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Tornado published in the Bird Island Blizzard July 21, 1881

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Very, fortunately, we escaped the tornado of last Friday, although one of the hardest storms that we have ever had, accompanied by rain and hail struck this place on that day at about 3 o’clock P.M., lasting about one hour, during which the railroad stockyards were struck by lightning and somewhat damaged. The tornado traveling in a south-easternly direction passed through the townships of Bird Island, Palmyra, Wellington, and Cairo, in this county, and as far east as New Ulm, in Brown County. The full extent of damage done in the county has not, as yet, been ascertained, but will probably be known in a few days. In Palmyra, the farmhouses of Ole Times and Briagle Tulloform and a large amount of loose property was swept away. The new large barn of John Mork and Alexander Johnson were destroyed. The new frame house, barn, and granary of Solomon Bergman totally destroyed and a number of others whose name we have not learned, have met with losses amounting to from $100 to $1000. In Wellington the houses of James Tompkins, Ed. Rodgers, Mike Murphy, Patrick Lavelle, Jas Larkins, and others have been swept away together with a large amount of household effects and farm property, also the houses of John Patrick and William Fahey were totally demolished, and a young child of John Fahey’s killed and his wife’s arm broken. Martin Welch was badly injured but will probably recover. In Cairo, the large new two-story framed building of Matthew Finley was blown clear from its foundations and pieces carried for over a mile. The oldest son, aged 12 years, was killed while herding cattle. About 35 head of stock in the herd were also killed, and a number of head belonging to Mr. Finley and others. A family of Germans consisting of Joseph Hollorer, wife and four children, were all killed with the exception of the youngest, a two-month-old baby, which was afterward found some distance from the house, having an arm and leg broken. So terrible was the power of this storm that every tree on the fine large groove surround the house was as completely stripped of every particle of bark as could have been done with a knife. The bodies of Joseph Hollover and wife when found had not a vestige of clothing upon them but their shoes. Wagons, reapers, and all movable property were carried in many instances nearly half a mile. From the many reports of suffering and loss of life, it may well be said that this has been the most disastrous cyclone ever known in this state. Signed Pontax

Editor’s Note: Martin Frank, son of Matthew Finley, son of John Fahey, Mr. Eckert and his son, Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Hollover and four of their children, Child of Loomis, Lena Reitz and her son, and son of Werner all perished during the July 15, 1881 tornado.