Lebanon, IL Tornado, Mar 1871

Terrific Tornado in Illinois
Two Persons Killed and Several Badly Injured.

From the Local Lebanon (Ill.) Chronicle, Mar. 16
A terrific tornado, which sent terror into many households, and proved to be the most destructive of any storm that ever visited this section of the state, passed through our county, coming in at the southwest corner and passing diagonally across the county, Tuesday night. We have been unable to obtain full particulars of the destruction, but learned that on Brush Creek, in the Turner settlement, several farm houses and other buildings were blown to atoms, and one family- MR. VERMILLION’S- nearly destroyed. A granddaughter, MISS WATSON, about 12 years of age, was killed instantly, the old gentleman and his wife severely injured by falling timbers. MR. VERMILLION died yesterday, and MRS. V. is not expected to recover.

MR. SANFORD TURNER’S and a MR. DENNIS’ houses were entirely demolished. MISS REBECCA VERMILLION had an arm and her right leg broken, and her side badly injured; she is not expected to live. ELIZABETH WATSON had a shoulder blade fractured and was badly cut in the face, thigh and ankle. The family tried to escape but could not get the door open; the house, a frame, which they were in, was carried about fifty yards. JOSEPH VERMILLION, a boy of 13 years, was carried two hundred yards and had a leg broken. A boy of the name of JOHN BOHANON had a leg broken. JOSEPH LAYMAN, S.J. BECK, MASON LAWSON, ELI KENNEDY, WIDOW BENSON, ALEXANDER LOWRANCE and JOHN BOHANON and their houses blown away. WILLIAM CATLIN was carried in his house 100 yards when he and the house separated, and, when coming to his senses found himself in a field 100 yards further. Several of the largest trees in that vicinity were blown 300 yards. SAMUEL DENNIS lost the top of his house and had two horses killed. Nearly all the families in the houses above referred to were more or less injured. Several other homes were blown to pieces-- the names of the owners we did not learn.

The storm seemed to take a range of about a quarter of a mile wide; it passed northeasterly, uprooting, blowing down and breaking off all forest trees that stood in the way. Many of the trees were from two to three feet in diameter. The storm crossed the railroad this side of Stoutland. The destruction of forest trees can be seen near the road a couple of miles this side of that village. It passed about a half mile east of Lebanon. The only damage we hear of in this vicinity was the destruction of JAMES. W APPLING’S barn. Very fortunately for the town people, they were spared the destruction that would have been inevitable had the storm come half a mile further west. The loss would have been terrible, for the town happens to be strung out parallel with the storm-track nearly two miles.

The storm was accompanied by a very heavy rain, connected with which is one of the most wonderfully strange freaks of nature, if we may call it such, that we have ever heard of. We speak of the deposit of sulphur (sic) left upon the ponds, tubs, barrels, and all places out of doors where water was found standing the next morning. Such places, and even upon pieces of boards lying around, were covered with a yellow substance having the substance, smell and many say taste of sulphur(sic). Several families had to throw away the water in their tubs and barrels, which they had caught for washing, so great was the sulphur(sic) deposit. In small ponds, which were increased by the excessive fall of water, this deposit was noticed to a great extent, the edges of the banks coated with sulphur, having been left when the water receded. This is no sensation or nonsense, but is known to nearly, if not all, of our citizens in and around the town. Whether the sulphur deposit was left in other places we are not advised, not having had time to make an inquiry. Will some of the scientific men of the country explain the cause of this sulphur deposit?

Chicago Tribune, Chicago, IL 21 Mar 1871