Various Towns, PA, NJ Tornado, Aug 1885




Philadelphia, Aug. 3. -- A terrific tornado swept up the Delaware River this afternoon, doing an immense amount of damage to property, killing a number of persons, and injuring many more. Below this city the tornado kept along the Jersey shore. The storm swept through Camden, tearing down many buildings, killing several persons and wounding others. The tornado then crossed the river to this city, striking at that portion of the city known as Richmond, carrying death and destruction in its path. The steamboat Major Reybold, plying between this city and Salem, N.J. was caught in the cyclone's path and raked fore and aft, the upper decks being torn away and the timbers tossed, flying in every direction. The Captain and pilot were carried away with the pilothouse and thrown into the river, where the pilot, EMERY TOWNSEND, was drowned. Capt. REYBOLD was rescued from the water and found to have received only a few cuts. There were between 50 and 75 persons on board, and only three or four were hurt. The escape of the others seems almost miraculous. Only a few timbers and a portion of the roof of the promenade deck are left above the lower deck, and these are twisted and broken as if immense weights had fallen upon them. The smoke stack was carried away, and indeed everything that offered resistance to the force of the wind. Luckily for the passengers they had noticed the funnel-shaped cloud and saw its work along the shore. They heeded the warning and rushed down the companionway to the lower deck. Men, women, and children crushed each other in the mad hurry to escape.
Capt. REYBOLD told a graphic and fearful story of the disaster after he was picked up and stood bleeding on the deck of the Jersey Blue. He said: "I was in the pilot house with EWING TOWNSEND and had the port side, while he had the starboard side of the wheel. All at once it began to grow dark, and looking in the southwest I saw the cause. An inky cloud was moving like lightning toward us, and I saw it unroof the buildings at the Pennsylvania Salt Works. The roofs were drawn up into the black vortex and disappeared in the clouds. I never saw them fall. I knew we would encounter the the storm, and turned the boat toward the Jersey shore, hoping to get out of its path, as it was making directly for us. The Jersey Blue, which left the Arch street wharf at the same time we did, did the same thing and succeeded in getting out of the way. We pulled down the window and looked out to avoid collisions or other accidents. I had seen waterspouts and whirlwinds before but never anything like that."
The Roybold arrived at Arch street wharf at about 4 o'clock a complete wreck, an hour after she had left it on her way to Salem. Hundreds of people crowded to the wharf, and friends of those known to be on board were notified and hurried to learn their fate. The passengers came off, all of them drenched, as the roofs had been torn off and there was little shelter from the driving rain. DR. E. W. PIPER, of Camden, was one of the first on the scene and attended to the wounded. The worst hurt of these is WILLIAM GESSNER, of Salem, a passenger, who was struck on the head by a flying piece of timber, causing a contused wound and rupture of the temporal artery. He had bled a great deal, and would have died had DR. PIPER not closed the cut. JOSEPH WILMER, the colored steward, was also cut in the head, but not so badly.
DORRIS ELSE, of Salem, a passenger, received a few cuts, which were dressed at an adjacent drug store on Delaware avenue. GESSNER was taken to the Pennsylvania Hospital. Capt. REYBOLD was cut in the hand and several places about the head. Engineer DOYLE was badly scalded by escaping steam from a pipe in the engine room, which was broken.
The Reybold left the Arch street wharf at 8 o'clock for Salem, N.J., with about 75 persons on board, but as no ticket had been sold up to the time of the disaster there is no was of learning the exact number. The boat was a large side wheel steamer, belonging to the Salem Steamboat Company, and was built at Delaware City in 1853. She was rebuilt five years ago and was in first-class condition. The wreck is still at Arch street wharf, supported from sinking by the wharf and the steamers Annie Gould and Chanbell Senior.
The next obstacle in the track of the cyclone, after in had demolished the Major Reybold, was the Gloucester ferryboat Peerless. The boat was on its return trip from Gloucester, and was in midstream opposite Hunter's Point when the cyclone struck it squarely amidships. The boat was lifted completely out of the water and whirled around like a top for an instant and then dropped back into the water with its prow still pointing toward the Pennsylvania shore. In that brief moment, however, the smokestack, back pilothouse, and rear cabin were all carried away and sent whirling into the stream. Capt. GEORGE VANDERSLICE and the pilot, who were in the foremost pilothouse, were thrown to the floor and stunned, but were not injured. There were a number of truck wagons on board, and all of them were thrown in a confused heap in the forward part of the boat. Most of the wagons were piled on top of the horses. The animals struggled violently to disentangle themselves from the harness, the mass of debris pinning them to the floor. One horse managed to free himself and plunged madly over the chains into the river, dragging the wagon after him. A boy who was in charge of the horse and wagon attempted to hold the horse by the head and was dragged overboard, but was rescued. The horse and wagon were swept away in the flood.
The cyclone struck Camden at Knight's Point. The roundhouse of the West Jersey Railroad was completely demolished; the roof and walls fell in, demolishing several locomotives and injuring several employes. The storm passed on and struck the buildings of the American Dredging Company, on Second street, tearing off the roofs and injuring several inmates. The large three-story building occupied by the Camden Tool and Tube Works was badly damaged and several operatives were hurt. Several other large buildings fell eith the fury of the gale as it passed away to the northeast. That portion of the city lying between the river and Fourth street and from the Camden and Atlantic Railroad Station to Kaighn's Point was strewn with telegraph poles, house roofs, tubing, trees and signs, and all manner of debris, presenting the appearance of barricaded streets. Fully 1,000 buildings were damaged more or less. Within the limits above named travel is entirely stopped, and much labor will be required to make the streets passable.
Following are the names of the killed and injured, not including those who were on board the Major Reybold:
CHARLES DAISEY, aged 49, a ship carpenter, killed instantly by flying timbers at the wharf of the American Dredging Company Camden.
LIZZIE McVEY, aged 10, crushed to death between timbers at her home, No. 1,721 Melvale street, Philadelphia.
Injured At Camden.
HARRY STEVENS, aged 21, (a fellow workman of DAISEY, who was killed), probably fatally injured, his right leg severed below the knee by falling timbers.
Steward JOHNSON (colored), of dredging tug Pacific, seriously injured about face and body.
JOHN MELCHER, 818 Elm street, injured seriously about the head.
BENJAMIN SMITH, right arm broken and injured internally.
ALONZO MAXWELL, aged 16, of 817 Chestnut street, injured by falling walls.
CHARLES THOMPSON, manager Camden Tool Works, injured in the face and neck by falling walls.
JACOB MILLER, No. 206 Becket street, leg broken.
FREEDOM PEAK, head cut.
JOHN SILK, head badly cut.
ELMER LOCKE, bruised about body.
MRS. JOSEPHINE McKINLEY, No. 818 South Second street, cut about face and body.
JOHN BROWN, No. 289 Chestnut street.
Injured At Philadelphia.
ANNIE McVEY, aged 50, (mother of the dead child, LIZZIE McVEY,) badly cut about the body.
ANNIE McVEY, aged 15, cut about the face and limbs.
FRANCIS GOLDEN, aged 24, of 2,158 East Cumberland street, badly injured by falling timber.
MICHAEL KENT, aged 55, Almeado and Somerset streets, back broken.
WILLIAM N. HARE, of Short & Hart, hoisery manufacturers, struck at his mill by falling bricks, causing depression of the brain, it is thought he will die.
The following employes at SHORT & HART'S mill were also severely injured:
ANNIE BOLTZ, aged 16, arm broken.
ANNIE BAREN, aged 16.
EMMA POWER, aged 19.
EMMA THOMAS, aged 18.

The New York Times New York 1885-08-04