March 18, 1925 Cyclone
Contributed by Danene
Around 5:30 p.m. on March 18, 1925, a devastating tornado struck at least three districts in upper
Sumner County killing at least 27 people. This tornado was of great interest to me because,
following the deaths of my grandparents, I found pictures of the tornado's aftermath in their old
photo box. I knew the tornado had struck an area very close to where my grandfather had lived.
Last year I was sent a copy of a newspaper article published soon after the tragedy.
Unfortunately, the article had been cut from the paper, and no date or publication name was
provided. I am attempting to locate the source.
The following are some excerpts from the article:
"At Keytown, it first began to spread death. It destroyed the Martin
Key home and set fire to the splinters. Advancing a few yards further,
it struck the home of Luke Key, smote it aside, killing Key's aged
mother, who lay on her sick bed; killed Key's wife and injured his four
children and himself. Those four children were carried to a Nashville
". . . the tornado hurled a 4-foot tree onto the top of Jim Brizendine's
house; the weight of that tree secured the house and the Brizendine
family was snatched from death."
"A list of the dead as reported Thursday was as follows:"
(Danene's note: The information in parentheses following the person's name is
from my files or from the Sumner County Cemetery Book by Yorgason and Snyder. The
parenthetical information was NOT included in the article.)
- Jim Alison (The actual spelling of the last name is Allison. James T.,
age 44. The Allison family are all buried in Pleasant Hill Church
- Mrs. Nora Alison, wife of Jim Alison (Her name is incorrect. She was
Mary Lola Brown Allison, daughter of James Madison "Matt" and Billie
Reddick Brown. She was b. 28-OCT-1881.)
- Son, Clayton Alison, 16.
- Son, Bianker Alison, 14. (Name was Caska Bianca Allison.)
- Son, Cleo Alison, 6.
- Son, Oran Alison, 4.
- Son, Cordell Alison, 5.
- Daughter, Esma Alison, 20. (I have her name spelled as Ezma b. 07-JUN-1905.)
- Mrs. Ella Hughes, killed in same house with Alison family. (b.
17-OCT-1881, buried Patterson Cemetery)
- Henry Hughes, father-in-law of Mrs. Ella Hughes, killed one-fourth mile
from Alison home.
- Cleveland Hughes.
- Mrs. Cleveland Hughes.
- Gertie Hughes, 7.
- Nellie Reese, 5.
- Mrs. Matilda Key, aged 75, killed on sick-bed at Keytown, settlement
near Alison home.
- Mrs. Maude Key, daughter-in-law of Mrs. Matilda Key.
- Mrs. Sis Escue, Rock Bridge community. (Saphronia A. Escue b.
22-AUG-1866 d. 19-MAR-1925, bur. Sherron Cem.)
- Clyde Escue, son of Mrs. Sis Escue. (Clyde C. Escue, b. 29-JAN-1905,
bur. Sherron Cemetery)
- Mrs. Joe Durham, Anglea. (Ida P. Durham b. 29-DEC-1885, bur. Mt. Vernon
Methodist Ch. Cem.)
- Two children of Mrs. Joe Durham (Joseph J. Durham b. 31-MAR-1924, bur.
Mt. Vernon Methodist Ch. Cemetery)
- Pauline Beasley, Anglea.
- Charlie Durham, Anglea.
- Mrs. Charlie Durham, Anglea.
- Opal Durham, 15, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charlie Durham. (Opal C.
Durham b. 27-JUN-1910, bur. Mt. Vernon Methodist Ch. Cemetery)
- Mrs. Charlie Holmes, Liberty. (Willie Jane Holmes b. 12-OCT-1888, bur.
Mt. Vernon Methodist Ch. Cemetery)
Not included in the article, but found in the Sumner County, TN Cemetery Book by Yorgason
and Snyder is the following person with a death date on or near the date of the cyclone:
- Charlie Wilson Holmes (b. 2-JAN-1880 d. 21-MAR-1925, bur. next to Willie Jane Holmes in
Mt. Vernon Methodist Ch. Cem.)
The article may have incorrectly listed some of the Durham family members. The article
states that Opal Durham is a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charlie Durham. However, she is buried
next to Joseph J. Durham and Ida P. Durham, leading me to believe she is really a daughter of Mr.
and Mrs. Joe Durham.
In Mt. Vernon Methodist Church Cemetery are found the following listings:
- Chas. A. Durham Father 1887 - 1925
- Ima Durham Mother 1891 - 1925
- Lorena Durham 1921 - 1925
I suspect that Lorena is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charlie Durham
listed above, not Opal. Does anyone know for sure? If so, please e-mail me at KeylimeD@cs.com.
Update (August 1999): During my trip to Sumner County in July 1999, both Mrs. Theda
Womack and Mrs. Edith Martin Young confirmed the information provided above. Lorena was
the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charlie Durham. Opal was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Joe
Update (September 2001): Sent by Claude W. Nimmo (email@example.com)
Granville Wilson Nimmo of Westmoreland had a daughter killed or died from injuries 15 August
1925 from a Tornado...She being Mrs Nellie Nimmo Harris age 51...wife of Giles Harris.
This was surely a very sad time for the community. There were many
burials in Mt. Vernon Methodist Church Cemetery and Pleasant Hill Church Cemetery following
Photographs of the Allison, Durham, and Holmes
homesites following the March 18, 1925 cyclone
Return to Interesting Sumner Tidbits Page
Return to Sumner County Main Page