Ten photos provided by the Greene County Historical Society were aligned together to show the progression of the tornado from southwest of town into the Windsor Park subdivision.

There were 12 children and an unborn baby killed by the Xenia tornado. Sabina Ehret, age 12 was one of them. According to the Dayton Daily News on May 19, 1974, “not long after Sabine died, her mother, Vi DeJarnette, found one of her little girl’s verses. Sabina had written it more than a year before. In retrospect, it seemed prophetic.”

In the Meadow

As I was in the meadow

I saw the clouds dance

And heard the wind hum

And the trees sing.

But suddenly the clouds grew wild

And the wind got mad

And the trees got sad.

The clouds went away

And the wind went to sleep

And the trees sang their happy melody

As I was in the meadow.


On a day that has lived in infamy, the city of Xenia, OH, fell victim to the deadliest of 148 twisters during the April 3-4, 1974 Tornado Super Outbreak. Its track began southwest of the community before the vortex shredded through neighborhoods and the downtown district. From there, the storm continued its reign of terror into the towns of Wilberforce and Cedarville before lifting in rural Clark County. Over the following days, the loss of life rose to 36 people, the majority of which were in Xenia.

There is no question that this was the most well known tornado of its time. In the Midwest, Xenia became a household name for destruction and chaos. Over the following decades, a plethora of media and narratives on this event have been distributed in every format imaginable; on the surface, that is what many people will find with a “Xenia” search. But it’s the fine details of history that disappear over time. What happened to the lost loved ones, and who were they? Who were the heroes in the heat of the battle? And while Xenia is deservedly the focal point of this tragedy, they were not alone. From the twister’s origin to its dissipation, this work aims to share the survivors’ stories, preserve their memories, and document all of the damage and surrounding history.

This page is an overview of the Xenia, OH F5 tornado. During our travels, we collected a massive amount of information on this event. Eight upcoming premium chapters will offer greater detail, additional stories and media, and further findings. We will also map and create a database of this information for as many locations as possible in Xenia. The sections are as follows:

Chapter 1: Greene County to the City of Xenia

Chapter 2: Windsor Park and Arrowhead Neighborhoods

Chapter 3: Downtown Xenia

Chapter 4: Northeast Xenia

Chapter 5: Between Xenia and Wilberforce

Chapter 6: Wilberforce and Central State University

Chapter 7: Northeast of Wilberforce through Cedarville

Chapter 8: Northeast of Cedarville through Clark County

We are overwhelmingly grateful for all of the contributors who have provided stories, images, videos, and more to help tell the powerful stories in this overview and the detailed chapters that will be released in the future. Many of these wonderful people have opened their hearts to share painful memories but have done so in the spirit of wanting more people to know about their community. Several have been available for follow-up questions and emails and have been more than willing to accommodate. This is your story, and we are honored to share it.

Catherine Wilson – Greene County Historical Society

Robin Hise and Mary McKinley – Greene County Archives

Kristen Cassady and Andy Hatzos – NWS Wilmington, OH

Lynn Brock – Cedarville University

Ohio History Center

The National Archives at College Park, Maryland


A map of the tornado path. This will be updated with a polygon of the full damage swath when analysis is completed.

Greene County to the City of Xenia

Aerial imagery indicates that the tornado began about 1.9 miles SSW of Bellbrook at 4:32 pm EDT. The path stayed in rural farmland, causing only minor damage until striking a half dozen properties along Lower Bellbrook Road. The April 4, 1974, Dayton Daily News reported the homes of David Stahlings, William Winston, and Robert Lafreniere were hit. The extent of the damage in this area is unknown. Less than a half-mile to the northeast, the Howard Puterbaugh and Horace Wright residences off Spahr Road were struck.

Horace was the nephew of aviation pioneers Orville and Wilbur Wright. In a follow-up article on April 11, 1974, The Dayton Daily News stated that he and his wife Susan were at home when they heard the howling winds. The Wrights moved into the front hallway. Per the paper, the wall separating the living room from the rec room collapsed, and their garage was wrecked. Even though they had extensive damage, the couple was relieved to see that all their Wright Brothers memorabilia had survived. At least ten people were reported injured with cuts and bruises in this part of Greene County.

Four radar shots provided by the NWS Wilmington, OH were aligned together to create this animation of the storm from 4:30 to 4:45 pm EDT. The tornado is located at the balled end of the hook-shaped feature visible in each frame. The radar that captured these was located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Information is scarce over the next few miles, though the coarse aerial imagery available indicates that the multiple-vortex tornado grew ever larger and more powerful. Beyond Spahr Road, two dwellings on Washington Mill Road were hit. A mile and a half northeast, five farmsteads were left in tatters on McPherson and Van Eaton Roads. Some of these were completely destroyed, and a steel transmission tower was left in a mangled heap. The twister traveled another mile before arriving in the more populated neighborhoods of southwest Xenia.

An aerial view of damage along McPherson Road, including a transmission tower that was crushed. Photo provided by the Greene County Historical Society.

Windsor Park and Arrowhead Neighborhoods

A before and after view of the Windsor Park and Arrowhead subdivisions, incorporating survey data by Dr. Ted Fujita. The information is from Fujita’s 1976 paper, “Graphic Examples of Tornadoes.” The before and after photos from the Ohio Department of Transportation were taken on April 13, 1973, and April 4, 1974.

A photo of the tornado as it tore into Windsor Park. Photo provided by the Greene County Historical Society.

The destruction at the Windsor Park and Arrowhead subdivisions is monumental in several ways. One, the most concentrated human toll from this tornado was in these neighborhoods. Two, the damage here was the worst of the entire path. Rows of homes were reduced to bare concrete slabs, with debris grounded to small pieces and smeared into the earth. Vehicles were hurled through the air in every direction.

An aerial view looking northeastward across the immense destruction in the Windsor Park and Arrowhead subdivisions. Photo taken by Bill Garlow of the Journal-Herald and provided by the Greene County Historical Society.

Despite many taking the best sheltering actions available, the mortality rates were high near the center of the vortex. In Windsor Park, ten people (including an unborn baby) died at seven separate houses within just 250 yards of one another. All of those who died had taken shelter by the time it hit, often barricading themselves with mattresses and furniture in interior rooms and hallways. All seven homes were completely obliterated, and were either within or mere feet from Fujita’s F5 damage swaths. Two more people were also killed in Arrowhead on the other side of U.S. 35. Across Windsor Park and Arrowhead combined, roughly 300 houses had some level of damage, and hundreds were injured.

A remarkable aerial photo showing the smear of destruction through the Windsor Park subdivision. Photo provided by the Greene County Historical Society.

The third aspect that makes this area so important is the effect it has had on tornado science. While events, such as the 1970 Lubbock, TX F5 were more instrumental in the creation of the Fujita Scale, it was through the bare slabs of Windsor Park and Arrowhead more than any other that Fujita refined the meaning of F5 damage into the standard that we now know. Shortly after the tornado, he suggested that it was an “F6.” Over the years this claim has been the source of much misunderstanding. Fujita soon removed F6 ratings as a possibility, and determined that the highest category used in the scale was an F5.

In addition, the aftermath in this subdivision was critical in proving the violence and effects of subvortices. Bruce Boyd’s 8mm film of the tornado during its progression across Arrowhead was used to conclusively determine that subvortices were responsible for the most intense damage in some tornadoes. Two studies independently used photogrammetry to analyze the wind speeds shown in the reel. The academic story behind this is complex and at the time, controversial.

The remarkable footage captured by Bruce Boyd. Note that the original film is silent, and the audio is actually a different recording of the tornado that was made in Xenia.

In brief, Fujita derived from this video maximum winds of roughly 265 mph from the subvortices at 30 meters above the ground. A paper by Golden and Purcell calculated maximum net velocities of 220 mph at 200 meters above the ground. All of them generally agreed that winds could have been even higher below 30 meters, but that was the lowest visible portion within the film.

All of the details summarized here will be properly discussed at length in our coming premium chapters.

A woman cradling her child the day after the tornado in Arrowhead. Photo from the publication, “Tornado at Xenia: April 3, 1974,” and sourced through the Greene County Public Library.

In the Windsor Park neighborhood, the Millers were home winding down for the day. While his wife, Marilyn, was cooking dinner, Virgil stepped outside and nodded a friendly gesture to his neighbor across Gayhart Street. The response was not mutual as the neighbor was puzzled by a dark swirling cloud. “It looks like a tornado,” Virgil said in the May 19, 1974, Dayton Daily News.

Virgil quickly ran over to the Honeycutt family next door to warn them of the approaching funnel before rejoining Marilyn and their son, Robbie, in a bedroom closet. “Then all hell broke loose,” he continued. When the tornado moved on, Virgil was left in the street with a large piece of wood impaled into his leg. Even so, he attempted to find his wife and son.

An aerial view of where the tornado entered Windsor Park. The location of the Miller house is just out of view from the bottom left. Photo taken by Bill Garlow of the Journal-Herald and provided by the Greene County Historical Society.

Marilyn was found dead on the foundation of their home. She was 32 years old. Robbie, still alive, was rushed to the hospital with his father. While Virgil was treated for his injuries, he anxiously waited for news on Robbie. Doctors initially mixed his son up with the Honeycutt children, whose family Virgil had warned ahead of the twister. The medical staff told him that his “boy will be all right. He just has a broken arm and head lacerations.”

“Later when they got it straight and told me my boy died, I almost couldn’t take it,” Virgil said. Robbie was six years old. The Honeycutts, who sheltered similarly to the Millers, all survived.

Just across the intersection of Gayhart Street and Roxbury Drive was the Crabtree residence. Diana Crabtree was on her couch while her infant son, Eric, sat in his crib, and toddler, Billy, played with his toys. One of their neighbors, Phyllis Rice, called Mrs. Crabtree to pass along the tornado warning issued for their area. Diana could hear Phyllis’ television in the background saying the same thing. According to the May 19, 1974, Dayton Daily News, Phyllis told her friend, “I better hang up now, we’re going to take cover.”

Diana swiftly took her sons to their hallway to shelter. Then, the tornado roared through their home. “I thought I still had a hold of him, but so much stuff was hitting me, you kinda get numb after awhile,” Diana said. Eric had been plucked from her arms. She found Billy atop their home’s debris, and they were sent to Miami Valley Hospital. She had no idea where Eric was.

Two nights after the tornado, while Diana and Billy were recovering from their injuries, she was told one-month-old Eric had been found dead. “I couldn’t believe it,” the grieving mother told the paper.

Once Billy was released from the hospital a month later, Diana and her husband Curt, drove past what used to be their home on Roxbury Drive. “It just seemed like it wasn’t for real, like some big fantasy,” she said. Over the following days, Diana reassured two-year-old Billy that the “choo-choo” was gone. For her, the haunting image of Eric “all wrapped up in his receiving blanket, not with me, on the ground, moving across the yard” was likely one of many reasons why she never wanted to live on Roxbury Drive again.

Across the street from the Crabtrees, the Blakely family was at their home that afternoon as well. Bob Blakely had just called his pregnant wife, Roberta, and three kids to tell them he would be home soon. One of his sons, Brian, was watching the Flintstones on the television when there was another phone call.

“Mother told me there was [a] storm warning out,” Bob’s wife Roberta told the May 19, 1974, Dayton Daily News. “I told her Brian was watching TV and as soon as his program was over we would switch it to Channel 7 and get the news,” she continued. Roberta did not remember what the news broadcast said about the approaching storm but recalled looking outside and noticing the skies turn eerie. “I looked out the front door and kind of saw it on an angle. I told Brian it didn’t look like a tornado, but then again it did, because I could see dirt or something swirling around in it,” she explained.

As Roberta realized the family was in danger, she directed Brian to overturn the couch. They huddled together with her two younger children, Jon and Tammy. “There was a blast on the storm door and the baby started crying. The last thing I remember was the wind shoving us toward the kitchen,” Roberta recalled.

Meanwhile, Bob was across town watching the twister tear through his neighborhood. To him, it “looked like a big smoke. It took it only a second. All I could think of was to get home,” he told the paper.

When Roberta regained focus, she remembered hearing rescuers on the scene. “There’s a badly injured woman, get her to a hospital!” one gentleman said. She, Jon, and Tammy were taken to Miami Valley Hospital for their injuries. Roberta and her unborn baby survived. Jon had a fractured skull, and Tammy only had minor wounds. However, Brian Blakely was found lifeless 100 yards away from their destroyed home. He was seven years old.

Complete and utter destruction in Windsor Park, with dozens of homes reduced to their concrete slabs. The Blakely family lived one house up from the bottom right. Photo provided by the Greene County Historical Society.

Waltraud DeJarnette (known to friends as Vi), was at her University of Dayton office in the Institutional Studies Department that afternoon. She had been listening to the radio when the broadcaster announced a tornado warning. Promptly, Vi called her home, where three of her four children were alone after school.

Christina, 13, was on the other end of the phone receiving her mother’s warning. According to the May 19, 1974, Dayton Daily News, when the call ended, she looked outside only to see “lawn chairs going over rooftops.” Sixteen-year-old Mike, who saw the horror approaching their home on Roxbury Drive, guided Christina and their 12-year-old sister, Sabina, to the hallway. Mike did his best to keep his sisters calm as the tornado neared. “Don’t be afraid, it’s only a little wind,” Christina remembered him saying. When the twister arrived, Christina said she “saw the wall ahead of us and mother’s bedroom door collapse in. The last thing I remember was that the dog jumped over my head.”

Vi frantically tried to get from Dayton to her children in Xenia. A drive that typically took 10 minutes turned into 45. Her journey ended with the sight of the family dog guarding a slab of what used to be their home. None of her children could be found. As the search continued, she was reminded of scenes from her German homeland during World War II. “It was like in my childhood after a severe bomb raid on our neighborhood. The same smell, the same look on people’s faces.”

The four days after the twister scrambled Vi’s emotions. On April 4, Christina woke up in the Miami Valley Hospital to her mother, “giving some doctor a real hassle.” Around the same time, Sabina had been found unconscious.

Early on April 5, Mike, the brother who had put his sisters at ease during the tornado, was identified at the Montgomery County morgue. He was 16 years old. The paper said, “he had been killed almost instantly.” Late that same evening, Vi learned that her 11-year-old son, Alexander, was alive at Sharon and Larry Augsburger’s home. Sadly, on the afternoon of April 7, Sabina passed away in the hospital, having never regained consciousness.

During the torturous days of seeking her family’s fate, Vi told the paper that she found comfort in the strangers around her. There was “more goodness and kindness than I had seen in America or Europe. Big words don’t help. I just want to thank them, whoever they were.”

Sharon and Larry Augsburger lived a block northeast of Roxbury Drive on Commonwealth Drive with their daughter Tina. Sharon would become a hero that day, saving nine children she sheltered in her home.

Initially, the house had four people there: Sharon, Tina, and two neighbor children, Alexander Ehret and David Minnix. According to the Greene County Library, after hearing the tornado warning on the television, Sharon “created a makeshift shelter out of couches, cushions, and chairs.” She then rushed over to the Scott Whorton family home across the street and brought their six children to her house to shelter.

The violent winds slammed the residence, and the house was demolished. All ten survived. Sharon ensured all the kids were reunited with their parents, and only one had to go to the hospital. Damon Whorton had to get stitches for a gash on his scalp. Little did they know that only one street over, Alexander’s brother, Michael, had been killed, and his sister, Sabina, was mortally wounded.

A broad aerial view of the track through the subdivisions, looking downwind to the east-northeast. Photo from the NOAA Photo Library.

An article in The Journal-Herald on May 3, 1974, reported on Sharon, her act of heroism that day, and how she received a certificate of commendation from President Richard Nixon. Mary Mercer, a cousin of Alexander Ehret, sent a letter to The White House, asking Sharon to be recognized. The certificate included the following letter from President Nixon: “Your bravery and willingness to help others in an emergency situation with clear risk to your own life is an inspiring example to all citizens.”

Next door to the Augsburgers, Ginny Walls was home with her three children: Bobby, 13; Donna, 12; Tracy, 9. That afternoon, David Thornton, 4, the grandson of Ginny’s sister-in-law, joined them. Bob, Ginny’s husband, was returning from taking a relative to Tennessee. Ginny hoped he would be back in time for Bobby’s football team banquet later that afternoon.

But before Bob could make it home, a relative, Deborah Thornton, called around 4:30 pm EDT from Dayton. She attempted to warn Ginny of a tornado heading towards their area in Xenia, but the phone line was busy. Thornton tried again with the Walls’ neighbors, the Oilers, and succeeded.

Betty Oiler, her sister, Earleen, and Lisa Oiler, 14, survived when the twister tore through their neighborhood by hiding under a bed mattress in the hallway. Just down the street, the Walls family were fighting their own battle. Betty Oiler told the May 19, 1974, Dayton Daily News that Ginny had “put her three kids and David down into the bathtub and lay over them. David said he wanted to go get a gun and ‘shoot that tornado.’” Betty continued. “Then she said she was going to try to find a radio and just as she started to get up, something hit her and killed her right then.”

Once the vortex had passed, the dazed Oilers took to the street, where they found the three Walls children in front of their destroyed home. David Thornton was found in the bathtub with a broken jaw and a cut on his scalp. But he survived. Ginny’s lifeless body was found in the hallway. She was 32 years old.

Two doors down from the Walls family, Joyce Behnken was home with her husband, Perry. Joyce’s parents, Donald and Florence Marlin, had been at their house on Hill Street, listening to their police monitor radio that afternoon. News of damage from a tornado moving through Xenia started filling the airwaves. Joyce woke Perry, who was asleep ahead of his Kroger night shift. She was concerned about the approaching storm.

Florence quickly called their daughter to urge Joyce and Perry to shelter. “But Joy said it was too late; it was on them. I told her to get to safety. She said she would call me back,” Florence Marlin told the Dayton Daily News on May 19, 1974. The last words Florence heard from her were, “My God, Mommy, it’s right here!”

Joyce and Perry had stuffed themselves under a mattress and pillows in their hallway. When the twister struck, Perry was thrown into their backyard, suffering a cut on his forehead and glass was lodged into his shoulder. Joyce was found dead on the slab of their home. She was 22 years old.

The couple had also been expecting a child in the following month. “Lots of people have said they were sorry to hear about my daughter, but they hope my grandchild is OK. But the baby was never born. She took it with her,” Florence said.

A ground-level view of the rubble in Arrowhead. Photo provided by the Greene County Historical Society.

Next to the Behnken home lived the Dixits. Om Dixit was a professor at Central State University in Wilberforce and had come to the U.S. five years prior from India. His wife and three children stayed behind until he finally saved enough money to buy a new house. Om was reunited with his family six months before the tornado.

That afternoon, the professor had just gotten to his Commonwealth Drive home when he turned on his television and saw the tornado warning for Xenia. “From teaching earth sciences I knew something of the effects of tornadoes, and we saw the warning on TV. But what is one to do?” Om said to the Dayton Daily News on May 19, 1974.

