(Transcribed from the May 17, 1933 edition of the Adair County News.)




Five Persons Are Dead in Adair and Thousands of Dollars Lost in Property Damage




Sections of Northern Tennessee and Southern Kentucky were laid in ruins on Tuesday night of last week [May 9th] when swept by one of the most terrific tornadoes ever recorded in this part of the United States. The storm came out of the southwest at about 8:30, according to witnesses, swept eastward and returned along the same path a little past 11:00 o'clock that night. It passed within five miles of Columbia and in Russell County within about one-half mile of Russell Springs.

Five persons were killed or died as a result of injuries in Adair County. They were: Mr. and Mrs. George Grider, of near Gentry's Mill; Bess Jones, colored, of Gadberry; Al Duvall and Ernestine Duvall, colored, of the Zion neighborhood. Rev. and Mrs. Roy Rediford and their 3-year-old child, all natives of this county, were killed in Tompkinsville. [The Kentucky death record index has entries for Roy Redeford, 30, & Rose Redeford, 28, both died May 9, 1933 in Monroe County; and for Billie Redford, four, who died May 10, 1933 in adjoining Barren County. Billie (his full name was James William) was born March 16, 1930, in Adair County; his mother was the former Miss Rose Compton. The Redifords had another child, Jessie R., born Ocotber 11, 1931 in Adair Co.]

After wrecking towns and leaving a death toll of approximately seventy-five persons in Northern Tennessee, with particularly heavy losses at Birdstown and Livingston, the storm swept through Monroe County, demolished 100 homes in and near Tompkinsville and killed eighteen persons.

The furious wind entered Adair southwest of Columbia and the first damage recorded was near Sparksville, where the home of Austin Gilpin and all outbuildings, with the exception of one old shack, was completely swept away. The Gilpin family had retired for the night when their house was blown over. A small boy who was sleeping on the second floor, managed to crawl uninjured from the ruins and ran several miles through the wind and rain to his grandparents for aid. Mr. and Mrs. Gilpin were both rescued but were ill from injuries and shock. The house owned by Ed Wheeler and family of Sparksville was also damaged by the wind.

The tornado cut a wide swath through Flat Woods, sweeping timber and small buildings in its path and passed on into the Gadberry neighborhood, where very serious damage was recorded. The home of Amanda Jones, of color, was destroyed, [and] her daughter, Bess Jones, 35 years old, was killed and four others were injured. Aunt Mary Jones, also colored, lost her house and a nine-year-old girl living there suffered a broken arm and other injuries.

The storm passed into the Zion neighborhood, wiping out a tenant house on the farm of Mr. Ernest Flowers, occupied by Al Duvall, of color, and family. A 7-year-old girl, Ernestine Duvall, was killed and six others in the family were badly injured. They were rushed to the Lebanon Hospital, where [Al] Duvall died on Thursday. His wife is not expected to live.

Thousands of dollars worth of the finest timber in Adair County was destroyed on the farm of Miss Fannie Holladay and Mr. W.A. Garnett. A barn belonging to Mr. Charlie Tupman was blown away.

The storm, moving eastward in its fury, swept away the new house of Irene Taylor, of color, in the White Oak section. Rainfall schoolhouse was destroyed. The house and outbuildings of Mr. Sam Conover were blown away but Mr. Conover, his wife and two children, who were sleeping in the house, were uninjured. White Oak church was damaged by a falling tree. Much other damage is reported in that section and in the Bailey neighborhood where Luther Bailey's place was wrecked and blown away.

The heaviest loss of life occurred near Gentry's Mill just before the tornado swept into Russell County. Mr. and Mrs. George Grider were killed outright when their home and outbuildings were blown to pieces. Mrs. Nathan Blankenship, who lives just over the county line in Russell, was also killed. [The Blankenships lived on current-day Hwy 1545, about 0.6 miles off Hwy 80, almost exactly two miles (as the crow flies) from the Adair-Russell line and nearly due east from the Gentry's Mill community.]

Theo Bryant, also of Russell County, was instantly killed, his wife injured and their home demolished.

Fourteen persons are known to have died in Russell County and sixty-nine are reported injured. Heavy rains have greatly retarded rescue work, which is being carried on by the Red Cross and State Board of Health workers.

Other damage reported since the above article was written are as follows:

A daughter of Lige Bragg, Price's Creek, was injured and his home destroyed.

A rented house belonging to Isaac Franklin was blown away.

Thompson Bell and Melvin Compton of near Weed, lost houses.

B.B. Janes lost some valuable timber in the Sparksville section.

Horace Young of near Zion lost some timber.

A house belonging to Lucian Hughes, of color, was destroyed in Flat Woods.

Several outbuildings were destroyed, a barn unroofed and 80 rods of wire fence blown away on the farm of Walter Holladay near White Oak. Some outbuildings were wrecked on Edgar Royse's farm and a large boundary of timber was blown down on the farm of George Royse.

W.C. Blair lost some good timber near White Oak, and George Conover lost a cow. Lucian Womack and Ivan Bryant also reported timber damage on their farms.