(From Andover News, Andover,NY – July, 1920)
Submitted by Willam A.Greene (2003); Pictures added (2005)

Beautiful Andover, with her well kept lawns, handsome shade trees and charming homes is a thing of the past. It was a serious question Saturday morning  whether there was enough left of many places to pay for cleaning them up.

The first, and we sincerely hope the last, cyclone that ever visited this commlunity struck us a full blow in the face Friday night (*July 23,1920), at about 10 o'clock, and lasted nearly forty-five minutes, leaving in its wake a desolation that it will take a whole generation to efface. Houses were demolished, barns torn down, roofs ripped off buildings, in every part of the village, and one-third of the shade trees were torn up by the roots and were lying across the highways and yards till the whole village looked more like a slashing in a lumber camp than the beautiful Andover of former days. Scarcely a house has escaped undamaged. Plate glass fronts were smashed in and windows broken out with hail stones. But when we consider the damage done in the rural section, on Pingrey Hill, the Vandermark, Elm Valley, Shovel Hollow, Railroad Valley, and East Valley the damage in the village is comparatively nothing. 


(*Date from Wellsville Daily Reporter, Wellsville,NY-5-10-2002 "Remember When")


Beginning about four and a half miles above Scio village, desolation in the only word that comes anywhere near fittingly describing the scene witnessed by those who have driven up this valley, only recently one of the most prosperour farming sections of Allegany County. The roads are filled with fallen trees. The damage to buildings, stock and crops is appalling. Household goods, wrecked buildings, clothing and personal property are strewn all over the balley, and the loss will run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. At Robert Cornell's farm two big barns and all small buildings are completely demolished. A new Ford truck and an automobile, together with all farm tools are smashed. The house was unroofed and contents water-soaked.

The P.G. Thomas farm one-half of the barn was taken and the house left standing.

Roof is off the Charles Coats barn.

Merritt Coats had a barn wrecked and house badly damaged.

The roof was taken off the Kitner house and barns ruined.

Crops are a total loss all up the valley to the Elmer Black place, where the large iron bridge is taken away by the high water.

At the Doan farm. where George Rossman lives, the roof is taken off the house and the entire building lifted off the foundation and carried four feet, all the windows are smashed. One barn is a complete wreck and another nearly as bad. An automobile and farm tools were ruined.

At the Elmer Black farm every building on his beautiful farm home is entirely demolished. Valuable stock was crushed to death under the barns and farm machinery is a total loss. All household goods are scattered all over the farm. A valuable piano was carried twenty rods (330 feet) away. The tenant house was swept away with all its contents. It was occupied by Earl Burnside.


All the way from the Charles Burdick farm up to the head of the valley everything has been swept away and is ruined. Elm Valley seemed to have been picked for the greater suffering, for with the loss of property came the loss of life. Carl Will a young man, beloved by everyone, was caught in the debris as the house came crashing in upon the family gathered in the sittingroom, and was dead before he could be rescued. He evidently stood near a bookcase, and as the house came crushing in was caught under the case. Before he could extricate himself the chimney piled up on the bookcase, and it was impossible to get him out. It is said he lived several minutes and called for help. It took seven men to get the debris off from his lifeless body. The other members of the family miraculously escaped death. Mr. Will was caught in the fubbish but was able to get out with the assistanced of the other members of the family.

The Fairbanks house and barn across the road from the Will farm were destroyed. The house was blown over and Mr. and Mrs. Fairbanks pinned into the debries. They had an oil lamp burning whch set fire to the lumber. They could not extricate themselves and that they would be burned alive, but another blast of the tornado removed the heavy timbers from them and they escaped death. They were hurled out of the debris into a ditch. Mrs Fairbanks was burned.

Doran Brothers lost a big barn, another barn unroofed, grainery unroofed, soaking several hundred bushels of grain, garage destroyed, but left automobile uninjured.

All the way up the valley everything was destroyed in the way of crops and barns. In a radius of a few miles out of a total of 44 barns there are but three now standing. They were nearly all filled with the crop of new hay recently harvested now entirely spoiled by the drenching rain which followed the awful cyclone.

Probably no better set of farm buildings existed in this section of the state than those of William Hess of Elm Valley. Everyone is gone and leveled to the ground, with the exception of a grainery.

