amputated.
ERNELT ALBRECHT, clerk in meat market, killed; member of A. O. U. W.
JOHN SWANSEN, a Swede, killed.
MRS. HERMAN BERG, dangerously hurt.
CLARA, her daughter, killed.
ELLA, daughter, 7 years, killed.
LILLE, another daughter, younger, severely injured.
MRS. C. E. BELL, severely hurt in the spine.
C. E. BELL, slightly injured.
J. A. STANTON, severely hurt about the head.
His son, ED STANTON, slightly hurt.
MR. SCHULER, druggist, missing, was seen to run from his store.
MRS. FLETCHER of Dakota, visiting her father, Mr. Hennessy, killed.
MRS. DAVEE, killed, recently married, went to housekeeping last Saturday, carried 200 feet.
S. N. WRIGHT, county treasurer, slightly injured.
MRS. WRIGHT, seriously injured about the head and one rib broken.
OLLIE CARPENTER, 6 years old, daughter of S. P. Carpenter, killed.
LULU CARPENTER, 10 years old, another daughter, fatally injured.  The latter ran out of the house with the baby, which is now alive.
FRED HARTZ, 6 years old daughter, one arm broken.
MRS. SHOBER, wife of the keeper of the Central hotel, recently from Minneapolis, dangerously hurt.
A little baby was found in the street dead.  It is not known who it is.
ROGER BELL and wife MARY are both slightly hurt.
MRS. PETER FINK and three boys and one girl were all instantly killed.  The father was away.
MRS. ADAM JOCKEN, recently of Milwaukee and three children, severely injured.
EGDERT WALKER, son of Frank Walker, both legs broken, dangerously injured.
MRS. HARLAN MOODY and five-year-old son, both injured.
EDWIN G. HALBERT, of St. Paul, representing Mutual Life Insurance company of New York, stopping at Grand Central at St. Cloud, seriously injured at base of brain and arms broken; came over with Mr. Hull.
MRS. PAPPENFUSS, mother of WINSLOW PAPPENFUSS, and her two grandchildren, instantly killed.
ANNIE WOOD, slightly injured about the head.
HENRY BERHARND, German, 33 years old, killed; leaves a wife and two children totally destitute.
THEODORE BERG, lower jaw badly broken.
PHILLIP BEAUPRE, cousin of Bruno Beaupre, bad scalp wound, not serious.



Awful work of the Fatal Cyclone Which Devastated St. Cloud

Special from a Staff Correspondent.
SAUK RAPIDS, April 14. – “My God, it’s a cyclone!  Run for your lives!  I cried to several men with whom I was talking in front of the post office,” said an eye witness of the awful disaster which befell St. Cloud and Sauk Rapids to the GLOBE representative.  “Hardly had we sought shelter in our places of fancied security when the storm burst in all its fury, and in an incredibly short space of time the pretty town of Sauk Rapids was the picture of desolation which you see.  Two of the poor fellows I warned were killed by falling timbers, almost as soon as they were indoors, and I, as you see, will bear the marks of my experience to my dying day,” pointing to the bandaged arm which he carried in a sling.  “Fortunately, as it turned out, I did not have time to get under cover myself and thus escaped being crushed beneath a roof, a fate which happened to very many.  I saw, too, the cyclone from its beginning until its ruthless work was accomplished.  The awful grandeur of the sight I shall never forget.  It is impossible to say how many people were killed or injured.  As soon as the storm had passed I staggered to my boarding place, which strangely enough was left unharmed, and have been here ever since, unable to walk out.  I am sure, though, that no less than


while the injured will number many score more.  The eastern portion of the town is in ruins.”  Proceeding, he related the detailed story, whose very simpleness gave a dramatic effect to the narrative which the most studied effort could not have attained.

All day long an oppressive sultryness had pervaded the atmosphere.  At noon the clouds, banking up on the western horizon, gave promise of welcome rains and relief from the dust and heat.  All looked forward with pleasure to the coming of gentle April showers.  Their presence had been long delayed and eagerly looked for.  Vegetation just beginning to be touched with a tinge of green would be freshened up and the parched earth refreshed.  Windows were thrown up and doors opened that the cooling air might have free access.  Slowly that


increased in size.  But a change was taking place.  About 4 o’clock in place of the contrasting clearness which had hitherto existed, an ominous grayish green tinge was assumed by the sky in the southwest.  The air became more close.  Still no fear was manifested or felt.  Instead, there was gladness for the surety which now existed of a copious rainfall.  Slowly the hue of the heavens changed.  The coloring interchanged and deepened as though the heavens were a huge palette and the colors were being laid on with a giant unseen brush.  From green to a muddy copper and from copper a dark-hued brown, the clouds in a few moments shifted.  Here and there a streak of light like a glittering dagger was seen gleaming among the masses of darker color.  White scurrying, sail-like scud appeared here and there.  On the edges of the approaching cloud-bank was seen a whitish grey trimming.  All


