1878 Adams County Twisters Carried Homes Away, Killed 50 Cows
It was one of the strongest twisters in Adams County, Illinois history and it happened in an era where there were no tornado sirens or early warning systems. It was a terrifying EF-3 tornado that touched down in May of 1878. By the time it dissipated, 1 person was dead and 50 cows were also killed.
The National Weather Service has a page dedicated to the most significant tornadoes in Adams County history and few were stronger than the one that was first spotted just after dinner at around 6:30pm on May 23, 1878. It was a 100 yard wide monster that would stay on the ground for around 25 miles and it wasn't alone.
The National Weather Service says that it was likely a "family of tornadoes" that began churning through Adams County 7 miles south of Quincy moving in a path that would take it 1 mile south of Timewell, Illinois. At its strongest, it was rated what is now known as an EF-3 with wind speeds up to 165 mph.
The damage path of this Adams County tornado was devastating. Many homes were "carried away" according to the reports and the twister would also pick up 50 cows. 6 residents suffered injuries, but miraculously there was only 1 confirmed death.
The EF-3 tornado would finally dissipate in Brown County, but by the time it was done, it would be remembered as one of the worst natural disasters in Adams County history.
Consider this. The tornado formed as it was getting dark and there were no sirens or warning systems. The fact that more lives weren't lost is miraculous.