Literberry, 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 Literberry tornado is especially memorable from the fact that it struck and almost totally destroyed the village of Literberry. It first touched the ground in section 36, township 16 north, range 11 west, in Morgan county, at about S o’clock p. m. Passed into Cass county about the center of the south line of section 31, township 17 north, range 9 west. It left Cass county and entered Menard county from section 33, township 18 north, range 8 west, having pursued almost a straight course a distance of twenty miles and how much farther we do not know. In its course it struck and destroyed nine dwellings, one church and one schoolhouse outside of Literberry, thirteen dwellings, two churches, eight business houses, one depot, five freight cars and several large corncribs, besides barns and out houses in Literberry. A few other buildings were injured but not seriously.

This tornado was very compact and perfect in outline throughout its course. Its power was irresistible; everything that lay in its path was literally made into kindling wood. To say houses were destroyed but partially expresses it. They were torn to splinters. Even the fence posts were generally torn out of the ground or broken down.

Historic Morgan and classic Jacksonville, 1885, pages 216-217. Use this Free trial to search for your ancestors.



The cyclone in the vicinity of Jacksonville was terribly destructive to life and property. At the town of Liter the spectacle is a sad one. The storm swept through the residence and business portion of the town, and lasted one minute. In that brief period the Baptist and Christian churches were both completely demolished, four stone buildings were destroyed and contents blown away, and about 25 dwelling houses were leveled to the ground. The killed were John Trotter, aged 75; Mrs. John Trotter, Agnes Griffin, aged 22; Mrs. Mary Stevenson, aged 65; Lilly Griffin, 6 months. The seriously wounded are Dr. S. Griffin, who was unconscious up to Saturday night; Mrs. Dr. Griffin, leg broken, also unconscious; five members of the Griffin family more or less injured, all of whom are now in Jacksonville receiving attention. The others hurt were Mr. and Mrs. C. K. Hudson, Thomas Hammond and family of five; James Stevenson, Mrs. George Vaughn, David Campbell, Mrs.. E. Foster's three children, Mrs. Martha Ray and daughter, Mrs. Fleming, Geo. Fleming and daughter, Henry and James Crum. West of Liter Taylor Henderson lost 80 head of sheep; Bayles Rexroat lost 12 head of hogs. A pair of heavy cultivators were lifted up and carried nearly a mile. The loss of property at Liter is estimated at $100,000.


The REPUBLICAN scribe desires to express his indebtedness to Dr. J. H. Axton, of Maroa, for his generosity in furnishing a span of horses and buggy to reach the scene of the cyclone, when there was no other to be had.

Decatur Daily Republican, Decatur, IL 30 May 1883