More Hometown Heritage

More stories from readers about what makes their hometowns special.

| July/August 2010

Murphysboro, Illinois, Survived 1925 Tornado

My hometown of Murphysboro is located in southern Illinois and was hit by one of the worst tornadoes ever, in 1925. I wasn’t quite 3 yet, so I don’t remember it, but I have heard many stories about it from family members. According to the stories I’ve heard, the tornado traveled on the ground through three states, causing tremendous damage and destruction.

At the time, my family lived in one side of a duplex, and my aunt and uncle lived in the other side. On this particular day, Mom and Aunt Myrtle were returning home from buying fresh eggs from a farmer passing by on the street. Mom was carrying my baby brother, and Aunt Myrtle was carrying the eggs. Upon returning to the duplex, Mom and Aunt Myrtle each went to their respective homes. Mom had just my brother down on a cot in the living room, when Aunt Myrtle hollered, reminding Mom to get her eggs. So, Mom picked up my brother and went over to Aunt Myrtle’s house.

Suddenly, a tornado hit. The treacherous winds from the tornado took the entire roof, except a small area, off the duplex. On our side of the house, the window near the cot where my brother had just been, had been blown in, and the cot was covered with pieces of broken glass. Until our roof was repaired, my family and I lived in one room of the house.

Following the tornado, the newspapers reported how bad Murphysboro had been hit. Years later, a cousin gave me a book, complete with many photographs, about the damage our little town suffered when that devastating tornado blew through in 1925.

The Illinois State Museum in Springfield used to have a huge tree trunk with sticks embedded in it as a result of the tornado. However, the last time I visited the museum, I didn’t see it.

A few years ago, I was on a bus trip, and the tour guide mentioned something about each town we passed through. When we went through Murphysboro, I told her it was my hometown, and she asked if I was there during the 1925 tornado. I explained that I was, but that I was just a toddler and didn’t remember it. She then told our group about what a terrible tornado it had been and said, “We have a survivor of that tornado on our bus.”

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