Monday, September 14, 2009

Zalma, Missouri 1917 Killer Twister

My mother and her three sisters hail from Zalma, Missouri. Zalma lies on the banks of the Castor River. Until recently, Main Street was dirt. Through tornadoes and floods the town troops on, a testimony to the pioneer spirit that still runs through the resident's veins. My grandfather Cletus O. Cato was two years of age when this tornado ripped through town.

Loss of Life From Tornado Placed at 79. Death Toll in the Missouri Storm Continues to Increase

St. Louis, Mo., May 21.--Seventy-eight persons were killed in the tornado that swept through several counties in southeast Missouri and southern Illinois Wednesday, according to dispatches received from various sources tonight. Hundreds were injured and property loss was enormous. Wires are down in the storm swept districts and communication virtually is impossible.

The greatest loss of life was at Zalma, a village in Bollinger county, Mo., where it was reported by the Globe-Democrat correspondent at Marble Hill that twenty-five lives were lost and 200 were injured. This report was taken to Marble Hill by Dr. Farrar, who said he was certain his estimate of the dead was conservative.

Fourteen persons were reported killed near Chaonia, in Wayne county, three at Ardeola, three at Aquilla, two at Salem, one at Lenox, four at Dongola, one at Advance, one at Bismarck, and several of those hurt at Mineral Point died, the total dead there now being placed at nine. Four negroes were killed in southern Illinois. The storm in Missouri was most severe in Bollinger, Scott, Wayne and Washington counties.

Started at Salem

The tornado evidently came into existence near Salem, Mo., early Wednesday afternoon.

There was no loss of life until the storm reached Mineral Point, in Washington county, where four were killed and twenty-six injured.

Relief has been sent to stricken points from St. Louis

A woman was reported dead at Dongola, and a boy was killed at Advance. Diehlstadt reported two deaths. A telegram from Cairo, Ill., stated that four negroes were killed in a storm that struck the southern part of Illinois last night.

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