Ninety-one years ago, on March 18, 1925, what became known as the Tri-State Tornado ripped through Perry County, Missouri. It remains to this day as the deadliest tornado in U.S. history, killing 695 people and leaving an incredible path of destruction.
There is an amazing account of the Tri-State tornado which can be found here.
Here is a small excerpt which recounts how the tornado destroyed the parochial school on the Ridge:
“To the northeast, in the unincorporated community of Ridge, the Ridge Parochial School was squarely in the path of the violent twister. The wind began driving sheets of rain against the roof, and soon it blew the thick wooden door open. The teacher, determined not to let a little storm ruin her classes, ordered the students to hold the door closed against the storm. As the tornado bore down, it ripped the school from its foundation and sent it hurtling several yards into a nearby hillside. Miraculously, despite the complete destruction of the structure and dozens of serious injuries, none of the school’s occupants were killed.”
Just yesterday, Lynn Degenhardt told the story which he heard from his father. It involves Teacher Hemmann who was the subject of a blog a few days ago on this site. He recalled when the tornado was going through the area, Teacher Hemmann said to his class, “Kinder, jetzt wir beten müssen.” (Children, now we must pray.)
***Update: I have been informed by a good German that the phrase above should have said, “Kinder, jetzt müssen wir beten.” This is what happens when you rely on Google Translate.
Another story is told by Warren Schmidt. His relatives always recounted the story of Dorothy (Schaupert) Schmidt, his aunt, who as a baby was torn from her mother’s arms, only to be found in a nearby field after the tornado passed.
Here is a gallery of photos of this event which we have at the Lutheran Heritage Center & Museum: