And Thirty or Forty People Injured by Lightning While Attending the Afternoon Performance of the Ringling Circus
From The Sun, Spring Valley, Wisconsin
Friday, June 23, 1893
Page 1, Column 4
RIVER FALLS, WIS., June 21 —During a severe thunderstorm this afternoon at about four o’clock lightning struck the first center pole in the menagerie of Ringling Bros. Seven people were killed and quite a number injured, none of the latter fatally. The killed are:
ALEX. O. DEAN,
The greatest consternation immediately arose. The rain continued falling in great sheets, and the bodies of the dead were soaked through before they could be removed. Soon as possible Ringling Brothers and their employees did everything in their power to alleviate the condition of the wounded. The dead were taken down town and laid out on the floor of the engine house, where they were, with the exception of one boy, identified in a few minutes after their arrival. One elderly gentleman, the father of young Dean, a handsome and intelligent young man, who was suddenly taken from life, fainted and was carried out of the engine house moaning. Women were present looking for relatives. The clothing of some of the dead was torn in shreds, while others presented no external evidences of fatality except for the awful stare and fixed, rigid features. The number of wounded is estimated all the way from ten to thirty. Most of them were taken home as soon as possible, and are now doing finely.
Among the injured are Patrick Collins, a farmer, unmarried, injured seriously, now at the Gladstone hotel. Two strangers, supposed to be railroad graders, are also at the hotel badly injured.
Jay E. Loucks, proprietor of the Gladstone hotel, with his wife, three nieces and one child, were passing through the tent when the shock came. Mr. Loucks and family fell to the ground, but none of them were seriously injured. Mrs. Loucks’ arm was hurt by a man who was killed falling against her.
The wife and another son of J.A. Glendenning are seriously injured, thus nearly annihilating a whole family. Mrs. Glandenning has recovered consciousness, but the fact of her husband’s and son’s death has been kept from her. She thinks they have gone home.
Six men carried the paralyzed form of a young man named Lewis Rosses, whose face and breast were terribly burned, and whose lower extremities were paralyzed. At a late hour he had recovered consciousness and was receiving every care from a nurse. Without difficulty he managed to tell that he was a laboring man and that his relatives live at or near Spring Valley, Minn. While he is seriously burned and his lower limbs at present benumbed, he is not fatally injured.
Another badly injured young man is William B.L. Horme, aged 18, whose parents live at Norman, Oklahoma.
Among the incidents was the twisting of a buggy to pieces from the seat by a bolt of lightning. None of the occupants were injured. Al Ringling, master of ceremonies in the circus proper, thinks there were three distinct bolts of lightning. The first shock nobody felt. The lightning went right down the pole. The second shock caused the fatalities, and the third knocked down thirty of the circus horses. Fire started, but was put out. The presence of mind of the Ringlings and their employees alone prevented a stampede, which would have been attended with still greater fatality. All the Ringlings did all in their power, and are highly commended by the citizens. The spectacle was the most saddening and heart-breaking ever looked upon in River Falls. That none of the circus employees were injured in the slightest was marvelous.