This photo tells the tale of a violent tornado May 26, 1903 that struck the center of Elmo, MO., and took the
lives of nine. The shattered buildings is what remained of the Masonic Lodge building, Bush’s Furniture store
and the Kidder building (where survivors had taken refuge).
Tornado Kills Nine in Elmo May 26, 1903
Elmo, located eight miles south of Blanchard and just across the Missouri state line, was hit about 5 p.m. by a tornado on May 26, 1903 and nine persons were killed outright and five were injured. It is a small town on the Wabash railroad branch running from Omaha to Brunswick Missouri, and has about 200 inhabitants. The buildings destroyed were the Masonic building, the Depot, Livery Barn, Bush’s Furniture Store and the Kidder building. Throughout the town there were only a few buildings were left standing.
The storm came from the northeast and first struck the Wabash depot. The Masonic Temple was the next building in its path, and it was demolished. On the lower floor of the temple was located a general merchandise store, and in the store was gathered a number of citizens of the town. The building was torn to pieces before any warning was received, and the victims were buried beneath the wreckage.
A deluge of rain added its share to the misfortune of the stricken people. The homeless inhabitants were cared for at the few remaining homes that escaped the fury of the storm.
Ed Wiseman, a farmer was missing and C. Daniels and Mrs. John McMahon were seriously injured.
George Wilford Peery, son of Granville and Amanda Ellen (Harlan) Peery, was among the nine persons who were killed in the tornado. He was born Aug. 26, 1883 and was almost 20 years old. According to family, George was shopping inside the Masonic building for a pair of shoes as he was to be married soon.
A clothing store, owned by Cassius Clay Calhoun, was in the bottom of the Masonic building.
Dr. Pruitt of Blanchard, father of Roy Pruitt, used the RR hand car to get down to Elmo to help treat the injured.
The names of those killed in the tornado:
George Wilford Peery born August 26, 1883 and died May 26, 1903. Age almost twenty. Burial, Elmo Cemetery, FAG #142775015.
Cassius Clay Calhoun born August 23, 1859, died May 26, 1903. His store was in the Mason’ building Bedford, Iowa; burial Fairview Cemetery, Bedford, IA.; FAG: #36102183.
Cassius Clay Beall born June 13, 1880, Taylor County, Iowa and died May 26, 1903; Fairview Cemetery, Bedford, IA.; FAG: #35620605.
Noah Augustus Huff born April 14, 1870, died May 26, 1903. Burial High Prairie Cemetery. FAG: # 177387391.
Milton Huff born March 26, 1843, died in Elmo Storm, May 26, 1903. Buried in the same grave with his son Noah Augustus Huff. High Prairie Cemetery, FAG: #117387282.
Leonard Bradley born November 25, 1875, died May 26, 1903. Husband of Martha A. Bradley. Son of Sarah E Severs (18 Sep 1851 Nodaway - 24 Mar 1938 Nodaway, and James Squire Bradley (29 Apr 1853 - Warrensburg, Mo 28 Dec 1945. FAG: #35870434; Burial Elmo Cemetery; FAG: #35870434
James Jefferson Alvis born May 15, 1871, died May 26, 1903. He was the son of George and Martha (Horn) Alvis and grandson of Alexander Horn; brother of Nancy, Christopher, George, Susan, Elizabeth (Alvis) Calfee, Martha (Alvis) King, Rueben and Elias. Burial in Lamar Cemetery; FAG #52757908.
Orrin G. Spangler, born September 23, 1869, died May 26, 1903; wife was Cora A. Severs. Burial in Lamar Cemetery. FAG: #34704837.
D. L. Strakes
Another death was added to the nine the next day. Daniel L. Barker, a retired farmer, died during the night of apoplexy caused by fright. He was born July 10, 1832 and died May 26, 1903. Buried was at Old Fellows Cemetery. FAG: #75503761.
Edwin Atherton died Oct. 19, 1903 following injuries from the May 26 tornado. He was born 1869 and was the son of George Washington (1836-1887) and Rebecca Jane (Price) (1841-1872) Atherton. Edwin was the husband of Mary and they had three children: Bessie, Cora and Verna. He was buried at Six Corners Cemetery. FAG #43447209. A relative had said they were told that it took weeks to figure out what was wrong with him. He was recuperating and the doctor finally found a large piece of glass embedded in his forehead.
On Sept 25, 1903 it was noted in the Elmo Vitals Records Extracted from the Elmo Register that five weeks ago a son was born to Gus (Noah Augustus) Huff’s widow, who had been killed in the May 26 tornado.
Noah Augustus Huff, son of Milton and Martha Ann (Bush) Huff, was born April 14, 1870. He married Anna May Newton Nov. 3, 1889 in Nodaway County, MO. Anna was born Dec. 13, 1874.
