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Transcribed and submitted by: Sherry

1927 Tornado News

'The Daily Republican', Poplar Bluff, MO -
Wednesday Evening, May 11, 1927


  "The  destructive  tornado  which
     struck Poplar Bluff Monday afternoon wrecking  practically  every  business
     building, snuffing out scores of lives and  injuring  hundred's  of  others
     left the citizen, as is usual in such  calamities,  stunned  by  the  awful
     catastrophe. None could realize that the splendid business  buildings,  the
     prosperous mercantile establishments and other institutions,  which  go  to
     make up a beautiful and prosperous community, had been  wiped  out  in  the
     twinkle of an eye. Many of these places had been  years  in  the  building.
     Many of the citizens had spent the  better  part  of  their  lives  in  the
     directing the growth of their business and for a time there was a fear that
     the task of rebuilding would be a burden greater than the  community  could

     But with the generous and timely help of our  neighboring  communities  the
     work of burying the dead and caring for the injured is under way and  today
     we see the spirit of Poplar Bluff in evidence. Streets are being cleared of
     the mass of wreckage, electric service is being restored, temporary repairs
     are being made and the citizenship of the city is carrying on.

     Communities are characteristic of the type of these individual citizens and
     we are proud to say that no where will there be  formed  a  high  class  of
     citizenship than that which has labored for  many  years  in  developing  a
     small backwood village to a city of beautiful homes, well paved and lighted
     streets, splendid schools and churches  and  prosperous  manufacturing  and
     mercantile establishments. To many of us this is the city of our choice. We
     came here because we were attracted by its natural advantage, all of  which
     were left untouched by the recent catastrophe.

     To be sure the task of rebuilding will not be an easy one. It will tax  our
     efforts and our ingenuity to the utmost. It means that  our  confidence  in
     our city, in our fellow man and in ourselves must remain unshaken  and  out
     of it all will emerge a greater and bigger and better Poplar Bluff.

     Are Poplar Bluffians down hearted?  Are  they  disgusted  with  efforts  to
     building the finest and best city in  Southeast  Missouri?  The  answer  is
     found on every hand - - a thousand times NO! Poplar Bluff will be  rebuilt,
     bigger and better than ever."