were present.  A vague alarm then began to stir in the breasts of the hitherto joyful onlookers.  It seemed to animate even dumb animals.  Horses standing in the streets shifted uneasily and neighed anxiously.  Even dogs whined timorously and tried to slink away into places of shelter.  Those who had experience of cyclonic storms feared the worst and imparted their alarm to others.  Anxiously the sky was regarded.  In a few moments the truth could no longer be doubted.  The inevitable and fatal inverted cone quickly took form out of the terror-inspiring mass which now covered the entire southwestern heavens.  At 4:27 its shape was distinctly outlined in blacker coloring.  Twisting and twirling it came whirling down towards the doomed towns.  Then the instinct of self-preservation took possession of all.  Mothers with blanched faces hastily


and sought makeshift protection in convenient cellars.  Husbands and fathers ran terror-stricken to their homes, fearful for their wives and children.  Hasty protection was made against the fast-driving demon of the wind.  Doors were locked, windows closed and whole families crowded into cramped cellars.  Others sought safety in the open fields.  In nearly every case within the cyclone’s path precautions were in vain.  Like a huge black funnel, with its cadaverous maw seeking to gulp down everything within its reach,


came swooping down.  With immeasurable swiftness it drew near the fated towns.  At 4:32 it had struck the southwestern portion of Sauk Rapids.  There was a rush of wind, the intermingled patter of heavy raindrops and hail and the beautiful town was at the mercy of the all-devouring demon.  Like snow beneath the warm sun’s rays the houses in its path melted away.  Some were lifted bodily with their contents high into the air and dashed into kindling wood upon the ground.  Others of stouter frame were crushed like so much card board.  Still others more massive in construction were twisted and wrenched.  The churches, forming as they did prominent objects of attack, felt the full


Their towers were all more or less damaged, as was the Normal school building.  The sky was almost black with flying timbers which were whirled like straws through the air.  Occasionally was seen an animal hurled along with irresistible force.  Occasionally the semblence of a human form, bruised almost beyond recognition, formed a part of the flying debris.  Tall and sturdy trees were hoisted out of the ground like so many reeds and sent flying like chaff through the air.  Above all the confusion rose the roar and swirl of the storm as it satiated its awful appetite for destruction.  For twelve minutes the terrific uproar and work of devastation raged.  Then all was quiet.  Quiet, save for the groans and moaning of


These rose with terrible distinctness upon the clear evening air.  There were others who made neither sign nor sound.  Lying under heavy beams, buried in rubbish-choked cellars, lying lifeless in the roadways where they had been thrown, nearly two score people who had awakened glowing with strength and health into the light of a bright spring day, lay cold and motionless in death.  Here, beneath the edge of a broken roof, a mother was lying, with her left arm thrown protectingly around the mangled form of a little child.  Both were dead.  There a man, with the hardy vigor of his manhood so recently snatched from him, was lying beside the boulder against which his


Principally, the fatalities were occasioned by the crashing in of the heavy timbers of the houses upon the heads of the unhappy occupants.  The full list of these casualties has not been made out, but at this writing twenty bodies have been recovered and every additional search discovers another victim.  The tale from St. Cloud is the same.  Almost in a thought the scene of desolation was shifted from one town to another, and both were in ruins, it seemed, almost simultaneously.  A man who just crossed the river from St. Cloud informs the correspondent that already fourteen bodies have been discovered there, and that the tale of woe is not yet ended.  Upon the streets of both towns, even now


Children were seeking their parents and parents their children.  Dreading the worst but eager to learn the truth they search each ruin in wild-eyed terror.  Wives and mothers, with loved ones missing, and almost bereft of reason run sobbing from knot to knot of workers, hoping against hope that there may yet be such a thing as rescue.  Strong hands and brave hearts are lending all the aid they can.  The wounded who number over 100, are being rapidly removed to the houses which withstood the storm, and tenderly cared for.  The dead are reverently carried to a temporary resting place.  Much


and that which has been telegraphed for to St. Paul and Minneapolis is anxiously awaited.  The track of the storm was about 600 yards in width and, as far as observed, four miles in length.  It lasted about thirteen minutes in all and cut a clean swath of destruction throughout its entire path.  In the neighborhood of 300 buildings, including the Manitoba shops came within its evil scope in St. Cloud and Sauk Rapids alone and it is feared that reports from the country will add largely to this list as well as to the fatalities.  Sorrow, mourning and confusion reign to such a degree that it is difficult to obtain either a detailed statement either of casualties or losses, but these with further details will be forwarded without delay.  For the present the people of the two towns are lamenting over their dead.  The sacredness of their grief demands respect.

The St. Paul Daily Globe
Thursday Morning, April 15, 1886
Volume VIII, Number 105, Page 1

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