THE EVENING KANSAS REPUBLICAN
The tornado that hit Goessel at 6:00 p.m. on the sixth day of the month, the sixth month of the year (June), the sixth year of the century 1906.
The 6-6-6-6 Tornado
Newton, Kansas, Thursday, June 7, 1906
Four Persons Seriously hurt - Hospital Building Luckily Escaped Injury - Much loss of Property in the Country East of Goessel
The big black clouds that gathered in the north last evening and caused so much fear among the timid people of Newton, threatening a tornado at any moment, brought it's fury on the little town of Goessel, fourteen miles east of town. A tornado descended upon that town last evening shortly after six o'clock and practically wiped out the town. Nobody was killed out right, although several were badly hurt, two of them dangerously. The more seriously injured are Tillie Heindrich, a small girl, whose leg was hurt and Henry Ratzlaff of Buhler, a prominent citizen, who was hurt internally by being struck by a flying timber.
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The other injured were : Rev. Henry Toews a Mennonite minister, who suffered a broken leg, and Dr. Peter Richert, of Gotebo, Oklahoma, hurt about the head by flying timbers. Accompanying the windstorm and coincidence with it was one of the heaviest rain storms in the history of that section.
The tornado apparently formed about one mile west of the town of Goessel. It moved directly eastward laying waste a strip 200 yards wide. Fortunately, not many houses lay in its path west of Goessel but several barns were wrecked. The storm entered Goessel on the section line and traveled straight through the town. The stores and houses of the village are clustered on either side of this section line and were therefore in the path of the storm. Hardly any escaped damage. The home of Peter Frey was blown away, completely demolished. Fortunately, Mrs. Frey and the children were not at home, else there probably would have been injury to life or limb. The Brandt home was turned around two or three times and then crushed. Nobody was severely hurt at that place. The home of George Reimer was picked up by the wind and carried about fifty feet. It was torn in two and practically ruined. The family was in the house when the storm struck and were carried with it. Mr. Reimer tried to hold the door shut but the whirling winds forced the door off its hinges and carried Mr. Reimer fifty yards away. He grabbed a tree and held tight. Though tossed by the winds, he was not much hurt. The chimney of the house fell with a crash into the room occupied by the rest of the family but they were not injured. The house was turned completely around. The big general merchandise store of B.B. Reimer also had a drug store, which was moved off its foundation and the front torn out. The building occupied by the post office and the telephone office fortunately escaped serious damage. The big mill belonging to Frank Claassen was lifted off its foundation and torn partly in two. Although not demolished it was so badly wrecked that it will have to be rebuilt. Mr. Claassen also lost his home which was about 100 yards from the mill. The house was a complete wreck.
Hospital Luckily Not Injured
Luckily enough, the large Mennonite hospital escaped the fury of the storm. A large windmill standing near the building was overturned, and some of the windows were smashed, but the building remains intact. None of the nurses, five in number, none of the patients, of whom there are about fifteen, was injured in the least. The wounded were taken to this place of refuge and were there given first aid treatment by the nurses until physicians arrived. The escape of this fine institution, which has been so useful to suffering humanity, and the absence of injury to any of the helpless inmates, is indeed a cause for congratulations.
Franzen Bros., dealers in general merchandise, had their store building torn from its foundation and it was badly wreched : it will have to be rebuilt.
Timbers Through Wall of Church.
The small building belonging to the Mennonite Brethren church and standing almost directly south of the hospital, across the street, was not destroyed, but was damaged by huge timbers which were blown end-ways through the walls. All the window glass was smashed.
That 6 - 6 - 6 - 6 - Tornado
by Henry H. Lehrman
(An eye witness account)
It was at 6 o'clock in the evening, the sixth day of the month, the sixth month of the year, the sixth year of the century - in other words - June 6, 1906, at 6 o'clock in the evening when that " 4 - 6 " tornado struck Goessel, Kansas and several farm homes, just 60 years ago June 6, 1966. Well, do I remember that day and the days that followed. It was quiet, hot and sultry that morning when I took my lunch and feed for horses to go to our east quarter, several miles from home, to cultivate corn. In the early afternoon clouds formed in the north west and before evening it was getting quite dark. As it did not look too good I came home somewhat earlier than usual but wondering whether Father would think I should have stayed till evening. He, however, was glad to see me come and said I should have come sooner for the weather does not look good. It was now close to 6 p.m. and we just got the horses unhitched when the storm hit. It was a strong wind with rain and some hail and lasted for quite some time.
The next morning early we got word that the tornado had hit the little town of Goessel and damage was very heavy and that it also had struck at Uncle David Lehrman's home and everything was destroyed but nobody hurt. We then went to Goessel first to see what the damage was and in what way we could help. A number of houses and other buildings were totally destroyed, others partly destroyed and some lying on the side. One house seemed to have collapsed - all four walls lying on the floor and the ceiling and roof on top. We were told that tornados sometimes caused a total vacuum in a building if doors and windows were all closed tight and suggested that if there is a tornado danger it is better not to have the house too tightly closed. (Is that the case or not - I would like to know.)
