Archive for Sunday, March 24, 2013

100 years ago: Lawrence experiences edge of ‘Easter Tornado’ system

March 24, 2013


From the Lawrence Daily Journal-World for March 24, 1913:

  • "TORNADO SWEEPS OMAHA. Iowa and Indiana Also In Tornado's Path. -- One hundred is a conservative estimate of the dead as a result according to the best reports available.... The message placed the dead at 100 and the injured at 300.... Fifty are reported killed in Indiana.... WIND, RAIN AND DUST STORM IN LAWRENCE -- Only a Faint Resemblance of the Twister in Nebraska. -- Yesterday, Easter Sunday, came near establishing a record for windiness. A high wind prevailed all day and last night for an hour it attained a velocity of 58 miles an hour. Evidently it was a remnant of the Nebraska cyclone which was felt here. The wind was accompanied by a heavy rain and hail.... Later in the night, the rain had ceased and instead the wind was loaded with sand and dust. This morning the streets were covered with red sand, said to have been blown up here from Oklahoma."
  • "There are now about 200 automobiles in Douglas County. The New State Law enacted at the 1913 session of legislature levies a tax of $5 per auto. This money is to be used in the improvement of the roads of the county from which it comes. This means that about $1,000 will be collected in Douglas county annually. $200 of this will be required to cover the expenses of collection. $800 will go into a fund for the purpose of improving the country roads in Douglas County.... It is understood that the autoists are ready to hand over their Fives and will urge the county commissioners to start the work of improvement as soon as possible."
  • "'It was a great disappointment to me when the bill compelling truthful advertising failed to pass,' remarked Gustafson, the jeweler, recently to a representative of the Journal-World. During the discussion which followed attention was called to the advertising of a metropolitan jeweler who advertised widely a special offer of a $35.00 watch for $16.50, one dollar down and one dollar a week. Mr. Gustafson went to his show case, picked up a watch marked in plain figures $13.50 and said: 'There is the identical watch advertising as being worth $35.00 and actually sold for $16.50. I sell it at a fair profit at $13.50 and the man who advertises it as a thirty-five dollar watch needs watching.'"


Sarah St. John 5 years, 2 months ago

With the exception of global events such as the Great War and the influenza epidemic (both still on the horizon at this point) and well-known occurrences such as the Titanic or Halley's Comet, I try to mostly limit myself to events that affected Lawrence and the surrounding area. Therefore, I won't be writing a lot about the storms of Easter 1913 and the famous Ohio Floods of that same spring, but if you are interested, I encourage you to look them up.... but be warned, the first-person accounts can be harrowing.

This is from one short thing I wrote recently:

In the world of 100 Years Ago, I am astonished to find that I knew next to nothing about the violent weather-related events that happened on and around Easter of 1913. I began by reading about the "Easter Sunday Tornados" that swept through multiple states (most notably Nebraska, where Omaha suffered staggering loss of life, but also Indiana and others). Omaha was covered by a late snowfall within about six hours of the storm; there were heart-rending descriptions of shivering residents attempting to do search-and-rescue in the heavy snow, moving heavy beams of fallen buildings to try to find their loved ones, and of the funerals that followed, at least 100 in one day. I was still horrified by those newspaper accounts when I saw, just a day later, the epic floods in Dayton, Ohio, that killed over 350 people and rendered thousands homeless. Heavy rains on already-saturated ground caused the rivers to overflow and the levees to fail; the city was flooded under about 20 feet of water on the night of March 25-26. Explosions in the city led to fires in the entire business section; people were reported to be "leaping from roof to roof" to escape the flames. Other states were not spared the flooding either. Here is a poignant item from the little town of Peru, Indiana, from March 26. "The first report of the loss of life in Peru was confirmed early this morning when Governor Ralston talked over the long distance telephone to Mr. Frank Butler, an attorney, at Peru. Mr. Butler said 100 coffins at least were needed, other bodies had been washed away. He asked that two hundred coffins and food be sent to Peru at once. 'This probably will be the last message you will get from Peru,' said the man. 'Two hundred or more are drowned and the remainder of the residents are grouped on a hill waiting for daylight.'... While the governor was talking, the wire to Peru failed."

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