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Tornado hits Tracy on Sunday, June 22, 1924

May 29, 2012
By Ellayne Conyers , Marshall Independent

Part IV:


The Dale Donaldson family of Tracy had a narrow escape when they were caught in the storm on the Black and Yellow Trail west of town.

The wind whirled their Ford sedan and landed them upside down in the roadside ditch. The top was smashed off and left with the cushions and the four passengers, the Donaldsons and their year and a half old baby and Mr. Phillips whom they were taking home, sitting on them (cushions) while the storm rolled the rest of the car west and landed it up against a telephone post. Aside from a number of slight scratches and bruises they all escaped. George Robinson, who was driving a car a short distance in back of them, saw their car whirled about in the storm, drove his car into the ditch and was thrown out. The top was stripped off the car but no other damage done to it or Mr. Robinson.

They all hurried across the field to the Heleson place to seek shelter and were soon joined by Alvin Anderson and his mother, whose place was completely destroyed. The men soon started out to work their way west to the Phillips place, as Mr. Phillips was worrying about his family. They took Robinson's car and started west and soon found the road covered with trees and all sorts of wreckage.

They were soon joined by another work force working from the east and a second from the west. The west workers brought the first news of the serious injuries to the Edwards family and one member was taken to Tracy at once to secure doctors.

Those hardest hit in the Tracy district were Bert Wilford whose fine farm home, directly west of Tracy eight miles, was a complete ruin. The John Holden-Edwards farm near it was a total loss. The W.O. Turner place located on the dry lake between Tracy and Garvin lost hog house and barn, which were scattered over the place, except for the house.

From this point on there were a number of fine farm places where hard working farmers lived. Ed Edwards' fine farm place was swept clean, as was the place of his unfortunate brother, J.E. Edwards, who was killed by the storm.

Sweeping across the highways the twister next engulfed the places of the Roy Allenbaugh and Leonard Drumm farms. The first was cleaned of everything but a badly wrecked house.

The latter place was a total loss. The next in the path of the cyclone was the home of Anne Anderson which in a twinkle was converted into a mass of broken lumber, machinery, killed stock, and trees from the grove, all of which were scattered about the place and over the fields. Robert Rialson was just in the edge of the storm and escaped with slight damage compared with others.

The Ole Gelgeson and Walter J. Montgomery places were swept of everything but the houses and the same fate was shared by Mr. E. Quakenbush and the LaRocque farm. Sweeping across the highway a half-mile south of Tracy, the next place in the path of the storm was the Frank Starr farm. Here everything was destroyed but the house which escaped without damage, although there was destruction scattered all about it. The farmer on this place was away from home with his family and knew nothing of the disaster, which had overtaken him until they came home after the storm.

Moving on east the storm hit with its greatest force the places of John Meyer, Emil Smith, August Wollschlager and Ben Clark. All these places were a complete loss; this fine farming section being converted into a desolate waste in less time than it takes to tell it.

The storm swept on with unabated fury laying waste a section of the country a mile wide and converting to utter ruin a number of the finest farm places in Murray County.

"Thru the entire devastated district the loss to live stock and crops has been very heavy. It is impossible to give in detail all these losses, which will mount into hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Many of the farmers are left absolutely destitute with nothing but the bare farm to begin on. The crop in the path of the storm has mostly been destroyed so that many of the unfortunate farmers are facing the prospect of no crop or a greatly reduced yield for this year." Editor of the Tracy Headlight-Herald


R. Gottschalk and wife saw the storm approaching and rushed for the cellar; but the wind was so strong that he could not get the door closed. His wife who was not strong crawled into a large box for better protection.

The tornado swept away everything clean on the farm above their heads and some falling timbers stuck the wife on the head injuring it badly.

Hans Sandbo, who lived south of Walnut Grove, had his place completely wiped out. A windmill standing in the yard was picked up by the twister and a section of the pipe was drawn from the well with the mill. This was carried forty rods and wrapped three times around a cottonwood tree standing by the roadside.

The fence on this farm was torn out and rolled across the entire farm toward the house where it was left in a mass of tangled wire. Lillie Osman, a daughter of Mr. Sandbo's housekeeper, received an injury on one eye and Mr. Sandbo was injured on the forearm.

Those who had gone over the ground between Tracy and Walnut Grove stated that at places the young corn plants were literally pulled out of the ground bodily by the storm. All wire fences standing in the edges of the storm were covered with straw, grass and mud to a height of about three feet, giving the appearance of being in a flood.

(Continued next week)



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