Sunday, October 7, 2018


LILLIE AND RAYMOND MONROE
Clinton, Kansas - June 1917

"The fateful day, June 5, 1917, dawned hot and sultry, without a cloud in the sky.  Popular wartime songs such as "Over There" vibrated from Gramophones, and the Clinton Draft Board had set up operations in the Community Hall (formerly the Congregational Church).  Sometime after four o'clock, Merritt Woodward noticed a dome of angry clouds forming off to the west, and he decided to keep an eye on them.... Will Cummings, who had been injured by his horse, fretted in bed over his helplessness; the Monroe boy, whose parents worked for the Cummings, skipped to the Hout farm to get a bucket of milk for supper....

"Somewhat later, Merritt Woodward glanced again at the threatening cloud and discovered that its dark billows were swelling rapidly and soon would engulf the town....Suddenly the emergency was there, and no time was left for deliberation.  Emma Cummings ...somehow, with her young daughter, conveyed hefty Will Cummings down the basement stairs and were helping him into a chair as the tornado hit.  The Monroe boy, terrified, raced toward home, sloshing milk down his legs as he ran.

"Raymond's father, Green Monroe, also saw it coming, but it took him longer than he intended to lead the Cummings' four horses into the barn and tie them securely to a manger.  As the fury struck, he decided not to run for the house.  It was well he did, for although the barn was totally destroyed in the violence that followed, Monroe, the manger and the four horses were left unhurt.  Monroe's family was not so fortunate.  His wife, Lillie, was killed, as their house was shattered by the wind, and his son, who didn't quite make it home from Hout's, was struck by a two-by-four and fatally injured...."

The storm passed.

"The two Monroe victims were solemnly carried to the Methodist Church were Dr. Beach examined them and pronounced them dead.  There they lay in state for townspeople to view and remember as a grim symbol of the fearsome power of nature.

"Why the tornado destroyed one building and not another, why it killed or injured so few people, and why it missed Bloomington altogether were questions pondered by Clinton residents as they cleared away the rubble and began to rebuild their town."

From Soil of Our Souls: Histories of the Clinton Lake Area Communities" by Martha Parker and Betty Laird, Parker-Laird Enterprises, 1980.