They had the following children: Grace born 1890; Gertrude born 1895; Ada born 1898; and Milton 1900.
Noah and his father, Milton, were killed in the 1903 tornado that hit the Masonic building in Elmo. There were seven others who were killed in the tornado.
Anna gave birth to their fifth child on Aug. 17, 1903. He was named Wesley. Anna is on the 1910 and 1920 as living in Blanchard (Colfax Township), IA., as a widow along with her five children. She died Nov. 15, 1966 and was buried in the Blanchard Cemetery FAG #70931266.
Noah also had two other brothers: George Napolian Huff and Lewis Walter Huff. George was born June 14, 1871 and married Laura Rebecca Moss on April 19, 1895 in Clarinda, IA. He died June 13, 1948 and is buried at High Prairie Cemetery, Elmo. MO. (FAG #88616462). Lewis was born March 10, 1877 in Salem, IN. and married Elvira Pruitt. He died 1945 and is buried at High Prairie Cemetery, Elmo, MO.
Milton was the son of Gabriel and Mary (Polly) (Voyles) Huff. Milton was born March 26, 1843 in Washington, IN. and died May 26, 1903. He was buried at High Prairie Cemetery (FAG #117387282).
According to a grandson, his grandfather and two of his sons were in Elmo when the tornado hit. His grandfather and a son were killed. A son, Walter, known as Dingley was injured and crippled for the rest of his life. He was wearing a hat and the hat blew off. He survived since he chased his hat. He didn’t make it to the building before it collapsed.
Source: A Biographical History of
Nodaway and Atchison Counties, Missouri. Lewis Publishing Co., 1901.
[BEALL, CASSIUS CLAY] [CALHOUN, CASSIUS CLAY]
Bedford Free Press, Thursday, May 28, 1903, [p. 1]
Death and Destruction
C. C. Calhoun and Cashius Bell Receive Death in a Cyclone—Nine Killed and Five Seriously Injured
A special dispatch to the St. Joseph Gazette tells of the awful tornado, which passed through Elmo, Mo., Tuesday evening, in the following language:
A most destructive and fatal tornado struck the town of Elmo, Mo., eight miles south of Blanchard, Iowa, and just across the Missouri state line, at 5 o’clock Tuesday evening. Nine persons were killed outright and five injured, some of whom may die. The storm came from the northeast and first struck the Wabash depot. The Masonic temple was the next building in its path, and it was demolished. On the lower floor of the temple was located C. C. Calhoun’s general merchandise store, where was gathered a number of citizens of the town. The building was torn to pieces before any warning was received and the victims buried beneath the wreckage. Of the fourteen persons in the store, only five escaped death and these received injuries, which in two or three cases may prove fatal.
Messrs. Calhoun and Bell were both former residents of Bedford, and the news of their death was a great shock to this community.
Mr. Calhoun was the son of Mr. and Mrs. J. C. Calhoun, of this place, and for a number of years clerked for Orth & Weaver. He leaves one son, Glen, father, mother, and three sisters to mourn his death, his wife having died less than two years ago.
Cashius Bell [Cassius Beall], a son of Mrs. Mary Bell [Beall], of this place, and a nephew of Clay Calhoun’s, was born and raised in Bedford and was always regarded as one of our best and most highly respected young me.
Mrs. Bell [Beall] and Miss Nellie Calhoun and Wm. Swearingen went to Elmo yesterday morning and will accompany the remains to Bedford, which will arrive here on the 9:15 train tonight. Funeral will be held at the J. C. Calhoun home Friday afternoon at 2:30, conducted by Rev. T. J. Ream. Interment will take place in Fairview cemetery.
[BEALL, CASSIUS CLAY] [CALHOUN, CASSIUS CLAY]
Bedford Free Press, Thursday, June 4, 1903, [p. 1]
A Sad, Double Funeral
Funeral Services of C. C. Calhoun and C. C. Beall---Held at the M. E. Church Friday, May 29
Friday, May 29, the last solemn rites were performed over the remains of Cassius Clay Calhoun and his nephew, Cassius Clay Beall, who were victims of the terrible cyclone that wrought such frightful destruction in the little town of Elmo, Missouri, last week. The bereavement in the manner as ordained casts a shadow of sorrow over the entire community, deeply effecting relatives and friends alike.
Cassius Clay Calhoun was born in Mercer County, Illinois, August 23, 1859, and died at Elmo, Mo., May 26, 1903. He removed to Taylor County, Iowa, with his parents when but a young boy. August 6, 1884, he married Ruth Emma Swearingen, who preceded him to the spirit land in March 1903. Two children, Alice and Glenn, were born to them. Alice died in infancy and Glenn is left to face the stern realities of the world without father or mother. Mr. Calhoun united with the Methodist church in 1877 and remained a faithful member of same until his death. He was a man of sterling integrity, of unblemished character, respected and highly esteemed by all who knew him. Mr. Calhoun decided to cast his lot in Elmo, Missouri, in 1891, and continued to reside there until his spirit was called from earth. He embarked in the mercantile business and by constant application to strict business principles was known as the most prominent and successful citizen of the town and its vicinity. The amount of earthly goods left to the little orphan son is evidence of his sterling worth and goes to show that he lived, not only for himself but for those who were dependent upon him.
