Montgomery County Illinois History
     The citizens of Hillsboro have a grievance, Saturday morning of last week they eagerly awaited the coming of the St. Louis and Chicago papers, expecting the whole front page would be devoted to the great hail storm that visited Hillsboro the day before. To their chagrin and disappointment the matter was not noticed at all or was only given a short write-up in an obscure corner of the papers.

      Friday, April 15, 1910, will be a daylong remembered in Hillsboro, for between three and four o'clock in the afternoon of that day this city was visited by one of the most destructive hail storms ever before known in Illinois. The hail stones that fell were the biggest that ever came down the Milky Way, and in ten minutes after they began to fall Hillsboro was a symphony of broken glass and punctured roofs. The storm came from the southwest and was preceded by a heavy rain. Then the hail began, first the size of pigeon eggs, then larger until they finally came as thick as grapes shot fired from a mitrailleuse and as large as croquet balls.

      Our readers residing outside of Hillsboro would not believe this, but happily we can prove our statement by the accompanying photographs. The icy missiles were hard as bullets. Most of them were exactly the shape of door knobs, only much larger, and then crashed through all west windows and the roofs demolishing most of them completely. Plate glass windows a quarter of an inch thick were smashed into pieces, the roofs were punctured, shingled roofs were utterly ruined and the few slate roofs in town were pounded into slate pencils!

      There was a big art window on the west side of the Methodist church containing a fine picture, done in colored glass, of John Wesley. A big hail stone took John at the butt of the ear and he was shattered all over the church. The window, which cost about $200, was busted into a million fragments, and the founder of Methodism doesn't know where he is at. An art window, costing $150 or more, on the west side of the Lutheran church, was smashed into smithereens, and the slate roofs on both churches will have to be replaced wherever they sloped west.

      It is hard to estimate the damage done, for just to what extent the roofs will have to be repaired or replaced on some of the buildings is not yet known. Probably the windows and roofs on 500 houses were damaged or ruined, and a conservative estimate of the loss suffered would be $25,000. This is outside of the loss suffered by Schram City. The life of every roof in town, not completely demolished, was shortened from five to ten years, and the above estimate of $25,000 is probably far short of the actual damage suffered.
     As compared with cyclone disasters that have swept other towns away, the great hail storm at Hillsboro was, of course, a mere bagatolle, and really the only remarkable thing about it was the phenomenal size of the hail stones and the damage they wrought. The oldest inhabitant is unable to remember seeing hailstones as large as those that came down in Hillsboro last Friday. Where gardens had been made the "stones" buried themselves in the earth and the gardens look like mules had been walking over them. Every lawn in town in punctured and plowed up with holes from six to fifteen inches in diameter. From the looks of the gardens and the lawns it is evident that the artist who made the accompanying pictures did not get the largest specimens of the hail stones that fell.

      Henry Crawford the well known abstractor owns considerable rent property in Hillsboro and the hail storm gave him a jolt which will amount to several hundred dollars. His renters were all good fellows, however, and aided him by putting in most of the window glass which reduced the bill so that Henry will not have to go without socks, as he feared he would have to, in order to cut down on expenses.

      Charlie Berner, the well-known photographer of this city, lost heavily because of the hail storm, practically every window in his studio being wrecked and his furnishings soaked with water. Mr. Berner was working beneath his sky light when the stones as big as croquet balls began smashing through the sky light and roof and Charles hear a hasty retreat after putting his camera out of harms way.
     At Evans Bros. store a tremendous hail stone crashed through the sky light and then struck on top of a stove, the blow being sufficiently hard to crack the lid of the stove. This is absolutely true but it won't bear repeating as no one outside of Hillsboro would believe it.

     The electric light company suffered quite a heavy loss from broken street lamps, broken wires and other exposed "dew dabs" of which we do not know the name or care a contenial. Mr. Frey, the secretary of the company had just paid for lettering the plate glass windows of his office and of the electric light company's offie, and after the storm his pretty new window signs and his windows were all gone.

     The shingled roofs of Hillsboro now present the appearance of a polka dot dress or a Plymouth Rock chicken, for they are all dotted with new shingles where temporary repairs have been made to keep out the rain until a new roof can be put on or where permanent repairs can be made. The damage to the roofs was not confined to the old shingle roofs exclusively, for the hail stones were not particular what kind of a roof they punctured and many practically new shingled roofs were punctured full of holes. Tin roofs and patent paper roofs were riddled with holes and in some of the places the stones not only crashed through the tar paper roofing but tore holes in the sheeting underneath.

     The slate roofs in Hillsboro suffered severely from the hail and many of them are damaged beyond repair and new roofs will have to be put on. Among those who suffered loss from this quarter were J. B. Barringer, C. W. Grassel, Edward McDavid, Henry Bremer, W. A. White, the M. E. and Lutheran churches and the new jail.