When it became clear the Dixit family was in the twister’s path, they attempted to seek shelter. Om was lofted into the air as the tornado demolished their residence. “I was found about two blocks from my home, but I don’t know how I crossed the fence,” Om explained to the paper. His son, Sudhapar, had also been carried that far. Om saw him, scooped him up, and took him toward the remains of his house. His wife, Shanti, and their daughter, Garima, were also found seriously hurt. They spent the better part of three weeks in the Good Samaritan Hospital in Dayton. Prabhakar, the remaining son, had been killed in the storm when debris struck his head. He was 14 years old.

The mourning father reflected on his son’s passing. “I am very, very sorry for my dear Prabhakar. There was so little time, really.”

Greene County librarian Louis Hutchinson collected tornado stories from those who worked or lived in Xenia at the time of the tornado. Many of these are archived in the Greene County Room Digital Collections. The following tale is gathered from that collection and an article in the January 20, 1975 Xenia Gazette.

Across the street from the Dixit family, Sheila Fife lived with her husband Randy and their two sons, Jeff, 6, and Joe, 2. That day, she was at the residence with her kids and three others, all from the Craine family: Stacy, 2, Bunny, 3, and Trina, 6.

The young mom learned from Gil Whitney, a meteorologist at WHIO, that a tornado was racing through Bellbrook. She received a call from her mother-in-law, who wanted her to come to her house since they had a basement. “While she was talking, a funny looking cloud which I stared at, formed a funnel. I took the children to the living room, they laid down without a word.”

Sheila then received another phone call, this time from her sister. As soon as she answered, she exclaimed that the tornado was in her backyard. “I left the phone off the hook and took the kids to my son’s bedroom. Then sounds that resembled hail hit the back of the house, then glass and other unexplainable noises passed over us.” Sheila described how she tried to cover all five children the best she could. When, all of a sudden, she was hit on the back of the head. She said in her personal story that the jolt stunned her, but she remained conscious, focusing on protecting the sweet babies in her care.

A drive down a street in Arrowhead after the tornado. The clip was sourced from and obtained at The National Archives at College Park, Maryland. Original film was shot by the U.S. Air Force.

After the tornado left Windsor Park to make its way through Arrowhead and then downtown Xenia, Sheila looked up to find her house was gone, and one of the children was unaccounted for. She told the Xenia Gazette, “The whole slab was swept clean, but all of us were right there where that room had been. I could see all the kids except Stacy. Then, I saw his hand sticking out from some rubble. All I could think was that he had to be dead.”

Sheila reached in and grabbed Stacy from the rubble. He was still alive. “All the kids were cut and scratched and covered with blood, but the injuries were not as serious as the blood indicated.” Only one of the children needed stitches; that was Sheila’s son, Joe.

Dazed and confused, the six emerged from the wrecked home and tried to find help. Sheila stated in her personal story that she could hardly walk as her “head was on fire.” She continued with the five young ones in town and finally connected with a woman who drove them all to the hospital.

When the crew arrived, Sheila was unable to walk at all. She had to be lifted out of the car and placed in a wheelchair. The newspaper stated that when Sheila’s doctor arrived, she refused to have him treat her until she knew all the children were okay. He told her that they were.

The injuries to this young mom were severe. From her personal story, “Everyone thought my neck just hurt. I saw a nurse I knew and told her to separate my hair. Then she saw my head; I was cut from ear to ear. They took me from Xenia to the Base hospital [Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Medical Center]. They shaved my head and sewed me up.”

Sheila was released and joined the rest of her family at her in-laws’ home. Over a week later, she found out at a follow-up appointment that she had received much more than a cut on the head; her neck was broken. Per the Xenia Gazette, “She then went through an ordeal in which she had holes drilled in her skull, a bone fused from her hip into her neck to firm up damaged bone and was confined to a special bed where she had to remain motionless.” As of the writing of the article, ten months after the tornado, Sheila was slowly healing. The prominent scar on her head matched the emotional ones in her heart. She lost her home and eight of her neighbors. To the five young children under her care, she is a hero. With barely a thought of her injuries, she powered through with one focus, making sure those precious lives were protected and safe.

The tornado crossed U.S. 35 and wreaked havoc on more homes in the Arrowhead Subdivision. Two schools and several businesses would also fall victim to the vicious winds.

Catherine Kidd Wilson is the Executive Director of the Greene County Historical Society. In April 1974, she was a carefree 9-year-old living with her family on Pueblo Drive. That fateful day, she was at home with her sister and mother, and they sheltered in the bathtub as the twister hit their house. We are grateful to Catherine for sharing her story with us. She has also been gracious in providing photos and other materials to help with the writing of this overview and future detailed chapters. Hear in Catherine’s own words her memories of April 3, 1974.

A photo of the Kidd house from Catherine Wilson, sourced through the Greene County Public Library.

Arrowood Elementary School on Pawnee Drive needed extensive repairs to its roof, some classrooms, and windows. Students returned to class in the fall of 1974, even though restoration was ongoing. Per the Greene County Library, all restoration work was completed by June 1975.

Arrowood Elementary School after the tornado. Incredibly, they repaired the original building and it still remains as of 2024. Photo provided by the Greene County Historical Society.

Warner Junior High School on Buckskin Trail was scheduled to have its sports banquet on the night of April 3. If the tornado had roared in during that time, the injury and death toll could have been so much worse as hundreds of students and their parents would have been in attendance. The gymnasium where the ceremony was to be held was ripped apart. Damage to the school’s roof, classrooms, and windows also occurred.

Students finished the school year at Fairborn Park Hills High School but were able to return to their own building in the fall of 1974. Per The Greene County Library, “From 1974 to 1977, all Xenia junior high and high school students attended Warner Junior High’s building and modular classrooms on a split schedule. During that time, it was called Xenia Junior High School. The school finished rebuilding its gymnasium by December 1974 and completed other restoration work by June 1975.”

A sign in front of the wrecked gymnasium at Warner Junior High. Photo taken by Al Wilson of the Journal-Herald and provided by the Greene County Historical Society.

Gloria Chambers had just picked up her son Bill from school that afternoon and took him to their home off Wigwam Trail. Gloria, previously a widow for four years, married Paul Chambers. They had only been living at their house for five months.

Gloria received a phone call from Paul, who was at his job at Greene Memorial Hospital. He wanted to make sure she and Bill knew of the tornado warning they were under. According to Paul’s account in the May 19, 1974, Dayton Daily News, Gloria said, “I see a terrible storm out the back window, coming right toward us,” quickly followed by, “I have to hang up.”

Because of all the injuries that flooded the hospital, Paul could not leave until late Thursday. He did not know during this time how Gloria and Bill had fared in the storm. Once he could finally search for his family, he learned Bill, 7, had not survived. His wife Gloria had been sent to the Miami Valley Hospital, where she passed during surgery. She was 26 years old.

An aerial view of destruction in Arrowhead. In the background is Warner Junior High. Photo taken by Bill Shepherd of the Journal-Herald and provided by the Greene County Historical Society.

When Paul eventually got to his house, he found that it had only sustained minor damage. Meanwhile, their neighbors’ homes suffered more severely. “I am assuming that my stepson was playing outside and Gloria went to get him and didn’t make it back,” Paul said to the paper.

A few houses down from the Chambers lived the Bryson family. William J. Bryson shared his story with the Greene County Library. He was 19 and living with his parents off Wigwam Trail during the tornado. William had been traveling down U.S. 35 on his way home from his job at Polymer Dispersions. He said in his personal story that he saw dark clouds that kept jumping up and down. The radio station reported a tornado warning, so William raced home to be with his family. “I checked the house but no one was there so I just watched it [the tornado]. Then finally I seen it take Arrowood School so I ran to the hall and lied flat on the floor. Then I heard glass breaking and the next thing was bricks hit me in the back.” William was treated at Wright Patterson Air Force Base Hospital. He said he lost part of his left ear and had numerous stitches.

Businesses along Bellbrook Avenue had a varying degree of damage. The Marmac Company was an industrial facility that built hydraulic cylinders and lifts. The twister side-swiped the company, causing roof and wall damage. Machine tools, inventory, engineering drafts, and office equipment had to be replaced. Precision Colors, Inc. employees sheltered in restrooms and offices while the roof was torn off and supplies were scattered. No one was injured. The nearby Super Valu Stores, Inc., a grocery distribution warehouse, suffered roof and building loss. Nearly half the estimated $2 million in damages was due to rain-soaked food products.

Downtown Xenia

From Arrowhead, the monstrous tornado raced across a field and over West Main Street into downtown Xenia, reaching a width of 1,450 yards (0.82 miles). The number of people and places simultaneously hit was staggering, and the following descriptions are just a small portion of the destruction. Businesses and public facilities large and small were mauled by a combination of wind and the incredible amount of debris being slung about by the twister. With an average forward speed of 50 mph, it took under a minute for the maelstrom to gut most of the business district and end another 18 lives.

An ominous view of the tornado shredding into the business district. The original photographer is unknown. Photo provided by the Greene County Historical Society.

Portions of central Xenia as seen days later from the air. The clip was sourced from and obtained at the National Archives at College Park, Maryland. Original film was shot by the Air Force.

Xenia Baptist Temple opened its doors on Bellbrook Avenue in 1965. According to the Greene County Library, the church was heavily damaged, but the trusses remained intact. The congregation temporarily met at New Jasper Methodist Church until it was safe to hold services in the Xenia Baptist Temple basement. The church was rebuilt on the same site by the end of 1974.

Another school found itself in the twister’s crosshairs. Simon Kenton Elementary School off West Second Street suffered the destruction of its roof and tremendous interior damage. It was torn down, and temporary modular classrooms were placed near the original site in October of 1974. A new school was built in 1976 and closed in 2013.

