Spring is a time of new life and hope. A time when grass becomes green and flowers begin to bloom. But with the beauty of the season often comes the arrival of devastating storms.
The spring of 1922 was no exception to the residents of Orestes.
In the early morning hours of April 17, strong winds, intense lightning, and torrential rains pounded Madison County. White River in Anderson flooded Park Place and Athletic Park. The Lippincott Glass Factory in Alexandria had its smoke stack blown down, which damaged the roof of the business. A 17-year-old boy in Lapel was electrocuted while turning on an overhead light in a flooded storage shed. The storm caused considerable property damage and had taken a life, with more devastation lying on the horizon.
That afternoon, sunny skies turned dark, producing heavy rainfall in Tipton and Madison counties. Shortly afterward, a tornado touched down four miles east of Elwood in the town of Dundee. The Rudolph Waymire farm was first hit, as were several homes, businesses and barns. Brannock School had only a pane glass window broken from the high winds.The tornado gained momentum with the town of Orestes in its path. Around 6 p.m. the tornado hit the home of the Ludlow family. Charles Ludlow was killed instantly when strong winds cast his body 200 feet onto a railroad track. His wife received a sprained shoulder; the Ludlow children were unharmed.
Glade Stewart, who lived across the street from the Ludlows, recalled seeing three twisters. One of the twisters leveled his barn, but spared his motorcycle and livestock. A silo factory that stood at the site of the former Orestes Tile and Brick and the Powell Tire Works was in ruins.
The Urmstrom Grain Elevator was blown down, as was the Lake Erie and Western Railroad depot. The twister tore the roof from the Knight of Pythias Lodge and narrowly missed a Baptist and Christian church. However, the Orestes School on Broadway was in direct path of the twister. It took only a few seconds before the school lay in ruins. Luckily, students had been dismissed for the day, which saved many lives and injuries.