Greasy Prairie, IL Tornado, May 1883

The year 1883 was marked by two storms that will be long remembered. The ice storm of Feb. 5th and the tornado of May 18th... The Greasy Prairie tornado first touched the ground in Greene county, a few miles east of Roodhouse, in section 21, township 12 north, range 11 west, and swept in a great curve to the northeast, the concavity of the curve being to the northwest, and left the ground in section 21, township 14 north, range 9 west, in Morgan county, forming a path 19 miles in length through a region of country most of which was thickly settled. Although no village was struck, the destruction of property was very great, and how the people escaped with so little loss of life seems quite mysterious, when looking over the ruins of their dwellings. There were 41 dwellings destroyed or badly wrecked, and about the same number of barns and outhouses. Five persons were killed and fifteen seriously hurt. A considerable number of families found shelter in out door cellars, and we may say in passing, the out door cellar has proved to be a perfectly safe retreat. A number of families who were not provided with such cellars resorted to thickets of underbrush. All of these came out safely. In this tornado all injuries happened to those who remained indoors. In some places this tornado spread out about one mile wide; in other parts it was much narrower but not often less than one-fourth of a mile. It was very irregular in outline and in its effects. It sometimes happened that a part of a house would be left standing while everything else about was torn to fragments for a quarter of a mile on either side, and occasionally there was a point of destruction that seemed to be to one side of the storm’s track—out of its course This tornado, although much larger, and, on the whole, doing much more damage to property, seemed to lack the compactness, certainty of movement and terrific force of the Literberry tornado. The cloud accompanying it seems to have been continually changing its form, so much so that no two observers of it give the same description of what they saw. The time of the tornado was definitely fixed as it entered Greasy Prairie. Mr. A. S. Gunn had very carefully corrected his clock the same day at noon. The part of the house in which this clock sat was thrown out of plumb so that the clock stopped. This showed the time to be 6:15 p.m.

Historic Morgan and classic Jacksonville, 1885, pages 215-216. Use this Free trial to search for your ancestors.