(From: Wellsville Daily Reporter; 5/4/1942; Reprinted from the archives of Dyke Street Museum/Thelma Rogers Genealogical & Historical Society.  Submitted by Mary Rhodes)





Mother & Child Escape with Minor Injuries


Several Buildings Demolished


        Proof that “truth is stranger than fiction” can be found today in the twisted wreckage of several buildings in the 106 Settlement of Alma Township about ten miles south of here where a roaring freak tornado struck about 12:30 o’clock this morning.


        In Jones Memorial hospital, suffering from a bump on the head and minor bruises and scratches, is one year-old Carol Denning who can go through life with a story that can find its right place only in the “Believe It or Not” columns.


        This little baby, oblivious of the terror which struck her parents’ home this morning was carried through the air on a mattress for a distance of about 300 feet, over the top of a thicket of 20 feet high undergrowth, deposited on her flying bed beside a little bush and today is alive and only slightly hurt.


        Also in the hospital is her mother, Mrs. Helen Denning, 24, with bruises, lacerations, a sprained back and suffering from the shock and horror of the brief minutes of the storm.


        This morning neighbors and friends are trying to piece together all that happened in those estimated ten minutes when the roaring twister swept in, out of the southwest, tore and ripped over an area of about 100 acres and disappeared into rain-filled night and flashing lightning.


        Mr. & Mrs. Richard Denning and their three children came the nearest to possible death as their small frame home was almost leveled.  Today they remember only the horror of the night.  The storm struck and the house started to come apart.  Mrs. Denning was blown out of doors as the wind tore away a small bedroom.


        The baby, asleep on another bed, was missing as relatives and neighbors started searching through ruins for possible victims.


        Suddenly, the baby’s cries were heard out of the darkness and the grandfather, Arthur Denning, started searching with a lantern.  Closer and closer the cries came until he stumbled upon the mattress and there in a little indentation was Carol—frightened and hurt, but, not seriously injured.  She and her mother were rushed to Jones Memorial hospital here where they were treated by Dr. Roger Blaisdell.  Their condition today was described as good.


        Almost as unusual was the experience of Mrs. Clara Blue, who lived alone in a large old frame farmhouse.  She did not hear the storm and was not awakened even when the roof and second floor of the building were torn away and scattered over the countryside.  She said her first knowledge came when rain started beating in her first floor room and she awakened to find her bed open to the elements.  She was taken to the home of a daughter.


        Mrs. Blue’s children had been trying for years to get her to give up the old home and live with them.  She always refused declaring she would stay in the old home until “it falls down.”  Today it is practically down.


        George Denning, 25 is another resident of the little community with an experience he will never forget.  George told reporters this morning that he had driven his coupe into the yard of his father’s home when the storm struck.


        “I just sat there,” he said.  “Suddenly the wind seemed to lift the car into the air and then it turned over and started to roll.  Over and over it went.  The windows broke out and stones and sticks were flying everywhere.  “Guess I’m just lucky.”


        The car rolled up against a small building and stopped as the storm roared on its way.  Mr. Denning crawled out—unhurt.


        Also completely demolished was a wooden building used to house pumping equipment on an oil lease operated by Olin Brown and Otto Walchli of Wellsville.  This building was completely demolished and a tank filled with water was tipped over and carried about 100 feet.


        The home of Keith Perry was damaged, all windows in one side broken out and the corner of the roof crushed by a flying piece of debris.


        The home of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Denning was pelted by flying debris, windows were broken and pieces of tar roofing paper torn from other buildings, were forced under shingles on the Denning home.


        “It was an awful experience” Mrs. Arthur Denning said.  “It sounded like hundreds of rocks were being pelted against the house which weaved and swayed.  I lay over one of the children thinking any minute the house was going to be torn to pieces.”


        Other damage was suffered on the Thornton Company oil leases where huge trees were blown down, pump jacks tipped over and jack lines broken by the falling timber.  One large section of woods is a tangle of torn trees.


        The large barn on the Mrs. Clara Blue farm was almost demolished by the wind and an apple tree in the front year was split.  One piece of the tree was blown about 100 feet, but today the other half stands in the yard and appears undamaged.


        Small bushes and second growth trees are filled with pieces of roofing paper, tufts of cotton torn from blankets and quilts and the entire area is littered with debris of all kinds.

        Here and there large pieces of timber are found driven into the ground and a sheet metal chunk stove from the Richard Denning home was blown nearly an eighth mile from the dwelling.


        No accurate estimate of the damage was available today and so far as could be learned the roaring twister struck in only the one small isolated spot and screamed on into the night.


        The balance of this area was swept by unusually heavy rains accompanied by intense lightning and in some cases hail and wind was reported.  No section, however, had a story in compare with the 106 Settlement.