May 16, 1909


Freak Results of the "Twister"
Viewed by the Hundreds Who
Visited Storm-Wrecked

1. Wreck of Christian church blown across Overton avenue. Newton Bird's residence in the background, turned around on foundation. G. B. De Bernardi's home stood in the foreground; completely demolished.
2. Giant elm uprooted by storm. Tree was three feet in diameter.
3. J. J. Peek's home at Independence and Overton avenues, turned over on side.
4. G. F. Baker's new home, blown from foundation.
5. Where H. D. Jett's home, back of Christian church stood. Mrs. Jett and three children were in building but were uninjured.

Hundreds of sightseers yesterday afternoon inspected the devastation wrought by the cyclone on Friday night at Mount Washington. When the visitors looked at the ruined homes, the twisted trolley poles and the debris that once represented suburban dwellings, surprise was expressed that no one was killed outright. It was almost miraculous, when slivers were found firmly embedded in trees, scantlings driven two feet into the ground and nails driven into the sides of walls that were still standing.

When morning came the work of cleaning up the debris commenced. It was found to be a hard task. The members of the Christian church, which was completely destroyed, were on hand early and picked up chairs, carpets, Bibles and song books.

The owners of the destroyed homes looked upon the matter in a philosophical way. Aside from picking up little things which had escaped destruction, they spent most of the time in explaining to the ever-present crowd how it actually happened. Just a roar, like an approaching train, and it was all over. Not even time to get to the cellar was afforded most of the victims. With mist that was impenetrable, the cyclone swept on, but high in the air fragments of trees, timbers and scantlings could be seen. Every one was of the opinion that the storm traversed Mount Washington in less than five minutes.


The path of the storm was not over thirty yards wide. In many instances buildings twenty feet from wrecked ones, were not damaged in the least. Gigantic trees that had stood for more than 100 years were broken off at the base, while others in softer ground were torn up by the roots. A sugar maple in one instance was transplanted into a neighboring garden.

According to the physicians who attended the twenty or more injured, there will likely be no fatalities. The Greer boys who were caught under their home when they attempted to reach the cellar were taken to the Sheffield hospital and both will recover. They remained wedged between the floor and the foundation before they were released by the neighbors. Seth Greer, 17 years old, was injured the least of the two. Lee, the 5-year-old boy, is still in critical condition, although the physicians are hopeful of his ultimate recovery.

Mrs. J. W. Robinson, who lives in Fairmount addition, and whose house was blown to pieces, is dangerously injured. Her head was cut, her left side bruised and she probably has received internal injuries. Mrs. Josie De Bernardi, 61 years old, who received a broken right arm, will recover.


All who witnessed the storm were of the opinion that it was one of the old-fashioned Kansas cyclones. G. F. Baker, whose new home at the corner of Overton and Independence avenues, was completely wrecked, stood a block away and watched the "twister." The house was not occupied.

The insurance men did a thriving business yesterday among the residents of Mount Washington who escaped storm injury. Agents from Kansas City firms arrived with the first street cars, and it is likely that before last night, the suburb was fairly well covered. No one seemed to be anxious to take further risk.

Dr. Charles Nixon and Dr. William L. Gilmore, the resident physicians of Mount Washington, say little rest Friday night. The two men practically covered the entire district devastated by the cyclone. Both were besieged by persons who desired them to come to the aid of injured friends. Physicians from Independence arrived in a motor car and attended many.

Mrs. John Reed, who was living in a tent in the Fairmount addition, saved herself from serious injury by her presence of mind. She looked out of the tent when she heard the roar of the storm. She knew that it would be impossible to reach safety. Alongside of the tent was a barbwire fence. She grasped one of the posts and waited until the storm struck. her lacerated arms showed that her experience had been a trying one. She didn't give up, though.

"I locked my arms," she said, "and closed my eyes. It was all over in a minute. It was simply awful. I was lifted from the ground, but I wouldn't let go."