1840 Natchez Tornado article published in 1883. - Tom Malmay
niSTORIC - CYCLONES. Tie Sonthem Storm cBelt. Some AccoinAt' of the Tempests That . Have Visited It. TIs .Electric Phenomena . of Atmos - , pheric Diitnrljances. The Great Tornado at Natchez Fortv - . i Three Yean Ago. . The destructive cyclone which laid waste the prosperous towns of Wesson and Beauregard, and made havoo of life and property in the neighboring country, on Sunday the 23d day of April, is no new occurrence in that region of country. On the contrary it Is only one of ft recurring series of storms, which if they have not visited the self same localities, have at least swept ever the same belt of country sereral times in the historic period of that section of the State. : ' It is well - known that . Eartkqutkes FreqaeBt Certaia District of the earth, and through periods of centuries repeat their ravages, not only in the same regions, but eren in the same places. ' It appears to be quite as reasonable, and if not absolutely ascertained, is to be believed on the testimony of many facts, that great atmospheric disturbances travel over land and sea in well denned (racks, which are traversed time and again by these hurricanes. . Without, however premising too much on this score, it appears from the records that a belt of country across the State of Mississippi, and embraced between the Earallels of 31 and 83 J north latitude, as several times been visited by destructive storms, and it is quite likely, if careful investigation were made, it would be found that there have been in the district mentioned more cyclones than those of which records are at hand. Leaving to the scientists to discuss at length the nature and origin of these storms, and to discover the reasons why they frequent particular districts ana travel in chosen oaths, it may not be out of place to suggest that a study of the phenomena of the later and the earlier cyclones furnishes us grounds for believing that . The Dearraetlre Fewer of such storms does not reside wholly in the mere force of the wind. The cyclone does not traverse the country on a given line, sweeping - everything impartially in its course. It chooses the objects it will destroy or spare, and these are not In proportion to t&eir weakness on the one hand, or power - ef resistance on the other. The testimony of observers is that the most solid and substantial structures failed to resist the force of the destroyer while' the frailest abodes sometimes escaped. At Beauregard iron window - bars were torn and twisted while the glass behind was untouched. Indeed, glass ofteneet escaped injury unless broken by blows from falling or moving bodies, while metals were usually torn and rent. A picture was torn from a frame, while the frame was left hanging to a peg in the wall. Trees were stripped of their bark to the utmost extremity of the smallest twigs, while the trunks were not broken or twisted. A pine splinter was driven through an oak sapling with a force it could not have had if fired from ft musket, and yet the point of the splinter was not battered or crushed. A fragment of rooting slate was driven througn a dry fence rail with extraordinary force. Fragments of buildings were, scattered in all directions, as if they had been operated on with some powerful explosive. Houses were blown from over the heads of the astounded inmates, wno wen left wnere they were. Instead of being carried away with the fragments of their dwellings. Members of families met the storm locked in each other's arms ; one would be taken and the other left. The entire hurricane in its course swerved from side to side, or lifted itself bodily and skipped orer certain tracts of country, only to fall the more fiercely on some other locality. All these facts, observed in any cyclone, seem to show that some force other than the wind - electricity, for instance must play an important part in those great disturbances in the atmosphere. To return to the record of : ' Cycieae ta Seatfcen ' Mississippi, it is seen that ft rery notable bee occurred at Monticello, on the 23d of April, 1883, on the very day. one year before the tempest which vilited Wesson and its neighboring towns and country. Monticello is inLawrence county, which adjoins. on the northwest. Coplah - the county in which Beaureguard and Wesson are situated, and is not more than twenty miles southeast of the two last named places. That storm was so violent that it wrecked the entire town, leaving only three houses standing and killing some fifteen people and wound - in a manr more. In the teleerama of rthat date the names of some of the killed were given as fellows : - . P. Weathersby. Circuit Court Clerk. Rev. W. a. Dale, editor of the Advocate. - Allen Sbarpe, keeper of the ferry. Mrs. D. Cannon and child, and three colored mea, names not known. The storm was also rery serire at Bogue Chitto and at other places In the country around, and the damage to both life and property was very great. - Before that there are stories of storms In that region of Mississippi from time to time, but .the records of dates and places are lacking, and they must be left to the recollection of the oldest inhabitant or any other man. The following from Mr. D. 8. i'attison, of Martin, Claiborne county, recently published in the Natchez Democrat under date of April 29, speaks of other storms in tnat section : Many, many years since tornado passed across the road from Jackson to Brandon, about half way. destroying the U. K. Moss place and makin g much such wreck of the timber. Twenty years since in March a storm following the same course, passing' through my place not so violent as this one, but doing me more mischief, as many bouses in its course were blown down, this one struck no houses." Going back still. further among - the records, the .' Great Steraa at Hatches, one of the startling events of more than forty rears ago is reached. There is something historic and tangible. Natchez is some sixty miles eastward of Werson, and ft little south of the parallel of latitude on which the latter is situated, but is near the center of the belt, of country desigated at the commencement of this article.' Forty - three years ago, Natchez, if not so populous as at present, was a city of considerable trade snd general importance - ' On Thursday, May 9. 