     Reece Jones, who occupies the W. A. White building with his cash grocery store, did not lose much because of the hail storm, although the sheet metal roof of his store was punctured in hundreds of places and a flood of water poured through the openings, Reece managed to keep his stock from being damaged, but his store looks like it had been hit by a cyclone.

     J. M. Klar, our well known dry goods and clothing dealer saved his stock from a tremendous loss by working all night with a force of men, keeping buckets under every place where the water leaked through and by covering everything possible with oil cloth. Four tinners were kept busy for several days repairing the roof over the Penwell & Klar building and they plugged between 1200 and 1500 holes before they lost count and still had more places to mend. This roof was of heavy tin covered with a thick coat of red paint, and wherever the big hailstones struck, the blow knocked the paint completely off, leaving a bright spot of tin, so that the tinners had little trouble in detecting where to find the holes. In some places these holes were so big it required a patch six inches square to cover the opening. During the heavy rain that fell Friday night after the storm, Mr. Klar spent half the night out in the rain, hatless, coatless and soaked to the skin, and if he hadn't a constitution like a horse, he would have died from exposure. As it was he didn't even catch cold and didn't lose a minute from his business.

     On Friday morning of last week is someone had told us that hailstones could fall as big as a base ball and as hard as paving brick, we would have either called the fellow a d l or thought him crazy. On Friday of this week if someone would tell us that hail stones could fall that were as big as watermelons and took a month to melt we would believe every darn word of his story.

     Contractor Schonover, the concrete walk builder lost only 400 feet of fine new walk which he had laid on Main Street just before the storm broke loose. He covered the walk with tarpaulins and played havoc with the concrete beneath.

     Eighty six windows were broken in the court house and the only thing that prevented more broken was the fact that there were no more on the west side of the building. The roof was also badly damaged.

     The demand for post cards showing the hail is wonderful and our local photographers are working overtime printing pictures taken after the storm, showing the hail stones and the havoc wrought to our various residences and buildings. Several thousand hail pictures have been sold and the demand for them shows no abatement.

     The Hillsboro Public School buildings suffered severely, there being 294 windows broken in the three buildings, most of them being of a good size. The labor bill for replacing these windows will amount to over $100 and the cost of the glass will probably amount to $500 or more. The slate roofs on the high school and south school buildings was also badly damaged.

     After the storm Mrs. C. M. Wooll chanced to visit her bathroom and to her utter amazement she found a nice big hail stone had crashed through the shingle roof and on down through the lathes and plaster of the bathroom ceiling and had then nested up in a corner looking for more trouble.

     E. Douglas chanced to have a brand new awning in front of his drug store and that saved his plate glass windows from destruction. His roof was punctured like a sieve, however. His front windows were practically the only plate glass windows saved on the east side of Main Street.

     The poor horses which were tied outside during the storm suffered severely, but fortunately none was killed. It seems a miracle that any of them escaped. Ben Boyd, the grocery man, prevented his horse from running away and tearing up the delivery wagon by leading the animal under a wooden awning in front of the store and holding him half inside the front door until the storm was over.

     Many farmers were in town when the rain and hail first began falling Friday and they raised the tops of their rigs just to keep the cushions dry. Imagine their surprise when they returned after the storm to find their buggy tops riddled with holes while a nice little collection of hail stones were piled on the soaked buggy seats.

     The storm hit Hillsboro directly from the west and practically contained its fury within the city limits of Hillsboro. Some damage was done in Kortkamp and some to the farmers south of town. The biggest hail stones did not fall a mile out of Hillsboro in either direction.

     The hail damaged the Schram Automatic Sealer plant. The finished fruit jars made by this firm were stored in the yards of this company and there were big piles of jars fully five feet high and covering an acre or more of ground. The hail went through these jars like rocks through a hot house and thousands of jars were smashed to bits. Hundreds of windows in the plant were broken and the roofs of the sheds where the boxes which are ready for shipment are kept, were perforated and the rain which followed soaked into these boxes, so that it will necessitate the repacking of hundreds of these boxes. The Sealer company, like almost ever other property owner carried fire and tornado insurance. but did not carry insurance against hail and therefore cannot probably recover anything on its heavy loss.

     John Loucks ventured out in the hail storm to tie his horse and before he could get under cover again a hail stone struck his stiff hat square on top, puncturing it and raising a bump on John's head that looked like he had been hit by a ball bat. The stiff hat probably saved John's life as the hail struck him with terrible force.

     Both Burrell Phillips and Dr. Amos Sawyer say they can remember a hail storm that visited this section many years ago and that the hail stones fell as thick and were as big as those that fell here last Friday. Neither of them is able to fix the date.

Taken from: "The Montgomery News" April 22, 1910
Posted in: Hillsboro
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