Old "Troy Register" describes 1893 Hurricane
[Ed. Note: Dick Eaton, Leona, who recently celebrated his 90th birthday, brought in an old scrapbook that had the following clipping. It was taken from the Troy Register. The 1893 office files were destroyed in one of the floods, 1899 or 1901, when the Troy Register building was on the corner of Canton and Railroad Streets, where Card Furniture is today. We appreciate the opportunity of reprinting it for our readers and posterity.]
The most destructive hurricane that ever visited Bradford County, passed over this region on Thursday afternoon, September 7, 1893, a little after four o’clock, and left in its trail, death and devastation, the like of which we have read as attending Western cyclones, but which until this time has never been witnessed here.
Commencing in Western New York, its first recorded damage was between Bath and Hornellville, in both of which places, the hail that accompanied it, and the strong wind and rain, did considerable damage. From there to where it struck the South Mountain, it moved in a perfectly straight line taking a southwest direction through Lawrenceville, Jackson, Wells, Columbia, Troy, East Troy, West Burlington, Granville and Franklin.
In the start it was a direct hurricane, but towards its close, and for several miles, it was a terrific whirlwind. At this place people’s attention was called to the rapid advance of a huge black cloud that spanned the sky, and was lit up by lurid flashes of lightning. The black pall of the cloud stretched from horizon to horizon and when it had shot down it was as dark almost as midnight, and caused all the lamps to be lit, while the flashes of lightning, the deep boom of the thunder, the steady downpour of rain, interspersed with hail and an orange light that seemed diffused in the air, gave peculiar features to this frightful visitation. Paine’s Hill by causing the storm to lift saved our town from devastation.
At East Troy it tore up the orchard of Mr. Ruggles, prostrated trees all along the flats, broke and tore down shade trees and leveled barns. At Fred Bishop’s it partially unroofed the house carrying the roof quite a distance, the windows were blown out and the contents of the house deluged. The planing mill and shop was a complete wreck, roof blown off, frame crushed over and sides caved in and the building turned on its foundation. At Daniel Montgomery’s the top of the large barn, which was filled with hay, was blown off. Another barn badly injured.
Jacob R. VanNoy, secretary of the Troy Farmer’s Club, had just completed his large barn, and when the storm struck his place it broke off all the large evergreen trees about the house, unroofed the kitchen of the house, threw a portion of the timbers up the hill onto his big new barn, breaking ten of the rafters and driving a stick of timber through the roof. It unroofed his granary and let the wind and hail in on about 75 bushels of wheat, upset the outhouses, leveled the fences and tore shingles from the roof of his house. His loss and damage, including his growing crops, will not fall much short of $1000.
The barn and buildings of Mrs. D. E. Ward were badly wrecked, the barn unroofed and trees blown down. Mrs. Whitehead had a valuable tract of timber blown down and out buildings destroyed. Philemon Pratt of Elmira, has his barn unroofed, out buildings demolished and a large tract of hardwood and hemlock swept down. The barn of L.T. Weller was unroofed. Clarence Slade, who lately moved into his new house, escaped. The old house was unroofed, the roof falling about 20 feet away. John VanNoy suffered a loss of about $1000. His house was unroofed, four out buildings destroyed and his tobacco crop beaten to the ground.
The Hilton bridge at which the contractors have been at work for three weeks, was partially blown down and moved on its foundation. Across the bridge Porter Hooker’s tobacco shed was blown down in a mass of ruins, his horses were rescued two hours after but little hurt. Mr. Hooker was engaged with LeRoy Williams and others in putting the tobacco in the barn. When the wind began the barn doors were closed and the roar of the hail, rain and wind were terrific. The large doors bent in with the force of the storm and the men braced against the doors to hold them. Suddenly a terrific blast came, and the standard between the doors split the beam above, into which it was mortised. Thus released, the doors gave way with a crash and the standard struck Mr. Hooker in the face, the two iron staples in it, crushing his skull over his right eye and left temple. He fell to the floor but got up again. He was taken to the house finally and laid on the bed, but sunk into unconsciousness and died at 2:45 next morning. All the shingles were stripped from the upper part of the barn roof and all the fences were laid flat while large numbers of trees were swept down and the chimney of the house taken off and all the plastering stripped from some of the upper rooms.
Just above there the house and barn of Charles Beach were totally demolished and the upper portion scatted over some forty acres, no two boards or pieces being in the same place. The foundations were swept clean and the lower portion of the house and barn were masses of wreckage and were carried into the middle of the road and over into the lot. Mr. Beach, who was lying on a lounge, was caught in the wreck with his wife and was prisoned in the debris and both swept off. Beach’s leg was broken and he and his wife remained exposed to the rain and hail until he could be released. Such destruction as fell upon this house is seldom seem.
At James Hosley’s the large barn was unroofed, the fragments scattered for a quarter mile. His windows were broken and fruit and shade trees torn up.
At Clayton Fanning’s on the hill beyond, Horace Taylor, who was building a barn, was killed and almost every building down to Franklindale, shows the terrible effects of the storm. Ten barns and tree houses were either unroofed, or demolished. From this point on is the following summary.
