March 18, 1925 Cyclone

Contributed by Danene Vincent

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 hospital."

    ". . . 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.)

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:

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:

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

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 Durham.

Update (September 2001): Sent by Claude W. Nimmo (
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 the cyclone.

Photographs of the Allison, Durham, and Holmes homesites following the March 18, 1925 cyclone

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