An aerial view of the destroyed Simon Kenton Elementary School. Photo provided by the Greene County Historical Society.

Across the street was the First Church of the Nazarene. Reverend Howard Rickey was the pastor in April 1974. He told the Springfield News-Sun in their April 14, 1974 edition, “There are many tragedies as a result of this tornado. There will be more. But, there will be more miracles than tragedies.” He cites one of those miracles in the newspaper. “We had 145 of our Kiddie Kollege day-care children in the building. After sighting the tornado we got them all into the basement – students, teachers and employees. Had they been upstairs it would have been the greatest tragedy of the storm.”

The top portion of the church building was removed, and the roof was ripped off the Sunday School wing. Members attended services at Bellbrook High School until the new church opened on the same site in 1975.

For 25 years, Clyde Hyatt had worked as a telegrapher for Penn Central Railroad. On the afternoon of April 3, he was business as usual during his eight-hour shift, sending trains onto the correct tracks from his tower. That all changed when a policeman drove by around 4:30 pm EDT, warning people to get somewhere safe from the approaching tornado.

“My aunt, who lives just across from the tower, said Clyde just flew down the steps, jumped into his car and headed home,” Clyde’s wife, Marie Hyatt, said in the May 19, 1974, Dayton Daily News. However, according to the paper, while in route to his house, he “collapsed and died” in front of Lawson’s Milk Company Store. Clyde Hyatt was 48 years old.

It is unclear whether or not the tornado physically killed Clyde. Having had a history of heart attacks, the adrenaline rush at that moment could have overtaken him. At the same time, according to the Xenia Gazette, on April 5, 1974, Lawson’s was “wiped out” where Clyde had lost his life. Dr. Justin Krause, the Greene County coroner, designated a final say in Clyde’s death as “undetermined” in the May 31, 1974 edition of the Dayton Daily News. Regardless, the tornado was responsible for ending his life.

In her grief, Marie Hyatt reflected on her husband’s poetry, many of which were written for her and their children. “He always loved to write,” she said in the May 19 paper. While sifting through Clyde’s belongings, Marie found an essay she said helped her push forward in life without the man she was married to for 27 years:

“Many times it is beyond our reasonable power to change things. What are we to do? Things must continue one way or another; life goes on. It can be done, by you as well as anyone else…”

– Clyde Hershel Hyatt

The Tremac Corporation operated off Bellbrook Avenue and employed about 50 people. They produced coil springs for large appliances. The entire structure crumpled into a mass of twisted metal. Twenty people were in the building when the tornado hit. Per the Gazette News-Current, they sheltered in a “below-floor-level restroom.” A few injuries were reported. The company rebuilt within the year and remained until 2019.

Off Second Street, Xenia Fire Department Station No. 2 suffered about $80,000 in damages and had to move to a temporary trailer before returning to its renovated building in August 1974. Downed trees prevented the fire station from initially responding to calls just after the disaster.

At the corner of West Second Street and South Allison Avenue sat Community Lanes Bowling Alley. Across the street was Kroehler Furniture plant, the city’s biggest employer, with 250 people working there. The massive tornado obliterated both businesses. Six tractors and 12 trailers from Kroehler’s were destroyed. Three trailers landed on top of Community Lanes, and another landed inside the bowling alley.

Trailers from the Kroehler Furniture plant hurled onto Community Lanes Bowling Alley. Photo taken by the First Battalion of the 166th Ohio National Guard Infantry Unit, and provided by the Ohio History Center.
An aerial view of Kroehler Furniture. Photo taken by the First Battalion of the 166th Ohio National Guard Infantry Unit, and provided by the Ohio History Center.

Most of the employees at the furniture plant had gone home for the day, but still, a few had to find safety from the destructive winds. And so did Joyce Pemberton who shared her tornado tale with The Greene County Library. She had just finished work as a school bus driver and was heading into town for an appointment at the Social Security office. Joyce saw the twister and was trying to get home but couldn’t. She stopped at Kroehler’s, ran in, and sheltered in the bathroom.

Per an article in the Xenia Gazette on April 8, 1974, others, including several supervisors, were still in the business. Chester P. Minton, general manager, was there. He told the paper that the tornado warning was broadcast over the intercom system and he helped two women into a restroom while the remaining employees took cover around bales of cotton.

Edward Horton, the cutting and sewing supervisor, was outside and sought shelter under a truck. He became pinned when beams from the building collapsed onto the vehicle. Using a large jack, several men were able to free Edward and rush him to Greene Memorial Hospital. He had severe injuries to his chest.

People evacuating near Kroehler Furniture. Photo taken by Walt Kleine of the Journal-Herald and provided by the Greene County Historical Society. 
Another view of the damage at Kroehler Furniture. Photo provided by Cedarville University and taken by Stu and Alberta Chaffe. 

Community Lanes was rebuilt on the same site and reopened in April 1975. Hopes were high when Kroehler Furniture purchased land to reconstruct the plant. Sadly, in the late summer of 1975, it was announced that they decided not to go through with those plans, and many employees had to relocate out of the area.

Just north of Community Lanes, Mr. Donut Shop off Allison Avenue was swept away. The counter stools were the only things left standing. They never reopened.

The counter stools still sticking out of the foundation of Mr. Donut Shop. Photo taken by Donald Dunstan and sourced from the Greene County Public Library. 

A block southeast of the West Second Street and Allison Avenue intersection was a residential strip along Trumbull Street.

David Graham had gotten home from work that afternoon to his wife, Sandy, and four kids watching a game show on TV. While David took a bath, Sandy began cooking dinner. Meanwhile, their daughter, Sherry, watched the storm roll in and was fascinated by the lightning.

Their son, Bobby, also looked out the window when he saw a cloud that was “fat on top and skinny on the bottom,” according to the May 19, 1974, Dayton Daily News. “We didn’t even have time to sit down before it hit,” Sandy explained. The Grahams quickly ushered their children to the partial basement of their home.

The tornado struck as suddenly as it appeared. “It sounded like one of those big jet airplanes,” David recalled. Their residence collapsed on top of them, with their neighbor’s house and steel beams from a nearby filling station adding to the debris. It couldn’t have been but a few seconds, but it seemed like hours to me,” David continued.

When the dust settled, David, Sandy, and Bobby emerged from the rubble with various injuries. However, Sherry, 4, and David Graham Jr., 8, had been crushed to death by the weight of the storm-driven debris. In the midst of their agonizing loss of two children, the Grahams realized Billy was still missing. Additional family members arrived on the scene to assist in finding him. The rubble was cleared to the basement, with no signs of the missing boy. Eventually, the news came that Billy was at a Xenia Funeral Home. He was five years old.

Destruction on Trumbull Street. Photo provided by Cedarville University and taken by Stu and Alberta Chaffe.

On that Wednesday afternoon, the Graham’s Trumbull Street neighbor, Ruth Palmer, was having a busy day as a grandmother. One of her daughters, Pauline Hupman, was visiting her and left an hour before the tornado moved through Xenia. She was expected to come back and take Ruth to the funeral home so she could pay her respects to a dear friend who had recently passed away.

Ruth’s son Jack, who lived with his family nearby, called 45 minutes later to tell her about the approaching storms. But she remained calm. In the May 19, 1974, Dayton Daily News, another daughter, Doris Hutson, spoke about her mother’s mentality towards inclement weather. “Mother was very independent. I had never seen her afraid of a storm,” she explained.

Even though it became evident a tornado was in the area, Ruth chose not to use the partial cellar underneath her house. Her children suspect she decided to take a nap on her couch in the living room.

When the twister arrived, Jack and his family’s home was destroyed. However, no one was hurt there. Upon escaping the debris of their house, they hurried to Ruth’s. Her residence had been shifted off its foundation, and the second floor had collapsed. Ruth was found lifeless on her couch underneath the rubble. She was 81 years old.

Palmer’s neighbor, Ollie Grooms, was home with her husband, Minor, that afternoon. Their story is told through their nephew, Arthur Grooms, in the May 19, 1974, Dayton Daily News. When the tornado roared through downtown Xenia, it is unknown if the senior couple received a timely warning of its approach. He said they “believed in the church so much they wouldn’t have a television set in their house,” and that having one was “nothing but foolishness.” Arthur added that he wasn’t sure whether or not they had a radio as an alternative.

Ollie and Minor did end up seeking shelter in the home’s cellar. As the funnel struck, the chimney collapsed into their basement. Minor was able to escape death and was later found at a nearby house. Tragically, the chimney killed Ollie. She was 82 years old.

Removing the injured. Photo taken by Walt Kleine of the Journal-Herald and provided by the Greene County Historical Society.

Landmark was a granary, feed, and agricultural equipment store, also known as Greene Landmark. It was located on Bellbrook Avenue, and the silos on the property overlooked the city. The tornado caused damage in excess of $250,000. The company closed its operations for ten days. They did remodel, and those renovations were completed by the end of 1974.

Kennedy Korners Shopping Center off Orange Street comprised several businesses, including Major’s Department Store, Buck’s Drugstore, Western Auto, Kennedy’s Beauty Salon, Kennedy’s Super Value, and Kennedy’s Garden Center. The tornadic winds engulfed the entire complex. Some stores did not return. Others, like Buck’s Drugstore, temporarily reopened in a trailer at their former site. The owners of Western Auto demolished the building after the disaster. A tornado debris fire occurred in late April 1974 on the store’s lot. They never did rebuild.

A used car lot on West Market Street. Photo provided by Cedarville University and taken by Stu and Alberta Chaffe.

