“Scattered to the Four Winds:” the Halstead Cyclone May 2, 1910

by Kristine Schmucker, Archivist/Curator

Harvey County recently experienced a brush with severe storms. On Sunday night, May 21, 2024, straight line winds and tornadoes made their way through Burrton, Halstead and the southern part of Newton causing a great deal of damage. Luckily, no one was hurt.

Harvey County has experienced devastating and fatal tornadoes before including, 1 March 1888, 1 May 1895, 2 May 1910 and 25 May 1917, 24 May 1962, 13 March 1990.

The tornado in May 1910 especially caused havoc in Halstead.

Scattered to the Four Winds

On May 2, 1910 one of the “most destructive storm in the history of Harvey County passed through the county at about 1 o’clock Monday morning.” Although it did not quite match the intensity of the “great cyclone which swept over Harvey County May 1, 1895,” the May 2, 1910, tornado came close, and Halstead took a direct hit.

Halstead Independent, 5 May 1910

The storm roared through in the early morning hours of May 2 when most Harvey County residents were asleep. The fact that there was only one fatality was a miracle.

The editor of the Halstead Independent reported the following damage. The path of the storm went from the south to west and “the storm twisted trees and pulled many from their roots and made a specialty of picking out barns and windmills and leaving residences alone.”  Telephone and electric poles were down, and while the storm “did not assume all the characteristics of a cyclone, it was near enough to satisfy everybody who heard the terrific noise which accompanied it.”

Path Through Town

G.A. Schriver’s new barn in the west part of Halstead was completely destroyed and “on the north end of this tract the machine sheds of Fred Massler were scattered to the four winds, while his threshing engine and separator were left standing without damage.” Next, the storm damaged several homes in Halstead. In the business district W. C. Hinkle & Co’s “two story wood frame warehouse filled with implements was blown to the ground.”

Hinckle & Co, Halstead, Ks after the May 2, 1910 Storm

The Halstead Milling & Elevator Co sustained “the heaviest financial loss of anything in the path of the storm. The brick smokestack was blown down, the storage warehouse  . . . was scattered over many acres and a portion of the roof had been carried over the river.” The Warkentin property east of the mill sustain damage with trees “being twisted off about twenty feet from the ground.  The north annex to the big barn . . . was moved from the foundation but not badly damaged.”

Halstead Main Street, after May 2, 1910 storm

Other damage was noted. John Stilikle was “heavy loser because John reigns as King over there and had more buildings to damage.” Stilikle estimated his loss will be around $275.89. David Lehman’s orchard suffered from the wind and hail. Virtually all the windows in the Lehman’s home were broken from the hail. An early morning train was delayed to clear tracks and the Santa Fe signal tower at the depot was blown down.

One Fatality -Michael Hoffman

There was one fatality, Michael Hoffman, who lived on a farm about seven miles southwest of Sedgwick.

“The house at his place was blown to the four or a dozen or more of  winds . . . and the lifeless body of Mr. Hoffman was found after the storm was over. He was badly mutilated; any one of the three or four wounds having been sufficient to have caused his death almost instantly.”

His wife was severely injured, while his son sustained no injuries.

Property Loss

When the storm was done, “no less than thirty barns have been partially or wholly destroyed, while the Hoffman house was the only one blown away.”

The editor noted;

“the property loss in the path of the storm is difficult to estimate, but it cannot be less than one hundred thousand dollars. The damage at the mill will amount to from five to eight thousand dollars, the Hinckle & Co. loss is quite heavy, the Mitchell building will have to be rebuilt in the front and the hundreds of smaller losses will amount to a considerable figure.”

Halstead, Ks, after the May 2, 1910, storm.

Cyclone or Tornado

West Park also experienced much damage. The writer described the park;

“it presents the appearance of having passed through a genuine cyclone, although those who claim to be posted say it was nothing but a tornado. We have talked with some of the sufferers from the 1895 cyclone and they are almost unanimous in the declaration that the late storm was attended by the same kind of noise and other trimmings.”

Longed For Rain

The Evening Kansan Republican noted that the May 1910 storm was one of the “worst storms in several years,” but it did come with the much needed and “longed for rain. . . and Harvey County farmers are not disposed to find fault with the methods . . . the deluge this morning has served to place the soil in condition to produce excellent crops.”


Evening Kansan Republican, 2 May 1910.

Wishing for Cyclone Cellars

In Newton, “houses trembled and quaked . . . and nervous sleepers, awakened by the fury of the storm, lay in bed and wondered if only the roof would come off, or whether the whole house would be carried away.”  Daylight revealed the streets were littered with tree branches and beautiful shade trees were ruined. The glass windows on some of the downtown businesses was blown out. Many electric and power lines were down, as well as telephone lines. Newton did not experience as much damage as the town of Halstead.


  • Burrton Free Lance: 5 May 1910. 
  • Evening Kansan Republican: 2 May 1910.
  • Halstead Independent:  May 5, 1910.
  • Newton Kansan: 5 May 1910.