Lawrence, KS Tornado, Apr 1911


Two Were Killed in the University Town and Much Damage Done to Buildings.


Mrs. JOSEPH SULLIVAN, Lawrence, Kas., killed when roof of her home crashed in.
Mrs. LAURA CHILDS, negro; Lawrence.


Five Were Injured and Many Buildings Blown Down by the Storm.

LAWRENCE, Kas., April 12.---The tornado struck Lawrence about 8 o'clock tonight bringing with it a severe electrical storm, hard rain and some hail. Two women are dead and another believed to have been killed on a farm west of here. Four persons in North Lawrence are injured severely.

The storm, which was headed northeast, seemed to strike the city first north of the University of Kansas. It swept along the river and blew down half a dozen lodging houses for students in that quarter and blew roofs from a dozen or more houses in the northwest part of the city. Severe damage was done in the business district in the block between the Eldridge Hotel and the river. Several residences were blown down on the East Side. Then the storm crossed the river north of Santa Fe Street, struck North Lawrence and destroyed a dozen houses and swept off to the northeast.

One of the women known to be dead is Mrs. Joseph Sullivan, 639 Mississippi Street. The other is Mrs. Laura Childs, a negro. An unconfirmed telephone report says that a woman was killed on a farm west of Lawrence.

Mrs. Sullivan was retiring for the night when the storm struck her home. One wall and the roof were blown in upon her. Her husband was severely injured but probably will recover.

Seventy-five members of the Kansas National Guard, drilling on the second floor of the Vermont Street Schoolhouse, had a miraculous escape from death. They did not let the storm interrupt their drill until the wind carried away the roof of the school building. Then they fled. A minute later the second floor of the building crashed in.

The wind left freakish scenes in its path. At Seventh and Indiana streets a small frame house was picked up and lodged firmly upright in a large tree. Central Park, west of the Eldridge Hotel, usually well kept, tonight is filled with sand, branches of trees, a violent river where once was a mild little creek and wreckage of building is everywhere. Street cars are stopped, electric lights are out all over town, telephones of both systems are out of commission and many wires of the telegraph companies are down. The principal damage to the electric light plant is by the wind which tore down feed wires. The telephone and telegraph companies suffered from loss of both poles and wires.

Liberty came with a crash to fifteen prisoners confined in the old county jail on the river, a block west of Massachusetts Street. The west side of the building was blown in. No one was injured, but three of the prisoners escaped. They returned voluntarily, however, when they realized the fierceness of the storm and saw that the other prisoners did not try to get away.

It is believed the storm's damage in property will be $150,000. The roof of the Eldridge Hotel was blown off, the Bowersock Paper Company's plant was damaged severely and many fine residences and business buildings are ruined. Several small fires added to the excitement. The house where Mrs. Sullivan was killed burned after the wind struck it. The fire was caused by crossed electric light wires. The home of William Peck, 620 Mississippi Street, burned after a stove was overturned. A house at 519 Vermont Street, North Lawrence, was set afire by lime slaking.

The tornado jumped the river a few hundred yards west of the Bowersock mill and lit on North Lawrence on the east side of Massachusetts Street. Twenty houses were destroyed and many persons injured, some severely. The twister swept the frame houses like paper and perhaps a hundred barns and other smaller buildings in its path were wrecked.

Santa Fe train No. 6 raced with the storm which seemed to have followed the tracks of the Santa Fe for several miles. The train beat the tornado into Lawrence and remained here until the storm had passed.

South of the Kaw River several costly homes in the west part of town were telescoped. Porches were torn off and many houses were twisted from their foundations. None of the University of Kansas buildings was damaged and the large residences in the south part of town where the students live suffered to little from the storm. All the electric lights were out of use and all the studying done in Lawrence last night was by candle light.

The Kansas City Times, Kansas City, MO 13 Apr 1911


Two Killed at Lawrence.

Lawrence, Kan., April 13.---Two people were killed, scores of houses destroyed and the streets piled high with debris by a tornado which struck Lawrence at 8 o'clock tonight. Only a rough estimate of the damage can he made tonight, but the loss is conservatively placed at $150,000. The known dead are Mrs. Joe Sullivan, 55 years old, and Laura Childs, a colored woman employed on the farm of Claude Doubleday, two miles west of this place. Four more deaths have been reported, but the rumors can not be confirmed tonight. A dozen more were more or less seriously injured.

The Galveston Daily News, Galveston, TX 13 Apr 1911


The dead:

MRS. JOE SULLIVAN, Lawrence, killed by falling house.
MRS. LAURA CHILDS, colored, Lawrence, caught under debris of house.

The injured.....

Jacob Pike, Lawrence, Injured internally by falling house.

The Galveston Daily News, Galveston, TX 13 Apr 1911


In Kansas.


J. H. Hook of Lawrence, ribs broken and bruised.
Mary Smith of Lawrence, dislocated shoulder.
Dan Dahlene of Lawrence, cut by flying glass.
Mrs. Marietta Leach of Lawrence, internal injuries.
Mrs. Amanda Cheney of Lawrence, severe bruises.
Charles Brown of Lawrence, cut by flying glass.
Mrs. Laura Brown of Lawrence, severe bruises.
Vivian Fenstermacher, 8 year old daughter of F. S. Fenstermacher of Lawrence, painfully bruised.
Mrs. Edward Hackley of North Lawrence severely bruised.
Charles Powell a negro of Lawrence, injured when a neighbor's house blew against his own.

The Kansas City Times, Kansas City, MO 14 Apr 1911