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Title: 60th Anniversary of Local Disaster
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This Saturday, April 17 marks the 60th anniversary of the disastrous tornado that hit the Hedrick community in 1922. The following article appeared in the April 18, 1922 issue of the Lafayette Journal & Courier. The microfilm copy of the article was submitted to us by Gene Hurley of Kingman, IN.
The son of Harley and Etta Hurley of Hedrick, Gene was five years old when the tornado occurred. He recalls it hit the day after Easter about 4:30 P.M. on a muggy afternoon. Hurley thinks there are only five people still living who were in Hedrick that afternoon of the tragic cyclone. They are Hurley, his brother Everett Hurley of Kramer, his sister, Dora Hurley Hess of Lafayette, Estel Johnson, who later moved to California and a fifth person, whose name Hurley does not recall.
Also, Abner Pence of near Carbondale, is a survivor of that tornado. His family lived southwest of Hedrick on SR 28. We will detail Pence's memories of the tornado in a forthcoing "Profile" article. Pence said that because the tornado sounded like a freight train on its approach many area people relived that tornado for months afterward when they heard the freight trains roar through Sloan.
Nine Hedrick residents were killed in the awesome tragedy. The power and breadth of the storm was illustrated when Hurley's father's overcoat literally dropped out of the sky and onto a main street in downtown Logansport, IN later that afternoon.
Herewith is the JOURNAL & COURIER report:

Four Killed When Village Is Wiped Out by Gale; Three Lose Lives at Rural Crossroad and Two Perish in House Near Judyville - Many Seriously Injured and Several May Die - Twister Strikes Three Places and Leaves Masses of Wreckage - Women and Children Among Victims of Deadly Storm - Two Also Dead Near Brook, in Newton County.

THE DEAD At Hetrick
Grover J. Johnson, 37
Miss Goldie Smith, 17
William Grady, 55

At Soul Sweeper Corner Corner
Mrs. Gladys W. High, 34
Paul E. Gritton, 6
Ruth E. Gritton, 3 months

Near Judyville
Emma Kuntz, 12
Mrs. Thomas Marsee, 27.

Tony Gritton, father of children killed. He has a broken hip and ankle and is hurt internally.
Joseph High, 9 years old, sone of woman killed. His head, side and one leg are injored.
Leslie Smith and wife of Hedrick, parents of Goldie Smith. Mrs. Smith is expected to die.
Mrs. Grover Johnson, wife of man killed. Her condition is critical.
Mrs. and Mrs. Glenn Doney, near Hedrick, both in serious condition.
Mrs. William Grady, Hedrick, (husband and daughter dead), condition serious.
Ivan, Harlan and Helen Gritton, of Soul Sweeper Corner, all badly injured and at Lakeview Hospital, Danville, Ill. Ivan and Harlan are expected to die.
Nine persons lost their lives, many other were seriously injured and much property was destroyed in a cyclone that visited Warren County late Monday afternoon, the terrific storm wiping out the village of Hedrick six miles northwest of West Lebanon, where four of the storm victims met death, then swooping down on a settlement know as Soul Sweeper Corner, two and half miles east of Hedric, where three were killed; and finally striking the Ulrich Hunter farm south of Judyville, where two lost their lives.
The death-dealing cloud that marked the course of the disastrous storm first made its appearance west of Hedrick. The people of that town saw it coming and say it resembled a huge cornucopia with the whole mass twisting and turning and accumulating a great cloud of dust and debris as it first lowered at a point southwest of Bismarck, Ill., a few miles west of Hedrick where several farm houses were destroyed.

By the time it reached Hedrick, nearly all the people were out of their homes and the stores were nearly all deserted. Those who were killed at Hedrick were in the open when they met death. All of them were crushed and mangled, having been struck by flying objects. The buildings destroyed at Hedrick include the following: Harley Hurley dwelling, Joseph Cleary's home and store, Leslie Smith's garage and home, Seeger and Betts Grain Elevator and tenant house, Illinois Central railroad station, George Bell's tenant house, Grover Johnson's store and Masonic Temple overhead, Glenn Denney's home, the blacksmith shop, school houe, Christian Church and Charles Hanson's store.

The cyclone cut a swath an eighth of a mile wide through the heart of the little town and when it reached the eastern outskirts the cloud rose, and traveling rapidly eastward, did not touch the ground again until it reached Soul Sweeper. Here three persons were killed and the following buildings were destroyed: Ford brothers' home, Alva Heck home, Gritton home, High home, Christian Church and Soul Sweeper Church. The report that the village of Sloan was hit by the storm was untrue. Sloan is near Soul Sweeper Corner at the junction of the Illinois Central and Indiana Southern railroads.
After wiping out the Soul Sweeper settlement, the cyclone, continued eastward, the funnel-shaped cloud rising and coming to earth again at the Ulrich Hunter farm north of Judyville. Here two persons met death and several dwellings were leveled. West of Hedrick near Bismarck, the following lost their homes: William Hegley, James Kiser, William Cox, Zara Pence.

