Littleton Hit by Tornado

The Rushville Times, October 31, 1856

One of the most serious casualties it has ever been our painful duty to record, occurred at Littleton, a pleasant village, situated in our county, about nine miles a little west and north of this place, on Friday evening last. A little before five o'clock p.m., a very black cloud was seen in a south west direction from the town. In a few moments, the tornado was upon them. Except the tearing up of forest trees, and the scattering of fences, it seems to have done no material injury, until it reached the village, upon which it spent its wild fury, and then passed off in a north easterly direction, injuring, so far as we have heard, no houses in its course. It left Littleton a confused mass of ruins--probably, we cannot describe the destruction better, from our present information, than by enumerating to some extent the loss sustained. The town was built upon the east and west side of the road leading from Rushville to Macomb, running north. On the east side were two churches, a tavern stand, and several shops, barns and private residences. In, scarcely more than a moment, all, except the tavern, which partly escaped were a mass of ruins, some razed to the ground, and some having but a portion of the walls standing. Roofs, timbers, furniture, men, women and children, were picked up by the tornado, and in an intermingled mass, cast just where it pleased. One father in one moment stood in his dwelling; the next, he was cast many feet outside; on looking up, two children were lying, where they had been thrown by the storm, near by his side; his babe was a short distance from him, beneath a stove; his wife, and her mother still further from him, covered with timbers and rubbish, and badly bruised, and wounded. A wagon and pair of horses had been hitched in from of his house; they were thrown over, or through the fence, the horses lighting on a feather bed, thrown from the  house, and were kicking it to pieces, within a few inches of his wife, who was so fastened by the rubbish etc., that she could not extricate herself. Mrs. Hill was much bruised, and her mother, Mrs. Knowles, a most estimable lady from this place, then visiting her daughter, badly, and it is feared dangerously hurt. We give this as a specimen of the wild operations of the storm. Upon the west side of the street, the havoc was nearly as great. Two dwelling houses, Mr. Dewitt and Mr. Bruner and the store of James Dewitt & Co., were not destroyed, but were much injured, all the rest are in ruins. Two posts, or beams, as we are told, from some other building, were driven through the frame of Mr. Dewitt's house. T. Crawford's store room and dwelling, were completely demolished, and his father, an old and well known citizen of our county, Mr. Wm. Crawford, was severely injured, it is feared, fatally; his physicians supposing that his bowels have been ruptured. His goods are mostly saved, in a damaged condition, except the queens and glassware, and such other breakable stock, which, of course were ground to atoms.

Dr. Davis' office, dwelling and barn were entirely destroyed, together with his medicines, furniture, clothing, &c. Probably, the storm came as near destroying all he possessed, as in any other case. Two ministers resided in the town, Rev. L. Shelly of the Methodist Episcopal, Rev. Stewart of the Baptist church. Their churches were laid level with the prairie, and their dwellings met with no better fate; of course their furniture, books &c., were badly injured.

Before going to press, we shall try to procure a complete list of the sufferers, together with the character, and amount of the loss sustained.

The most wonderful part of the whole is, that, with such havoc, in such a dreadful hurricane, when all must have been so wild with excitement, and confusion, that so few were hurt, and that none were instantaneously killed.

Early in the evening, a messenger reached Rushville, for medical aid. Immediately a corps of our physicians hastened to the spot. Those badly injured, had been placed in the few remaining houses, and every possible assistance was rendered them.

In the midst of our gratitude, for our preservation, let us remember the sufferers. All have lost more or less; some have suffered most seriously; some indeed have lost their all. Some, a week ago were well to do, with happy homes and cheerful prospects before them, are now, not only homeless, but have lost their instruments of labor, and have wounded families to attend. We are proud of the sympathy, the active, and tangible sympathy, Rushville has exhibited. All our citizens seem eager to help with money, clothing, building materials and labor. But all may help. Any one wishing to afford relief in this dire hour of suffering, can forward their donations to James Dewitt at Littleton, or to George W. Metz, chairman of the Relief committee, Rushville. Come friends "Lend to him, who loveth the cheerful giver."

Estimate of Loss

We have taken especial pains to obtain as accurate information as possible of the sufferers in the storm at Littleton and the amount of their loss. We append the following list, prepared by a citizen of that place, which we suppose is as nearly correct as can be made:

Jacob Louis - $500.00
Baptist Church (frame) - $600.00
Methodist E. Church (brick) - $1500.00
William Snyder, house - $500.00
E. Abbott & J. C. Edmonston, residing in W. Snyder's house - $100.00
Rev. Stewart, house, furniture, buggy, clothing - $800.00
Dr. Davis, clothing, office furniture, &.c - $1500.00
J. O. Smith, 2 houses - $700.00
P. B. Cordell, furniture, clothing, &c. - $150.00
Alex Simpson, furniture, clothing, &c. - $50.00
R. Nichols, hotel, stable, one horse, &c. - $200.00
E. M. Wilson, house, shop, &c. - $800.00
Rev. L. Shelly, library, furniture, &c. - $250.00
Dewitt & Co., damage to store - $150.00
Jas. Dewitt, damage to house - $50.00
Talbert Crawford, house, stock and 2 warehouses - $1500.00
Crawford & Cordell, stock, goods, &c. - $1500.00
Wm. Hill, house, shop & wagons - $1100.00
Mrs. Dale's house &c. - $600.00
Kennada Odell, house - $600.00
A total of $14,500.00
Considerable property, consisting of wagons, buggies, &c., belonging to citizens of the surrounding country, at the shops for repairs, was damaged to the amount, probably, of from 300 to 500 dollars. Other smaller losses, are known to the amount of $100.00. Total of $15,100.00

Copyright 1999, 2000 Robin L. W. Petersen; all rights reserved. For personal use only. Commercial use of the information contained in these pages is strictly prohibited without prior permission. If copied, this copyright must appear with the information.

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