George McAndrew lost every building on the place. His house has vanished entirely. The family barley escaped with their lives. All the barns are ruined. They all repaired to their cellars as soon as the wind began to blow and waited there, hoping that their trembling dwelling might withstand the shock of the winds. The gale increased, while the house began to rock to and fro. Suddenly the entire structure was dragged from its foundations, carried 50 feet uphill to a point where it rested its flight and resolved itself into kindling wood. The McAndrews, however, remained in their place of refuge until the srom was over when they emerged. Mrs. McAndrew is seriouly ill from the shock.


It is a sorry sight that you behold as one drives over this usually picturesque spot. It was formerly one of the beauty spots in rural Andover. Today it is a wreck of debries  from  homes demolished, trees uprooted and barns and crops spoiled.

Two of the three barns on the T.N. Boyd farm were shattered into kindling wood, on the Davis place shed being damaged.

Leon Wahl, who lives on the George Barrett farm, had his big cow barn blown to a wreck and part of the roof to his house taken off.

John Baker lost his barn and the house was badly bamaged.                

Will Pingrey, barn unroofed and back part of his house badly damaged.

James Dean loses two barns and his house badly damaged.

Orange Smith, two barns blown down, the house blown apart, separating it entirely, windows smashed and everything blown all over the place. Nelson Straight, who lives on the place, lost a $600 team of fine work horses when the barn came down.

A hole was blown in Elmer Caple's dwelling, but he has the distinction of having about the only barn in the neighborhood standing.

Michael Gavin lost three fine barns, all badly wrecked and his house is nearly ruined.

Henry Will had his barn unroofed and huse badly damaged.

The roof is off the John Kemp house.

Attorney C.L. Early has lost all the barns on his three large farms, the McTighe farm, the Corwin farm and the Cole farm. Some were ripped off the foundation and even that destroyed. He had acres of fine timber on the McTighe and Corwin farms that was ruined.

Tom Swain was in his barn when the storm broke, and if it had not been for some bales of hay which kept the timbers from crushing him as it collapsed, his life would have been crushed out. As it is he was seriously injured.


Harold Hardy lost two barns and a large part of the roof to the large new house.

Bines Brothers lost two barns and their house was badly damaged.

Will Dodge was nearly put out of business. His two barns were entirely destroyed and his house unroofed, the water drenching his household furniture until it was about ruined. He is left without a building. A large 10 X10 timber, over 20 feet long, was lifted and carried half way to the George Beebe house, some 80 rods (1,320 feet) away.

George Beebe lost two barns and part of the roof and all the porches from his house.


James Lynch had his house unroofed. William Pardon lost a big barn and silo and his house damaged.


S.P. Taylor had his big barn unroofed and his house damaged seriously.

John Mitchell's big barn was completely destroyed, and a valuable horse injured so that it had to be shot and his hluse badly damaged.

John Will had the roofs taken from the barns and the shingles off from his house.

The roof was taken off of one of Henry Baker's barns.

James Mitchell lost a big barn.

Glenn Swarts, who has been critically ill for months, lost two big barns.


The storm came direct from the west or slightly north of west. A line traced on the map of Allegany County shows a few degrees north. It went a little south of Cuba, where very little damage was done only by the terrific rain storm. Friendshiip was nearer in the wake of the tornado, and suffered most of any town in Allegany County, excepting Andover. It suffered from trees being blown down. The Drake machine shop, a cement block building, was practically demolished, and only two minutes after the crew, who had been working overtime, had left the place. One man, Arthur Gatum, was still in the engine room and was caught underneath the falling structure, suffering serious injuries. Another man who lives on Sunnyside was caught in the gale while on his way home and blown off a bridge into the creek escaping, however, with only slight injuries. The roofs were blown from the Erie and Shawmut stations; the home of George Gigee is a wreck, many houses and barns are twisted from their foundations. Irreparable damage has been done to the beauty of the village. Majestic, symmetrical elms, that Mother Nature has been a century in erecting, are slashed to shreds. The beautiful maples that lined Maple Avenue on  either side, are prone and shattered.

At Belevidere the storm struck just north of the main Friendship road.

Belmont excaped with a trimming up of their shade trees. A year hence no will ever know that Belmont was hit at all, the storm was north.

At Plum Bottom, half way between Scio and Belmont, a mile north of the main traveled road, the tail of the cyclone dipped down and demolished six buildings. A young child of Lewis Bentley's is reported to have been killed, taken from its mother's arms.


Exaggerated stoies of how Scio was blown entirely off the map reached Andover soon after the storm ceased, even tho all telegraph and telephone wires were out of commission. But because Scio always gets a piece of every calamity going, it did not take much arguing to make Andover accept the story without the customary pinch of salt. Scio is not much damaged, comparatively.

On the J.D. Potter farm the big red barn was torn in two and the roof taken away leaving the contents exposed to the rain. A brick front was blown in at the Coyle store and the roof damaged; other building lost chimneys. At the upper end of the village the properties of Marle Fuller, W.J. Flint and O.P. Clarke were struck by the lightning preceding the cyclone.


While the Village of Andover seemed to lay nearer the rout of the cyclone than any Allegany County village, we, too, were just a little south of the main course of the storm. It is simply impossible for a newspaper story to give in detail all of the property loss and damage suffered. But Andover has emerged from the awful disaster and terrible tempest looking very little like its former self and damaged to an extent impossible to estimate.

The storm that hit us was the first storm, coming at about 9:45 in the evening. It was accompanied not only by hail-stones as large as hen's eggs, but by lightining bolts that crashed on every side.

Just before the storm broke a number of Andover people saw the funnel-shaped cloud  in which was bottled up all the destruction that was soon to descend upon us. It appeared like a huge ice cream cone, shooting fire in every direction from the outside of its circumference. It looked just as tho someone had hold of a mammoth nozzel to an immense hose and fuided it in its work of destruction. It would dip up and down hitting here and skipping there.

The telegraph and telephone communication was eliminated at the outset. People of the outside could not get us. or we them or each other. The electric light plant was either put out of commission immediately or shut off in the first five minutes of the storm. We were in utter darkness with our troubles.

It is impossible in a single newspaper article to tell the story, other than just to hit the high spots. The exaggerated accounts of the storm reaching Andover people provoked the readers, for they knew it was all guess work and imaginationas no one could send the reported dispatches from Andover. It was a case of filling columns to sell papers and nothing more.

The Village of Andover itself was severely hit. The wires of its new electric plant were all torn down and tangled up in the branches of the fallen trees. Linemen are still busy trying to straighten out the entangled mess. They managed to  get commercial lights to patrons in the center of the village Saturday night. But the street lamp circuits were so badly put out of commission that it was Monday night before there was any light in town and then only in the center of Main Street.

The beautiful Village Park that Andover people have for years pointed to with much kpride, withits wealth of large rock maple trees, is gone, and gone forever. There isn't a dozen trees standing on the whole fifteen acres, and it is impossible for a person to get thru the mass of tangled brush.

The glass is nearly all broken out of the Village Hall. The streets are all filled with trees and rubbish yet to be cleaned up at this writing, tho every available man was put to work immediately. Most every man had troubles of his own to solve before helping the village.

There are few stores and places of business on Main Street but show scars from the terriffic tempest and cyclone. Plate glass windows and glass fronts are gone.

Floyd Vars' jewelry store was not only blown in but blown out. The storm tore the whole northwest cornoer of his building from the foundation and separated it from the sills so a man could walk in thru the opening. The plate glass was shattered.

The George H. Beebe store, and H.H. Williams' grocery were damaged by having glass broken. The tinroofing was ripped off the Beebe store.

Mrs. C.W. Williams had the roof taken off from her feed warehouse and plate glass front in the Main Street store broken.

The Brundage Drug Company's plate glass front was broken, and much damage done by water to his stock of wall paper on account of damage to the roof.

The J.D. Cheesman store was badly used, the roof damaged and water soaked much of the stock of drugs, books, papers and wall-paper.

Mrs. S.J. Fowler lost glass and her entire building was moved back from the street by the intense pressure of the cyclone.

The roof was completely demolished from the J.E. Cannon Company shoe store, and it was only by lively work that their immense stock of ladies' and gents' shoes were saved from utter destruction.

Baker Brothers Hardware lost a few glass from the front of their store.

Three-fquarters of the roof was taken off the American House and the hotel flooded from attic to cellar.

The Wilcox House had the greater part of their hotel and barn to reshingle after the storm.

The C.E. Brown residence on Main Street was used most roughly. One-half of the house was unroofed and several of the beautiful large maple trees broken off and ruined. The furniture was water-soaked and much damage done to carpets, bedding, and everything in the house nearly spoiled.

