Below is the transcript of an article in the Montgomery Advertiser of 28 March 1911 reporting the major cyclone (tornado) that swept through Monroe County the previous evening. This is the cyclone that killed my great grandfather Stephen Talmadge Byrd and injured Eugenia Mae, leaving her widowed with four children — Lottie Mae (7), Ollie Eugene (4), Clifford Curtis (just turned 3), and Lyda Percy (7 months). Family lore has it that Stephen was carrying Clifford and Lyda in his arms following Eugenia to safety — a root cellar, perhaps — when the storm hit. A large-format JPG of the much more detailed Monroe Journal article on 30 March is downloadable to the right.
Excel, Manistee & Jones Mill, AL Tornado, Mar 1911
CYCLONE WRECKS ALABAMA TOWNS
Two Known Dead and Many Seriously Hurt.
Storm Passes Entirely Through Monroe County Leaving Destruction In Its Path.
DETAILS SO FAR MEAGRE
About Two Miles From Jones Mill, James Bailey Was Crushed In His Home, and It Is Thought the Entire Family Were Killed Outright.
Repton, Ala., Mar. 27 — Three towns in Monroe county, Excel, Manistee and Jones’s Mill, were swept by a cyclone Sunday afternoon between 6 and 7 o’clock, as the result of which two persons, JIM BAILEY and STEVE BYRD, of the latter place, are known to have been injured. Many others are reported killed or injured, but owing to the fact that all three of the stricken places are more than twenty miles from here, details are lacking and it is doubtful if the full result of the cyclone will be known for several days.
Farmers Left Destitute.
It is impossible to estimate the loss at present, but many farmers whose property lay in the wake of the storm have been left in almost destitute circumstances as their cribs, smokehouses and household effects are a total loss, while great injury has been done to their stock.
The high wind came from a south-westerly direction and it is reported here that much of the wreckage in the shape of lumber and furniture was carried to Monroeville before it was dropped.
Manistee Suffers Greatly.
At Manistee, twenty-two miles west of Repton, the drug store of Dr. G.H. Harper was destroyed, the Masonic lodge home leveled to the ground, all the outbuildings owned by Dr. Massey ruined and many other structures are reported to have been more or less seriously damaged. Dr. Harper suffered a dislocated hip and a broken collar bone. Miss Alice Lambert and Alex Davis, who were driving in a buggy, were thrown out of the vehicle and both were seriously injured. It is understood that Miss Lambert has not recovered consciousness and the injuries she sustained may be of a fatal nature.
Cow Thrown Against Building.
On the place of Dr. Bussey great damage was done, his stock perhaps being the greatest sufferers. One cow was picked up by the cyclone and driven against the side of a building, its neck being broken and its head mashed into a pulp.
At Jones’s Mill the residence and outhouses of James Bailey, STEVE BYRD, Frank McCrory and James H. Jones, were destroyed. Mr. BYRD was killed outright, although the details of his death have not yet been ascertained. His wife and child were seriously injured.
Entire Family Reported Dead.
JAMES BAILEY was so seriously hurt that it is reported he has succumbed since the cyclone passed over the town. His wife and four children probably were killed. Frank McCrory and his family of nine, all were injured seriously, with the exception of the infant.
Although within the cyclone area the home of Representative Jones was left practically untouched.
At Excel a Mr. Chappell’s house, barn and other buildings and their contents were destroyed.
Timber Torn Up.
Quite a body of timber between Excel and Manistee Junction was destroyed and several buildings in the same neighborhood on both the east and the west side of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad are reported to have been swept from their bases.
The cyclone cut a swath about 130 feet in width, wherever it touched the ground.
Relief Parties Busy.
Relief parties have been organized and trip will be taken over the path of the cyclone. It is stated that any assistance needed by the sufferers will be given at once.
Owing to the violence of the wind it is believed that the latter news will tell of the death of others and the injury of many. It is safe to sat that the loss will run into the thousand of dollars.
The Montgomery Advertiser, Montgomery, AL 28 Mar 1911