The Tornado of 1925

Hamilton County, IL

* These newspaper articles was generously contributed by Sheila Cadwalader who obtained the article from a collection of Newspaper clippings at the Brehm Library in Mt. Vernon, IL.  The Some of the newspapers were not identified.  A special thank you  goes to Carla Pulliam who aided Sheila in compiling this information. The obituaries are extracts from Harold Felty's Legacy of Kin.  Thanks, Sheila!


Terrible Tornado Wipes Out Many Lives In Hamilton County
Hundreds Injured; Many Families Unaccounted For;
All In Stricken Territory Destitute and Homeless.

March 30, 1925

The most terrible tornado in the history of the country swept out of the heavens about 3 o’clock Wednesday afternoon, leaving in its wake a path of death and destruction.  The catastrophe spread over southern Illinois, wiping out nearly 1500 people at the following places:  West Frankfort, Gorham, Elizabeth, Annapolis, MO, Altonburg, MO, Griffin, Ind, and Princeton, Ind.  Over 5000 people are believed to have been killed and approximately two hundred injured in Hamilton County.  The terrible wind swept a mile strip through Hamilton County, entering near Macedonia and making its exit at St Patrick’s church at the White County line, creating one of the most devastating scenes ever witnessed.  Not a house or outbuilding in the stricken vicinity is standing, woods are torn up, roads blocked, hundreds of heads of live stock are killed and injured.

Arrangements have been made with the L & N Railroad to secure special trains to carry the injured to the various surrounding hospitals in Mt Vernon, Harrisburg, St Louis and Evansville, this morning (Thursday).  As many as possible will be cared for at the hastily installed Red Cross hospital in the Mary E C McCoy Library building.  The reported dead at this time are as follows:

Emery Loyd, Mrs. Lando Ballard, Mrs. Bob Ballard, and two children, Mrs. Harriet Tyler and daughter, Monroe Lampley, Mrs. John Ray, Lonnie Smith and three children;  Mr. and Mrs. John Trobaugh, Wesley Cluck, 12-year old son of Moses Mayberry, Mr. and Mrs. Sumner Hollister and daughter, Leslie Price’s baby  (Leslie Prince), Bob Adams and wife, Lando

Ballard, Elza Wilson and family, William Hanagan, Rev Marion Pitman, Carl Hunt, John B Lockwood, Frank Oglesby, Sam Flannigan, Arthur Flannigan.


First Death Occurred At Red Cross Hospital Sunday Night - Result of Tetanus

The tornado’s death toll in Hamilton County was swelled to thirty-three when one more of its victims, W C Cheek died at the Red Cross emergency hospital of this city at 8:30 o’clock Sunday night.

Cheek, who resided with his brother, Chalon Cheek, in the Lick Creek community was seriously injured when the home was swept away.  It is said that he became indifferent and gave up all hope for recovery when he learned that his little niece, Mina Gertrude Tyler (also listed as Taylor) who was the apple of his eye, had been killed.

Although 91,500 units of tetanus anti-toxin were administered to Cheek who had contracted tetanus as the result of his injuries, it was of no avail, due to the fact that pneumonia set in as a result of his exposure.  His jaws locked for 96 hours prior to his death.

This was the first fatality to occur at the emergency hospital.  Funeral services were held Monday afternoon.  