Cassius Clay Beall was born in Taylor County, Iowa, June 13, 1880, and died May 26, 1903. He was the only son of Mrs. Mary Beall, of this city. He united with the Methodist church February 4, 1900. He was an exemplary young man.
The double funeral services were held at the M. E. church Friday at 2:30 p. m., conducted by Rev. T. J. Ream, who used as a text, John 13:7. Rev. Griffith, of the Baptist church, and Rev. Eells, of Sheridan, Mo., a former pastor at Elmo, Mo., assisted in the services.
The pallbearers for Mr. Calhoun were: Dr. G. F. Manker, John Webb, George Ridgeway, Court Orth, F. E. Crosson, Jeff Howe.
The pallbearers for Cassius Beall were: Clark Paul, Harry Long, Ray Meyers, Leslie Putnam, Clyde Putnam, R. Williams.
Music was furnished by Mesdames Chas. Ethington and Rennie Fuller and Messrs. W. E. Miller and Chas. King; Miss Hyde, organist.
Interment in Fairview cemetery.
[BEALL, CASSIUS CLAY] [CALHOUN, CASSIUS CLAY]
Bedford Times-Republican, Thursday, June 4, 1903 p. 2
Two Victims of Elmo Cyclone
Two Victims of Elmo Cyclone Are Brought to This City For Interment Where Many Relatives and Friends Await The Remains with Sad Hearts And A General Feeling of Horror at The Sudden And Awful Death of Former Residents
A Sad Double Funeral
General Sorrow Prevails And Friends Mingle Their Tears With Those of Bereaved And Sorrowing Relatives (From Friday’s Daily)
All that was earthly of Cassius Clay Calhoun and his nephew, Cassius Clay Beal[l], were laid away in the Fairview cemetery this afternoon. The funeral services were held at the M. E. Church at 2:30 o’clock p. m., Rev. T. J. Ream officiating, assisted by Rev. D. W. Griffith. It was originally intended to hold the services at the J. C. Calhoun residence, but it was thought advisable to make the change in plans. It was a most distressing bereavement to this community, as the two victims had many relatives and friends at this place, and the city regards it as a personal loss.
Cassius Clay Calhoun was aged 43 years, 9 months and 3 days when the Elmo, Mo., cyclone laid him cold in death last Tuesday, May 26. He came here with his parents when he was but a small boy, and was raised among us. He was one of our most enterprising men, and never became discouraged in the face of reverses that would have daunted the average man. Adversity seemed but to increase his determination to win, and his banner was ever in the breeze. He went to Elmo about 1892 and the property he has accumulated testifies to his success. He was one of the prosperous men of that section of the country, enjoying an extensive business and the respect and confidence of the community. His wife died about 18 months ago, and his little 14-year-old boy is now left an orphan, though with much of this world’s goods and many loving relatives.
Cassius Clay Beall who was killed in the same storm, was a nephew to Cassius Calhoun and was clerking in the store when death overtook him. He was a young man just entering upon his business career. He was 22 years, 11 months and 13 days of age. He had been out of the Tarkio College but a short time and had begun his business experience in his uncle’s store. He was a young man of more than ordinary ability and there was a brilliant future before him. He had an engagement with Richards, Roberts and Barnes wholesale dry goods merchants of St. Joseph and was to have begun his duties in a few weeks.
The pallbearers for Clay Calhoun were: Dr. G. F. Manker, John Webb, Geo. Ridgeway, Court Orth, F. E. Crosson, Jeff Howe.
The pallbearers for Cassius Beall were: Clark Paul, Harry Long, Ray Myers, Leslie Putnam, Clyde Putnam, R. Williams.
Elmo Centennial 1879-1979 page 9;
Vital Records Extracted from the Elmo Register 1899-1965; complied by Helen M. Pruitt, Elmo,
Missouri; pages 27, 28, 29.
A special dispatch to the St. Joseph Gazette;
A Biographical History of Nodaway and Atchison Counties, Missouri. Lewis Publishing Co., 1901;
Gendisasters: Aspen Weekly Times, Aspen, CO 29 May 1903; Reno Evening Gazette, Reno, NV 27 May 1903; Ottumwa Daily Courier, Ottumwa, IA 27 May 1903; Iowa State Press Iowa City Iowa 1903-05-27.
Prepared by: Karen Peery - firstname.lastname@example.org