When the cyclone struck Hedrick it seemed as if every object above ground had been carried into the air and swept away by the force of the storm. Trees were torn off close to the ground and poles were snapped off as if by giant hands. The people were panic stricken, but had little time to escape. The wonder is that many more were not killed. Those who escaped simply happened to be out of the way of the mass of wreckage that was carried off in the gale.
Both at Hedrick and at Soul Sweeper Corner timbers from houses and other buildings were swept some distance away, as if pile drivers had pounded them into the earth. The sight that presented itself to visitors Tuesday morning was most remarkable.
One of the few homes at Hedrick that was not destroyed was that of Grover J. Johnson, who was killed. Mr. Johnson was employed at Sloan in the railroad tower, but was not working when the cyclone struck the town. He was picked up and carried several rods before being dashed to the ground, his head being crushed. His body was taken to his home. His wife is seriously injured. The body of Goldie Smith, who was not killed outright but died at 3 o'clock Tuesday morning, was taken to the home of her grandparents near Sloan. The bodies of William Grady and his daughter were taken to their home which was partly wrecked by the storm.

At Soul Sweeper Corner, the Gritton home in which two children lost their lives, was carried 60 feet from its foundation and left completely shattered in a field. It plowed a deep furrow in the ground as it was swept along by the force of the storm. The body of Mrs. High, whose home was completely destroyed, was found in the wreckage. The body was taken to the home of her father, Charles Wakely in West Lebanon. The bodies of the Gritton children were taken to the Byers home west of the corner.

At the Ulrich Hunter farm south of Judyville, where Mrs. Thomas Marsee and Emma Kuntz were killed, the storm demolished the house in which they lost their lives. After the building had been torn from its foundation, Miss Kuntz fell into the cellar. Then the suction of the storm drew her out of the cellar and lodged her body in a tree where it was found several hours later. Mrs. Marsee's body was taken to Williamsport, as was that of the other Hunter farm victim.

All along the path of the storm cattle, horses, hogs and chickens in large numbers were killed. Trees everywhere were uprooted and telephone and telegraph poles are missing. Fences were scattered about in fantastic fashion. The wreckage of dwellings and other buildings in many instances is a considerable distance from where the structures stood when the storm struck.

George Hurley and wife had a narrow escape from death near Soul Sweeper Corner. They were riding in their automobile, approaoching the settlement, when they saw the cyclone strike. Jumping from their car they left it standing in the road and ran to a hedge fence alongside of the highway where they lay flat on the ground, Mrs. Hurley holding fast to the hedge and her husband's arms about her. They managed to retain their hold while the storm swept over them. Wreckage of buildings passed directly over their heads. Their automobile was carried away and no trace of it could be found.

No less than 25 automobiles were blown away at Hedrick and Soul Sweeper Corner. Many of them were found later. In most instances, they were damaged beyond repair. At the Elmer Harden home near the ill-fated church corner, the cyclone sucked the contents of the house through the windows, but left the house standing. All the windows and doors were torn out. The range that stood in the kitchen was picked up by the force of the storm and carried into a cornfiled 200 feet from the house.
The telephone and telegraph service in the storm districts suffered so extensively that it was difficult to get information regarding the storm details.
It was at the Hunter farm, near the No. 1 school house that the cyclone levied a toll of two deaths, one Mrs. Thomas Marsee and the other a 12-year-old child, Emma Kuntz. Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Marsee and two children occupy the tenant house on the Hunter farm and it was when the cyclone struck the Marsee home that Mrs. Marsee was killed. Mellie Kuntz, housekeeper for Ulrich Hunter, and her sister, Emma Kuntz, took refuge in the cellar of the Hunter home at the approach of the storm and when the house was demolished Mellie escaped serious injury, but her sister, Emma, was carried about twelve rods into a field and instantly killed. Marsee and Hunter had both been in Williamposrt on business and saw the storm from a distance as the were driving back home. As they neared the farm the two little Marsee children ran down the raod and told the men of the death of Mrs. Marsee and Emma Kuntz.

BY THE WAY, in our article on the Hedrick tornado, that should be SOUL SLEEPERS CORNER - not Sweepers. But Sweepers is the way it was printed in the original article. - Donna Lyon, Editor

Date: 4/15/1982
Origin: Review Republican
Author: Unknown
Record ID: 00001899
Type: Periodical
Source Archive: Warren County Historical Society
Date Entered: 8/10/2001
Collection: Hedrick
Entered By: Margaret J. Fink

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