Plainville Times, May 24, 1917, Plainville, Rooks County, Kansas



Sweeps Narrow Territory From Cochran Ranch On Saline Northeast Through East Edge of Woodston


          One of the most extensive tornadoes ever visiting this section crossed the Saline, at the Cochran ranch Sunday evening.  All the main ranch buildings at the Swenson ranch were destroyed.  The destruction of buildings, sheds and barns was about as complete as could have been made.

            Not enough was left of the house where Joe Lee lived to tell where the house stood.  The furniture was scattered for two miles as far as where Bob Johnson lives two miles north.  The family lost all their belongings and clothing except what meager apparel they had on.  Fortunately they had left the house and taken refuge in a cement chicken house nearby built in a washed out place in the creek bank.  The bank protected them from the fury of the wind.

            At the main ranch stone house where O. M. Loveland lives the roof and top story were blown off even with the first story walls.  The Loveland family fortunately were gone but three men employed at the ranch took refuge in the cellar and escaped injury.

            The large barn about 250 feet long was a total wreck.  The fine 40 x 100 ft. two story addition to it recently built was included in the destruction.  It was built to accommodate cattle below and have above.  All the sheds and outstanding buildings were destroyed.  As book-keeper Lintner expressed it, they had left the land the deed called for.  Two windmills were cut off at the ground.  The monster steel reinforced 20 x 56 cement silo stands in lonely vigil untouched.  The storm in its whirling could find no place to get a hold.  It is said cement silos are seldom phased by cyclones.

            Three horses and a cow were found after the storm was over with broken legs.

            The new bungalow and house on the ranch one mile west where Sam Groves lives were untouched.

            Harold Campbell a young lad 12 or 14 years old, brother of Mrs. Roscoe Loveland, who was visiting at the ranch had started home horse back across the path of the storm about twenty minutes before it occurred.  There was a great deal of worrying over his fate by those interested until next morning when telephone communication was restored it was found he had made it back safe to the ranch and was with the others.  The Lee family went to Henry Kleinschmidts who is caring for them until they can again get a house.

            The storm passed the Cochran ranch on the Saline nine miles south of Plainville about six p.m.  Intervening places with such regularity of time that it was evidently all one storm.  Its rising and lowering frequently gave it the appearance of different storms.

            At the John Coleman place it picked up a 1 x 12 and drove it endways through a steer killing same.

The barn on the Brison place where Ed Hageman lives was destroyed.  At the L. L. Huber place the most damage in that vicinity was done.  The house, barn and out buildings were destroyed except a small granary.  His farm machinery was demolished.

Fortunately he had $1100 insurance but this will not begin to repair the damage.

            The cyclone rose and continued north from the Huber place to the end of the trees near Ora Benedick’s house.  Here it arose from the ground and passed him over.  It lit again in the Hrabe district.

            It is about four miles east of town to where the storm region lies.

            The telephone company had sixteen of their large poles broken down beginning there and running east.

            Mr. and Mrs. Huber and five children had taken refuge in the cellar when the storm arrived.  Part of the house was blown away and the other leaned away over.  The cellar wall caved in on them.  One of the little boys had his leg hurt.  The house is so badly twisted it will have to be completely rebuilt.

            From town there appeared to be three storms.  The cyclone on the Saline was plainly visable and many were out watching it.  Another appeared to form east of town.  The third, north of town.

            In Geo. Watkin’s vicinity four inches of rain accompanied the storm.  Over two inches of hail fell.  It was piled against the fences eighteen inches high.  So much hail fell that it dammed the lister rows and prevented the corn from washing out.

            Parties coming up from the Saline say that hail fell as large as goose eggs.

            At the Norris grove where Evangelist Whiston, wife and invalid nephew, Frank Fisher, have been camped, the water arose on both sides of the temporary house where they resided and threatened to carry it away.  Hail went through the light roof and Mrs. Whiston started to assist Mr. Fischer to the nearest house over a quarter of a mile away, wading in water nearly knee deep and watching fearful, lest the cyclone would strike them.  Mr. Whiston had autoed to Palco that morning to fill his regular appointment and was unconscious of the storm, until he reached Zurich on his return home after evening services.  West of Palco only enough rain fell to properly lay the dust.  At Plainville an inch fell.

            Ben McCarroll’s garage was moved off its foundation and the foundation of his silo cracked.  Mr. McCarrolls fences and J.E. Garvins were badly blown down.

            Will Smiths stable and most of his buildings were destroyed.

            At the Cochran ranch big trees which it would take almost two to reach around were blown down.

            The storm formed in the canon a few hundred rods from the ranch buildings destroyed.  After wrecking things there it jumped clear over the Ed Madden ranch and lit again in the Ben McCarroll neighborhood.  It was about an eighth of a mile wide.  No rain accompanied at the ranch.  But the next day they got a soaker.  Azel Cochran who had been in Plainville passed the path of the storm a little while before it occurred and was at the bungalow about a mile west.  He has remained there since helping to get things straightened out.  A large gang of men is at work and are rapidly getting the debris cleared up.

            Ora Dougherty had everything demolished.  Not even a piece of furniture was left except the head of a sewing machine.  Mr. and Mrs. Dougherty escaped by being in a cave.  It is said they saved nothing but a very few clothes, a ham of meat and their marriage certificate.

            At the L. B. Smith place all the buildings were demolished except the house.  They attempted to get chains on their auto to escape but failed and lay in a nearby draw while lumber and sticks were being driven in the ground about them.

            Heavy hail is reported towards Woodston.

            The cyclone struck the northeast edge of Woodston and tore up barns and out buildings but no residences, though tearing up shingles badly.  Several cars were blown from the side track and demolished.  Part of the main  line track was blown out so the Missouri pacific train had to use the side track in getting through town.  Morrow Stahley had all of his outbuildings destroyed and house roof injured.  The Mattie Foss house was moved from foundation.  Otto Bourbon barn was destroyed.  Three windmills were destroyed.



            Hi Keas says from his place two storms were plainly visable.  He thinks the one that struck the Huber place was different from the one at Ora Dougherty’s.  Three inches of rain fell at this place and it hailed for nearly an hour.  Just thirty-two years ago the 16th a tornado swept over past his place and Twin Mound ending at a bluff on the Solomon.  One lady, Mrs. Grimes lost her life.