Jackson County IL Archives News.....Citizens Now Rebuilding Murphysboro: 208 Dead - 1200
Injured March 21, 1925
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Mary Riseling riseling(a)insightbb.com July 29, 2006, 2:18 am
The Daily Independent Newspaper, Murphysboro, IL March 21, 1925
The citizens of Murphysboro are of one heart and aim in their desire and
determination to rebuild Murphysboro and accomplish that goal at the very
earliest possible moment and confidence prevails. The citizenry is looking
forward to the complete reconstruction of Murphysboro and all seem to be
determined to do all in their power to assist in that task.
Friday morning a large group of interested townsmen gathered at the Elks'
Club, and took inventory of the situation. At that meeting, it was unanimously
voted that a public memorial funeral service be held in Murphysboro on Sunday
afternoon at the court house square. It was the unanimous opinion that our dead
should be buried with the utmost respect, and that, as it was next to impossible
to have a separate service for all, that a public service would be a fitting and
honored way in which none would be denied proper funeral rites. All ministers
and priests will take part in the funeral service.
Gov. Len SMALL made a hurried trip to Murphysboro and was present at the
meeting in the Elks Club. He spoke to those assembled, and told of the willing
assistance which the state government stood ready to give, and pledged the
entire resources of the state to Murphysboro's relief.
State representative Elbert WALLER also spoke before the meeting, and stated
that whatever way in which he could serve Murphysboro he would be most glad to
act. He told of a conversation which he had with legislators from Chicago, and
told those men that they would be for any state legislation which might be
introduced for the benefit of Murphysboro in her time of need.
Isaac K. LEVY, prominent local attorney, who is chairman of the relief
committee then called upon local men in the audience to speak whatever they had
on their minds. Attorney LEVY then spoke himself, and was eloquent in his
praise of the noble work which had been done, and was most optimistic in his
opinion and belief that Murphysboro would come out of the disaster a bigger and
better city than ever before. Among the speeches made by local men, the works
of Chas. L. RITTER stood out most prominently because of their wisdom and
optimism. Mr. RITTER closed very earnestly by declaring that he would willingly
give his life to rebuilding and reconstruction of Murphysboro.
It was reported at the meeting that the relief work had been very ably and
wonderfully taken care of, and that the relief organization was functioning
Attorney LEVY then stated that he thought it fitting that a general
statement should be made to the world from Murphysboro telling of the situation.
He put his opinion to a motion which carried unanimously. Mr. LEVY then read
the following statement which he had prepared. It was accepted without
correction and praised for its clearness and correctness. The statement follows:
We feel greatly confident to the general public for the wonderful assistance
that is being rendered to our city and are deeply grateful and thankful for
everything that is being done for us. We have our work well organized. With
the assistance that is now being given we are able to care for our injured and
for our people. Nothing is being overlooked, in providing proper and decent
burial for our dead.
Everyone is responding nobly in their endeavor to relieve our present
suffering and needs. A city, after all, is not constituted by its buildings, it
is made up by its people. We have a wonderful citizenship and a great people.
We are united and are cooperating in every way. We are ideally located and are
rich in resources. And while we greatly deplore our great loss, yet we feel
this is no time for tears. We are bound and certain to arise from our present
situation, a greater and bigger city than we ever were. We are distressed, but
are greatly encouraged, and a city that has the spirit that we possess is bound
to succeed. If the public will continue to render the assistance they are now
giving, we will be able to care for our injured and our people. May God bless
you all for everything you are doing for us. Isaac K. LEVY
During the course of the meeting, Chairman LEVY, who was made general
chairman, and superintendent of all relief work immediately after the storm,
stated that the different phases of relief work have been divided into separate
departments, and that a chairman had been provided for each branch. He
announced the following department heads: Bert DAVIS and C. E. WHITE, clean up;
Scout Executive E. H. TRYON and Rev. LLOYD, charge of all committees; R. E.
EDWARDS, leader of clean-up; Chas. F. CHAPMAN, registrar of dead and wounded;
William ARBEITER, director of transportation; Dr. R. A. CARTER, director of
doctors; Jos. H. DAVIS, in charge of supplies.
Before adjournment of the meeting, Robert E. EDWARDS announced that he had
much floor space in his large building on Eleventh street, and that he could
store the household goods for about two hundred families there, and would be
glad to do so free for anybody who applied. Principal M. N. TODD of the high
school, stated that he and S. J. SHOMAKER, superintendent of the Murphysboro
City Schools, had conferred on the school situation, and that they had decided
that part time schools could be opened one week from Monday, and that,
therefore, there was no need for parents to worry about their children not
having an opportunity to finish their term in this city.
Fire Chief Albert HERRING made a very timely and earnest (unreadable)
against the use of chimneys which had been damaged during the storm, unless they
had been later repaired, and urged that no one leave the house or room which
contained a lighted lamp or candle without first extinguishing same before
A committee was appointed for the purpose of interviewing the officials of
the Mobile & Ohio railroad company for the purpose of getting definite assurance
that the splendid M & O railroad shops would be rebuilt in this city.
Unofficial rumors are continually in circulation that the shops will remain in
Murphysboro. It is logical to believe that they will. The meeting adjoined
after having looked into many important matters, and everybody departed feeling
confident that Murphysboro would come out of its unfortunate situation a bigger
and better city.
Reconstruction work Saturday morning could be seen in every direction.
People were busy moving away debris, and in protecting their damaged homes from
further injury in case of rain. Hundreds of building tradesmen are busy in
Murphysboro today, and are being assisted by those whose homes were damaged but
not totally destroyed.
Work began at the Silica Plant this morning and Chas. JENKINS, local silica
official, stated that it was the company's idea to resume operation at the
earliest possible moment in order to give local men employment.
A persistent story that work will begin almost at once on the hard road
between this city and Carbondale has not been verified absolutely by the Daily
Republican-Era, but it seems that the information comes from reliable sources.
The Brown shoe factory is badly damaged on the third floor especially, and
much heavy work will be necessary to recondition the splendid and busy plant.
However, many are optimistic in the condition of the shoe factory, because it is
believed that the work of repairing that factory will not run into an extended
period of time.
The spirit of hope, determination and loyalty which seems to be found
everywhere in Murphysboro predicts well for the complete come-back of this city
after the damaging storm and fire. Everybody seems to be anxious to be at their
portion of reconstruction work.
Widely considered the most devastating and powerful tornado in American history,
the Great Tri-State Tornado ripped through Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana on
March 18, 1925. In its 219-mile-long wake it left four completely destroyed
towns, six severely damaged ones, 15,000 destroyed homes, and 2,000 injured.
Most significantly, 695 people were killed, a record for a single tornado.
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