Shingles were blown off the Horan Hardware till it presents the appearance of a speckled cat.

The residence of Dr. Loughlen was unroofed and much damage done to the contents.

The large barn of  A.C. Frisbey was unroofed with twelve tons of hay exposed to the two foot of rain that followed.

To show the terrible velocity of the wind, there was a large freight car standing down at the condensory switch to be loaded. The brakes were securely set. It was blown up to the depot, a distance of over three hundred feet, up grade.

The large livery barn of J.C. Lever on West Greenwood Street was blown cornerways and was almost ready to fall when props were placed on the east side to keep it from falling over.

The Home Enterprise block escaped with but little damage. The Sugar Bowl had a plate glass window broken out by a roof-board from the News Printing House going thru it, the latter building being damaged by having a porch taken away, foof damaged, windows broken and entire building wrenched askew.

P.C. Lynch and son had several plate glass windows smashed from their newly fitted sales rooms.

On Barney Street Frank Ingraham had his windows blown in and a part of his barn roof taken off; Warren Perry. house roof damaged; Earl Kemp, roof damaged, windows broken and household goods soaked; Mrs. Walsh, windows broken out; S.G. Waffle, windows broken; John Horton, garage blown from foundation.

On Water Street Alois Kennenburger had his roof partly blown off; Mrs. LaRue Crandall, glass broken and roof damaged; Dell Hawkins, barn wrecked and roof off; Michael Cannon, barn blown down; James Hammond, barn wrenched badly and roof off; Ernest Orvis, roof off barn; Delia and Julia Lynch, chimney blown down.

C.L. Earley lost five hundred fine hemlock trees on the Robinson farm. The bark will be entirely lost and 75,000 feet of lumber sadly demolished until it will be worth nearly as much to save it at it is worth.

On Dyke Street D.M. Green's house was damaged, a piece of the roof torn off and goods soaked.

The Methodist and Seventh-day Baptist Churches suffered from damaged roofs.

James Burbanks lost all of his fine apple orchard.

The Knox Miller barn was unroofed and sadly damaged.

The big cow barn of E.B.Rollins was blown several inches from its foundation.

Burnard Murry had a new barn nearly finished. It now lays flat.           

And so it goes. We have only touched the high spots in telling the story. Much of it we cannot describe. There is probably not a property in the whole village that is not more or less damaged, and every street in town looks like a hugh slashing where timber had been felled.


It is simply out of the question to estimate the property loss caused by the cyclone. Any estimate would be inadequate. Conserative people have placed the loss to the village at $250,000,  the Town of Andover a million and the county several million dollars.

But the loss of the beautiful shade trees is as great as the property loss. Man can rebuild his barn and his residence, but it takes a generation to grow trees.


Everywhere that the cyclone struck, crops have been entirely destroyed. Corn was only just beginning to recover itself from the cold weather when the wind and hail put on the finishing touches.

Oats are all flat and cannot fill where the storm struck them.

The big apple crop that looked so promising lays on the ground half grown.

Gardens are just simply ruined. 


One of the greatest losses was sustained thru the death of numerous and expensive live stock. Horses, cows, swine and sheep all perished in great numbers when struck by the brunt of the hurricane.  Some of the cattle, which were in exposed places when the cyclone caught them, were hurled to the ground to go rolling down the hillsides where they grazed. Other live stock, especially horses were crushed to death in barns.

Near Elm Valley is an immense barn where, protuding from the basement are the hindquarters of a fine pair of gray horses, their heads and forequarters having been caught under the weight of tons of hay which tumbled upon them from the lofts above. At another place, only the hind hoofs of what was once a team of bays, can be seen sticking from a door thru which the pair must have attempted a frenzied exit. 


Since the cyclone Friday night, Andover has been the mecca for sightseers from all parts of the county. Thousands of cars have come. In two hours Sunday afternoon 727 cars were counted by one reputable citizen coming into town, and the work of keeping the traffic open was a problem for our local police. Every day since the tornado Andover has been overflown with strangers who have visited us to witness the strange spectacle.

The local dealers ran out of kodak films the first day.

Now you have all seen us at our worst, come and look us over after we have cleaned up and are ready for callers

Copyright © 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009  Ronald G. Taylor All rights reserved.