Bethel Missionary Church near the Kennedy Korners shopping center was wrecked, and the city demolished the building. A new church was opened off Lower Bellbrook Road in 1975.

Irene Pagett’s friends and coworkers were at their office on West Second Street. They were in the process of planning for her birthday, which was the following day. “But our office was going to be used for a Reach to Recovery training session Thursday,” Doris Boggs said in the May 19, 1974, Dayton Daily News. “So we had a surprise luncheon for Irene on Tuesday. On Wednesday, she wore her birthday gifts to work,” she continued. Irene, who had worked with the United Voluntary Services and the American Red Cross, was in the process of retiring.

“On April 3 we had just finished hand-addressing and stamping 500 letters for the Special Gifts division, mostly doctors and churches, and had them all ready to take to the post office,” Doris said. About 20 minutes before the workday ended, the entrance door swung open from the wind just outside. No one in the building was aware of the approaching tornado.

“I’ll help you close it and we’ll lock it,” Irene had said. “I had the key in my hand, right up to the lock, when the building blew down,” Doris explained to the paper. Doris and Irene were lofted into a nearby courtyard, with large pieces of debris swirling about. “I landed on my shoulder, put my hands up over my head and prayed for my two children. A block hit me in the back, and then in the back of the head, and I must have blacked out momentarily,” Doris recalled.

When the dust settled, Doris was still alive. She got to her feet and immediately found Irene and checked on her. “Get up, Irene, it’s all over,” Doris remembered telling her friend. But she was gone. Irene was killed when a concrete block struck her in the head. She was 62 years old.

A crushed vehicle in the business district. Photo provided by Cedarville University. 

Further southwest of downtown Xenia, Doris’ home, too, had been struck in the Arrowhead Subdivision. Her husband and their two children were there when the twister flattened the house. However, all three of them survived.

That afternoon, Jackie Ott was at her parents’ house with her son, Tony, on Hawley Court. “Dad had gone to the store, and on the way back heard tornado watches on his car radio. He said he thought we ought to go to his office (on West Second Street, downtown) where there was a basement,” Jackie told the May 19, 1974, edition of the Dayton Daily News.

“Mom was all for going, but none of us thought much about it. You know. We drove to the office, listened to the radio there awhile and started feeling silly and decided to go on home,” she continued. But when they were on their way back to their house, a woman they were passing yelled that a tornado was coming. “So we parked the car and went back into the office. We had just barely gotten down into the basement before it hit. Then it blew the window open and I was shocked to think it would do that, and I grabbed Tony. Mom had her arms around me, but as soon as I fell back, her arms dropped,” Jackie said.

Numerous vehicles flipped and battered in the business district. Photo provided by Cedarville University. 

The building ultimately collapsed into the basement. Jackie’s mother, Pearl Mott, had been killed instantly. She was 52 years old. As it turned out, the Mott’s home on Hawley Court, was spared by the tornado.

A block north of West Second Street, it was a typical day at the Elbow Room nightclub on Main Street. Dick Adams, who frequented the establishment, had brought his girlfriend, Lin McKibben, with him that afternoon. Their relationship had begun six months prior. Dick’s mother, Audrey, said it was nothing serious at the time. “Dick had been hurt once before in a relationship and didn’t want to get hurt again,” she explained in the May 19, 1974, Dayton Daily News. According to Lin’s mother, her daughter was on the same page, having just recently finalized a divorce with her previous husband.

“Dick was a very good, regular customer. He came in about 8 that morning and was still there when I went home at 2 p.m.,” Dottie Smith, wife of the club’s owner, said. Waitress Kay Castle never recalled hearing anything about storm warnings, likely due to the loud music from the business’ jukebox. When she went to play another song, the tornado caught her eye through a window.

“I ran back and yelled for everyone to get down, but Dick didn’t get up from his chair. He said, ‘It’s not comin’ here.’ I said ‘OK, do as you please,’ and I ran into the kitchen with two other girls. Everybody else ran into the women’s rest room,” Kay recalled. The twister struck with the same ferocity as elsewhere throughout its devastating track through Xenia. The some-ten people who had sheltered in the restroom all survived with minor injuries at most.

“When I got out from under the debris I had to walk over him,” Kay remembered as she found Dick and Lin. “He was lying on the floor. He was still alive and he mumbled something to me, but I couldn’t make it out. Linda was already dead,” she continued. Lin McKibben was 21 years old. The ambulance arrived and placed Dick Adams on their stretcher, where he passed away at the age of 28.

A man sitting in front of a store on West Main Street. Photo taken by Walt Kleine of the Journal-Herald and provided by the Greene County Historical Society.

Rod and Sue Ann Wisecup felt it was a lovely day to take their baby daughter out for a bite to eat. According to Rod’s mother, Elizabeth, in the May 19, 1974, Dayton Daily News, Sue Ann had just cleaned the kitchen earlier that day, so they likely didn’t want to make a mess. The Wisecups decided to stop at the A&W Root Beer stand on Main Street.

That afternoon, Dorothy Rowland was working at the root beer stand with her boss, Betty Marshall. In the back room, Dorothy was listening to the radio when talk of a tornado caught her attention. Betty recalled being pulled in with her. “Betty listen…,” Dorothy said. The radio broadcaster announced, “We are in a tornado warning situation. A tornado has touched down in Cincinnati, has been sighted near Centerville and is headed in the direction of Xenia at about 50 mph.”

“I went to the back door, both of us looked out and there it was, two funnels in the air,” Betty recalled. Dorothy, an English native, had never witnessed a tornado but was composed ahead of the storm. As the twister approached, she did her best to comfort a child. “Let’s get down under something,” Dorothy said.

In the drive-in, Betty remembered seeing two cars parked outside. She ushered the Wisecup and Hill families from their vehicles into the small building to shelter. A&W employees Diana Hall (a carhop waitress), Bruce Wise, and one of his friends piled in with the others. “I was still standing when the awning went, and I thought, ‘Oh my God, we’re safe!’ Then the building crumbled in all directions,” Betty said.

Dorothy’s husband, Dewey, had been working overtime at his job. When a nearby radio announced that Xenia had been hit by a tornado, he left for his house. There, he found the residence still standing. But no one was there. Dewey’s next thought was the root beer stand where Dorothy worked, and he immediately ran to the drive-in. As he approached A&W, Dewey saw his son, Kurt there. “It looked like a bulldozer had run over it,” Dewey said. Kurt had already found Dorothy motionless in the rubble. She was 47 years old.

Nearby, Rod, 25; Sue Ann, 19; and their 16-month-old daughter, Amy, were found lifeless. “They were just happy-go-lucky kids, enjoying life. Material things didn’t mean much to them,” Elizabeth reflected.

Diana Hall was among the five killed in the root beer stand when the concrete structure collapsed on the twelve people taking shelter. Her fiancé, Ricky Fallis, told the paper they were only two months away from their wedding date. He insisted that “she was the most wonderful girl in the world.” Diana was 22 years old.

An aerial view of numerous destroyed businesses in Xenia. Photo provided by the Greene County Historical Society.

Just beyond the A&W Root Beer stand, the tornado continued to wreck anything in its path, including two car dealerships: Lang Chevrolet Used Cars and Robert’s Oldsmobile Cadillac.

The sign denoting the nearby Kroger stood tall amongst partially collapsed walls and roofs, as well as missing windows. There were several people in the Kroger when the tornado came through, and all survived. One customer inside the store was Leah Hill.

A view of the Kroger. Photo provided by the NWS Wilmington OH.

Leah wrote her tornado story for The Greene County Library a week after the disaster. She called it “the biggest nightmare of my entire life.” She had stopped by Kroger on her way home from work. “I had just about completed my shopping when everyone from the front of the store started yelling to get to the rear, away from all the huge windows, and lay or stay close to the floor that a tornado was on us. Thinking to myself, ‘it won’t really hit us-it never has,’ but, I had better take precautions. I crouched down and covered my head with my arms. The lights went out, and the plate glass windows started blowing in. Then the roof on the other side of the store was crumbling.” When the crashing ceased, Leah stood up and walked out the front door. She was surrounded by devastation and almost immediately heard someone cry out, “the train is derailed.”

Carroll Coy was driving home on West Second Street behind Kroger when he approached the railroad crossing. A Penn Central freight train had stopped and was blocking the tracks. The story of Carroll and his wife, Sherry, was submitted to The Greene County Library. Per the narrative, the train engineer could see the tornado and yelled for people in their cars to seek shelter. Carroll was able to pull his car into the Kroger parking lot. He described what he saw moments after stopping his vehicle. “The sky was black as far as I could see from side to side, churning winds full of debris and birds; sounds like a great number of diesel engines coming toward me.”

Carroll attempted to get out of the truck, but the winds were too strong, and he could not open the door. The twister rushed over the entire block. Carroll saw the railroad cars being lifted. He then felt himself and his truck lifted, turned, and tossed around. He described it “like being inside a cement mixer.” After a couple of rotations, Carroll felt something sharp struck his ribs, and he was struck in the head. He blacked out briefly and woke up outside of the truck and in the parking lot. He had no idea how he had been thrown out of his vehicle.

Vicky Metzler, her husband, Joe, and her daughter were also stopped by the train. They were able to leave their car, laid flat in the Kroger parking lot, and all were okay. When the calm set in, the family saw Carroll and went to check on him. He was lying down in the parking lot in tremendous pain on the right side of his body. He was also bleeding due to cuts on his head. Joe took his daughter to be with her grandmother, and Vicky stayed with Carroll until he could be transported to receive care. His wife Sherry co-wrote the letter for the library and stated, “How thankful I am that he was not alone for those two hours he had to wait for an ambulance.” Carroll was transported to a hospital in Dayton. He had broken ribs and a punctured lung, along with lacerations on the head. After a week under medical care, he was able to go home and continue his healing there.

