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COMANCHE COUNTY, KANSAS: HISTORY & GENEALOGY
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Greensburg Tornado, 04 May 2007, Kiowa County, Kansas

Tornado over Greensburg, Kansas: Believed to be the June 11, 1915 Tornado that hit near Greensburg, Kansas.

Photo courtesy of familyoldphotos.com.

CLICK HERE to view a larger version of this image on the familyoldphotos.com web site.
Photograph of a tornado over Greensburg, Kansas. (Believed to be the June 11, 1915 tornado.)
Photo courtesy of familyoldphotos.com.
View Larger Image


The above photo is not of the tornado which destroyed 95% of Greensburg, Kiowa County, Kansas on the 5th of May, 2007. It is thought to be of the tornado which hit, or nearly hit, Greensburg on June 11th, 1915.

This web page will give you a brief history of Greensburg and introduce you to a number of tornados in the area of Greensburg, Kansas, including some in adjoining Comanche and Barber counties.

All of the hyperlinks on this page to off-site web pages will open in a new browser window.

For general information about tornados, see TornadoProject.com

Thoughts about Greensburg, commentary by Nathan Lee of Barber County, Kansas, about the Greensburg tornado of 2007.


The city of Protection in Comanche County took a direct hit from a tornado Friday, May 23, 2008, although the damage seemed mostly limited to overturned trees and power lines. The worst destruction occurred at a manufacturing plant, a Comanche County Sheriff's dispatcher said... The city of Greensburg, Kansas, which was largely destroyed a year ago by a massive twister, reported minor damage when a tornado hopped from the western edge to the eastern edge of town Friday. "The funnel cloud went directly over the top of Greensburg," said Ray Stegman, Kiowa County emergency preparedness manager. " -- More tornadoes strike Kansas, Oklahoma, Associated Press, 24 May 2008.


A partial list of tornados
which have hit or nearly hit Greensburg, Kansas


News articles about the Greensburg Tornado on May 4, 2007

Covering the Greensburg, Kansas, Tornado - by Dr. Greg Forbes, Severe Weather Expert. (Cached)

Kansas tornado had start in Comanche County before hitting Greensburg, The Kiowa County Signal, 6 May 2007. "The tornado that hit Greensburg had its start in Comanche County near Protection then moved northeast into Kiowa County and took direct aim at Greensburg. Homes south of town were the first to feel the wrath of the storm. They were leveled and then the tornado moved into Greensburg. The National Weather Service had issued severe thunderstorm and tornado watches for the area. When storm spotters confirmed the storm and direction of travel, a tornado warning was issued and tornado sirens began to sound in Greensburg about 9:25 p.m. giving Greensburg 20 minutes of lead-time, said Jeff Johnson, meteorologist for the National Weather Service out of Dodge City. Many residents had been watching the news and knew it was coming. The sirens alerted the town to take action and head underground. The tornado arrived at 9:45 p.m. The exact center of tornado was on the west side of town. Storm spotters had pictures of the wedge shaped tornado that was a mile and a half wide at its widest. It was an F5 tornado, said Dan McCarthy of the National Severe Storms Prediction Center in Norman, Okla."

Search Halted As New Twisters Hit Plains, My Way News, 6 May 2007. "GREENSBURG, Kan. (AP) - Rain fell early Sunday, soaking the scattered wreckage that remained of much of this town after a tornado struck it, as hundreds of rescue workers waited to resume their work in the daylight. The emergency crews searching for more victims of the deadly Friday night tornado that devastated this southwest Kansas farming town had suspended their activity overnight because the latest round of stormy weather brought another wave of tornadoes across the Plains states. Friday's storms were blamed for at least nine deaths - eight in the Greensburg area and one in a nearby county - a number authorities feared could rise. All of Greensburg's residents had been evacuated, leaving battery-powered home fire alarms beeping beneath the debris. The National Weather Service said it had received reports "well into the double digits" of twisters touching down late Saturday in six southwest Kansas counties. Numerous tornadoes were reported from South Dakota south into Oklahoma."

President Bush Discusses Tornado Devastation in Greensburg, Kansas, White House Press Release, 6 May 2007. "THE PRESIDENT: Our hearts are heavy for the loss of life in Greensburg, Kansas. A tornado devastated that community. It just basically wiped it out. I spoke to the governor and Senator Pat Roberts about the extent of the devastation. They said to me, it's hard to describe how bad this community was hit. I declared a major disaster for that community, and I hope that helps. It's going to take a long time for the community to recover. And so we will help in any way we can. There's a certain spirit in the Midwest of our country, a pioneer spirit that still exists, and I'm confident this community will be rebuilt. To the extent that we can help, we will. The most important thing now, though, is for our citizens to ask for the good Lord to comfort those who hurt."