It seemed like a miracle that nobody was killed or badly hurt - at places where the house was totally destroyed the people had just been away, where part of the house did not collapse but the rest did, the family had just been in the part that was not damaged so bad. The next place where the tornado had dipped down was at the Peter Schmidt farm a mile east from Goessel. Here the damage was not heavy - a machine shed was partly destroyed - but there was something like a miracle here. In the shed a lumber wagon with those wooden wheels and steel tires had been setting, all tires had been tight but here was one tire lying on the ground and the wheel and wagon not damaged. Could a tornado blow off a tire from the wheel without damaging the wheel ? The explanation given was that these twisting tornadoes can and do sometimes create hot electric currents, that could have happened here, the current striking the tire just right - heated and expanded it and it dropped off. Another thing hard to understand here was also that a soft piece of a cedar shingle was sticking in one of the hardwood spokes of this wagon wheel. The next place where it had dipped down was at Uncle David Lehrman's farm home three miles east.
Uncle David had not been home - he was in Goessel doing carpentry work there when the tornado hit, so Aunt Sara, his wife, was at home with the children, some already in their teens, others quite small. Since the farm had been struck by a previous tornado, Uncle David now built what they called a storm cellar -- a room in the northwest corner of heavy planks -- a place for the family to get in if there ever should be tornado danger again and that was what saved the family when this 1906 tornado struck there again.
Aunt Sara had seen this tornado coming at six o'clock June 6. She said it had looked like a ball of fire or something like it in front of the heavy cloud so they all quickly went into their storm cellar. They had no more than got in when the house and all the other buildings were destroyed. Then a heavy crash on top of their shelter - the windmill head had dropped on it so it was the heavy planks that saved them from getting hurt.
The next day or so we all went there to help with the cleanup. The blacksmith shop, house, barn and other buildings all gone. Not only blown over like some were in Goessel but strewn in pasture and field for a long distance. Horses killed or badly hurt so they had to be destroyed. Dead chickens all over the place and others running around without feathers. And here again was something hard to understand, the blacksmith shop was standing in its place but the anvil not there. Where was it, could a tornado take the anvil and leave the block it sat on ? As far as I know the anvil has not been found to this day.
The day of the 4 - 6's tornado was a Wednesday, June 6 and the following Sunday afternoon, June 10 several of us boys rode our ponies following part of that tornado trail still looking for that anvil and other things. The last place where it had dipped down was at the Oliver Freeman farm, several miles south east where it had missed the farm yard but torn out some of that osage hedge, roots and all. This was close to "Creswell" store, blacksmith shop and creamery but now only the store and farm which the H. J. Wiebe family operated. On our way home we boys stopped in here - I don't know why for there were no boys our age in the family. But there were three teenage girls, Bertha, Sara and Theresa so we stayed for a pleasant evenings visit with the girls.
I could not forget that tornado of Wednesday, the cleanup work which followed nor that pleasant visit with the Wiebe girls that following Sunday evening, So could we, in a remote way, blame that "4 - 6's" tornado that some years later, after we were grown up, Theresa Wiebe's name was changed to "Lehrman" ?
From : "MY MEMORIES, 1804 TO 1967" by H. H. Lehrman
This story was told to Olga Schmidt Dyck by her mother Lena Schmidt Schmidt (Daughter of Peter Schmidt)
June 6, 1906 Goessel Tornado
The Goessel tornado was remembered by Mother very well because they were all at home and in the middle of it. She said that their big clock on the wall stopped ticking at 6 o'clock that day.
Grandfather (Peter Schmidt) had sent them all to their basement storm cellar. But, then he stood on the basement steps and watched the storm approach. Only when he saw their straw stack one-fourth of a mile west, lifted up into the air, did he backup and shut the door behind him. When it was all over, their house was shoved off its foundation and the west end which was a new kitchen addition then recently built was ripped open.
The roof of the main building was torn off to expose Uncle Pete and Jake's bedroom. A large piece of the Schmidt's grainery which was some distance west of the house was found in the boys' bed. Had the storm hit at night, there was no way they could have survived.
Their henhouse and all their chickens were destroyed. All the other buildings were so badly wrecked and scattered about, that it was decided to rebuild the farm just over the road on the south side. (Where Jerry and LeAnn Toews live now.)
They had to clean up in their wheat field nearby since it was just a few weeks from harvest time. They even found clothing from Goessel in their wheat field. Their large fruit orchard was also in ruins. They also replanted a large orchard. As told to Olga Schmidt Dyck oldest daughter of D. L. and Lena Schmidt
Years later, when D. L. and Lena Schmidt had their new house built on a farm five miles from town, Lena insisted that a tornado shelter with big timbers be put in the south west corner of the basement. And when I was growing up on the same farm as my grandparents I was aware that Granny was very afraid of tornados and bad weather. Note--Fern Bartel nee Schmidt
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