Coal City, IL (just south), Tornado, April 1948

In 1948 a twister tore through the community south of Coal City on April 7 and took seven farm-homes. They belonged to "Tony" Lissey, Phillips Brothers, Ralph Morris, Joseph and Barney Burla, Eli Daugherty on the Cherrie Dairy Farm, Vota Brothers and J. Tryner.

Scores of residents watched the storm as it passed south of the village and described the sound of it as that of several rumbling freight trains. It lasted only about two or three minutes.

As in all tornadoes there were scores of freak things done by the twister such as wrapping a steel corn elevator around a tree, pulling fence posts from the ground, leaving them neatly lined on the ground, carrying an electric washing machine a distance of two blocks and leaving it undamaged. Railroad ties were found a half-mile from where they were originally piled and an electric refrigerator from one home had disappeared completly.

At the Phillips farm three new automobiles were practically demolished when the house was lifted and dropped on top of them. Indications that several buildings had been lifted, turned completly over in the air and then dropped were also seen.

At the Daugherty home the family fled to a small milk house when it saw the storm approaching from the southwest and in that way escaped injuries. The milk house was the only thing standing when the storm passed. The Vota family, John and Peter Vota, hid in the basement of their home and it was reported others had fled from the path of the storm by racing away in their automobiles.

A splendid example of cooperative effort was displayed on Saturday when almost 400 men from all parts of Grundy county and many from neighboring counties responded to a Farm Bureau appeal for help.

Most of the volunteer workmen were assigned from the elevator at Coal City. Their efforts were directed mainly at field clean-up and repair of pasture fences.

The widespread clean-up and search turned up a substantial amount of money and other valuables. The amount of lumber salvaged was small, however, and the debris was stacked in great piles and burned.

The workers, who had been instructed to bring their own lunches, were served coffee by groups of women recruited from various women's organizations in town. Supplies were furnished by the First National Bank of Coal City and prepared at farm houses in the district.

Red Cross workers were also on the scene serving coffee and doughnuts. Under the direction of an organization worker assigned from the St. Louis office, several Morris women worked out of the canteen headquarters established at the Gray service station in Braceville.

Newspaper and radio reports of the tornado drew thousands of sightseers to this area. For a time the traffic was so heavy that it hampered the work of line repairmen and it became neccessary to set up road barricades.

This is Grundy County: Its History From Beginning to 1968, Dixon, IL; Rogers Printing Company, 1968, page 294-295.