The McKinley School on West Market Street was smashed, and the school board razed the building. Per the Greene County Library, students attended Spring Hill Elementary for the rest of the school year, while modular classrooms were placed on a 13-acre property in the Windsor Park neighborhood. The school was eventually rebuilt in this area in 1976.

The rubble-filled entrance to McKinley School. Photo taken by Kenneth Crissman and provided by the Greene County Historical Society.
Another view of the destroyed school. Photo provided by Cedarville University and taken by Stu and Alberta Chaffe.
An aerial view of the McKinley School. Photo provided by the Greene County Historical Society.

Members of the Second United Presbyterian Church off Market Street were able to salvage some items from their house of worship, including the organ. The building was demolished, and according to the Greene County Library, the church merged with First United Presbyterian and became Memorial United Presbyterian Church. First Lutheran Church on Main Street rebuilt on the same site and is still there today.

Saint Brigid Catholic Church, one of the oldest in Xenia, was leveled. The church bell was found and used at an Easter Sunday service on April 14. Per the Springfield News-Sun, this was the first time in nearly a century that Easter Mass had been held outside Saint Brigid. The church and school were rebuilt on Fairground Road.

In the days following the tornado, Xenia was heavily burdened by the significant cleanup task. Military resources and volunteers flooded the streets filled with debris. The April 7-8, 1974, editions of the Dayton Daily News covered one of these groups, the 178th Maintenance Squadron from nearby Springfield, OH. On the morning of April 6, at least four team members were at Cherry’s Furniture Store on West Main Street, which was being used as a rest station for relief workers.

Ohio National Guardsmen assisting with cleanup in central Xenia. Photo taken by Bobby Molleur of the U.S. Army, and provided by the National Archives at College Park, Maryland.

At around 5:30 am, a fire broke out in the building. The flames initially threatened to spread throughout the remaining city block—two guardsmen, Lt. Forzono and Sgt. Wolfe managed to escape, suffering burns in the process. By 7 am, firefighters were able to control the blaze. However, the remaining two team members had not been seen.

An aerial view of firefighters trying to control the fire at Cherry’s Furniture Store, likely days after it first began. Photo taken by the First Battalion of the 166th Ohio National Guard Infantry Unit, and provided by the Ohio History Center.

Though the fire was under control, intense heat prevented a quick effort to search for the two missing National Guardsmen. Eventually, the lifeless bodies of Sgt. Walter Radewonuk Jr., 24, and Sgt. Terry Regula, 22, were found.

Firefighters battling the blaze at Cherry’s Furniture Store. Photo taken by John Ryan of the U.S. Army, and provided by the National Archives at College Park, Maryland.
A photo taken by Bobby Molleur of the U.S. Army, and provided by the National Archives at College Park, Maryland. The original caption reads, “LS establishing the fire scene at Cherry’s Furniture Store on West Main Street in Xenia.”

Ruie Drake had been living with her daughter, Elizabeth, and son-in-law, Willard Ryan, in their West Second Street residence the day the tornado tore through Xenia. According to Ruie’s daughter-in-law, Mrs. John Drake, in the May 31, 1974, Dayton Daily News publication, the twister had destroyed the Ryans’ home. However, they and Ruie had sought shelter in another house and were uninjured.

The following day, Ruie’s son John had placed her in a nursing home at Westerville. A few days passed before, on April 8, Ruie was taken to Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus due to an illness. There, she passed away the following morning due to cardiac arrest at the age of 98.

Ruie’s family insisted that the tornado had killed her. Initially, an article in the April 24, 1974, Xenia Gazette agreed, citing her as a victim. However, her official cause of death was determined by medical professionals as a heart attack brought on by chronic obstructive lung disease. The May 31 paper is inconclusive. “Like possibly others who have died since the twister hit, there could be merit in the family’s belief that her death was hastened by the storm.”

Ruie’s tragic death highlights the challenges faced in determining direct versus indirect tornado fatalities. In 1974, indirect deaths were either combined with direct fatalities as a singular statistic or excluded entirely. Today, official sources keep the two separate. No matter the label, indirect and direct deaths are equally tragic. In both cases, lives are lost. The earlier-mentioned death of Clyde Hyatt was never fully determined to be directly tornado-related. The two National Guardsmen died in the Cherry Furniture Store fire while assisting with recovery. Joyce Behnken’s unborn baby was also denied an opportunity of life when her mother became a victim. None of their lives are an exception, but are all a part of the same tragedy.

Northeast Xenia

Northeastern portions of Xenia fared no better than downtown. Hundreds of dwellings were beyond repair, several of which were blasted to their foundations. The Stadium Park Subdivision, as well as Xenia High School and Shawnee Park, took the brunt of the storm.

This aerial, a 360-degree view of Xenia High School, was created by aligning numerous aerial photos we have obtained, primarily from our documentation trips. This previews some of the more extensive work we will be accomplishing in the premium chapters. The first frame is a view of the school before being destroyed. The images are sourced from the Greene County Historical Society; The National Archives at College Park, Maryland; the Ohio History Center; and the NOAA Photo Library.

A small boat or other metal object wrapped around a telephone pole. Photo provided by Nelson Tucker. 
Numerous homes destroyed in northeastern Xenia. Photo taken by the First Battalion of the 166th Ohio National Guard Infantry Unit, and provided by the Ohio History Center.
An aerial view of Stadium Park Subdivision. Photo provided by the Greene County Historical Society. 

Per the Greene County Lbrary, “Greene County Historical Society (GCHS) had four buildings on its historical society and museum complex; the Snediker Museum, Moorehead House, the John Glossinger Cultural Center, and the Galloway Cabin.” Every structure along Church Street was heavily damaged, and Snediker, Moorehead, and Glossinger were eventually torn down. “The Galloway Cabin was also in very bad condition but they were able to restore it. It reopened August 1976. The county donated original roof tiles from the Greene County Court House to GCHS for fundraiser to help with the costs of restoring the Galloway Cabin and preserving the collections.”

An aerial view of damaged homes in Xenia. The Greene County Historical Society is located just left of the center. Photo from the NOAA Photo Library.

Two more schools suffered from the tornado’s wrath northeast of downtown. Per The Gazette News-Current, Central Junior High School on Church Street lost its roof, most windows, had tremendous interior damage and loss of instructional materials. The school board decided to demolish the building.

Xenia High School off Edison Boulevard was considered a total loss. The second floor was swept away, and the first was “gutted.” It was torn down, and a new Central Junior High was eventually rebuilt on the site in the fall of 1977. Also, a new high school opened on Kinsey Road late that year.

School busses tossed into Xenia High School. Photo provided by the Greene County Historical Society.

Benner Field House, Xenia High School’s physical education building, had its roof removed and extensive damage to its interior. The structure was renovated and used by Central Junior High.

To the east of Central Junior High School, the Greene County District Library and Saint John’s AME Church were damaged. The library lost part of its roof, and stained-glass windows were smashed. It was able to re-open three weeks after the tornado. The church suffered a worse fate. The damage was significant enough that the city tore the building down a few months later. An article in the Gazette News-Current said that the church cornerstone was buried under the rubble after the demolition. Members of the crew and an inspector for the Army Corps of Engineers looked for it but could not find it. The paper reported that three young kids who had attended the church climbed upon the remains and started their own search. “About 7pm, they found it – winning praise and gratitude from fellow members and the Rev. George Patterson, the pastor.”

Shawnee Park was nestled just southwest of the high school. The public land was initially constructed in 1925. The massive vortex barreled directly through the park, destroying the pavilion and numerous trees. Debris rained down and covered the once-beautiful landscape. Two obelisks at the park’s entrance tumbled to the ground. For weeks, volunteers swarmed Shawnee Park to help with cleanup. In an article in the Gazette News-Current on April 29, 1974, more than 200 people arrived for an all-day cleanup to remove the last bit of debris. The title of the article read, “Shawnee Park a ‘green spot’ again.”

Swans sleeping by the tattered Shawnee Park. Photo provided by Nelson Tucker. 
One of the most infamous tornado photos of all time, taken from Greene Memorial Hospital by Fred Stewart and provided by the National Archives at College Park, Maryland. 

The State Armory on Weaver Street was adjacent to Shawnee Park. In 1974, Company A, 166th Infantry of the Ohio National Guard (ONG), operated from the building. The upper walls and roof were removed. Per The Greene County Library, The Guard temporarily relocated to the Washington Courthouse headquarters until they could set up an office in Xenia.

The twister continued churning northeast, as it moved into a residential neighborhood on the fringe of Xenia. It was there, where the Taylor family resided.

“When I came home, Ivra was hosing down the garage and driveway,” John Taylor told the May 19, 1974, edition of the Dayton Daily News. His wife, Ivra, was also overseeing their neighbors’ two girls, Kelly and Teresa Cross, and her daughter Lisa at the Taylor residence on Louise Drive.

“I was reading my Bible at the breakfast counter when Ivra went into the bedroom, looked out and saw this cloud and told me to look at it. It looked like there were birds swirling around in the cloud. I ran and shut the garage door and we all got into a huddle in the garage, next to a piano,” John said. In an instant, the tornado struck their home, destroying it.

At the far end of the street was where the Taylor family lived. Photo provided by Cedarville University. 
A terrifying view of the tornado at roughly the moment the Taylor residence was destroyed. The original photographer is unknown. Photo provided by the Greene County Historical Society.