Charles Miller, probably the largest individual property owner and well- known local merchant, returned to Poplar Bluff yesterday from St. Louis where he went Sunday to be at his wife's bedside during an operation. Mr. Miller this morning said Poplar Bluff could count on him to rebuild all his damaged buildings. "I'm really puzzled, yes," he said, "I just can't realize what has happened. It seems like a dream to leave Poplar Bluff a good little city and to return only to find it in ruins." "I am going to rebuild everything I own just as quickly as possible," said Miller. "Labor is scarce and some of us will have to wait to get help to handle our work, but just as quickly as I can arrange to do so, work will be started on all my buildings. I will build them bigger and better than ever before." Miller's large store building on South Main street was badly damaged by the storm. Other buildings of his were also wrecked. -------------------
Red Cross workers yesterday morning found Mrs. B. Deen in a pile of debris near her home in East Poplar Bluff. She had been pinned under the wreckage Monday afternoon and remained there through the rain that night. She was badly injured. She was taken to a hospital in a very serious condition. --- ----------------
Fine New Building to Replace One Damaged - School Not To Be Resumed This Year. There will be no more school this year in the East Side school, struck hardest by the tornado Monday afternoon. J. H. Woopers, president of the school board, said this morning, the board has agreed to suspend school at once, since there are only a few more days of school scheduled for this term. "Not long ago we revised all our insurance on school building," he said, "and we are well protected. We will plan immediately to put up a real building in East Poplar Bluff. We hope to have one of the finest schools in the city there." "Since one of our schools had to be hit by the terrible tornado, it is probably well, form a standpoint of building conditions, that the East Side school was hit. Of course it is a terrible thing that the children had to suffer. Some of them were killed, which makes it the more terrible. Those distress parents and children certainly have the heartfelt sympathy of the school board and the people generally." -------------------
A labor bureau has been opened at Lyceum Theater building. This bureau will be a hearing house between labor and employes. Al people seeking jobs may apply at the labor bureau, and their applications will be filed in their respective lines of work. People wanting labor may apply at the bureau. Frank J. Schweitzer is in charge of the bureau. He will have names of all people wanting work, including carpenters, brick masons, shod carriers and other classes of labor. This bureau is organized, he said, to aid in rehabilitation of the stricken area. ------------------- The Frisco passenger train encountered the tornado which visited Poplar bluff at Hoxie Monday afternoon. Two coaches loaded with passenger(s) were thrown off the track, and conductor Rice and Brakeman Steck were injured. It was considered miraculous that more passengers were not hurt. The engineer cut his engine loose and came on to Poplar Bluff arriving here at midnight. -------------------
Grief Stricken Prepare to Bury Dead
Nearly a hundred grief stricken families today were preparing to bury their dead following the worst tornado that has ever struck Poplar Bluff. The death list continued to mount today, with discovery of other bodies in the ruins of the old Riverside building and other collapsed structures. The list of dead now is ninety-one with possible other bodies to be found. Funeral services for some of the tornado victims will be held tomorrow. Other bodies have been shipped to various points for funeral rites. -------------------
Child Dies
Little Harry Rexford, 12-year old son of Mr. and Mrs. Ray Rexford of North B. street, and one of the victims of the East Side school wreck, died enroute to a hospital in St. Louis last evening. The body was returned to Poplar Bluff this afternoon for burial tomorrow. The body of Pat Barnett was taken from the ruins of the old Riverside this afternoon. Other bodies are expected to be found there. The Board of Health this afternoon announced that free typhoid inoculations would be given those wishing such treatment, beginning at 2 o'clock Thursday afternoon and continuing for a week. Three "shots" will be requested, each patient being informed when to return.
Many Injured
The Red Cross estimates that between 350 and 400 were injured to such an extent that treatment was necessary. Many others were less seriously hurt. Searching parties continued this afternoon to prod the wreckage of the Melbourn hotel, the south Broadway pool room, the Riverside and various other buildings. Sixty-one people were being treated at the hospitals. Milton Moore, negro porter, and employed at Dalton's store, was the only employe (continued on Page Two) [get rest of story ] -------------------
Read the death list THE DEAD
The Daily Republican has been seriously handicapped in its work during the past two days because the press room was flooded with water, damaging the large motors used to drive the presses. The typesetting machines were also damaged. A large crew has been at work yesterday and today trying to get the equipment in condition. Every effort will be made to issue a normal newspaper tomorrow, although conditions are as yet questionable. The subscribers are asked to bear with The Daily Republican until such time as normal operations of the newspaper plant can be restored. The equipment of the Montgomery & Son job shop was in use today in getting out this small paper. -------------------
Funeral services for William O. Boyt, will be held at the Christian church at 2:30 o'clock Thursday afternoon. The Rev. A. L. Wilkinson will have clergy. -------------------
Hundreds of men were busy today clearing the wreckage of the business district of the city laid waste by the tornado, torrential storm and disaster, that wrought a two million dollar property damage here Monday. The city has the appearance of renewed industry and the devastated area of the business district is being removed with all possible haste. A hurry and scurry of busy workers on every wrecked building, with the property owners directing and assisting the arduous tasks of removing the tangled inasses of ruins, shows signs that Poplar Bluff is to be rebuilt in record time. -------------------
Will Rebuild
