Sutton Massachusetts

Town of Sutton
The Tornado of 1831

The following story is provided by the History of Sutton.

On Sunday, September 10, 1826, there was a wonderful shower of rain, the heaviest part of which fell in this school district. Although it lasted but little over an hour, it made quite a flood. The rain poured in such torrents as to overflow the walls on the slope from Leonard Dodge's to the meadows now owned by Asa Dodge. Stones, larger than four oxen could draw, were moved fifteen or twenty feet. The roads were badly gullied and much damage was done. Dr. Smith came along, soon after the shower, and his horse had to wade in the water knee-deep on the flat, in front of his house, where water has not been seen to stand since.

In June, 1831, a tornado, commencing on Manchaug Pond, passed through Asa Putnam's woods and across the lots to Perley Waters'. In its passage, it spared nothing that came in its way. It tore up trees by the roots, breaking off branches eight inches in diameter, carrying them one hundred feet into the air, and scattering them all about. It struck an old cider-mill - located near where Asa Dodge's hog-house now stands - filled with lumber which Rufus Bacon had been accumulating to build him a house, entirely demolishing the whole thing. The building, lumber and all - the lumber principally boards - was split into slivers and scattered broadcast over acres of land. Even the mowing lots of Captain Hall were covered with the debris; the slivers sticking upon the grass like the teeth of many inverted harrows.

Just as the wind struck the cider-mill, Paris Tourtellott opened the west barn doors, in order to drive in out of the rain. His wagon was loaded with pike-poles, for it was the day he raised his house at West Sutton. When he opened the doors on the west end, the wind made a larger opening on the north side, taking out about thirty feet, leaving him outside in a literal shower of pitch-forks and pike-poles. "When I reached him," says one who went to his aid, "he was the palest live man I ever saw; his hat was gone, his face with speckled with small pieces of green leaves, and nicely adjusted as so many patches of court-plaster. The hind part of his wagon was down in the pasture below the barn, and the pike-poles were scattered htiher and thither. The seat of his wagon was found some fourty rods away in Capt. Hall's orchard."

When Esquire Putnam built his house, he hired Abner Sibley to set some elm trees around his yard. Six of them now stand in front of the house. When the tornado struck these trees raising their branches high and almost transforming them into the shape of Lombardy poplars, it found its match. They were too strong even for a whirlwind They severed it in twain, its feeble branches passing one each side of the house. The salvation of the house and perhaps of its inmates, is due to these noble centennial trees. There they have stood one hundred years, a living monument to the enterprise of Nathan Putnam and his faithful employee, Abner Sibley. Though Putnam and Sibley are both dead, these beautiful trees still live, coeval with our national independence. There let them stand, never to shed their dew-drop tears over the death of our great republic.

NOTE: On the map below, the Manchaug Pond is located in the lower left, just left of the word "Manchaug".

Sutton Map

History of Sutton