Various Locations, IA, WI and MI Tornado Damage, May 1851


A tornado passed over Fairfield, Iowa, on Saturday the 31st ult., doing much mischief. The State University Building, which was nearly completed, was entirely demolished. The dwelling house of MR. FULTON and a one story brick house were destroyed, severely maiming several of the inmates. The court house was much damaged, many buildings were unroofed, and much damage was done to fences, gardens, &c.
It moved in a column of a mile and a half wide, strewing the prairie round the town with fragments of the houses and furniture; corn, beds, bedding, clothes, wheels and pieces of wagons, and portions of the roofs can be found hundreds of yards from the houses which were blown down.

In Wisconsin. - In portions of Dare County, Wisconsin, several houses were torn to pieces, forests splintered and prostrated; much damage done to other property. On one farm there were fifty acres of fine timber swept over as if it were but reeds.

In Michigan. - In portions of Winnebago and Ogle Counties, Michigan, the tornado was terrible in its destruction of life and injury to property, extending fifteen miles in length and fifty in breadth. The Prairie Democrat has a minute account of its effects, from which we extract:
The first house prostrated was MRS. MILLER'S, the lady being caught up, as she ran out of the house, and carried a distance of twenty rods and dropped in a slough, and owing to the softness of the ground she was not materially injured. The house was torn to atoms and scattered over the prairies.
The next was old MR. MILLER'S; the house carried away and the old man badly injured. Then it swept along to MR. BIRCH'S; in this were two families, in all eight persons. The whole building was cut up and removed twenty feet and let down upon the roof so as to leave the rafters in the earth; it was again caught up and carried about thirty rods in the bottom of the tornado and finally dashed to pieces. The wife of WM. BIRCH and her three children and the wife of BENJAMIN and one child, all perished, being literally torn to pieces. B. BIRCH was severely, but it is thought not mortally injured. Out of eight persons in that fated house, but two remain to remember the terrific scene.
The next house was that of MR. SHOEMAKER. There was a young man in it, who, at the approach of the storm, attempted to flee out at the door, but falling in that, he dropped through the floor in time to let the house go tenantless through the heavens. But he soon followed; he was taken up and carried near half a mile and dropped in a grove of small timber, and marvelous as it may appear, the only serious injury he received was the dislocating of his wrist.
Numerous other cases are mentioned, but of less melancholy interest. A gentleman who examined several miles of the track of the storm describes the country as being literally strewn with the wrecks and fragments of buildings, furniture, fences and dead animals. The 31st of May will be recollected as a day of frightful tornadoes all over the West, in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan.

Meigs County Telegraph Pomeroy Ohio 1851-06-19