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One of the saddest calamities ever occuring in this community happened shortly before three o'clock Tuesday afternoon and as a result two beings lie cold in death's embrace, a teacher and her pupil, and a number of other children suffering from bruises but fortunately none of them serious, and a school house wrecked and smashed into kindling wood and scattered for rods about.
The elements were at unrest Tuesday afternoon and there were ominous clouds gathering here and there but again dissolving and the wind holding to no particular direction. It was a day for bad storms and everybody were watching the clouds with fear and misgiving.
Suddenly a cloud was seen to form about four miles southwest of the village that began to revolve and to travel fast, but high and heading for this place. When a mile south of here it was seen to "dip" to the ground and those that were watching its course saw flying timbers for a brief moment and then the cloud dissolved and its fury was spent when it struck the village and beyond broken windows and overturned outbuildings no other damage was done.
Mr. Henry Olson, who lives near the fated school house, saw the awful work and hastened at once to the scene rendering what aid he could and then hastened to town for assistance and the doctor. Several at once went out and under a section of the wall the body of the teacher, Miss Ida Hanson, was found. Judging from the injuries about the head it is evident her death was instantaneous. Nearby her pretty little Mary Thompson was found, sorely injured. She was carried to her home a short distance off and an examination of her injuries showed several ribs broken and the chest badly crushed. She lingered until nine o'clock that evening when death claimed her.
From a view of the ruins it is a miracle more were not injured or killed outright. There were about 20 pupils in the building at the time and while none escaped without some injury they are of a slight nature.
No reliable version of the calamity can be gotten from the children as they were too much confused but it seems they made a break for the hallway at the approach of the storm notwithstanding the assurances of the teacher that they need not be alarmed. They had about all reached there when the building was evidently lifted completely off its foundation, turned over whole leaving the roof nearest the foundation and then the sills, flooring and siding scattered along for a distance of many rods. Some of the children said it first felt like being rolled in a barrel and then they were "blown all over the prairie." The building was a frame structure and its demolition was complete. It was situated in district No. 82, a mile directly south of the village.
The teacher, Miss Ida H. Hanson, is a daughter of Mrs. H. P. Hanson, who lives east of this village and a sister of Messrs. Thorsten and Ludvig Hanson, of this place. Miss Hanson was born and reared in this township and her untimely death has cast a gloom over the entire community where she was respected and honored by all. Had she lived until June 5th, she would have been 26 years of age, eight years of which has been devoted to teaching in the districts adjacent to this place.
The funeral of Miss Hanson takes place from her late home this morning at 11 o'clock and from the church here at 2 o'clock as also does the little Thompson girl's. Upon a flower covered bier rests the remains of Tuesday's fatal storm and scores of friends blend their rears with those of the stricken homes, bereft of priceless jewels, but safe in the knowledge that He who watches over all things has their souls safe in His keeping.
As a mark of respect for the dead all business houses in the village were closed between the hours of 2 and 4 this afternoon.
Tuesday afternoon, about 1 o'clock, a small cyclone swept across Douglas county, carrying death to two homes and demolishing several buildings. The storm came from the southwest, following close upon one of the worst hail storms ever known in this section. The formation of the cyclone was noticed and its advance watched by people in different parts of the county. The first dam[age] of any importance occurred in Moe township, the house of Carl Botner being lifted from its foundation and crushed like an eggshell. Mr. Botner had notic[ed] the formation of the cyclone and had hustled his family into the cellar. They were none too soon in reaching this haven of safety. In the twinkling of an eye the house was swept from over them and was twisted and torn into a thousand pieces. Mrs. Botner sustained slight injuries by being hit with a section of wagon box which was blown into the cellar after the house was lifted.
The cyclone lifted and swept northeast into Brandon township. With the suddenness of lightning it descended upon the school house in district No. 82, tore the building from its foundation and carried it high into the air, then, with an appalling velocity, the building was dashed to the earth, and was torn, twisted and scattered. Miss Ida Hanson, the teacher, was almost instantly killed and little Mary Thompson was so badly injured that she died at 10 o'clock the same evening. As quickly as it descended to earth the cyclone lifted again and swept onward in its ruthless work of destruction. Several outbuildings and sheds were blown over at Brandon. Here the cyclone appeared to divide into two sections, one going to the northwest while the main section continued in a northeasterly course.
Several people witnessed the approach of the storm until it reached the school house. J. A. Olson, who lives just opposite the school house saw the building when it was lifted into the air. He thinks it was raised twenty or twenty-five feet. He mounted a horse and rode furiously to Brandon to spread the alarm. Several people hastened at once to the scene of the disaster. The sight which met their eyes was one which will never be forgotten. The beautiful little school house, which had been the pride of the district, lay scattered upon the ground for a distance of thirty rods, and beneath the ruins was found the bruised and lifeless body of Miss Hanson, and poor little Mary Thompson, so badly crushed that she died in a few hours.
