Cave City, KY Tornado Demolishes Most Of Town, Jan 1870

THE TORNADO IN KENTUCKY.

VIVID DESCRIPTION OF THE TERRIBLE SCENES AT CAVE CITY -- HOUSES BLOWN AWAY LIKE WISPS OF STRAW -- ELEVEN PERSONS KILLED AND MANY WOUNDED.

Correspondence of the Cincinnati Gazette.
Cave City, Ky., Tuesday, Jan. 18, 1870.
Full particulars of the doings of the tornado which cut off and demolished nearly one-third of this little town, yesterday morning, will never be known. The storm had a beginning and an end, and the end was not more than two minutes later than the beginning; but a description of the scene during those two minutes, or of the sad havoc which was the result of the storm, can have no beginning, and can never be made complete.
PROFESSOR A. T. WILLIAMS, one of the sufferers, says that he was awakened about 5 o'clock by the heavy fall of hail which beat against and demolished the windows of his house. The bad shower continued but a moment, and immediately upon the cessation of the hail storm there was a long, continuous sheet of flame making a most powerful light, which continued but another moment. He then heard the approaching wind storm and anticipated the danger, but thought his house, which was strongly built, would withstand the storm, but he prepared himself for the worst results. His wife, having become alarmed, made an effort to get out of the house, but PROFESSOR WILLIAMS caught her and threw her upon the bed and prevented her from going out. The house stood the first attack bravely, but it was afterwards picked up by the storm, lifted from its foundations and turned completely round in the air two or three times before being parted asunder and demolished. There were unmistakable evidences of this fact, besides the impressions of PROFESSOR WILLIAMS and other inmates of the house. Several persons were sleeping in the house at the time. Those who were sleeping in the back part of the house were found in front of where the house stood. PROFESSOR WILLIAMS had deposited his clothing on a chair in his bedroom on retiring. His pants were found hanging upon a stake half a mile west of the site of the house; his coat was found three-fourths of a mile in an eastward direction, and the vest was found, nearly two miles west of the house.
MR. WILLIAMS and wife were separated and covered with debris, he insensible, and both of them hurt, but not badly. He regained consciousness soon, and began to collect the scattered fragments of his family, and found that none were in immediate danger. The most terrific rain storm immediately followed the wind and lightening. No words can portray an idea of the scene. Those who had witnessed the most terrifying battle scenes say they never saw or heard, or felt, or conceived of anything so perfectly hideous and terrifying as the howling of the winds, the vivid flashes of lightning, the crashing of houses, the drenching rains, the heartrending shrieks and piteous wailings of the terrified and the wounded, the whole of which occurred in two minutes, or probably less time. The wind shrieked, screamed, howled and roared. By the occasional flashes of lightening, it could be seen that the air was filled with flying trees, timber, houses, fragments of houses, stables, and buildings of all kinds, furniture, stoves and cooking utensils, clothing, bedding, animals, fowls and every conceivable thing, animate and inanimate, that came within the range of the storm. If the fiend had a form, it was that of a heavy, angry cloud, which swept the earth and tore everything it touched from its fixed place. The crash was quick and terrific, but the noise of the breaking houses was music compared with the bellowing winds that preeceded it. The destruction was complete. About fifty houses were demolished, and there is not to be found a portion of a building, a piece of furniture, an article of jewelry, and article of clothing or bedding, a book or a piece of ware of any kind that is worth the sum of fifty cents. The remains of the houses may serve for firewood, the fragments of furniture for kindling, the clothing and bedding for old rags; but there is nothing left within that track of a half mile in width, and extending at least twelve or fifteen miles in length, except in two or three singluar instances, that is worth a farthing, or ever will be, in the way it was originally designed. PROFESSOR WILLIAMS had a large library, worth thousands of dollars, of which not a single book had been found that can ever be used again. A single cup and a solitary plate is all that has been found of $100 worth of chinaware belonging to him. The only insurance heard of is on the house of PROFESSOR WILLIAMS, and this was by a worthless Company.
The total loss can never be estimated. It is enought to known that several hundred persons are homeless, without clothing or food, except such as they have received from kind hearted citizens. Most of the destitute are poor, and unable to purchase clothing or furniture, or even food, even if they could find houses to live in. Eleven will be taken to their narrow homes to-day. It is indeed wonderful that this number is so small. How any creatures could exist in that storm and survive is a mystery beyond the comprehension of even those who were in the thickest of it. Many of the survivors were terribly lacerated and bruised by the flying splinters and timbers, and some of the dead were shockingly crushed and mangled.
The following are the names of the killed and wounded, as far as ascertained:
GEORGE W. POYNTER, wife and child.
MRS. MARGARET STERRETT, wife of J. W. STERRETT.
ANDREW J. DAVIDSON.
JOHN S. McCOWN and child.
MRS. DR. JUEL Y. WILSON.
A child of MR. FITE at Prewel's Knob.
Two persons named VAUGHAN.
These are all of the dead. MR. FITE, reported dead, was still living in a hopeless condition this morning. Another child of his will probably die.
Dangerously Wounded.
J. W. STERRETT.
Son of COLONEL ROBERT STERRETT, of Hart County.
JOSEPH H. BROWN, chest terribly crushed.
JOSEPH H. FOSTER, injured on the head, insensible.
MISS MATTIE DRANE.
MISS P. NEVILLE.
D. McKIMBLE and wife.
DR. J. Y. WILSON.
J. EDWARDS.
W. PARRISH.
Severely Wounded.
MISS SUSAN HANA is wounded severely, but will likely recover.
MRS. G. W. NEVILLE and daughter, badly injured. MRS. NEVILLE'S injuries are internal, and of a serious character. The little girl's frontal bone is cleft, and the brain is exuding. She is rational, and may recover.
Several persons were slightly wounded, and the wounds of some, which now seem to be slight, may prove serious.

The New York Times New York 1870-01-21