Tornado, 9 May 1899, Coldwater, Comanche County, Kansas Hosted by RootsWeb, the oldest & largest FREE genealogical site. Click here to visit RootsWeb.
COMANCHE COUNTY, KANSAS: HISTORY & GENEALOGY
Bibliography     Biography     Cemeteries     Churches    Cities & Towns     Clubs     Contributors     Diamond Jubilee    Events     FAQ     Genealogy     Guest Book - Sign     Guest Book - View     History     Links     Maps     News Articles     Newspapers     Opry     Photos     Poetry     Queries     Records     Resources    Satellite Images     Schools     Search     Veterans     HOME


The Western Star, May 12, 1899.

A Terrible Tornado!

Visits Coldwater on Tuesday Night,
Leaving Death, Destruction and Desolation in its Path


Joe Bowers a Victim

Of the Storm's Fury, and his Home Completely Destroyed. His Wife and Ten-year-old Daughter Escape Uninjured.

Shultise & Allderdice Business Building and Entire Stock of Goods a Complete Wreck. Other Business Buildings and Many Private Residences Badly Damaged.

Presbyterian Church and City Hall Blown Down and Totally Destroyed.


For fifteen years past the people of Coldwater have read and talked of cyclones and tornadoes in other cities and in other states, and had until Tuesday night really come to congratulate themselves upon their good fortune in escaping the dreadful losses which always follow in the path of the wild winds and the electrical storm. But now they know from real experience something of the desolation which even a "young" cyclone is capable of producing.

Last Tuesday afternoon (May 9, 1899) a dark cloud overhung the entire horizon but with the southwest wind which then prevailed, no one thought of more than a good rainfall. Shortly before ten o'clock, however, the wind shifted to the northwest and the clouds became darker and more foreboding. Soon the wind increased to such an extent that many people in town became alarmed and began to seek safety in cyclone caves. Funnel shaped clouds were visible and the vivid and rapid flashes of lightning made them appear like great columns of fire. It was evident that the atmosphere in this vicinity was heavily charged with electricity. At five minutes past ten the wind mustered its forces a few miles northwest of town, and started on its terrible mission of destruction. Its path extended in a southeasterly direction and was of sufficient width to induce the greater part of the city and suburban residences southeast of town. The northern and eastern parts of town escaped, however, with but slight damage. For several minutes the continual flashes of lightning, the murky clouds, the pattering rain and above all, the fierce progress of the wind rendered the scene awe inspiring. The change in the direction and force of the wind came suddenly and with slight warning. It was not entirely of the nature of the proverbial "twister," but rather a violent current of wind with one general trend and highly charged with electricity. Not more than five minutes time was occupied in its passage over the entire damaged area. The tornado was followed for about fifteen minutes with a heavy downpour of rain, after which the wind ceased and the stars again appeared. No damage is reported in any other portion of the county. In fact the people a few miles out of town in all directions knew nothing of the storm here until the news was carried by parties who happened to be in town. The force of the wind seems to have been spent by the time it reached a distance of three or four miles out of town. The damage dealing storm, therefore, was only local apparently confined to an area five or six miles long and from one half to three fourths of a mile in width.

The saddest feature of the storm was the loss of one of Coldwater and Comanche-co's best known citizens. Emil Bowers (familiarly known as "Joe") had retired with his family at his home in the south part of town. The sudden change of the wind attracted the attention of Mrs. Bowers and caused some alarm. She had gone to the north room, to view the threatening clouds and, being satisfied that danger was imminent, she hastened to her bedroom intending to get their 10 year old daughter, Josie, and go to the cyclone cave nearby. Meanwhile Mr. Bowers had gone to the north window and just as he was standing at the window viewing the oncoming storm the house was suddenly seized by the relentless force of the wind and in a moment's time was blown to pieces and scattered for some distance around. Mr. Bowers was carried with the timbers and when found was about 50 yards southeast of where the building stood. He had evidently been struck several times by pieces of timber. He was still alive when found about 20 minutes after the storm, but lived only a few minutes longer. His skull and face were badly crushed and a number of severe bruises had been received on all parts of the body. The body was carried in a home nearby occupied by J. P. George, where it remained until burial on Thursday. Mrs. Bowers and Josie escaped with scarcely a bruise. They were preparing to go to the cave and fortunately were yet in the southwest room of the building at the time the storm stuck the house. They were considerably mixed up with the debris but sustained no injury other than the terrible shock caused by the awful scene. They were taken to the St. Nicholas hotel where anxious friends administered to every need.

