Sawyer County, WI tornado, April 1929

A tornadic storm which had its origin at a point in Minnesota near the Twin Cities struck this section early last Friday evening and did an immense amount of damage not only through the loss of property, but a toll of lives which it exacted -- both being noticeable nearby as well as in other places. It wrought havoc in parts of Dunn and Barron counties, and continued its desolating course from near Exeland, into the upper Meadowbrook district and at Loretta. Other localities enroute through this portion of Sawyer county received damage of various natures. Winter seemed to be right in the path of the twister but fortunately the funnel shaped cloud lifted just before reaching here, and the losses sustained were mild compared with other localities. Reaching the vicinity of Weirgor the cyclone produced a fury and it was there the home of the Steve family was made into kindling, Mrs. Steve being killed and six others injured to such a degree it was necessary to thake them to the Ladysmith Hospital. A Weirgor neighbor, Mrs. Hanson, was quite painfully inured when the storm hit that family's home. The path then taken caused the storm to cross the Chippewa River not far from the scene of the Bohn murder and next produced fatalities at the Chase home, two members of the family dying as the result of its onslaught when the dwelling was reduced to debris. Robert Chase, about 17 years old, was caught up and pitched head first into a spot where he was found the following morning partly submerged in water. It is very apparent that he was killed by the force of the storm and not by drowning. Mrs. Chase was struck in the chest by a flying timber and was left in an unconscious condition. Neighbors soon after the storm hurriedly endeavored to take her to the Ladysmith Hospital, but she succumbed before reaching there. A 12 year old daughter was taken to the hospital because of injuries. Two younger children were but slightly scratched. With an older sister who was in Milwaukee they are they only survivors of the family, as their father was killed less than two years ago when he was gored by an infuriated bull. The Baribo home was also wrecked and the senior Mr. Baribo was severely injured, having his hip broken so badly that it was necessary to take him to Ladysmith for medical service. The Lincoln School in the Belille Falls district of the town of Radisson was completely wrecked. When the William Irvine home was blown away, this settler was very seriously injured and there seems to be but little hope for his recovery. Mrs. Irving was quite badly hurt, but hopes for her recovery are very good. Within a mile and a half south of the Ojibwa four corners, three places were struck, and this is now marked by ruins upon the E.G. Barkdull, Ben Noyes and Ben Johnson farms. At the Barkdull place the residence was scattered for a distance of nearly a quarter mile. The family has been in St. Paul since early last fall, otherwise there would have been a heavy loss of life there. On the Noyes farm the barn was reduced to ruins, and one horse in it was hurt so badly that it was necessary to kill the same. A prank was played here, for the other horse was not injured. This farmer's home was lifted north a distance of about ten feet and received no damage except the degree of wracking it underwent. The chimney also toppled over. Fatality accompanied the storm when it reached the Ben Johnson place, which is only a little over half a mile south of the Ojibwa four corners. Here Ole Johnson, father of the owner, was killed almost instantly. These two, as the only occupants of the house, were attempting to get into the cellar for protection, but were picked up and carried with the wreckage a distance of about 25 feet before they were able to reach safety. It is thought that the dead man was struck by the stove. The Johnson barn was also completely demolished with the exception of the cement foundation and Gazette representatives who visited the place since found two dead sheep and a dead lamb nearby. Two Ford cars were picked up and carried south and southeasterly, to where they were then dropped in a mangled mass several hundred feet away. On Highway 70 less than seven miles from this village three unoccupied houses -- those commonly known as the Peterson, Ott, and Zomok places--were carried south a distance of about 50 or 60 feet while the other two were scattered across the road in a northerly direction. Just east of the latter mentioned place the roof on the Lepkowicz farm home was partly taken off and badly wrecked. The chimney in falling struck the downstair's partition and certainly saved several members of the family from injury or even death. John and Victor Lepkowicz were in the barn when the storm struck and that building was not hurt any.

Striking again in its fury the storm reached Loretta and wrought havoc. Two homes at the northwest corner of the village were practically demolished beyond repair. These were occupied by the John A. Johnson and Frank Courtright families. Some of the occupants were bruised to small degrees and Mr. Johnson received a deep scalp wound. Eight private garages nearby were scattered along by the wind and autoes in each of them were damaged more or less. At the Nels Hanson farm northeast of Loretta and north of Draper the barn, chicken coop and garage were wrecked but the farm home was left unscathed.

The Sawyer County Gazette, Winter, WI 11 April, 1929