Tornado death toll in Kan. town hits 10, Yahoo News, 7 May 2007. "GREENSBURG, Kan. - The death toll from a tornado that nearly obliterated this farming town climbed to 10 on Monday, but residents said it could have been far worse if not for a 20-minute warning that gave them time to take shelter in storm cellars and basements. The 1.5-mile-wide Category F-5 enhanced tornado, the most powerful to hit the U.S. in eight years, destroyed about 95 percent of the town Friday night. It also left 13 people hospitalized, four in critical condition. Two others were killed from the storm system in other parts of Kansas."

Early warning likely saved lives in deadly twister: Emergency alarm was issued instead of regular notice, The Arizona Republic, 8 May 2007. (Cached)

Obama Overstates Kansas Tornado Deaths, My Way News, 8 May 2007. "RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Barack Obama, caught up in the fervor of a campaign speech Tuesday, drastically overstated the Kansas tornadoes death toll, saying 10,000 had died. The death toll was 12. 'In case you missed it, this week, there was a tragedy in Kansas. Ten thousand people died - an entire town destroyed,' the Democratic presidential candidate said in a speech to 500 people packed into a sweltering Richmond art studio for a fundraiser."

Bush surveys tornado destruction - "US President George W Bush has toured the scene of his country's deadliest tornado in years, the flattened town of Greensburg in Kansas.", BBC News, 9 May 2007.

Suspected looters make first court appearance, Dodge City Globe, 10 May 2007. "MULLINVILLE - Nine of the 13 arrested in Greensburg for looting, trespassing or impersonating a rescue worker were paraded in shackles, leg irons and orange jail jumpsuits Wednesday to be formally charged in a tiny, makeshift courtroom. The group included four soldiers assigned to guard against looters, a reserve police officer who officials say wasn't assigned to be there, four illegal aliens who are already headed for deportation. Two were charged with impersonating members of the Red Cross." (Cached)

Congregations Meet in Tornado-Torn Town, Seattlepi.com, 13 May 2007. "GREENSBURG, Kan. -- Church leaders on Sunday told more than 3,000 residents, volunteers and disaster workers gathered in this tornado-ravaged community they should not fear the future because God was with them. The non-denominational service marked the first time the congregations have worshipped in Greensburg since a May 4 tornado destroyed more than 90 percent of the south-central Kansas town and killed nine people."

FEMA director vows no repeat of Katrina in 2007, Reuters, 15 May 2007. (Cached)

Kansas man dies of tornado injuries, Yahoo News, 15 May 2007. "PRATT, Kan. - "The massive tornado that devastated the town of Greensburg nearly two weeks ago has claimed another life. Harold Schmidt, 77, a resident of Greensburg, died Monday at Pratt Regional Medical Center of injuries he suffered in the tornado, the hospital said." (Cached)

Officer injured in Kan. tornado dies, Yahoo News, 8 May 2007. "GREENSBURG, Kan. - Officer Robert Tim Buckman was rushing to warn rural residents about the approaching storm when the tornado swept up his squad car and flung it 300 yards into a field. The 46-year-old officer hung on long enough for his daughter's "promise" wedding at his hospital bedside, then died of his injuries at a hospital Tuesday morning, his son, Derick Buckman, told The Associated Press. The tornado killed nine people in Greensburg as it obliterated the farming town Friday night, and it was blamed for another death outside town. It was classified as an enhanced F5 tornado, the most powerful level, and it stretched 1.7 miles wide with wind near 205 mph." (Cached)

Greensburg Tornado - Fact Sheet, kake.com, 19 May 2007. The following people died in Greensburg:

  • Claude Hopkins, 79, of Greensburg
  • Harold Schmidt, 77, of Greensburg
  • Larry Hoskins, 51, of Greensburg
  • David Lyon, 48, of Greensburg
  • Colleen Panzer, 77, of Greensburg
  • Ron Rediger, 57, of Greensburg
  • Evelyn Kelly, 75, of Greensburg
  • Sarah Thackett, 71, of Greensburg
  • Beverly Volz, 52, of Greensburg
  • Richard J. Fry, 62, of Albuquerque, N.M.


Photographs of Greensburg, Kansas

Greensburg, Kansas Postcards & Photos - historic photos at familyoldphotos.com


Charitable Efforts to Aid the People of Greensburg, Kansas

United Way's Greensburg Tornado Response -- How you can help -- Donating money: Contribute to the Green for Greensburg Fund administered by United Way of the Plains in partnership with United Ways across Kansas.

