Washington County, IA Tornado, May 1873

Germantown was jumped by the storm and the next hear of it was six miles to the northwest in Washington. Of what happened there a correspondent who passed over the track of the destroyed writes:

The first farm visited was that of John C. Cunningham, which is about seven miles northeast of Washington. Neither the barn or house was visible. They had been torn to pieces and only a few fragments remained, nearly all the timber having been blown away. Pieces of boards were sticking out of the fields, some of them imbedded into the ground two feet and so tightly that they could not be pulled out. Dead stock was visible everywhere, horses, cows, pigs and chickens having been hustled about so lively as to be deprived of the breath of life.... Three hundred head of stock were killed outright. The buildings destroyed were worth about $4,000. In the dwelling when the tornado aggravated were Mrs. McCoy, daughter of Mr. Cunningham and Mrs. Carringer and the children of the former. They went into the cellar for shelter, but remained there only a short time, being lifted up and carried some distance, and thrown to the ground. Mrs. McCoy had her head out and was badly bruised. Mrs. Carringer was injured instantly but not seriously hurt. The children were uninjured. They were found lying in a heap beside the cellar walls.

East of Cunningham's near the Highland township line, is the farm of Mr. Davidson. His house and barn was destroyed and he himself killed. Mr. Houssel who was with him at the time, was fatally injured, and died on Friday morning. All of the latter's clothing was torn off his body, and his friends in Washington had to supply garments to bury him in.

North of Cunningham's is the farm of John Babcock. His residence, barns, out houses and granaries were demolished. His large barn was one of the finest in the county, having recently been erected at a cost of $3,000 [?]. It was full of grain, and more was deposited in the cellar of his house. He had $300 in a bureau drawer. All the furniture is missing and hence the money cannot be recovered. His loss will amount to about $7,000. Fortunately, his family were at his brother's house, which was out of the range of the storm. Mr. Babcock himself and Jacob Sooch [?] saw the cyclone coming, and ran into the house and took up what they imagined to be a place of security in the cellar. The house was lifted off the foundations, and had not a piece of timber fallen on them they would have escaped. The board struck Sooch on the head, inflicting a serious wound. Mr. Babcock escaped uninjured. The roof of the barn was blown nearly a quart of a mile....

Continued