Following the book signing in Fairfield last month (June 2, 2012), I was contacted by Barbara M. Hawkins from Rochester, Minn.
Barbara, who is originally from western Wayne County, wanted to order a book and had missed the signing…but further, she had an amazing story to tell.
In brief, it goes like this:
Barbara’s grandmother, Ettie Johnson, lived south of Keenes, Illinois, during the March 18, 1925 Tri-State Tornado. After the tornado passed (considerably south of Keenes; with the closest vicinity to that little burg being directly south down in Hamilton County), Ettie found a well-preserved quilt block in her yard.
She took this block and embroidered “TORNADO 1925″ on it:
Then she was able to gather up materials to match or at least coordinate with those of the original block, and create an entire quilt:
Ultimately, Ettie preserved the quilt (although it was well-worn through the years) and it was passed on to her daughter, Ivy Braddy of north of Keenes, who then passed it on to her daughter, who is Barbara Hawkins. Barbara sent these photos and this amazing story.
I never cease to be in awe of tales like this; it was exactly this kind of thing that prompted my interest in the Tri-State Tornado, when my grandpa, Ross Mason, sat in the heat of an August 1981 summer and told me about finding an immaculate bolt of red calico fabric in the river bottoms near Rattlesnake Bluff, on the Little Wabash between Wayne and Edwards counties. What gets carried on the drafts of the winds of a massive tornado, and survives virtually unscathed, is nothing short of miraculous…and for those who haven’t read the book yet, I’ll not spoil the final chapter for you….