“Then it quit. My daughter (Lisa Gayle, 9) and Kelly Cross were jumping up and down, screaming. My wife was lying right beside me and the little Cross girl was between us. They were both out,” John described. A neighbor reached the slabbed home 30 minutes later and sped the five of them in his truck to Greene Memorial Hospital. Ivra was immediately transferred to Wright-Patterson’s U.S. Air Force Hospital and Teresa to Dayton’s Children’s Medical Center. The Cross girls’ parents, Charlene and Dennis, were notified that their children were in the hospital, “but she was gone,” Dennis said. Teresa was two years old. Six-year-old Kelly, on the other hand, survived her injuries.

Meanwhile, at the U.S. Air Force Hospital, Ivra was alive. According to John, doctors told him “Everything looked good except Ivra’s ankle and leg were broken.” However, she was still fighting for her life. “Then, about midnight, she raised up in her bed and said her head was hurting and that she wanted out. I said no and told her to lie back down. The third time, I pulled her hand down from her head and said ‘Are you all right, honey?’ and she said ‘Uh-huh’ and went to sleep,” John described.

X-rays then revealed there was a fracture on the back of Ivra’s skull, and her brain was not getting blood supply due to swelling. Doctors performed surgery to lessen the pressure, but Ivra lost her battle on the evening of April 8. She was 33 years old.

Between Xenia and Wilberforce

Finally, the horrific tornado steamrolled out of the town. It moved northeastward without pause, running parallel to U.S. 42. Despite trading densely populated neighborhoods for primarily open farms, within a mile of leaving the city two more were dead. At the edge of town, the tornadic winds engulfed Black Furniture, and all structures on the property were destroyed. Nearby, the home of Charles and Mary Bosch was demolished. It was in this area that a young woman, racing home to take care of her ailing stepmother, would face the darkness head-on.

An aerial view looking back upwind to the southwest, showing the path out of Xenia into less densely populated land. Photo from the NOAA Photo Library. 

That afternoon, first-year student Laura Hull was with her roommate at Central State University. Her ill stepmother, Lucy Hull, was at her home on Roosevelt Street. She had been in this condition for three years following a heart attack. When the tornado warning reached Laura, she wanted to be with her. According to the Dayton Daily News, on May 19, 1974, Laura told Lucy, “Mama, I’ll be back.”

Meanwhile, campus police officer Guy Watson was at the U.S. 42 campus entrance directing traffic around an accident when he saw the tornado. “I started turning people around and telling them to take cover,” Officer Watson said. That’s when he saw Laura. “She was coming out and wouldn’t turn around,” he continued.

Southwest of Central State, the home of David Addison was destroyed. Having survived his ordeal, he found Laura and her crushed car in his yard. She was still alive when he found her. But Laura did not survive her injuries. She was 19 years old.

David described his horror in a letter of closure to Laura’s family. “For her loved ones who are left, may I offer you the assurance that she did not die in pain, she was not alone and that everyone did all they could,” David wrote.

But the letter did not reach the Hull family quickly. When their home was spared, Lucy assumed Laura was also well, and out of danger. However, concerns grew when Central State friends came looking for her the following day. They found Laura in a Dayton morgue. “The Lord seen fit to take her home before she could get to me,” Lucy mourned.

For 23 years, Ralph Smith had worked at Central State University. That day was no different. He clocked out at 4:30 pm EDT and began the five-minute drive to his home on U.S. 42 in Xenia. Ralph’s wife Lucille told the May 19, 1974, edition of the Dayton Daily News that he usually got back in time to see her just before she’d leave for her shift. But Ralph didn’t arrive before their place was struck. Lucille and their son, Emmett, survived by lying on the living room floor. Their house was damaged but remained intact.

Not too far from the university campus, Ralph encountered the twister along U.S. 42. His vehicle was lofted into a ditch near Stevenson Road, ejecting him. Ralph’s body was found lifeless near his car. He was 51 years old.

A mangled vehicle just north of U.S. 42. This most likely belonged to Ralph. Photo provided by Cedarville University and taken by Stu and Alberta Chaffe.

Not knowing where her husband was, Lucille and Emmett began walking toward Central State to see if they could find Ralph. But police forced them to take cover when another tornado warning was issued for the area. “I walked the floor all night. Every time I heard a truck I would run to the window to see if it was Ralph,” Lucille said to the paper. But Ralph never came home.

The next day, Lucille and Emmett continued their search. They got a ride to Central State, but no one knew Ralph’s whereabouts. That evening, an Ohio State patrol officer showed up at their home with a sad message. “We think we have found your husband,” the patrolman said. At a morgue, his body was identified.

“The kids all talk about Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz. And Emmett said, ‘Mama, what if we just woke up and found it was all a dream?’ I wish this was a dream, but it isn’t,” Lucille mourned.

For about another mile, more rural properties were in the twister’s line of sight. It then charged into the town of Wilberforce.

Wilberforce and Central State University

The tornado first struck numerous residences near U.S. 42 and Wilberforce-Clifton Road. Fifteen-year-old Joyette Shoates lived in one of those homes. She shared her twister tale with the Greene County library.

Joyette was at home on April 3 with her sister, Jacqueline, and a friend, Esther, when the electricity went out. “I was sleeping on the couch. My friend and sister were playing cards when my mother came home and told us to get into the basement because a tornado was coming.” Joyette said she and Esther didn’t believe her, so they looked out the window. “All of a sudden, the backyard fence and some bricks from our wall flew by, and we ran down those stairs. We even beat my mother and sister.”

They all crawled under a poker table and could immediately hear loud noises. “After about 5 minutes, we got up and opened the basement door, looked up and all we could see was the sky.” The family was safe, but the residence was heavily damaged. Joyette said in her letter, “If my mother hadn’t come home we might not have been there. Where I was on the couch, the big cement blocks from the chimney had fallen. Where my sister and Esther were, the beams and glass from the door had fallen in.”

An aerial view of a destroyed neighborhood along Wilberforce-Clifton Road. Photo provided by the Greene County Historical Society. 

The twister roared to the northeast toward three historic African-American universities: Wilberforce, Central State, and Payne Theological Seminary. Per the Dayton Daily News, “Payne Theological Seminary traces its roots back to 1844 when the Ohio Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church was authorized to build a seminary and a manual training school. Union Seminary, which opened in 1847, led to the establishment of Wilberforce University in 1862 and Payne Theological Seminary in 1891.”

Wilberforce University is the nation’s oldest private, historically black University owned and operated by African Americans. Central State started in 1887 as a two-year vocational and industrial department at Wilberforce. In 1941, this expanded to a four-year curriculum. Further development led to a separation from Wilberforce, and Central State University was born in 1965. Buildings for both colleges were adjacent to one another. In 1967, due to growth at Wilberforce, a new campus was built about a mile south of U.S. 42.

The tornado brushed the new campus of Wilberforce University at U.S. 42 and Bickett Road. Damage here was minimal as it was on the edge of the strongest winds. Payne Theological Seminary was closer to the core winds. According to the Greene County Library, several buildings on campus were damaged extensively. This included Mitchell Hall, Payne Seminary and Chapel, and the married student housing.

Further northeast, Central State University, including the old Wilberforce campus, was overtaken by the massive funnel. Per the book “Tornado at Xenia: April 3, 1974,” 46 buildings were demolished at a price tag of 30 million dollars. 85% of the campus was destroyed.

A broad aerial view of the campuses looking to the southwest. Photo provided by the Greene County Historical Society. 

Bundy Hall housed several offices, including admissions. It was torn to pieces and was one of a few buildings that had to be razed. Another structure that was bruised beyond repair was Arnett Hall, a women’s dormitory. Galloway Hall, the university’s oldest building, sustained major damage. The adjacent clock tower remained standing. An unused water tower was struck, and it crashed onto the school’s health center.

An aerial view of the water tower collapsed onto a health center. Photo taken by the First Battalion of the 166th Ohio National Guard Infantry Unit, and provided by the Ohio History Center.

Tragically, two lives were lost in this area.

At the post office on the corner of U.S. 42 and Brush Row Road, postal worker Oscar Robinson Jr. had been preparing mail to be distributed later that evening. His co-workers were winding down the work day as well. Postmaster Ellis Williams described the scene to the May 19, 1974, Dayton Daily News. “We had been listening to WHIO and the Xenia radio station and had heard that morning that a storm was expected. I believe the last we heard was that it had been seen traveling near Bellbrook,” Williams said.

“Then our lights went out. I looked out a window and saw all this garbage coming ahead of the tornado and this black cloud, and I told them ‘Here it is!’” Williams continued. Workers still at the post office fled to safety wherever they could find it. As the building collapsed, a brick wall fell onto Oscar.

When the tornado moved on, rescuers arrived and feverishly dug Oscar from the rubble. They attempted CPR to revive him, but Oscar was dead. He was 44 years old. “He was just a good man,” Oscar’s wife Charlotte reflected. Additionally, Williams suffered multiple broken bones but later recovered from his injuries.

At Central State University, Evvie Rockhold, treasurer-manager for the university’s Credit Union in Jenkins Hall, was tracking customers’ assets. Although she had only held this position for a year and a half, she was very familiar with the campus in Wilberforce, having held multiple academic positions within the institution.

Mrs. Rockhold worked alone that afternoon and was only 20 minutes from clocking out when the tornado struck the facility. A retired Herbert White had previously held Rockhold’s position at the Credit Union. He told the May 19, 1974, Dayton Daily News that “she was on the northwest, the blind side of the building, she had no warning at all and the walls just collapsed on her.”