March 28, 1925


Mrs. Janie Cheek, 48,   McLeansboro  Route 6  
Mina Gertrude Taylor, 8, McLeansboro  Route 6  
Emery Loyd, 44, McLeansboro  Route 6  
Mrs. Edna Ballard, 23, McLeansboro  Route 6  
Vonnie May Ballard, McLeansboro  Route 6  
Lottie Jane Ballard, 1, McLeansboro  Route 6  
Mrs. Martha Adams, 69, McLeansboro  Route 6  
Mrs. Mary Ballard, 52, McLeansboro Route 6  
John R VanWinkle, 26, McLeansboro  Route 7  
Robert P Adams, 74, McLeansboro  Route 7  
Charles Leslie Prince, 1, McLeansboro  Route 7  
W Sumner Hollister, 45, McLeansboro  Route 7  
Mrs. Rosetta Hollister, 49, McLeansboro  Route 7  
Mrs. Media Forrister, 25, McLeansboro  Route 7  
Lonnie  Smith, 45, McLeansboro  Route 3  
Mrs. Lillie Smith, 40, McLeansboro  Route 3  
Roy Smith, 21, McLeansboro  Route 3  
Belva Smith, 17, McLeansboro  Route 3  
John B Lockwood, 71, McLeansboro  Route 3  
Sam Flannigan, 38, McLeansboro  Route 4  
Columbus Hicks, 80, Thompsonville   
Martha Hicks, 48, Thompsonville   
Wesley Cluck, 40, McLeansboro  Route 5  
John Lampley, 65, Macedonia    
Francis Marion Pittman, 50, McLeansboro  Route 4  
Carl Hunt, 21, McLeansboro  Route 4  
Frank Oglesby, 60, McLeansboro  Route 3  
Earl Mayberry, 12, McLeansboro  Route 5  
Mrs. Minerva Ray, 44, McLeansboro  Route 7  
Ollie Flannigan, 40, McLeansboro  Route 4  
Mrs. Charles Webb, McLeansboro  Route 7  
Mrs. Walter Mick, McLeansboro  Route 5  


Charles Cheek, son of John and Susan Cheek, was born in Hamilton County, Illinois, October 22, 1879, and died March 29, 1925.  He was 45 years; 5 months and 7 days old at the time of his death. He was preceded in death by his parents and two brothers,  Allie and Ezra Cheek, and one sister, Laura Thompson, and leaves to mourn his death one brother, Chalon Cheek, of McLeansboro;  and two sisters, Mrs. Lizzie Clark of McLeansboro, and Orilla Olivers of Catr__, Mo.

