BLOOMINGTON, ILL., THURSDAY MORNING, JUNE 12, 1902.
FOUR DEAD IN PATH OF THE STORM
ONE CHILD SAYBROOK KILLED AT
The verdict of the coroner's jury was that these persons came to their deaths from a storm blowing down the hall at Merna and causing their instant death. How it Happened While the Modern Woodman social and dance was in progress, and about 150 young people were in the height of their enjoyment at 11 o'clock, with scarcely a minute's warning the terrific wind crushed the building flat to the ground,. When cracks appeared at the corners of the room and the walls began swaying there was a wild rush of the west door. A large number got out, but the vestibule was crowded and some were still in the room near the door when the building went down. Eight or ten got out through a window at the northeast corner. A few had run back to the east end of the hall and the three were caught there under a large section of the falling walls and were crushed to death instantly. It was a half hour or more before they could be found and extricated in the darkness and confusion. The Dead MISS ANNIE KELLEY, aged 22, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Patrick Kelley, was born on a farm four miles north of Normal, May 9, 1880. She was educated at St. Joseph's convent in Bloomington, spending seven or eight years there, and while living with her aunt, Mrs. Bridget Kelley, on North West Street, she learned dressmaking with the Misses Casey. The past three years she has been at her home, about a mile and a half west of Merna, but she was a frequent visitor in Bloomington, and was well known among Bloomington people. She was much interested in all the social doings, where she was a favorite, was of a very lively disposition and has a wide circle of warm friends among the young people. She was a member of St. Patrick's Catholic Church of Merna. She went to the dance with her brother, James, and greatly enjoyed the evening up to the
Three Women Perished in an Awful Catastrophe at Merna, During the Tornado on Tuesday Night. SCENES DESCRIBED IN DETAIL Dance Hall Collapsed, and Death and Injuries Resulted After an Awful Panic - The Saybrook Accident. The Dead. Cory Reynolds, Saybrook. Annie Kelley, Merna. Mrs. Edward Martin, Leroy. Lena Gahagan, Leroy. Merna is in deep mourning. Hundreds of people visited the place yesterday to see the devastation of the tornado the night before and to learn the particulars of the death of the three young women in the falling hall. A subdued and tender feeling of sorrow and sympathy and something akin to awe pervaded every group of talkers. The destruction of property apparent on every side was to an extent lost sight of in the greater loss of life. The body of Miss Annie Kelley was taken to her home west of Merna about 1 a.m., and the bodies of Mrs. Edward Martin and Miss Lena Gahagan , sisters, remained in the house of Father O'Hern all day, and last evening were taken to the home of Mr. John Kelley, a cousin, southwest of Merna.
BLOOMINGTON, ILL., THURSDAY MORNING, JUNE 12,1902.
time of the storm. Besides her parents she leaves the following brothers and sisters in the order of their ages: Katie, Hugh, James, Martin and Mary, all living at home. The funeral arrangements had not been made up to 2 p.m. yesterday. An uncle, Thomas Kelley, from North Blue Mound township, was expected. This death was a terrible shock to the mother. How the Building Fell When the building went down the west vestibule and part of the west wall remained; the west gable of the roof as it slid to the ground did not entirely collapse. These things, with the fact that the stove held up some of the timbers, prevented the loss of life at the west door, where many were still crowded. The side walls went flat, and even the foundation was toppled over. The east gable of the roof went to pieces. The building was about fifty by thirty feet and fell to the southeast, completely covering the stage where the fatalities occurred. There was an east projection to form the stage, and sections of wall, two and three deep, were piled upon the unfortunate girls. It took about fifteen men to lift these so the bodies could be taken out. The two sisters were clasped in each other's hands. Miss Kelley was found farther south on the stage. Their faces were not disfigured, and no bones were broken. The greatest injuries were bruises upon the chest, where the great weight had rested. They never spoke...
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Illinois State University, Milner Library, Normal, IL, 61790 - for the Towanda Area Historical Society/Towanda District Library
Towanda Area Historical Society/Towanda District Library
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