Lanark & Wacker, IL Tornado, May 1898

Carroll County Tornado Carroll County Home after Tornado

... A second tornado in Illinois started near Stillman valley and swept northward, wrecking farmhouses and killing as it went, but the greatest loss of life was at the point of origin, where four were killed. At Lanark, the storm ended its career by striking the county almshouse and killing [illegible] inmates. Three others were fatally injured. There were over fifty persons in the building when it went down and all of them were more or less injured.

At Lanark:


All inmates of the county poorhouse, which was destroyed. Three other inmates were injured fatally.

The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, GA 20 May 1898


Dubuque, Ia., May 18. -- Passengers on an incoming Milwaukee train report a very heavy storm throughout western Illinois. At Lanark the poorhouse, a brick structure, was demolished and some of the twenty-five inmates may have been buried in the ruins.

The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, GA 19 May 1898


On May 18, 1898, Carroll county experienced a severe storm. Cal Feezer, Mt. Carroll Editor, reported:

“The Lanark vinegar factory was unroofed; everything but the house at Christ Rowland’s is gone; Henry Arnold’s house, barn, etc. gone: upper part of Charles Wentz’s house demolished; at Cal Puterbaugh’s all but house blown away; William Johnson farm buildings a total loss, but he had $2900 tornado in­surance; excessive damage in streets and in cemetery; all buildings at George Taber farm demolished; extensive damage at John Stineman and Nichol’s farms; grain ruined and much livestock killed.”

Mr. [Orrin] Eaton related … the destructive tornado that hit Carroll County May 18, 1898.

A young man in his late teens, he was plowing with his father in the late afternoon when he noticed the sudden darkening of the sky. They hurried home. When his father was opening a window to close the shutters a large branch of a tree blew in with great force. They could see afterward the extensive damage to the County Home and Farm a half-mile to the north. In driving over there they had to clear the road of debris to be able to travel.

The upper floor and roof had been blown off the County Home and one inmate killed. One woman was blown out of an upper floor window and carried above trees and deposited along a creek a quarter of a mile away. She walked back and created much amazement upon her return. One man hid under a wagon load of fence posts in the barnyard. The wagon was carried through the air and upset near a neighbor’s line fence but the man was unhurt. A dozen or so cattle and horses were so seriously hurt it was necessary to kill them; the large barn was demolished.

After crossing the river, the tornado first flattened the Tomlinson residence southeast of Wacker and killed a hired hand who had been plowing in a field. The team and plow were never found. In Wacker, the grandmother of Supervisor Charles Kessler of Mt. Carroll township was killed when her home was demolished. Proceeding east, the Downing farm­house and barns were destroyed by the whirlwind which killed or crippled many ponies for which this farm was famous. After smashing the Preston school, it skipped to the County Farm.

The Campbell farm lost the house, a large circular barn, and a large circle of cattle killed. A long row of maple trees were so severely twisted that only splintered trunks remained.

Several of the farms along Cyclone Ridge also were struck by the tornado.

When the storm of the century hit the county farm, it struck from the west about 5 p.m. blowing off the top floor of the brick home and dumping it in a heap on the east side. County farm residents took refuge downstairs. At least 20 persons were reported killed in Carroll and Ogle counties and scores were injured. The tornado continued on east into Ogle county destroying hundreds of houses and barns in its path. Most persons escaped with their lives by going to the cellar.

Carroll County : a goodly heritage, Mt. Morris, IL.: Kable Print. Co., 1968, Pages 123, 184, 298  Read it online at  Use this Free trial to search for your ancestors.