Minutes after the tornado roared through Central State, Rockhold was found amongst the debris and sped to the Springfield Community Hospital for surgery. Despite the surgeons’ best efforts, Evvie Rockhold, 49, passed away the following evening on April 4.

An aerial view of damage at Central State. The smaller building on the right side of a road at top-center is Jenkins Hall, where Evvie Rockhold lost her life. Photo taken by the First Battalion of the 166th Ohio National Guard Infantry Unit, and provided by the Ohio History Center.

Northeast of Wilberforce through Cedarville

After crushing portions of the Central State University campus, the tornado crossed over a section of the Tawawa Woods, where numerous trees were snapped or uprooted, and copious amounts of debris were deposited.

It ran parallel to Massies Creek and crossed Charleton Mill Road, causing irreparable damage to a few homes. The twister moved over forested areas and farmland for just under two miles before plowing over Tarbox Cemetery Road. Any residences along the path in this area were destroyed, and at least one person was injured.

The next crossroad to endure the tornado’s wrath was Cedarville-Yellow Springs Road. The home of Phyllis Burba was struck, and she was injured. The house eventually had to be razed. Additional residences to the northeast were demolished and were ultimately torn down. By the time it crossed Ohio Highway 72 north of Cedarville, tornadic winds extended at least 1,900 yards across (1.08 miles). Over the next couple of months, we will further analyze the path to determine more precise numbers and details.

A destroyed residence on the east side of Ohio Highway 72. Photo provided by the Greene County Historical Society.

Cedarville University was situated south of the core winds. Damage occurred on campus, with the worst being at Patterson Hall, a men’s dormitory. College senior Dan Stemen had his camera in hand and started taking photos across the street near Patterson Hall. He captured the following remarkable pictures of the roof being ripped away, portions of which landed on U.S. 42.

A sequence of four photos, showing the roof being removed from Patterson Hall. The photographs were taken by Dan Stemen and provided by the Greene County Historical Society. 

There were other reports of damage at Bethel Hall, The Science Center, the Athletic Complex, and the Health Service. The astronomical observatory was struck while Bert Frye was inside. The Dayton Daily News interviewed the professor of astronomy and geology on April 5, 1974. Bert stated that he was outside and saw the funnel approaching. “I ran into the observatory and got inside the door, and then it lifted up the door and took it away.” The top of the structure was also sliced off. The University reported that the tornado caused over $225,000 in damage on campus.

Damage to the observatory. Photo provided by Cedarville University. 

Northeast of Cedarville through Clark County

After leaving Cedarville University, the tornado emerged back over rural farmland. Despite its vast size, little is known about the roughly four-mile trek through the rest of Greene County. An excerpt from The Dayton Daily News on April 7, 1974, mentioned Alfred and Doresa Townsley. They lived off U.S. 42 near Fishworm Road. It was reported that the couple were standing in their front yard when they saw a large piece of a barn “spiraling around just like a kite.” They ran inside, and after Doresa opened the windows as she was taught, they huddled in a corner. Their home was situated southeast of the twister’s core winds and received no damage. They did, though, lose a 30-foot spruce tree in their backyard. Their neighbor had a barn and doghouse smashed. The tornado crossed into Clark County just southwest of Cortsville Road.

The Springfield News-Sun and The Sentinel out of South Charleston had numerous reports of the damage as the tornado tracked through Clark County. The home of James and Becky Brumfield on Cortsville Road sat squarely in the twister’s path. “There was nothing left,” Becky told the Springfield News-Sun. James was in the house with his daughter Dianna and her friend Christy DeLong. Becky had called from her workplace to inform her family of the tornado in Xenia. “While he was walking to the kitchen to look, he saw the funnel and yelled for the girls to rush to the basement. As they headed downstairs, a door slammed into Dianna and knocked her down the steps, but she was lucky and only got a couple of bumps and bruises.”

Christy didn’t reach the basement in time, so she crouched along a wall in the living room. James fell to the kitchen floor and noted to The Sentinel that all he could hear was the trees cracking. After the winds subsided, James looked up to see that the roof and several walls of the home were missing.

The Brumfields also lost the barn that housed their 13 horses. Eight had been in the structure when the tornado struck. “They were all hurt, and we may lose one mare, who had to have 50 stitches,” Becky told the Springfield News-Sun.

Less than a mile to the northeast, wider destruction occurred at the McDorman farm. The roof and four rooms in the upstairs of the three-story brick home were ripped away. Mrs. McDorman was there with her son, James Louis when the tornado came through. The signal to run to the basement was the train-like sound growing louder and pieces of debris flying in the air. They both made it to safety in time and were uninjured. Other farm buildings on the property were destroyed, and sadly, several cows were killed.

An aerial view of the McDorman farm. Photo provided by the Greene County Historical Society.

The funnel traversed more farmland for the next five miles and struck a smattering of farmsteads. As it was nearing the close of its journey, several barns and silos at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center were hit. The Springfield News-Sun reported that pieces of sheet metal roofing were blown away and smashed into at least ten residences, many of which were trailers, along South Charleston Pike. Robert Isaac, who lived in this area, received a cut to the head. Multiple credible meteorology sources end the Xenia tornado path 1.5 miles to the northeast of South Charleston Pike.

In Loving Memory

The names of those who died inscribed at the Xenia tornado memorial.

In Xenia

Richard Ray “Dick” Adams, 28

William Kent “Bill” Armstrong, 7

Joyce Darlene Marlin Behnken, 22

Baby of Joyce Behnken, 0

Brian Keith Blakely, 7

Gloria Elaine West Armstrong Chambers, 26

Eric Michael Crabtree, 1 month

Teresa Rene Cross, 2

Michael Johannes “Mike” DeJarnette-Ehret, 16

Sabina Dorothea DeJarnette-Ehret, 12

Prabhakar Dixit, 14

Ruie Z. Hale Drake, 98

Billy Lee Graham, 5

David Wayne Graham Jr., 8

Sherry Sue Graham, 4

Olisen Hilderbrandt “Ollie” Grooms, 82

Diana Marie Hall, 23

Clyde Hershel Hyatt, 48

Linda L. Wright “Lin” McKibben, 21

Marilyn Louise Ullmer Miller, 32

Robert Edward “Robbie” Miller, 6

Johnnie Pearl James Mott, 52

Clara Irene Peterson Pagett, 62

Ruth Ann Fox Palmer, 81

Sgt. Walter A. Radewonuk Jr., 24

Sgt. Terry Lynn Regula, 22

Dorothy E. Pratt Rowland, 47

Ivra Stafford Taylor, 33

Virginia Lutitia Luckadoo “Ginny” Walls, 32

Amy Elizabeth Wisecup, 16 months

Paul Rodney “Rod” Wisecup, 25

Sue Ann Halberstadt Wisecup, 19

Between Xenia and Wilberforce

Laura Lee Baver Hull, 19

Ralph E. Smith, 51

In Wilberforce

Oscar Taylor Robinson Jr., 44

Evelyn Virginia Howard “Evvie” Rockhold, 49

Tornado Talk Research Trip

Over the past few years, the Tornado Talk Team has visited communities along the Xenia tornado path multiple times. Most recently, Jen Narramore, Zach Reichle, and Nelson Tucker visited Xenia and Cedarville in early March 2024. We met some amazing people that are passionate about preserving tornado history for their community, and were more than willing to share with us so much invaluable information. The following highlights those that provided information for the Xenia story.

We traveled to the Greene County Archives in Xenia and worked with archivists Mary McKinley and Robin Hise. In addition to capturing images and maps, we were pleasantly surprised to learn the archives were in the process of digitizing tornado-related material for their website.

Nelson sharing his findings with Greene County Archives employee Mary McKinley.

Most of our trip was spent with tornado survivor Catherine Wilson at the Greene County Historical Society, where she is the Executive Director. We interviewed her on a previous visit, and our detailed chapters will include her story in full. Aside from the sight of memorabilia in every direction within the two-story building, we were introduced to a library’s worth of photos and aerial imagery, so much so that it took us two days to capture everything we needed.

Inside the Greene County Historical Society.

There were occasional friendly interruptions over the hours of silence (aside from the sound of camera shutters) and concentration. One day, one by one, locals came in to offer help with cleaning a historic locomotive on display that had been vandalized down the street. Another instance was a call from a man who had exclusive photos of damage in Xenia that he wanted to give to the historical society. Lastly, a man from Xenia High School brought in band trophies from their accomplished competitions in the 1960s and 1970s. All of these occurrences exemplify just how proud the people of Xenia are of their history, and the care they have for their community.

Our quest also led us to the Centennial Library of Cedarville University, where we were graced by University Archivist and Special Collections Librarian Lynn Brock. He led us to a research room, where everything we needed was laid out. This included books on the tornado and anniversary newspaper publications we had yet to find elsewhere. Lynn’s fascination and knowledge of our research topic were evident when he watched our process and exchanged pleasant conversations throughout our visit.

The Tornado Talk team with Lynn Brock.

If you drive through downtown Xenia today and know what you are looking for, there are a few signs of the tornado’s ghostly presence that remain 50 years later, including empty lots and flights of stairs that lead to nothing from the streets. However, one thing in particular that caught our eye was a different kind of sign hanging over the Devil Wind Brewing establishment. After long days of traveling and research, we couldn’t help but stop by a brewery whose name derives from a disaster Xenia is well-known for. If you ever find yourself in Xenia and want a beverage, we suggest paying them a little visit (doing so responsibly, of course).

Images taken during our visit to Devil Wind Brewing. Left: Photos of damage from the tornado lined Devil Wind’s wall. Center: Devil Wind's entrance. Right: A mural for the establishment. Note that their logo includes a tornado.

Discrepancies and Sources

Coming soon!


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