Baton Rouge, LA Tornado, Jul 1891
Ten Convicts Killed and Thirty six Injured.
The first cyclone that has visited Louisiana in the memory of the living generation struck Baton Rouge at 6:30 o'clock on a recent morning wrecked the steam tug Smoky City, demolished 100 houses, blew down the second and third stories of the penitentiary killed ten convicts and wounded, thirty-six others. Of the wounded, five, on the day after the accident, were not expected to live.
Baton Rouge is situated on the left bank of the Mississippi, on a succession of high bluffs. The cyclone whirled upon it from the southwest. It was 300 yards in width, and appeared to ricochet, jumping over some obstructions and ruthlessly grinding others into unrecognizable debris. The terrible wind entered the town at GARIG'S brickyard, passed through a suburb of hovels inhabited by the poor classes of whites and blacks, and then went northeasterly to a point 100 yards east of the Governor's residence, when it turned north and struck the State penitentiary. The second and third stories of the north wing were entirely demolished. The second story was used as a hospital and the third as a manufactory of jeans clothing, and both were filled with prisoners. Ten of them were killed outright, viz:
Whites: JOHN GIBSON, convicted of murdering Patrick Mealey, a prominent city politician, and William Willow, of New Orleans;
ISAAC McCLELLAND, of Calcasieu;
J. A. WAGGONER, the famous desperado of Clairborne;
FRED. CAGE, Ouchita;
JAMES VAN METTER, Natchitochos.
Colored. NATHAN CHANNEY, East Feliciana;
HENRY COLESTIN, New Orleans;
BEAUREGARD HARDEN, Bossler;
EDWARD BUCKNER, Caddo.
The five men fatally wounded are MELLY O'NEIL, JOE VALLERE, FRANK ARONS, HENRY McKAY and LOUIS CLAIRE, the latter also convicted of the Mealey murder. JOHN RHODUS, a guard, was seated in a third-story window and was blown out, but the wind landed him gently on the ground. In addition to the north wing the cell building was unroofed and partially destroyed, while the roof of the women's building was torn away.
Excepting the convicts, no one was killed, but J. H. YOUNG and members of his family were seriously hurt by the collapsing of their house. MRS. CUTTING, a son, and two daughters were painfully injured when their house fell, and a MRS.. COLTON received a dangerous blow on the back of the head and internal injuries by the falling of a beam. Beyond those there were no serious casualties in the town proper.
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