Make checks payable to "Green for Greensburg Fund" and mail to:

Green for Greensburg Fund
United Way of the Plains
245 N. Water
Wichita, KS 67202

United Way Greensburg Disaster Fund - google search results for information on the "United Way Greensburg Disaster Fund".


American Red Cross responding to Midwest Tornadoes, Red Cross Press Release, 05 May 2007: "WASHINGTON, Saturday, May 05, 2007 - A deadly tornado struck southwestern Kansas Friday night, destroying most of the town of Greensburg. As local officials continue search and rescue efforts in Greensburg, KS, the American Red Cross is preparing safe shelter, food and relief services for those affected by the tornado. Red Cross staff, volunteers, emergency response vehicles (ERVs) and mobile feeding units are mobilizing from Red Cross Chapters across Kansas to help their neighbors in need. Red Cross workers have set up emergency shelters in the affected Kansas counties, providing food, water and other services."

2007 Meteorite Community Fundraiser for the people of Greensburg, Kansas

Kirstie Alley helping Kan. storm victims, Yahoo News, 13 May 2007. "GREENSBURG, Kan. - Kirstie Alley is paying for truckloads of supplies to help residents and their animals recover from the tornado that nearly destroyed this south-central Kansas town." (Cached)

" I couldnít believe the number of people at choir last night who came up and offered to go out to help our family members clean up in Greensburg. One lady called mother yesterday and said she wanted to send money directly to our family - not through any organized effort. So, Iíve been trying to locate cousins to see where to have a check sent; I suspect most are in Greensburg at the moment, but donít know that for sure. Today, all Pizza Huts in the state of Kansas are donating 20% of their profits to the United Way Greensburg Disaster Fund. Thereís been an email circulating - think between here and work, Iíve gotten it 7 or 8 times! The outpouring of help from everywhere is amazing!" -- Nancy Smith, from an e-mail to Jerry Ferrin, 10 May 2007.


Photographs of the 2007 Greensburg Tornado's Aftermath

Aerials of Greensburg Tornado Damage - 25 photos from Kansas.com

Photographs by Brad Riney - "Hays resident Brad Riney was in the sleeper cab of his blue tractor trailer truck waiting to deliver a John Deere combine to the implement dealer in Greensburg, Kan., when Friday's tornado struck. Here are photos he took of the aftermath of the devastating tornado."


Tornados in Comanche and Barber counties, Kansas

Comanche County borders Kiowa County on the south, and Barber County touches Kiowa County at the southeast corner.

Comanche County Tornados

The Coldwater Tornado of 1899:

A Terrible Tornado Visits Coldwater on Tuesday Night, Leaving Death, Destruction and Desolation in its Path, The Western Star, May 12, 1899.

Emil "Joe" Bowers, Obituary, The Western Star, May 12, 1899. Joe Bowers, the first Sheriff of Comanche County, was the only fatality from the 12 May 1899 tornado at Coldwater.

The Platt Ranch Tornado of 1927:

Eyewitness Account of the tornado at the Platt Ranch by Mike Platt,
published in The Hardtner Community News, Issue No. 90, Sept. 4, 2003.

BARBER COUNTY SWEPT BY TORNADO
LEAVING DEATH AND DESTRUCTION

Published in The Barber County Index, May 27, 1927.

The Tornado of May 7, 1927, As Told by Florence Mills Wells, An eyewitness account, transcribed by her grand-daughter, Peggy Wilson Newsome.

Tornado plays Havoc at the Platt Ranch, The Western Star, May 13, 1927.

Aftermath of a tornado at the Platt Ranch, 01 May 1927, photos courtesy of Teresa Chapman & Phyllis Scherich.

The Wilmore Tornado of 1949:

Tornados in the Wilmore, Kansas area
A story about the tornado which hit Wilmore on May 20th, 1949, written by Wendel Ferrin and illustrated with photos by John Edward Schrock.

"Twister Wrecks Wilmore Business District", The Wilmore News, May 27, 1949.

"Town Cleaning Up After Tornado Damage", The Wilmore News, June 3, 1949.

Aftermath of the Wilmore Tornado, May 20, 1949,   photos by J.R. & Gloria Cline

Other Tornados in Comanche County:

Destructive Wind, Hail and Rain storm, Nescatunga Enterprise, June 19, 1886. This storm may or may not have accompanied a tornado, but it did the type of damage often associated with tornados.

Comanche Homes Wrecked by Twister. Ernest Deewall Home Damaged Beyond Hope of Repair, The Wilmore News, May 6, 1938.