Property owners seen today state that all the building damaged beyond repair will be rebuilt from the ground up and that rebuilding will be started at once. The owners talked freely of their plans and a check up discloses that the entire devastated area will be made ready for occupation with all possible haste. A new Butler County courthouse will be built. It was stated in court circles that the building was damaged beyond repair, though still standing with its walls and roof, cracked and leaning, shows signs of danger to those working inside to save the records of the county. The building is partly covered by insurance. -------------------
Rebuild Club.
The Elks Club, a tangled mass of ruins, is to be rebuilt. Removing the wreckage started today. The building was fully covered by insurance. Property owners in the downtown section, who stated today their buildings would be built and repaired without delay, included W. N. Barron, Charles Miller, Mrs. W. W. Trner, Carl and Ed Abington, C. M. Ducam, Grover Dalton, Snider and Hamilton, Walker {need the 'rest of the story .} -------------------
The Daily Republican Poplar Bluff, MO -
Thursday Evening, May 12, 1927 - pg 3 TORNADO SIDELIGHTS
Dr. Z. Lee Stokely was working on a patient at his office when the storm stuck. Stokely turned to look at the flurry of wind and hail, and as he was standing in the window and before realizing anything else, he found himself standing amid a pile of brick and debris on the sidewalk below. Stokely said he looked up and the patient was still seated in the dentist chair. -- ----------------- Tricks of the wind when recounted today brought forth one of unusual interest when it was found that the works from a wrist watch worn by Miss Lena Farnham were taken from the case and deposited on a counter across the room. The watch crystal and works were found together. ------------------- An iron lid for a coal hole on the sidewalk in front of the Ducker hotel, was lifted from its position and carried away. It has not been found. The lid weighs possibly 75 pounds. ------------------- Mrs. Sherman Ballard, who was the only member of her family at home on Sixth street at the time of the tornado, narrowly escaped death when her home was picked up and sailed in the air for several hundred feet and then fell to the ground in shattered pieces when it struck a telegraph pole. Mrs. Ballard was pin- [need the 'rest of the story] ------------------- Many wild and thrilling stories were started on the streets yesterday and today. Reporters went scurrying about endeavoring to get the low-down on such reports. However, in virtually every case it was found that the rumors were started by someone with a magnified imagination. ------------------- The speed with which streets were cleaned following the tornado was remarkable. Industry is on every hand. Men are cleaning streets, searching debris, repairing buildings and doing other work of a substantial nature. ------------------- Thirteen must have been a "bad luck" number Monday afternoon because the Western Union clocks stopped at 3:13 o'clock, indicating that was the hour the storm struck. These clocks are electrically driven, and stopped as soon as the wires were broken. ------------------- Trainmen operating the special train from Poplar Bluff to Dexter, to get doctors and guardsmen Monday afternoon, are to be complimented for their efforts. They assumed charge of a local freight train when it was turned over to a newspaper man, and did all possible for a stricken city. The crew was composed of W. M. Estes, conductor, J. F. Stewart, V. Stewart and S. Louis, brakeman, Tom S. Blackwell, engineer, and Fireman Ward. ------------------- Eighteen hours after the tornado, Otto Christian and John Gorman heard the cries of a baby from the debris, near the East Side School. After digging down through the timbers, they found the 4 month old baby girl of Henry Brown. The child had lived in the wreckage for 18 hours. ------------------- The Dalton Furniture Store, the largest furniture store in Southeast Missouri, was piled in a heap on the ground with 14 people in the store and one one death. The colored porter, Milton Moore, is beneath the ruins, it is quite evident, although the body has not been found. Woodard Baldwin and Miss Gertrude Stokely remained in the office of the store, on the second floor, John Casey and two customers on the third floor in the rug department, and the other employees of the store and three customers on the first floor and in the basement. The small space in which Miss Stokely and Mr. Baldwin stood was the only place on that floor left hanging. After the storm had passed they swung down a pole and went on down to an opening which they could see. The other employees and customers found small openings from which they escaped. A traveling man in the building at the time it collapsed cannot be accounted for, and it is not known if he escaped. -------------------
Another Body Is Found in the New Melbourne
The body of a man believed to be Crit McCollum of Corning, Ark., was taken from the ruins of the New Melbourne hotel this afternoon. The body was horribly mashed, being located under tons of brick. The searching crew believes other bodies will be found in that part of the building. Lack of help has caused considerable delay in the work of prodding the ruins of various buildings, it was said today. Other people are asked to assist in this work. Little work could be done last night because of the lack of lights and shortage of labor. -------------------
Free Wood For Those Wanting To Haul It Out
People wanting kindling wood may help themselves to the portions of building wrecked and thrown into the streets, city police announced today. Anyone wanting to get loads of the old lumber may drive into the city and load it on their wagons bring trucks in order that the debris may be cleared away as soon as possible. -------------------
'Daily American Republican Poplar Bluff, Butler Co., MO - Wed., May 21, 1962, pg 11A:
[Three photos of the devastation of building destroyed by the 1927 tornado tried to scan the 'copied' images but they didn't turn out well enough to be viewable] Caption beneath the photos: IT HAS BEEN 35 YEARS since the Poplar Bluff tornado, but the memory lingers with many persons who were here at the time. John Burns, 939 Park, dug out these pictures a few days ago --- grim reminders of the storm. The top picture is the old Dalton-Baldwin building (now Woolworths); the middle picture looking south from in front of the post office on Broadway, the old Fraternal Building on immediate right, and lower picture is what was left of the three-story brick Melbourn hotel, just back of the Dunn. The tornado hit at shortly past 3 in the afternoon of May 9, 1927.
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