1886: Ohio's Deadliest Tornadoes of the 19th Century
May 1886 was a deadly month in Ohio weather. Floods killed 28 people at Xenia on May 12th and two days later, on May 14, 1886, Ohio’s deadliest tornado outbreak of the 19th century occurred. Early reports were of a single 110 mile tornado path, but later research showed it to be three separate tornadoes. The destruction was impressive and prompted the Cleveland Plain Dealer to proclaim “Nothing like it has ever been known in the history of Ohio.”
The first tornado entered Ohio about 10 P.M. north of Fort Recovery and ended near Celina in Mercer County. Six people were killed as farm houses were leveled along the path. Three churches and a school were blown down. The next tornado touched down at 11:20 P.M. at Dunkirk in Hardin County and traveled 20 miles into Wyandot County south of Cary. This tornado leveled a brick school, dozens of farm houses, and many barns. Eleven people were killed near Dunkirk and Cary. The third tornado touched down at midnight west of Attica in Seneca County. There were no deaths, but a gravestone was lifted and flung against a barn one-quarter mile away. Fence rails were driven six feet into the ground and entire orchards were uprooted in Seneca County.
- Schmidlin, Thomas W. and Schmidlin, Jeanne A. Thunder in the Heartland: A Chronicle of Outstanding Weather Events in Ohio. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1996.