Forester,  Martha Almedia Hicks d. 2 Apr 1925
Thursday, April 2, 1925
Martha Almedia Hicks, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. C C Hicks, born April 17, 1902 aged 22 years and 11 months and 1 day;  killed in cyclone March 18, 1925. She was united in marriage to Ezra Forester, November 15, 1922, and to this union was born one daughter, Thelma Fay, who preceded the mother in death. She leaves to mourn a loving companion, four brothers and three sisters, namely:  Allie and Hugh Hicks of McLeansboro; Chris of Redlands, California;  Ella Nipper and Maria Moore of McLeansboro; Amy hicks of Evansville, Indiana; (names six), and a number of relatives and friends. She often said she was ready to meet her blessed Savior when he called her.  She had a kind and loving disposition and to know her was to love her.
Funeral services were held at the Albion Presbyterian church, conducted Rev Quinten V Williamson, Pastor  of the First Christian Church, assisted by Elder John B Maulding. Internment took place in the Albion Cemetery.  (see Hollister obit)
Hollister, Rosetta Webb Hicks Moore  d. 18 Mar 1925 Thursday, April 2, 1925
Rosetta Webb, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. E E Webb, was born May 31, 1875 killed by the cyclone, March 18, 1875, aged 49 years, 9 months and 18 days. She was united in marriage to C C Hicks, February 4, 1892, and to this union seven children were born, namely:  Ella Nipper, Allie Hicks, Hugh Hicks of McLeansboro;  Lee and Chris Hicks of Redlands, California;  Amy Hicks of Evansville, Indiana; and Media Forester, who preceded her in death but a few minutes. Her husband also preceded her in death on March 6, 1911.She was again married to J H Moore, September 3, 1913, and to this union one daughter, Madeline Marie, was born. October 20, 1922, she was married to W S Hollister, who was killed in the cyclone a few minutes before her death. She leaves to mourn seven children, three brothers, and four sisters and many other relatives and friends. She was a kind and loving companion, mother and neighbor. Some time ago she professed faith in Christ and to read the Holy Bible was her greatest pleasure.  Only a few days ago she told her children that she prayed that they would prepare for Heaven for life was short and death was sure.
Hollister, W Sumner   d. 18 March 1925
(according to wife’s obituary and newspaper listing of the dead) 1925-72
Lockwood,  John B  d. 19 Mar 1925
John B Lockwood was born 19 April 1853 and died 19 March 1925, a cyclone victim.  He was the son of John Barthlomew and Sarah Flint Lockwood.  He married Eliza Titsworth on 23 Feb 1873.  Five children:  Christopher Lockwood, West Frankfort;  Annie Hungate is deceased;  Clyde Lockwood is deceased;  Doug Lockwood, Carbondale;  Joe Lockwood, Zeigler.  Leaves wife, 3 children, two brothers:  Joe of McLeansboro and Dougles of Galatia; 1 sister, Mrs Alice Ingram, Centralia;  2 half-sisters:  Mrs Nancy Hungate , Marion, Indiana; and Mrs Zonis Rogers, Braden.
Oglesby,  Retta/Rella   d. 3 Oct 1925
Rella was born 1 October 1888 and died 3 October 1925, daughter of George and Missouri Harrison Denny.  Married Walter Oglesby 18 Mar 1906.  Four children:  Willie, Leland, Gladys and Clarence.  Leaves 7 siblings:  Lydia Hunt, Farmington, MO;  Cora Pressley, McLeansboro;  Bessie Allen, Carterville;  Gracie Miller,  East St Louis;  Marie Lesalie, Dixon; Augustus & Earl Denny, both of Sullivan, Indiana.  Interred at Mt Olive Cemetery.
Oglesby, F M  d. 18 Mar 1925
F M Oglesby was born January 1851; was killed by the cyclone Mar 18, 1925, aged 74 years, 2 months. He was married to Josephine Johnson Johnson in 1874, and to this union six children were born , four boys and two girls, namely:  Emory of Herrin, Illinois;  Leiza of Lake Fork; Walter of McLeansboro;  Raymond, Chloe and Lillie preceded his in death. He and his wife lived happily together until her death. He was again united in marriage to Nola Oneal, and to this union one child was born, Ralph of McLeansboro. He was a member of the A F & A M Lodge at Walpole. He leaves a brother, John Oglesby, besides the above named children, and many other relatives and friends. Funeral services were conducted by Rev N C Henderson of Carrier Mills, after which the Masonic Lodge took over the ceremonies.
Pittman, Rev. Frances Marion  d. 18 Mar 1925
Frances Marion Pittman was born 3 December 1856, seven miles south of McLeansboro, and died 18 Mar 1925, at his home in Knight’s Prairie, a tornado victim.  He was the son of John M and Edith Dale Pittman.  He married Emmer Irene Younger in September 1874, she died in 1880;  three children:  Mrs Fayette Cantrell, Broughton;  Louis I died in infancy;  and Chester of Vincennes, Indiana.  Mr. Pittman married Margaret Bryant of Saxton, Kentucky, she died in 1883.   He then married Eliza J Claxton of Oneida, Tennessee on 4 July 1885, she died in 1908.  Eight children:  Harr L and Iva R, both deceased;  Six children survive: Chalon E of Quincy;  Mrs Dougls Younger, Piggott, Arkansas;  Mrs R Wright, Herrin;  Mrs Edith Pittman, Galatia;  Mrs Earl Russell, Broughton;  and Paul Pittman, McLeansboro.  Leaves 9 grandchildren, two brother and 3 sisters.  Interred Knights Prairie.
Smith,       Lonnie                             d. 18 Mar 1925
                  Lillie Lockwood               d. 18 Mar 1925
                  Roy                                  d. 18 Mar 1925
                  Belva                                d. 18 Mar 1925
                  (Willie Smith b. 22 Jun 1905 survives)
Webb, America
Mrs. America Webb, daughter of David and Becky Ballard, was born in Hamilton County, Illinois, August 29, 1875;  died from injuries received during the tornado at age 49 years and 7 months. She was married to Charley Webb, August 25, 1829 (?), and to this union twelve children were born, one of whom died in infancy.  Six boys and five girls survive, namely:  David, Elvis, George Roe, Lando and Oakley, Mrs. T R Emmerson, Mrs. Elsie Nipper, Mrs. Ed Wheeler, Mrs. Spruce Walters, and Bertha Webb. She professed faith in Christ at an early age and united with the General Baptist Church at Lick Creek and lived a faithful Christian until death. She was a loving mother and a good neighbor.  To know her was to love her.  Her friends are legion.  She leaves to mourn their loss the above named children and fourteen grandchildren. Our lost  is her eternal gain, her husband having preceded her in death about four years ago. We will say farewell for just a short time, but we do not mourn as those who have no hope.  Funeral Services were held at Sneed church, March 25, conducted by Rev. Bob Pierce of  Norris City.

The following photos are of the devastation caused by the tornado near Olga in Hamilton County.  They were contributed by Wanda Cross.  Thanks, Wanda!

Franklin County
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