Pana, IL Destructive Tornado, June 1857

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DESTRUCTIVE TORNADO IN CENTRAL ILLINOIS.

Correspondence of the Chicago Tribune.
Pana, (Christian Co.,) Sunday, June 14, 1857.
Our town was visited, yesterday afternoon, by the most terrific and destructive hail-storm ever known in Christian County. It has destroyed almost everything in its course. It has leveled twenty five houses in our village, and done serious damage to fifty others, mine among them. Many of the houses left standing are rendered worthless, being riven and shattered. Some of the houses have been taken up so clean, and precipitated from their foundations, that you could hardly tell where they had stood. Roofs were carried through the air as if they were straws. A number of new stores, just completed, were torn into fragments, and the wreck scattered about. The new Presbyterian Church was moved some distance, and partially destroyed. The roof of the Illinois Central freight depot was taken off; a large number of cars were hurled by the fury of the wind from the track. Quite a number of persons were wounded by timbers and pieces of buildings thrown through the air by the tornado, and I have just heard a report that a woman and three children were killed by a falling building. Others may not recover from their injuries.
The storm was accompanied with a deluge of rain and a heavy shower of hailstones. The air was dark when the awful tornado broke upon us. It was a terrific scene while it lasted. The elements howled and roared; buildings were dashed in the path of the storm; timbers, rails, boards, roofs and every movable article hurled through the air. Strong men stood aghast; women and children screamed with terror. Many were hurled headlong to the ground, and rolled forward by the merciless element. Some of the more ignorant people supposed the comet was about striking the earth, and was causing all the uproar and devastation. They were awfully frightened, believing as they firmly did that the last day had come.
Our pleasent town is in a sad plight -- shattered, torn and destroyed. Many of our people are left wholly destitute, escaping from their dwellings with nothing but the few clothes upon their bodies, all their household furniture and other personal property having been swept away or destroyed by the atmospheric deluge. These poor people are left in a very suffering condition, and are proper objects for public benevolence.
The value of property destroyed is variously estimated at 50 to $100,000.

The New York Times New York 1857-07-22

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Pana, Illinois Tornado

June 13, 1857

In Illinois, at Aurora, the storm was also terribly severe. At Pana, on the Illinois Central Railroad, it was far worse than even in Oneiad [sic] County, of this State. A correspondent of the Chicago Tribune says: "It leveled twenty five houses in our village, and done serious damage to fifty others. Many of the hoses left standing are rendered worthless, being riven and shattered. Some of the houses have been taken up so clean, and precipitated from their foundations, that you could hardly tell where they had stood. Roofs were carried through the air a [sic] if they were straws."

The Fort Wayne Sentinel, Fort Wayne, IN 4 Jul 1857

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On the 13th of June, 1857, a terrible and destructive tornado swept over the southern part of the county, and in its course destroyed nearly one half of Pana, and did serious damage to the crops throughout the township.

The First Presbyterian Church was formed in Pana .... A building committee was formed and a contract was made.. to construct a frame house 34x50 feet in size, to be completed by January 1, 1857. The building was not completed on schedule but soon afterward. Before it was dedicated a tornado passed through on June 13, 1857, carrying away a portion of the roof. Rain then damaged plastering and rendered the building unfit for use.

Illinois sesquicentennial edition of Christian County history, pages 196 and 218