Kankakee River Section, IL Tornado, May 1917

Many Hurt With Loss Of 2 Million

Kankakee River Section Hard Hit By Tail of Illinois Twister, While Second Windstorm Devastates Southern Counties.

Crop Damage Severe

Nine known dead, scores hurt, some probably fatally, hundreds homeless and property losses estimated at more than $2,000,000 constitute the toll taken by two tornadoes which swept through parts of Indiana late Saturday. The northern part of the state suffered most from the tail of the Illinois twister which raced through the towns of Hebron, Kouts, Lowell, Crown Point, Cedar Lake and Shelby, killing three men, two women, a girl and a boy, injuring forty-five and doing untold damage to buildings and crops.

Another tornado of almost equal velocity swooped down upon the southern part of the state, starting evidently in the vicinity of Black Hawk, south of Terre Haute, where two were killed, passing high above adjoining counties until it struck the earth again at Clear Creek, south of Bloomington, and then traveling eastward to Jennings County, where property was damaged to the extent of $100,000.

Towns Directly In Path

Hebron and Kouts suffered most, the storm proving the most disastrous in the history of this section. These towns lay directly in the path of the tornado and the greater part of the residence districts were wiped out. According to survivors the cyclone cloud seemed to strike the ground a short distance west of Hebron and swept away buildings on several farms before destroying the entire west side of town.

The tornado was felt over a territory twenty by five miles in the Kankakee River region. Great numbers of dead livestock lie strewn about the fields in the path of the twister with debris from houses, barns, fences and trees. A number of narrow escapes from death were reported.

Tail Of Tornado Damages Northern Indiana; 7 Killed

Number Injured, Probably Fatally, In Hebron, Kouts, Crown Point, Cedar Lake and Lowell.

Hammond, Ind., May 27.- Three men, two women, a girl and a boy were killed, five fatally injured and forty hurt when the tail of the Illinois tornado swung over into northern Indiana just before midnight Saturday and did damage to property and crops estimated at nearly $1,000,000. The towns of Lowell, Hebron, Kouts, Crown Point, Cedar Lake and Shelby were hit. E.B. PRATT, 50 years old; LESLIE KENNEY, 13, and MRS. ALICE KENNEDY, 35, were killed outright when the windstorm swept the outskirts of Hebron, overturning houses, uprooting trees and slaughtering livestock. PRATT was crushed beneath the debris of the Gridley elevator, which was totally wrecked. KENNEY was struck by a flying timber and MRS. KENNEDY was caught in the wreckage of her home. D.B. PESH, a farmer, his wife and JULIA HANE, 15 years old, and C.J. BESSECKER, of New York, were killed at Kouts.

The tornado was felt in Indiana over a territory twenty by five miles in the Kankakee River region. Hebron, a town of 1,500 people, was the worst sufferer. The most severely injured there are MRS. LOUIS HUINBRAU, both legs broken; MISS LETTIE GARVEY, crushed and arms broken; WILLIAM SIMPSON, chest crushed; OSCAR BAGLEY, broken leg and internal injuries; GILES AYLESWORTH, internal injuries; ROY SMITH, legs broken.

D.P. PESH and his wife at Kouts were buried under wreckage of their home. MISS JULIA HANE was struck by a falling tree. C.J. BESSECKER, cook for a construction camp, was killed by a flying roof.

At Hebron LESLIE KENNEY was beheaded by a falling timber. Many persons sustained injuries in various manners. Searchers are working heroically to remove the debris of the wrecked buildings under which it is feared more dead will be found. Half a score of persons are reported missing. Twelve negroes employed by the Pan Handle Railroad at Hebron as section men were hurt when the box car in which they were quartered was demolished. Every church in the two towns was razed. The loss at Kouts was estimated at $100,000 and at Hebron $50,000. Luckily no fires started. Despite the general demoralization there was no looting and good order prevailed. The tornado exhibited the usual number of freak "stunts."

The wind overturned a railroad construction camp, consisting of eight cars, between Crown Point and Hebron on the Panhandle railroad. MIKE MITSKE, the foreman, was injured fatally and twenty of his men more or less seriously hurt. At Crown Point the grandstands and horse barns of the Lake County Fair Grounds were wrecked, and JOSEPH SHIELDS, an aged horse trainer, injured fatally. At Cedar Lake MR. and MRS. GEORGE CALMON were carried into a field when their house was destroyed by the wind and both were hurt seriously. About Lowell farmhouses were overturned. At Shelby JOHN WRIGHT was crushed by flying timber and four others hurt.

The Indianapolis Star, Indianapolis, IN 28 May 1917


List Of Known Dead In Storms

Hebron, Ind.
E.B. PRATT, 50 years old.

Kouts, Ind.

MR. and MRS. D.B. PESH.
C.J. BESSECKER, New York, cook for railroad gang.

The Indianapolis Star, Indianapolis, IN 28 May 1917