Oquawka, IL Tornado, May 1858

(From the Oquawka Plain Dealer Extra, 13th.)

A black and dense cloud commenced gathering in the West a few minutes after 3 o'clock accompanied by severe thunder and vivid lightning. It appeared to gather in strength as it approached, and suddenly burst upon us with a powerful gale, the rain at the same time, descending in torrents. The air seemed filled with boards, shingles, and whatever happened to lay around loose.

The large livery stable belonging to IVES, MONTGOMERY & CHAPIN, was blown to the ground, rendering it a complete mass of ruins. Mr. IVES and his partners, together with Mr. Charles FLEMING, Frank CARL and Joseph BURR were in the building just as it began to go over, but all succeeded in making their escape without injury. Those who passed over the west end were obliged to crawl, so strong was the wind against them. There were some twelve or fifteen horses in the building at the time, and marvelious to relate, not one was seriously injured. Several of them were wedged in between the broken timbers, but by the prompt arrival of citizens they were extricated. A number of carriages, buggies, etc., were almost totally destroyed. The loss to Messrs, IVES & Co., cannot be much short of $3000.

The Flouring Mill of REYNOLDS & SWENEY was unroofed, and a portion of the east end blown out. The damage to this firm cannot be repaired short of $1500.

The proprietors of the several saw mills in town have met with very severe losses in the breaking of their rafts and the floating off of logs. It is estimated that logs to the amount of over twenty thousand dollars have floated off, but many of them will probably be recovered. Mr. Charles BLANDIN will be the greatest loser.

The new house of Dr. SNELLING on 3rd street, which was not yet completed, was blown to the ground, a heap of ruins.

The warehouse of MCKINNEY & SON was unroofed and otherwise injured. Several reapers in the vicinity were smashed up.

Some ten or fifteen other buildings were more or less injured. Several were moved from their foundations, and many unroofed. Chimneys were blown down, trees uprooted, fences swept away, and a general scene of destruction is exhibited. The general loss to the whole town is estimated at over $20,000.

Chicago Daily Tribune, Chicago, IL 17 May 1858