Fantastic day in West Frankfort at the Frankfort Area Genealogical Society!

March 27th, 2012 @ // One Comment

WEST FRANKFORT—One of the towns that was badly hit by the Tri-State Tornado 87 years ago last week (March 18, 1925) was West Frankfort in Franklin County, where we held a very successful signing event last Wednesday, March 21.

West Frankfort’s southwest side was badly struck by the tornado and resulted in the second highest death toll for the tornadic event, 148, behind Murphysboro (with 234). The tornado  left an indelible mark on the city, however, and its storm survivors…several of whom came to see me at the event!

I spoke with no fewer than FOUR survivors, ranging in age from 91 to 95 (meaning they were ages four to eight when the tornado struck), all of whom described the day to me in great detail. One dear lady told of the mining community of Orient, which was essentially wiped out, almost to be forgotten after the storm (there are a few maps that still claim the name for that feature on it.)

The beautiful lady seated next to me is Reba Bennett; Reba, along with the gorgeous gal in red, are both tornado survivors

The lovely gal in purple is Reba's daughter


Some of the most incredible photos in the book came from West Frankfort, and include shots of Red Cross tents, destroyed homes with vehicles sitting outside them only slightly damaged, animals walking around the tents, and more. In fact, the cover shot of the book comes from West Frankfort. I learned last Wednesday that the man who likely shot that photo was Hanson Purcell, who was employed as the editor of the Daily American paper at the time. Mr. Purcell’s grandson, David, who is an attorney in Mt. Vernon in the office of appellate judge Bruce Stewart, came to see me and purchase books for those in his family, who are all well-versed in the story of the tornado.

Best of all, the society serves a luncheon every Wednesday (complete with homemade dessert!) at a low cost and provides an opportunity for seniors in the area to come and socialize, have a good meal, and raise a little money for the museum and society, located in the old Logan School building. I’d like to take the opportunity to plug the society and museum, and inform everyone that they can  always use a bit of help on Wednesdays preparing and serving the meal….and if you can’t travel to help, donations are accepted; just click the link to see an  address.

Thank you Frankfort Area Museum and Genealogical Society, for hosting the signing!

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One Comment → “Fantastic day in West Frankfort at the Frankfort Area Genealogical Society!”

  1. […] 120-mile stretch across Illinois, 541 people were killed, including 234 at Murphysboro, 148 at West Frankfort, and 60 at De Soto.  An overview of this tornado disaster can be found at the Paducah NWS’s […]

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