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A South Dakota Prairie Story
Anna and the Tornadoes
This is part 4 of the story I have been typing up here, handwritten by my great-grandma born in 1892 in South Dakota.
Back to the story….
Our farm was well built but tornadoes came two times and swept everything away except the house. I was still a girl at home when the first tornado hit on a June Sunday afternoon in 1908. How well I remember! Just before the storm hit, I ran to the window on the west side of the house and was looking out. A pane of the window was sucked out by the force of the storm and hit the wall near me. It left a big hole. If I had stood only a few feet over, the glass might have killed me.
We also lost an orchard of fruit trees such as cherry, apples, plums, and the fruit had just come on when this storm came. In those days, we didn’t have insects and worms to eat the fruit. Dad never sprayed the trees. Even the birds didn’t bother them. As for preserving the fruits, jars were not plentiful but we always peeled, sliced, and dried the fruit. Every farm had wild fruit in the hills and lowlands like wild plums, grapes, choke cherries, goose berries, and buffalo berries. After the storm, we had many sightseeing people coming and going and all felt so sorry for us.
My sister died in 1911 and my dad died in 1914.
World War 1 broke out in 1914 and my brother John had to go serve his country. Many young men had to leave and it caused a lot of sadness. My brother returned home safely after being overseas for 2 years. He was a machine gunner and did not get a scratch.
Another thing that happened at that time was many members of families died from an outbreak of influenza. Many entire families died.
By the time Dad died in 1914, I was 22 years of age and grown but still living at home. My brothers and I helped with Mother and we made good money for a while. We had good crops and the prices were good. Mother was happy that we were all with her. At the age of 25, I fell in love. He proposed to me but I turned him down because I felt that Mother needed me at home.
Our second tornado came in 1922 at 11 o’clock one night. (Both tornadoes came from the southwest). This storm destroyed the town of St. Charles almost completely before it hit our place. Near our place, there were a couple of creeks that came together in a Y shape and we often wondered if this could be the reason for the two storms to hit our home. During this storm, my brother John got a broken arm but he was able to ride a horse 6 miles to see a doctor. (A while later someone shipped some cattle to Sioux City and so John went with them and had his arm set.) Our cattle yards were destroyed and many cattle were injured. A minister from the Methodist church brought young people to our home to pick up lumber and stack it on piles. At that time, we fed all the laboring people so Mother and I got our share of cooking. The house had to be repaired as there were no windows left and plenty of mud on the walls. Most of our bedding was blown out of the windows and doors and some we found later in the trees. My brother Louie was a born carpenter and he, with help, rebuilt most of the buildings that are on the property today. I guess the dear Lord looks over them because I have always thought it could be possible that another storm could travel that path again some day.
More to come!
**Side Note: I’m unable to get to my pictures at the moment but I do have a picture of Anna’s home after the tornado and will update this post when I’m able to get to it again.