Cyclone of 1912



The Cyclone of 1912

Event Date Area Tornadoes Casualties Notes
April 1912 Tornado Outbreak Sequence April 20 - 29, 1912 Southern-Central Great Plains - Middle Mississippi Valley - Southeastern U.S. - ≥104 fatalities, ≥630 injuries (≥59 significant, 17 violent, ≥34 killer)



The St. Paul's Lutheran Church,  in Chatsworth, which was a small wood frame building, purchased from the Beet Factory in 1878 was destroyed by this cyclone.

SOURCE: Article in The  Blade, July 30, 1997 showcasing the 125th anniversary of the church. 


The Lutherans Built a new brick church building to replace the frame building wrecked by a tornado in 1912.  One Sunday afternoon about 5 o'clock a terrible storm came up. Citizens noted it to be a tornado as it approached from the southwest. It dipped low enough to take part of the roof off the T.P. & W. depot, then raised, went up over the Grand and down again picking up two metal awnings. the frame Lutheran church was in it's path. This building was completely wrecked. Barns and sheds were blown down and some larger buildings were moved off their foundations. It took the barn on the Pat Lawless place at the east edge of town.

Source: Sands of Time by Helen Louise Plaster Stoutemyer Pg. 28-29 


1912 — One Sunday afternoon about five o'clock a terrible storm came up. which .soon disclosed it- self to be a tornado approaching from the southwest. It dipped low enough to take about a 5-foot- square piece off the slate roof of the T. P. & W. depot, then raised and up over The Grand and down again where it picked up the two large metal awnings from in front of the L. J. Haberkorn and Garrity & Baldwin stores, parts of which were found one mile north east of town. The frame Luther- an church was completely wreck- ed, barns and sheds were blown down and some larger buildings were slightly moved off their foundations, but at that we were very lucky as nobody was hurt or killed. 

Source: The History of Chatsworth,Illinois by L.J.Haberkorn 



There was an article in the Idaho Statesman newspaper dated April 23, 1912, under the headline of Bloomington, Il. . It tells of the twister in Chatsworth and quotes a number of 44 at the beginning of the article ( I am going to assume 44 buildings)  and in order to read the rest of the article you must subscribe for the price of $19.95 a month.(Way to high! Even if you believed that one should pay for genealogy info. Which I believe it should be free to all. I will look for the article elsewhere, and post it here if found.) 


This article is from the United Press report on the Tornado of 1912, Illinois and Indiana. Under the headline of Bloomington, tells of damage in Chatsworth. 

Read the rest of the reports at  

Rips Roof Off Building
Bloomington, Ill., April 22 – A cyclone passed over Chadworths (should read Chatsworth), forty miles northeast of here on the Illinois Central at 5:30 yesterday afternoon. Many buildings in the city were unroofed and store fronts blown in. In the country the farm houses and out-buildings are reported demolished. Telephone wires are down. No loss of life had been reported. At Odell, fifty miles north on the Chicago and Alton all wires are down. 

The storm swerved northwest of Odell and swept a path about eighty rods wide, demolishing practically everything in its path. 






This is a photo of the barn of Charlie Dorsey, well known Chatsworth citizen, that was destroyed by this cylone.

Thanks to their great granddaughter, Eileen Miller for this photo. 



This photo postcard that sold on ebay. It does not state who the house belonged to.

Written in bottom margin "Cyclone at Chatsworth, Ill., Apr. 21, '12" in top margin is written "the people living in this house had their auto all smashed up with wagons".

 Postally sent from Cooksville, Ill., 1912 


The Thurner Home damaged by the cyclone

Picture from"Chatsworth Area Centennial Celebration" 1967

This appears to be the same house as above , different angle. 





The P.J. Lawless farm after the cyclone.




From Illinois Academic Science

Eight separate dates stand out because of the relatively large number of tornadoes on each

of those days, e.g., 21 on 18 May 1883, 11 on 12 May 1886, 10 on 27 March 1890, 8

each on 24 April 1880 and 21 April 1912, 6 on 17 July 1903, and 4 each on 27 March

1908 and 11 November 1911.


Well, it seems 1912 was a vicious year for cyclones, not only across the U.S. , but in other countries also. Australia and China were very hard hit and just two months later, a cyclone hit Regina, Saskatchwan, Canada, which today remains one of their worst disasters. It seems that there were many, many cyclones across the United States that year. Evidently even our Chatsworth.




This is damage done to the S.E. Wells home in Piper City
Picture from "Wagons to Wings-a History of Piper City, Illinois" by Peg Johnston 



In a report at

Bush, IL Tornado, Apr 1912  


It states that 3 people died in Campus. Another article on this same site names Nelson Hulse, his wife and child as the victims from Campus.

Morocco, Indiana Tornado April 21, 1912