Damaged Barn at the Fairchild Homestead
June 11, 1922
From an Old Postcard
Photo Contributed by Norman Bensen

The Cyclone of 1922

December 2002
for the Sullivan County Genealogical Web Page.

The Sullivan Review
Dushore, PA
June 14, 1922


The worst storm, which has visited this vicinity in many years, passed over shortly after ten o'clock Sunday evening. The storm followed a ziz-zag course from about a mile below Dushore up the Little Loyal Sock Valley to the bridge on the Cherry Mills road known as Wentzel's bridge. Here it turned and followed the course of Paine Run, up past the Cherry township election house and the Mary Graifley farm, then up the north side of the valley through the Graifley woods to the horseshoe, then on to Sugar Hill, sweeping everything before it and leaving in its wake a trail of wreckage and devastation which would honor a cyclone of the western plains.

Cherry Township Election House
After the Cyclone of June 11, 1922
Photo Contributed by Carol Brotzman
Source: An old postcard aucitoned on eBay in January 2008

Trees, telephone poles, electric light poles and wire were blown across the turnpike completely blocking the road for nearly a mile, and much resembled the barbed-wire entanglements used in France during the war.

The Frank Kast Homestead
June 11, 1922
Photo Contributed by Carol Brotzman
Source: An old postcard auctioned on eBay in September 2007

All of the buildings on the Frank Kast farm except a small summer kitchen were completely destroyed. Miss Mary Stiff was killed almost instantly, dying a few minutes after being carried to the home of a neighbor. Mrs. Frank Kast received injuries to her head and back and is badly bruised. She was carried on a cot to the home of her brother-in-law, C.H. Jones of Dushore, where she is in a serious condition and unable to be removed to the hospital. Mr. Kast received a bad cut on the leg and ran a nail in his foot and is badly bruised. The two daughters, Elizabeth and Florence, received numerous cuts and bruises but no serious injuries. How the family escaped with their lives is a mystery, as the house was blown from the foundation and carried some distance, and completely demolished. All the furniture was destroyed including new piano and Victrola.

Mr. Kast says he started to the telephone and the next thing he knew he was out in the field. He called to his wife and fifteen year old Elizabeth called bravely back, "Here she is, I got her out." She had succeeded in getting her mother and sister out of the wreckage.

Miss Stiff was found in the yard near the spring. She was conscious when found but died a few minutes later.

All were in their night clothes and drenched with rain. Neighbors heard their cries for help and quickly arrived. Ezra Hunsinger came to Dushore for Dr. Biddle.

Mrs. Kast had expected to go to the Packer hospital Monday to undergo a serious operation and Miss Stiff arrived at the home on Sunday afternoon at four o'clock to take charge of the house during her absence. She has spent much of her life with the Kast family and was held in high esteem by them.

Robert and William Kast, the two sons, were spending the evening away from home and did not arrive until after the storm.

The garage and large barn were blown down and one cow killed. The horses were uninjured. Both the house and barn were new buildings.

The house on the farm of A. L. Cox, game warden, was unroofed and every windowpane blown out. Mr. Cox was sitting up reading and when he heard the window lights crashing to the floor in the upper story he jumped to his feet and tried to open the door. The house was so twisted by the wind that the door would not open, but before he could get to another door the storm had passed. His bed, mattress and bedding were carried to the Charles White farm, a distance of over half a mile. The barn and other outbuildings were demolished. Two Ford cars, a runabout belonging to Mr. Cox and a touring car of his nephew's, were badly wrecked.

The house is completely ruined, as the plaster; lath and paper are in shreds and daylight pouring through cracks in every wall.

The Cox Homestead
June 11, 1922
From an Old Postcard
Photo Contributed by Norman Bensen

The house and barn on the Fairchild farm were practically destroyed. Miss Charlotte Fairchild was sitting on the side of her bed in a room on the lower floor and her sister, Mrs. Hannah Yonkin, had already retired. The wind carried away the outside door and some of the windows in the room and came in with such a whirling draft that the bed was turned completely around and tossed to one side.

The Fairchild Homestead
June 11, 1922
Photo Contributed by Carol Brotzman
Source: An old postcard auctioned on eBay in September 2007

Freeman Fairchild, nephew of the two ladies, had a narrow escape. He was in an upper room when the crash came and they heard him calling that he was not hurt but was fast.

Miss Fairchild made her way with difficulty over the floors covered broken glass and other debris and found that both the head and foot board had fallen in on him and a partition from the room, a portion of the roofing and chimney and a bureau were piled on the bed. His aunt finally succeeded in removing some of the accumulated matter before the young man suffocated. The house is a wreck with the roof off, every window blown out, and moved a foot off the foundation.

Editor's Note: The Fairchild place was on the road past Fairview Cemetery (barely visible at the top of the picture above) that leads to Route 220 today. It was called the "horseshoe". You can learn more about the Fairchilds at The Fairchild Family Origins.

The large stone chimney on the main building was what saved it, apparently. The kitchen seems to be the only room in the house, which escaped damage. The lighter brick chimneys were blown down and the stone one damaged so no fire for cooking purposes was possible. Neighbors kindly carried a warm breakfast to the family.

Almost every tree on the place was uprooted and one was struck by lightning only a short distance from the house. The large orchard was completely destroyed.

A Room in the Fairchild Home
Unroofed by the Storm of June 11, 1922
Photo Contributed by Carol Brotzman
Source: An old postcard auctioned on eBay in September 2007

The house on the Corson farm was moved on the foundation, windows blown out and trees uprooted.

The barn on the Samuel Sayman place is a complete wreck and every tree but two in the large orchard were torn out of the ground.

The barn on the Morris Harrington farm below town was demolished and trees blown down.

Damaged Barn at the Harrington Farm
June 11, 1922
From an Old Postcard
Photo Contributed by Norman Bensen

The Cherry township election house is completely gone. All of the Cherry township school supplies were stored there and were carried for some distance. The safe and on heating stove were found about seventy-five feet from where the building stood and the other stove was carried twice that far.

On the Addison Yonkin farm the barn, silo and all the outbuildings were totally destroyed, though the house was not badly damaged. Mr. Yonkin and his family were gathered in the sitting room during the storm when a piece of timber from the barn was blown through a window, breaking a picture on the opposite wall. No one was injured. One horse, one cow and two calves were killed.

On Mrs. Ida Bender's farm the house and barn were badly damaged. No windows were left in the house.

The barn and granary on the Mary Graifley farm were blown down and the old orchard on the opposite side of the house from the barn was destroyed, thorough the house itself was almost untouched.

The orchard on the Wentzel farm, now owned by August Gainer, was torn up by the roots.

The house and barn of Anthony Middendorf near Coveytown were unroofed and outbuildings damaged beyond repair.

No mere description can picture the havoc wrought by this storm. It surpasses anything this section ever saw before. Cyclones are generally thought of in connection with the vast plains of the western states, but it seems that Sullivan County cannot count itself immune, even though it lies in the ruggest part of hilly Pennsylvania.

No estimate of the total damage has yet been made, but it will amount to many thousands of dollars.

Copyright 2002 Robert E. Sweeney and individual Contributors. All Rights Reserved. Prior written permission is required from Robert E. Sweeney and individual Contributors before this material can be printed or otherwise copied, displayed or distributed in any form. This is a FREE genealogy site sponsored through PAGenWeb and can be reached directly at ~Sullivan County Genealogy Project (http://www.rootsweb.com/~pasulliv)