Tales from Tornado Alley
Dan & Bobbi Huck's farm was hit by 6 tornados in 11 years, 1975 to 1986!

Tornado seen from Protection, Kansas, 21 Mar 2005. Photo by Orlin Loucks

Barber County Tornados

WORK OF THE STORM FIEND: Three Mangled and Lifeless Bodies left as mute witnesses of the fury of the Elements. Sun City Swept by a Cyclone, Medicine Lodge Cresset, April 26, 1883.

I.W. Stout "Dr. Stout practiced medicine and later devoted himself to fruit growing; the tornado of 1907 destroyed his fruit farm, so he turned to other fields."

Twister Wrecks Buildings, The Hardner Press, April 21, 1927.

Emmitt L. Schiff - "In the spring of 1947 a tornado swept through this vicinity, demolishing the bedroom in which the three older children slept. Charlotte and Mary were blown out of their bed into the yard, but uninjured. Charlotte quickly grabbed Mary Ann's hand, and they both ran into the storm cellar nearby."


"Cannonball" Green
The man for whom Greensburg, Kansas, was named

Photo of D.R. 'Cannonball' Green, published in The Wichita Beacon, 2 Aug 1922.

Image courtesy of Shirley Brier. Greensburg, Kansas, was named in honor of Donald R. "Cannonball" Green, pictured at right, the operator of a stagecoach line and a man who was truly a legend in his own time.


CANNONBALL STAGE LINE HIGHWAY

Flamboyant and colorful, Donald R. "Cannonball" Green (1829 - 1922) ran a stage line connecting the railroad to towns across southwestern Kansas. Green started his first stage service in Kingman in 1876. It ran through Pratt to Coldwater and later to Greensburg, a town he helped found in 1886.
    Green's stage line served areas not reached by the railroad, and for a few years he also carried the mail from Wichita to Kingman. Known for their speed, Green's coaches were pulled by teams of six or eight horses which were changed every eight to ten miles. More than just a driver, Green was an advisor and teacher, sharing with passengers his knowledge of southwestern Kansas and the prairied landscape.
    As the railroads advanced, Green moved his stage service west but stage demand soon dwindled. In 1898 he took a claim in Oklahoma Territory when the Cherokee Strip opened. Although Green also served in the Kansas legislature, he was best known for his stage route between Kingman and Grensburg, the Cannonball Highway, which became U.S. Highway 54.
    Green died in Long Beach, California and is buried in Maple Grove Cemetery in Wichita.

Kansas Historical Marker: Cannonball Stage Line Highway. Marker location: Highway 54 on the eastern city limits of Greensburg, Kansas. Erected by Kansas State Historical Society and Kansas Department of Transportation.


Tornados on October 9th, 2001.

Autumn Twisters Rip Through Midwest     "On October 9, 2001, the Storm Prediction Center issued a "Moderate Risk" warning for severe storms to occur over portions of the Central and Southern Great Plains region of the United States. This warning prompted Colorado State University's Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA) to initiate super rapid scan operations of the GOES-12 satellite to collect images over the region at 1-minute intervals. Residents of Oklahoma, Nebraska and Kansas didn't know it at the time, but they would be hit by a series of tornadoes sweeping through portions of those states later that day.

The National Weather Center received 23 reported tornado sightings for the region. This animation, produced from GOES-12 data, shows a series of storm cells as they formed and moved northward." -- The Visible Earth Project


Also see:

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - photos of tornados (Many of the urls on this site have been changed and the site is full of annoysome broken links.)


Thanks to Shirley Brier, Bobbi Huck, Don and Shirley Norton, Phyllis Sherich, Nancy Smith & Patricia Snyder for contributing information or images for this web page, or for alerting me to information and images which is available online about the Greensburg Tornado of 2007.


"I have many personal memories of taking shelter in a storm cellar when it appeared a tornado was near. I vividly recall seeing my grandfather, Ernest Ferrin, poke his head up through the ladder way of his barn where several of my cousins and I were playing in the hayloft to tell us to run to the storm cellar in the house, which was just a minute or so before that barn was destroyed by a tornado.

I am typing the source code for this web page with a scar on the tip of the ring finger of my right hand from a wound sewn up when I was about 11 years old at the hospital in Greensburg which was destroyed by the 2007 tornado." -- Jerry Ferrin


Keywords: Tornado, Cyclone, Twister.

This RootsWeb website is being created by Jerry Ferrin with the able assistance of many Contributors. Your comments, suggestions and contributions of historical information and photographs to this site are welcome. Please sign the Guest Book. This page was created 18 May 2007.