The school had just been called for the afternoon session and the children were gathered in the front part when the storm struck. They were practicing their pieces for the last day of school which would have been one week from tomorrow. There were eighteen pupils in the building and seventeen of them escaped with slight injuries as if by a miracle. Miss Hanson had noticed the approach of the cyclone and had taken all available precautions. One of her pupils was about to run outside. She cautioned him not to open the door and to remain inside. When the building struck the ground the front wall was blown out and several of the children were landed quite a distance from the site of the school house. One little girl was carried over two barb wire fences into a wheat field. She received no great injury. A small boy was carried into a pond at the foot of the hill.
There are different stories told by the several people who witnessed the disaster or were there a short time after its occurrence. Wednesday morning Supt. VanDyke and a representative of the Citizen visited the ruins. It would appear from the looks of the wreck that the building had been turned over and over down the side of the hill from the southwest. The foundation shows this, as the south and west walls of masonry are intact while the east and north walls are crumbled and ground into hundreds of small fragments. The earth is gouged about one foot deep within four feet of the northeast corner and about sixteen feet from the southeast corner. The earth which was scooped up was shoved over the ground as far east as the wood pile. Here the building struck the wood. The roof was blown off and the balance of the building turned a complete somersault, judging from the looks of the wreck. Miss Hanson was at the front window in the northwest part of the room. As the building turned over she was thrown through the upper part of the window. She was caught on the sill and as the wall fell to the earth she was crushed beneath it. A three inch furrow shows where her head had scooped the earth for a distance of eight feet as the wall under which she lay was driven down the hill side.
The wreckage covers the ground for a distance of nearly thirty rods. It is a mass of crushed and broken boards and twisted iron. Timbers were driven through the sides of the walls and in one place a scantling was driven almost two feet into the ground.
Some reports have reached us of other damage done to property throughout the county but the reports are meagre and the majority of them are not authentic.
The grief of the Thompson family is heartrending. The little girl was the idol of the household. She was a bright, winsome little maid of nine summers the picture of health. Mr. Thompson is crippled with rheumatism. His lips quavered and the tears welled in his eyes as he related how the little girl had bid him goodby in the morning and started for school with a light and joyous heart, and how she had been brought home to him in the afternoon crushed, bruised and unconsciencious [sic]. The affliction is a terrible one and the sympathy of all will be theirs in this moment of great desolation. Miss Ida Hanson is about twenty-seven years of age. She was the eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. H. P. Hanson of Brandon township. For several years Miss Hanson has been working faithfully in her chosen profession ever seeking the highest and the best in educational lines. She had already won recognition in educational circles and had promise of a splendid future. She was possessed of a splendid future. She was idolized by her pupils and was loved by a host of acquaintances. She was possessed of a sunny disposition, a loving heart and a sympathetic nature. In her school work she was ambitious and hard working. Her tragic death deprives Douglas county of one of its best and ablest teachers.
The funeral of both Miss Hanson and Mary Thompson was held this afternoon at 2 o'clock from the Lutheran church at Brandon. A large and sympathic [sic] concourse of people assembled to pay their last respects to one so universally loved. Many fragrant flowers covered the caskets, among them being two beautiful wreaths, one of roses and one of pure white lilies, presented by Superintendent Cleve W. VanDyke. After an impressive sermon the remains were conveyed to Brandon cemetery, where they were consigned to mother earth to sleep the last, long sleep which knows no awakening.
Miss Louise Hanson was called home Tuesday by the accidental death of her sister in a cyclone near Brandon. The entire school extends its most heartfelt sympathy.
The village of Brandon in Douglas county was visited by a small cyclone and hailstorm Tuesday afternoon which destroyed several buildings on the edge of the village, wrecked a school three-fourths of a mile out of town; killed the school teacher, Miss Ida Hanson, and fatally injured the nine year old daughter of Ole Thompson. The child's chest was crushed. Residents report it had rained heavily during the noon hour and when the rain stopped they saw a whirlwind and dark cloud approaching from the south, but there was no funnel. Several of the children were outside at the time or the death toll would have undoubtedly been heavier. Twenty pupils were in the school and started to run for the door, but the teacher advised them to stay inside, while she went to close the window. At that moment the building was lifted from its foundation and carried several rods. The teacher's body was forced through the half-closed window, her skull fractured and legs broken, while the little girl suffered a crushed chest. Several other children were less seriously injured.
The day was not hot, the highes[t] temperature in Fergus Falls being 80 above and the minimum 52.
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