Wednesday, May 9, 2012

85th Anniversary of Devastating Tornado

This afternoon, four score and five years ago, a tornado wrought destruction and death to the city of Poplar Bluff.  This will be remembered and marked by a few but go unnoticed by most.  May 9, 1927, may have left the community in pieces that day but life went on.

Two days later, "The Daily Republican", published a double-sided, one page edition with the banner headline "Poplar Bluff Will Rebuild".  One column contains a list the deceased.  Over 100 died that day.  As I delved further into my own genealogy research, that list became very personal after finding a death certificate for my great-great grandfather.  I had never read the list, just glanced over it. Looking back, sure enough, there he was: J.W. (John Wesley) Huson, my great-great grandfather.  The death certificate was submitted by D.B. Deem, Justice of the Peace, Acting Coroner (author of Deem's History of Butler County).

I have yet to discover where he was precisely.  His occupation was always listed as being a farmer but double checking the 1920 Census and following up with his widow in the 1930 Census, street addresses for Poplar Bluff were listed on the far left columns of both.  So many of my ancestors were farmers and always listed as "rural", "county road", or "country road", I'd become blind to the street address portion of the Census.

I definitely learned my lesson.  Even if you think you're familiar with a record, it's never a bad idea to take another look. You may find a new clue that leads you to additional information.  If nothing else, you'll be confirming what you already knew.

You can see the resulting devastation in a series of photographs, including a scanned image of the first post-storm edition of "The Daily Republican" published on May 11th, on the library's website.

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