A 1930s Tornado

The weather news around the country in 2011 has been terrible for many people – Hurricane Irene, torrential rains, extreme drought, an earthquake, and so on. Weather news in our area recently reported that our country has had over 60 major national disasters so far this year – as if there aren’t enough other challenges!

All this weather business led me to recall a photo Clara had included in the family history, Homestead. Here it is.

The caption reads: “CHICKEN COOP – Taken in the 1930s After Tornado.” The far end of the chicken coop’s roof has been blown off, and the photo foreground is littered with board debris. When was this? The trees are bare, so that seems to point to springtime, or maybe late fall. The field in the foreground should be a clue, but I’m not sure about the surface of the ground.

I’ve never heard any Borresons speak of this tornado. Have you? Can you fill my information gap? In my online newspaper searches, the best I could find was a July 28, 1938 edition of the La Crosse Tribune and Leader-Press with this small article: “Paul T. Carlson, Minneapolis representative of the midwestern area of the American Red Cross, visited Trempealeau County this week making a survey of tornado damage.” I also found that the Red Cross had spent $351 for Arcadia tornado victims in 1938. Could it be that this Arcadia tornado or a related one was in Fitch Coulee? Maybe, maybe not, but I haven’t been able to learn more.

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3 Responses to A 1930s Tornado

  1. Our cousin Arnold says that his father Edgar would tell him of this tornado occasionally, impressing him that it even had the power to send pieces of straw through boards. He doesn’t know the year.

  2. judy says:

    Sid has additional comments. It had to be in the early thirties. Elmer Back came to the school to pick up his kids because a storm was coming. Orma Welda was the teacher and stayed at Borresons. Her car would not start, so Elmer, with horses, pulled it trying to start it but it would not. So car was left at the end of the driveway and she walked to the house. Sid was asked by his mother to go upstairs and close the windows, but immediately a board from the school toilet came through the window. Twenty three trees laid flat around the house. Orma’s car had one 3 foot tree laid in front and another 3 foot wide tree across the back, but none hit her car. There was a tree on each side of the end of the driveway. Emil and Bennie stood in the curved shed and Emil said a door to the straw shed should be closed, he started out but came back in rolling and Bennie caught him. This shed was lifted and moved off foundation about 2 feet. Emil later tore down this shed and built another, only higher to be able store the hay loader that was higher. So this part of shed is not original but built the same. There was a cover on roof of house 2 or 3 feet square to gain entry to the roof from the attic. It was wired down and this was found on Harry Iversons land about a quarter of a mile away. The road through the woods had so much fallen trees, that it was closed for some time. The damage came through the woods, down from the windmill, through the Borresons, Iversons and east of the Semb place and then lifted. This was when the twins and Garven were at Gale college and Sid knows it was in October, Sid was still in grade school. So if you can find when Orma Welda was teacher, you will know the date. Sid just threw his grade school attendence certicates. Some things just have to go, we are now in our 2 bedroom apartment after our auction. Apt 22 now. Come and visit us, Sid would love to fill you in about different things. Irene

    • October in the early thirties – that makes sense. If my dad was still at Gale College, October ’33 or ’34 would be the latest, I think. I love the details, Sid. Another good reminder these storms are nothing to mess with. So good to have your firsthand memories to set me straight too! – Glenn

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