New Castle, IN Tornado, Mar 1917
DEATH AND DAMAGE TOLL OF FIERCE MARCH TORNADO.
NEW CASTLE, IND., HARDEST HIT BY FURY OF THE ELEMENTS WHILE ADJACENT TERRITORY SUFFERS FROM THE STORM.
FIFTY OR MORE FATALITIES LIKELY.
OVER A SCORE OF DEAD BODIES RECOVERED AT NEW CASTLE AND MANY MORE PROBABLY BURIED IN THE RUINS OF $1,000,000 LOSS OF PROPERTY.
Indianapolis, March 12. --With 23 known dead in the tornado which swept eastern Indiana yesterday unconfirmed reports from small communities in the sections visited by the storm indicate that the total number of deaths may be above 30. New Castle, Ind., which suffered the most severely, had 19 known dead, 15 persons missing, 12 seriously hurt and more than 100 less dangerously hurt.
Four deaths those of two children and two farm laborers, were caused in Wayne county, near Hagerstown. Reports that three had perished at New Lisbon, Ind., and Mt. Summit, Ind., two at Moreland, Ind., and one at Ashland, Ind., could not be confirmed.
THE BREAKING OF THE SEVERE STORM.
Indianapolis, March 12. -- Between thirty and sixty persons were reported dead today, a score were believed dying and 200 were injured as a result of a tornado which swept the country from New Castle, Ind., to Cincinnati, late yesterday. The property loss was estimated to exceed $1,000,000.
It was believed the death toll would reach fifty when all the ruined buildings have been reached.
New Castle was the hardest hit. Early today telephone messages from there said 22 bodies had been recovered and an unconfirmed report said as many more had been found in the ruins, but had not been taken to the temporary morgues where the identification is being made as rapidly as possible. Three persons were reported dead near Cincinnati, two were reported killed in Hagerstown, Ind., and one at Ashland, Ind. Meagre reports said that the storm had hit New Lisbon, Moreland and Mount Summit and it was reported three persons had been killed at each place.
Militia are being rushed to New Castle where it was said looters are at work in the ruins. Extra policemen, firemen, physicians and nurses from Indianapolis and surrounding towns are being sent to New Castle today.
New Castle, famed for its beautiful roses, was a city of death and ruins today. Dawn found hundreds of searchers combing the debris for the missing. Militiamen from Muncie, Logansport and Crawfordsville were there to take charge of the work of rescue and relieve 200 special deputies of the work of policing the town, made necessary by the discovery of looters pasing as rescuers, had seized upon the darkness to ply their ghastly work. Every house standing upright, every church and every school building was in use as a hospital or shelter for the hundreds of homeless, whose misery was added to by biting cold winds.
Throughout the long night the work of rescue had gone on in the midst of darkness lighted only by lanterns and the headlights of automobiles. The plants supplying New Castle with electric light, was demolished by the tornado and the gas had been shut off in the fear that fire would add its horror to the tragedy.
New Castle lies in a small pocket, forty-five miles northeast of Indianapolis. On the north, the west, and the south is flanked by hills. Apparently the air currents were attracted by the depression and from the hills many persons watched the tornado wreak its fury. The tornado broke unheralded save by lowering clouds and a sprinkle of rain. Suddenly it broke into a violent downpour and from the west a huge, funnel shaped cloud bore down upon the city. Hundreds of persons were on the street as the tornado's roar told of its coming. It hit the town squarely, demolished the first few houses in its path, lifted to miss the main section of the business district, taking a few roofs in its passage, then dived again and laid low every house in a strip five blocks wide.
Panic followed in the wake of the storm. Five minutes after it struck it had gone, but a drenching rain continued. Hundreds who had escaped the tornado rushed frantically to the south side, where the worst damage occurred. Despite the rain, fire broke out in several places and had gained headway before the fire department, hampered by telephone poles and wreckage which strewed the streets, could reach them. The damage from the fire was small.
From every direction by vehicle, in automobiles and afoot, farmers from the surrounding country began coming into town and joined the rescuers. City authorities took charge of things, homes and other buildings were thrown open for the homeless and injured and the bodies of the dead were being gathered up and placed in temporary morgues.
But while all of New Castle mourned, determined citizens began the work of reconstruction. Mayor J. LEB WATKINS, with his home a mass of ruins, but happy because his family escaped injury or death, directed citizens committee in their work. He shut off the gas and coal to prevent fire. He supervised the work of a relief committee which will help the needy, he mobilized the workers from the factories and stores in clearing up the wreckage and restore order. It was estimated $100,000 would be needed for relief work.
LIST OF STORM VICTIMS
At New Castle.
EVERETT DUNLAP, 1022 South Twenty-first street.
BERNICE DAVIS, East Walnut street.
ORRIS DAVIS, East Walnut street.
JAMES NEILIS, recently from Kentucky.
GRAY DAVIS, 1109 South Twenty-second street.
MRS. JOHN DAVIS, mother of GRAY DAVIS.
ORVILLE DAVIS, aged six, son of GRAY DAVIS.
MRS. ARCHIE FLETCHER, South Twenty-fifth street.
MISS HALER, young daughter of JOHN HALER.
Youth RAZER, twelve-year-old son of W. T. RAZER.
MRS. ARCHIE WILLIAMSON, South Twenty-first street.
MISS OPAL WILLIAMSON, daughter of MRS. WILLIAMSON.
MR. NEWTON, residence not given.
BERNICE DAY, 1002 South Second street.
JUNE DAY, 1002 South Second street.
ETHEL DAY, aged sixteen.
MRS. MARY E. WILLIAMS.
MRS. VERA HIGGINS, daughter of MRS. WILLIAMS.
ERNEST WATERMAN, aged six, west of town.
WILLIAM LOWERY, aged seventy-one.
Two men and one boy, unidentified.
The seriously injured:
VARLEY DUDLEY and wife, South Twenty-first street.
MRS. CHARLES SHELLY and daughter DOROTHY.
HARLEY and ELIZABETH NEWTON.
PETER DAY and wife, South Twenty-second street.
CARL HARRISON, Newport, Ky.
MRS. GEORGE SOX.
The Mansfield News Ohio 1917-03-12
Researched and Transcribed by Stu Beitler. Thank you, Stu!