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Tornado hits Tracy on Sunday, June 22, 1924

June 3, 2012
By Ellayne Conyers , Marshall Independent

Part V:


Mr. and Mrs. Merle Bell were made prisoners in the cellar of their home by the storm. They had fled to the cellar when the wind became strong and this was fortunate for them.

The house and barn were both demolished, the barn being thrown a complete wreck upon the house and a cow was thrown thru the floor into the cellar where the Bells were seeking shelter.

Mr. Bell's brother, Floyd, who lived but a short distance away, fled with his wife to their cellar to escape the fury of the blast and after it passed, came out to find all their farm buildings gone except for the house.

Looking across the field to the brother's place they could see nothing where there was once a fine prosperous farm home. Fearing that they had been killed they rushed to the place to find them nowhere.

Calling for them they received a reply from the cellar of the house, and soon assisted them to reach safety.

The two families, neither of whom were badly hurt, jumped into the brother's car and hastened to the father's place some distance away, where the elder Bell learned for the first time the heavy loss sustained by his sons in the storm. One of the freak performances of the storm was done at the Floyd Bell Place. Mr. Bell had a stucco house and garage.

The garage was destroyed but his car, which was in the garage was run out some way and left standing in front of the former garage with no injury to it. That car carried his family to his brother's place and later the two families to the father's home.


A 2,000 pound bull on the Merle Bell farm near Walnut Grove was roughly treated by the storm. His tongue was torn from its base in his mouth and blown away into a field where it was later found and exhibited by J.E. Baxter of Walnut Grove.

Some thought it was from a horse, but Mr. Baxter declared that it was that of a bovine. Mr. Bell and family, who escaped from the storms furry into the cellar, were unable to locate his bull.

A boy was sent out the next day on horseback to find the bull while neighbors were working among the debris at the farm home. It was here that they found the bull pinned down under some timbers of the barn, which had fallen on the house and dumped a cow and the bull in the basement.

Mr. Bell saved his family in the cellar by superhuman strength in tipping up on end, a concrete pillar in a corner to hold up the timbers from crushing down upon them.

In many places the trees in the groves were completely stripped of their bark, while in other places the bark was taken off in big batches with sound bark all around them. The Citizens Light Company in Tracy had an exhibit in their office window a section of one of their power cables.

The cable was a seven strand wire, six of which strands the storm did not molest but the seventh, which was many feet in length, had been wrapped and twisted in an unbelievable manner about the other six.

Mr. Tenhoff, of Balaton, who drove into the J.E. Edwards place to escape the oncoming storm, ran his car into the Edwards place to escape the oncoming storm and ran his car into the Edwards barn. Everything on the place was destroyed including Mr. Edward's car and a truck was damaged, but the Tenhoff car was set outside of the barn undamaged.

Mr. Emil Schmidt and family were away from home Sunday afternoon when the storm swept their place clean.

Mrs. Schmidt had left a fine diamond ring and other jewelry, including her watch at home. She supposed that the ring was gone, but this was soon found in the wreckage still in its case untouched, with some other jewelry, but the watch could not be found.

That a cellar is a pretty safe place to be in such a storm was attested to by almost all of the people who sought shelter in cellars, where whole places were wrecked, but all escaped with slight injuries.


Two horses were picked up from a pasture on the LaRocque farm south of Tracy and carried; 80 to 100 rods and then dropped down on their backs in the mud in a ditch alongside of the road near the Quackenbush place.

On the Quackenbush farm a 2x4 timer was blown by the wind and driven thru the chest of one of the finest horses on the farm, and killed.

(Continued next week)



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