Gloucester, NJ tornado, Jun 1892




GLOUCESTER, N. J., June 30. - At 1:20 this afternoon a windstorm of cyclonic character struck this city from the southwest, doing great damage to property and killing two persons and injuring three others severely.

The killed are:

PATRICK HIGHLANDS, aged fifty years, of Philadelphia.

ROBERT HAMILTON, aged forty-five years, of Gloucester.

Hamilton was killed by the crashing in of his house by the roof of Frombergen's pavillion.

The injured are:

Mrs. ROBERT HAMILTON, wife of Robert Hamilton; foot badly crushed.

MARY HAMILTON, daughter of Robert Hamilton, seriously injured about the body and limbs.

PATRICK HIGGINS of Camden; severe contusion in the head.

For an hour or more before the storm burst threatening clouds filled the western sky to the zenith, an occasional flash of lightning rending from top to bottom. The air was close and heavy, and the light wind that was blowing sent the clouds before it with hardly a perceptible movement. By 1 o'clock the heavens were almost covered, and the people began to hurry toward places of shelter.

Soon after 1 o'clock the few persons who were on the beach were panic-stricken by seeing a black cloud of the dreaded funnel shape rushing across the river in a southwesterly direction from the Pennsylvania shore.

With almost incredible swiftness the cyclone bore down toward this city. The cloud did not approach with a direct forward movement, but bounded from the water in great leaps, like a gigantic football.

The path of the cyclone was about 300 feet wide, and whenever it struck the water it lashed it into foaming waves. Fortunately no ships were in the path of the wind, and it wasted its fury upon the river itself.

In the meanwhile the people upon the beach rushed for shelter and safety. Some jumped straight into the river, and as the cyclone passed over them they dived beneath the surface.

Patrick Highlands was among those upon the beach. He ran toward Frombegen's pavillion. The wind, however, was close upon his heels, and as he dashed into the building the cyclone struck it. There was a crash of falling walls, with his brains beaten out by a heavy girder.

Standing behind the bar, within a few feet of where Highlands was struck down, was one of the bartenders of the place. Girders, beams, joists, and roofing fell all around him, but he escaped unhurt. Highlands was formerly a member of the Philadelphia harbor police force, and he was the first recipient of the Fitler Medal which is annually given to members of the police force for heroic conduct.

Adjoining Frombegen's on the south is Haggerty's saloon. The pavilion saved it from total destruction, but the corrugated iron roof was taken off as completely as if done by a roofer.

A toboggan and some patent swings received part of the debris from the cloud and were totally wrecked. Three hundred feet behind Frombegen's was the humble home of Robert Hamilton.

Hamilton and his wife and daughter were about to sit down to dinner. With appalling suddenness the greater part of Frombegen's pavilion was hurled upon the house, crushing it to the ground. Hamilton was instantly killed, and his wife and daughter were badly injured and will probably be crippled for life.

After completing the destruction of Hamilton's house, the wind swept on to the southward, tearing up trees and fences, but fortunately, no more buildings were in its path.

Within ten minutes after the destruction by the wind the sun was shining.

The New York Times, New York, NY 1 Jul 1892