THE LOSSES.

The principal losses of property in and about Coldwater were as follows:

Shultise & Allderdice, store building total wreck; large stock of general merchandise, badly damaged. Probably one half of the stock a total loss. Insured against tornado, but amount not yet adjusted.

Entire south end of Masonic building, a two story brick, blown out. Loss approximately at $500.00. No insurance. Slight damage to contents of Masonic hall. No insurance. John Q. Leonard, who occupies the lower room of this building, sustained a damage of about $25.00 to his stock of confectionery, tobacco, etc. No insurance.

South end of the east division of the same block, the Halliday-Bennett block, the City City Drug Store building, was nearly all blown down. Loss to the building about $400.00. Fully insured. Dr. Laughead's loss to stock of furniture and drugs and to the fine plate glass in front of store room will aggregate about $225.00. No insurance. The Odd fellows and K. P. Lodge room on the second floor slightly damaged, but loss to the lodge is small.

First National Bank building, owned by J. M. Lobaugh, uprooted and otherwise injured. Fully insured.

Presbyterian church, totally destroyed. Insured for $500.00.

M. E. church blown nearly off of foundation and interior furnishings considerably injured. Fully insured.

City Hall, total wreck. No insurance.

Walter Meer's blacksmith shop, total loss. No insurance.

B. S. VonSchriltz' store building and blacksmith shop, badly damaged. No insurance.

W. H. Kimple's livery barn, almost a wreck. No damage to stock. Loss estimated at $1500. Insured for $400.

Mule Market barn owned by P. H. Thornton, total loss. No insurance.

Courthouse partly unroofed and windows on north and west all blown in. Building twisted and considerably damaged. Fully covered by insurance.

The residence of J. B. Curry, badly damaged and his barn a total loss. Insurance on house and barn. $800.

Residence of D. T. McIntire also badly damaged. Furniture nearly ruined. Insurance, $300 on house and $100 on furniture.

R. A. Vallaway, wind mill, ware room and contents, damaged; also a good cow killed. No insurance. The dining rom extension was blown partly off its foundation and considerable damage done to interior. Insured.

The residence property of J. P. George, C. H. Jackson, Park H. Thornton, W. E. McCune, Rolla McBride, Peter Snyder, Verna Miller and a few others were damaged more or less by being blown off their foundation and badly twisted. Shingles were blown off in profusion and scarcely a flue withstood the force of the wind.

T. J. Curran, H. I. Burr, H. E. Crummer, H. J. Williamson, Ben Pyle, Lou Rich, C. H. Jackson and P. H. Thornton each lost a good barn, only a few of which were insured against tornadoes. A great many smaller buildings and sheds were completely destroyed.

Perry Johnston's coal sheds were blown down and other slight damages sustained. The contents of Harry Williamson's lumber yard were somewhat mixed up, but no special loss was caused.

North windows of depot broken.

The small building occupied by F. M. Howell was blown away and all its contents lost or destroyed.

A number of minor losses to buildings of various kinds were noticeable along the path of the main current of the storm.

Work was begun at once on Wednesday morning removing the wreckage, repairing roofs and broken windows and replacing as far as possible the reminders of the storm's fury.


The Western Star, May 12, 1899.

A Terrible Tornado!


Visits Coldwater on Tuesday Night, Leaving Death, Destruction and Desolation in its Path

Joe Bowers a Victim

Of the Storm's Fury, and his Home Completely Destroyed. His Wife and Ten-year-old Daughter Escape Uninjured.


Shultise & Allderdice Business Building and Entire Stock of Goods a Complete Wreck. Other Business Buildings and Many Private Residences Badly Damaged.


Presbyterian Church and City Hall Blown Down and Totally Destroyed.
Clipping from The Western Star, 12 May 1899.


Also see:
Coldwater Centennial Notebook, 1884 - 1984 by Evelyn Reed.

Fire Destroys Comanche County's Court House
Published in The Western Star, November 21, 1921.


The following RootsWeb Visitors Counter began counting on 15 June 2008.


Thanks to Shirley Brier for finding, transcribing and contributing the above news article to this web site!

This RootsWeb website is being created by Jerry Ferrin with the able assistance of many Contributors. Your comments, suggestions and contributions of historical information and photographs to this site are welcome. Please sign the Guest Book. This page was created 23 Feb 2005.