Albert Rockwell barn unroofed, shop demolished. George M. Shiner, large barn unroofed, crops destroyed. George Jennings’ barn blown to pieces.
At Columbia Cross Roads a large number of trees, both orchard and ornamental, were blown over. Chimneys were thrown off the houses of James Struble, J.H. Strong, Charles Gernert, Casper McClelland. A pine tree was broken off and crashed thru the kitchen roof of the hotel. Above the Cross Roads four barns were partially unroofed and the fences for quite a distance were almost completely prostrated.
A curious phenomenon in connection with the storm is that it seemed to bound, striking the earth at one place for a distance of half a mile or more, and then suddenly rising and skipping over a long space, only to descend again.
Above Columbia X Roads it fell thus on a wooded hillside and apparently knawed off the tops of the trees to a depth of 15 or 20 feet, and then rising, skipped the rest of the hillside. A similar "bay" has been bitten out of the hillside above Porter Hooker’s. So far we have heard nothing of the cyclonic motion that characterizes the genuine tornado. It was rather a hurricane, a wind driving in a straight line with great fury unless deflected by a hill. Thus absence of the whirling character of the destructive portion of the storm marks it as not a tornado or what is popularly called a cyclone.
Lebbeus Ellis, several buildings unroofed. On the Sackett place several buildings unroofed. Merritt Gay, large barn unroofed. Theodore Jennings lost roof of barn. B.C. Chilson house blown away and demolished, barn unroofed. Chas. Metzer barn smashed, house badly damaged. The Hall School House entirely destroyed. Harvey Holcomb, barn unroofed, buildings destroyed, house damaged. Harvey Spencer, barn unroofed.
In the townships of Albany, Terry and Wilmot, a hundred or more roofs were blown off.
Collin Wood’s barn in Smithfield, was struck by lightning and burned with its contents. Many fruit and other trees were blown down in Wetona, great quantities of tobacco, buckwheat and growing crops were injured. Finley Hubbard, president of the Troy Farmer’s Club, has much damage done to his crops and the hail knocked 36 panes of glass out of his buildings and others were served nearly as bad.
In Sullivan Township, many trees were blown down and fences ruined. Henry Card had a barn unroofed and another belonging to Mr. Smith, son-in-law of A.D. Ballard, and Mr. Ruggles’ chimney was blown over and the barn was twisted.
At East Troy many trees were blown down and the street leading to the Creamery, known as Willow Lane, was so encumbered with limbs and prostrate willow trees as to be impassible. At Morean Jones several large evergreen trees were snapped off just above the ground and apple trees were upset. At Dr. Gamble’s and J.A. Ball’s, chimneys were taken off. At Job Ballard’s blinds were taken off the house and carried away.
In Leona, the wind did little damage beyond breaking limbs off trees and uprooting a number of them. Eck Kennedy’s was partially unroofed and badly twisted. A barn on the Salisburg place was unroofed and badly injured. A portion of the roof of the new barn of Edwin Pomeroy’s place was thrown off, and a low hovel barn was totally demolished. Addison Brooks of Leona and Mr. Whiting were returning from Troy, when the sky grew dark and the wind, rain and hail drove them into the hovel barn., opposite the house. Suddenly it went down with a crash, burying them amid the ruins and amid the awful crash and roar of the storm they found themselves helpless. In getting out Mr. Brooks was found to be badly hurt, a beam striking him across the forehead and another in the back of the neck. He was conveyed to his home where he has since been attended by Dr. P.N. Barker. He is slowly recovering.
The chimney of the Baptist parsonage was blown off, much to the alarm and surprise of Rev. and Mrs. F.A. Martin.
The barn on the Pomeroy place, where W.B. Hoff formerly lived, had the roof taken off with neatness and dispatch.
The storm tore through Baxter’s woods on the Simpkin’s place and left many evidences in the tangled state of the woods. The upset trees looked as if elephants had been playing in a cornfield.
Rev. F.T. Eastmen of this place, with his wife and child, were with Dr. Kendall’s people and Rev. and Mrs. E.P. Brown at Mountain Lake, when the tempest arose. The lake at first became as black as ink and then as if struck by a thousand whips, began to turn white, the water being dashed ten feet high, until the whole basin of the lake was whipped to a snowy mass of foaming water. Limbs blew from the trees, the dashes of rain and hail that followed were something frightful.
The hall fell in chunks, some of which were two inches across and some which remained after the others were melted, were found to be 1 ½ inches in diameter. The growing crops in that area were greatly damaged. The party had a rough and adventurous time getting home, finding the roads filled with all sorts of debris.
[Transcriber’s Note: Listed here are persons whose names were written in the possessive: Fred Bishop, Daniel Montgomery, Porter Hooker, James Hosley, Clayton Fanning, Colin Wood, Dr. Gamble, J. A. Ball, Job Ballard, Dr. Kendall, Eck Kennedy, Edwin Pomeroy.]