Genealogy Trails

Jackson County, Illinois

The Tornado of 18 Mar 1925

Murphysboro, Illinois

 Donated by Sue Stinson

Shauna Williams Photos

Other Pictures of Destruction

Kevin Cahill Photos

According to the Daily Independent, 19 Mar 1925: 125 reported dead so far, DeSoto reported 118 dead with the school collapsing, Gorham was destroyed, Murphysboro hit hard.

According to an account in the Benton Evening News, the tornado first touched down in Missouri, then crossed the river and hit Gorham, Murphysboro, DeSoto before going into Franklin Co to West Frankfort, then on to Indiana.  In Southern Illinois alone, 15,000 homes were destroyed, 2000 injured and 695 killed. Gorham lost 100 % of it buildings with 37 dead, Murphysboro lost 40% of its buildings with 234 died and DeSoto lost 30% of its buildings with 69 dead. At least 22 bodies were sent to St Louis and several to Cairo.

Time Line of the Tri State Tornado

Researched & written by J Gallagher 2007 for use by this site.

The tornado first touched down about 1 pm near ELLINGTON, MO and moved on south of REDFORD, MO.  Neither of this small towns were hit. 

1:15pm the tornado hit its first town, Annapolis, MO  4 people killed and 25 injured.  There were 85 houses in the area only 7 remained along with the school and a garage. At the same time a few miles away, the lead mine at Leadanna was hit,, 33 of the 45 houses plus all the mine builds and equipment destroyed.

1:26pm the storm passed by Cornwall, MO with no damage.  Then it entered the rural area of Bollinger Co., MO were 8 farms were totally destroyed and 8 died.  Victims

1:45pm the tornado hit near Lixville, MO .  There it hit the school killing one child, John Fulton. 16 others in town were injured.

2:00pm  Biehle in Perry Co, MO , the school was destroyed and 26 were injured.  4 people killed and another 11 were injured in the town. As the storm neared the Mississippi river, 30 more farms were damaged in the area.

2:15pm Wittenberg had 4 killed and 25 injured. Victims

2:23pm The storm left Missouri, crossing the Mississippi river just south of Tower Rock in Grand Tower, IL, but missed the town.  The storm raged over Big Hill and destroyed the town of Gorham, IL .  Every building was either destroyed or had major damage.  37 people died in Gorham. Newspapers listed the dead at 60-70 with 22 people sent to St Louis. Victims

2:25pm The Tornado passed through the Sand Ridge, IL area and killed 4 people. Victims

2:30pm The Tornado made a direct hit on Murphysboro, IL .  1,200 buildings lost.  The High School had 2 students die and 20 injured.  The Longfellow school had 11 children die when in imploded, 9 more died at the Logan school.  Men were working at the railroad shop and roundhouse, which was totally destroyed, 35 men died. The Blue Front Hotel collapsed, leaving many in the basement alive only to die when the building caught fire. The storm left 234 dead and 623 seriously injured. (another tornado hit town 18 Dec 1957 killing 10 and injuring 200).  Victims

2:36pm The storm travels to DeSoto, IL . According to one account 41 people were killed including 33 children who died when the school was leveled.  Newspapers listed the dead at 118. Victims

2:45pm Hits Bush in Williamson Co, IL.  Killed 7 and injured 37. Then rages on through rural northern Williamson Co and southern Franklin Co , leaving 24 dead and 18 injured.

3:00pm The storm has made its way to West Frankfort , in Franklin Co, IL were it first hit the Orient #2 coal mine.  About 600 miner where down in the mine, only 1 man was killed in the mine office.  The tornado hit the south side of town and destroyed 500 houses.  In its wake 182 dead and 410 injured.  Victims

3:10pm The tornado continued on its path to the small town of Parrish , in Franklin Co, IL.  All that was left was a church, the school and 1 house.  36 died and 60 were injured. Victims

3:15 The fury of the storm crossed Hamilton and White counties in IL.  Since this was mainly farm lands, the damage to human life was limited to 2 people killed near Crossville . Newspapers listed about 65 dead.

4:00pm As it traveled on, the tornado left IL, crossing over the Wabash river into Griffin, IN .  Most of the 90 building here were destroyed.  7 people burned to death at a cafe.  A total of 25 dead and 202 injured. Victims

4:09pm hits East Forks, IN area.

4:11pm Goes through Owensville, IN leaving 6 dead and 47 injured. Victims

4:18pm The south side of Princeton, IN is plowed through, hitting the Heinz plant & Southern Railroad shop.  The RR shop was level, a fireman & janitor died and the plant lost most of its 3rd floor, losing only 1 worker.  In all 45 died and 152 injured in Princeton. Victims

4:30pm In Outsville, IN the tornado hit one house and then dissipated. 

New Harmony, Posey County, IN coroner Samuel E. Davis, inquest of Golden Williams (original image).  Identified by his apparel on 22 Mar 1925.

The super cell storm & tornado had traveled 219 miles through 3 states leaving its path of destruction and death in only 3½ hours. In is wake killing 13 in MO, 541 in IL and 76 in IN.  Of the seriously injured 103 in MO, 1130 plus in IL and 401 in IN.  In total 630 people were killed and at the very least 1,634 seriously injured and untold thousands with minor injures.  

These newspaper articles was generously contributed by Sheila Cadwalader who obtained the article from a collection of Newspaper clippings at the Brehm Library in Mt. Vernon, IL. Some of the newspapers were not identified. A special thank you goes to Carla Pulliam who aided Sheila in compiling this information. The obituaries are extracts from Harold Felty's Legacy of Kin.  Submitted by Andrew Butcher

"18 Mar 1925--The list of known dead from Wednesday's tornado follows: "

Margaret NEAL       Fay HYDE
Ruth BROTHER, baby Ruby AUSTIN
Mrs. S.O. SOUTH  Mrs. SILB
___ BROWN   Tina May BRYANT
Frank WOODS   Mrs. Arch WILL
Nora WILL Millard BAKER
John BARR  Mrs. Barbara HALL
_____ AUSTIN      Mr. and Mrs. Frank REDD  (REED?)
Mrs. Morton BASH  Mrs. WESTWOOD
Helen WATTS    Viola FORD
Man Named OLIVER (name unclear)  Eula MORRISON
Mrs. Henry BULLARD  Joseph HARTLEY
Richard BEASLEY     R. L. HYDE
Mrs. ____ HUGHES  George HUGHES and daughter
Son of Rev. STECESS    _____ BAINBRIDGE, girl
_____ DICKSON, girl     Three unidentified women
One unidentified boy.

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