History

Foundation

[1879]  J.M. Napier and P.W. Smith purchased ten acre tract from I.N Nelson. Both men were aware the railroad being built and the advantage of a small town near a railroad. D.C. Green built the first house in Udall and opened a store.

The postmastership in Bushnell was soon moved to Udall.

[1881] The City of Udall was founded by J.M. Napier and P.W. Smith and was christened after English author Cornelius Udall.

Tornado Tragedy

[1955] Wednesday, May 25, 1955, 10:35 PM marks the hour the second deadliest tornado to ever touch Kansas roared into Udall. The F5 tornado completely leveled the town, killing 83 residents and injuring 270. Almost every home in Udall was reduced to splinters. 192 buildings destroyed, 170 houses destroyed, and 18 homes standing but unlivable.

But by far the biggest lost came in the number of lives. Around fifty per cent of the families in Udall lost one or more members of their families.

Chief /Town Marshal Wayne Keely was in his home the night of the tornado and recalls that he was watching some TV and some of the local children were over:

I remember that there had been a tornado watch out earlier in the night, but that it was canceled an hour and a half BEFORE the tornado hit. The first warning we had was the noise. It was like a jet aircraft coming into town. I got my family and the kids and got them into the cellar just before it hit. I remember my wife trying to light a candle, and myself not being able to breath to well. I was able to get a quick glance out of the cellar while the tornado was over us. It looked like there was electricity inside of it. I'm not sure if it was metal hitting together or maybe static electricity. Debris was coming into the cellar and blocked the entrance. After the tornado passed we came out of the cellar. I looked down at my watch and it read 10:41 PM. The first thing I saw was a neighbor laying in a flooded street. One of the neighbors came up and said that my sister had been found in a ditch with a 2x4 through her. She made it, how I don't know, but she pulled through. There was a 1952 Chevy pickup in the tree in my front yard. The owner of the truck was found dead later outside of town. I walked through the damage. I remember not being able to tell what part of town I was in. We found another neighbor setting on a porch, setting down leaning up next to a pole like they were sleeping, but they were gone. The water tower had been knocked over and the streets were flooded. I saw an old model Ford setting in the street near the water tower and it looked like it had not been touched. The front window was still up, and it had not been broke.

 For more Udall tornado history, visit the official National Weather Service page here

Udall Community Historical Society

[1994] Volunteer-lead, the Udall Community Historical Society was established to preserve the history of Udall and its residents. 

[Today] The City of Udall continues to grow and build a better future while still paying homage to our past.

To learn more about the City of Udall and view artifacts from our past, visit the Udall Community Historical Society.