1840, about 2 o'clock in the afternoon, - a hurricane from the southwest struck the city of Natchez, and in two minutes of time, as some of the survivors then declared, most of the city was leveled to the ground and the shipping In the harbor hopelessly wrecked. - Ilundreds of people were drowned, in the river or killed outright under the ruins of their homes, and many more were maimed and mangled. The publio buildings, the churches, atores and warehouses, and the dwellings ef the people, from the palatial mansion to the humblest cabin, were mingled in one general ruin. There were in the river, tied up at the landing, - ; .. - - Xearly a H,rel Flatbeats loaded with prod flee from the far northern tributaries of the Mississippi and bearing their crews, and in many instance the families of the proprietors. The destruction of these boats was sp sudden and complete that not more than twenty of them were saved, the rest going down with all on board. . . Of the Steaatbeat in port at the time, the St. Lawrence was lifted np bodily out of the water and then dashed - downward, sinking with all on board. The steamboat Binds was capsized and sunk, while the steamboat Prairie had - all her upper works destroyed, leaving only tue null and machinery. Her commander, Capt. Freeligh, escaped death with some of his crew, out numoer or persons on tue boat were killed or drowned in the river. - The ferryboat plying between the city and the Louisiana shore was also sunk with all on beard. - It was never ascertained how mauy people perished in the river, but the number was believed to be not less than 300, Most of the people on the boats, and - especially on the fiat boats, were strangers, and no proper account could be taken of them. In the city, forty - six persons were killed, the bodies having been - recovered ; but in none - of the ' papers of that period that have been accessible to the writer, certainly in none of the city papers, are the names of these forty - tix victims to be found. Of the wounded, who were resoued from the ruins, the following names appear in the issues of the Daily Picayunepf that time. Ke Kaaaea, Either ef KlUe4 er Weaade - i, are found in the Commercial Bulletin. tri - weekly publication of that date. The wounded referred to were : Henry Clatk, Henry McGraw, Hester Ford. Francis Smith. D. MoNulty, Samuel Noland, D. Lyons, Peter MoGreale, J. Thomas, G. Mulligan, J. Reiser, John Stantman, Ann Biley, all of Natchez; Pat Brown, steamboaunen ; James Bon - sall, of Indiana ; Branan Moncrieff and Robert Bamsey. of Pennsylvania : Ed. McNeill, Louisville ; Alice Curtis, Pittsburg, Pa.; three negro men, names not known. These were in hospital at the TremontHouse, which was only partially wrecked. Other wounded, whose names are not given, were cared for elsewhere, for the northern part of the city on the bluff was not damaged, and the houses there were thrown open to the hurt and the homeless with great liberality. . From the ruins of the Steamboat Hotel, which was in the lower nart of the city, under the hill, where every house - was wrecked, were taken out, unhurt, Timothy Flint, the geographer, and his son. of Natchitoches, La. - The incidents of the storm were interesting. A boy - was found dead, half a mile away fronhome, lodged in a tree top, where he had been transported by the force ef the elements. People, horses and cattle were carried by the fury of the storm to great distances, and many ladies Were Ceaapletely Stripped . of their clothing, one lady being recorded as having only her corset remaining after wrestling wth the cyclone. The damage to property was estimated at the time at from one and a half million to three million dollars, and alio w - ingfor the increase of values at the present time, the loss to - day would represent quite four million dollars. Natchez then had 6000 population and to - day it has 10.000 sou li - showing how little the population were daunted by their terrible disaster.' The storm was felt in the country. around and much damage done to me and property. At Tldalia, La., the court - house and other buildings WOIV U'DUV'W. J vivia wuw Circuit Court killed, and in the counties. of Hinds, Madison, Holmes ana Kan tin. in Mississippi, there were numbers of people killed or hurt, and houses wrecked. It does not, however, appear that any summing np of the total loss of life in the State was made at the time. Soon after the sky had cleared at Natchez, a meeting of citizens was held, at which Col. James Wilkins presided, and F. L. Claiborne was - Secretary, when committees were organized for relief and to examine and essimate the damage done to life and property. The people in the surrounding towns of Rodney, Grand Gulf and others, sent contributions of - clothing, provisions, and wine, while in New Orleans, a collection was taken np and the sum of $2000 was immediately sent to the sufferers, and that sum - was subsequently much increased in addition to large contributions of supplies forwarded from her. ' Oae ef the rieaslaa IacUeats of that time was a performance given at the Camp Street Theatre, in this city, on the 20th of May, fox the benefit of sufferers at Natchez. - - : The committee under whose direction it vu o - iven was eomnosed of Hon." Wnx. - 'Freret. Mayor of New Orleans ; Messrs. M. M. conen, - jonn menoison, i. b. Byrne, J. H.Caldwell, Ben Casey and A. J. Rowley Marks. m On the night ol the performance the Came Street Theatre, which was the building in front ot N etches street, recently demolished, to make way for the great storehouse of Rice, Born & Co., was packed with the best people in the city, to show their sympathy for the distressed people of Natchez. The exercises opened with the presentation of the comedy of the "Soldier's Daughter," when the - principal characters were taken by Messrs. Barton, Pearson, Rowley Marks, Mrs. Stuart and Miss verity. During the interludes, Mrs. Radcliif sang 7The Banks of the Blue Moselle," and Signor Cioffl played solo on the trombone. As an afterpiece, the drama of "Therete" was given with the follow - in g cast: Count, Mr. n. G. Pearson. Thtrtte, Mrs. Stuart. ConnUts, Miss Verity.; - Mr M. C. Field, . of the Picayune, then recited an original poem composed for the occasion, commencing aa follows : Hark Behold I the aky la black, and eraab Tbe roarioc thornier and the lightning - flaah. The ah liekia g winds and blood - congealing tones Ot frantic agony and dying groan Tell of a city hurtled to decay, And throng ox human being swept away ! "Tvn not the .warlike engine's dreadful Twas not amid the bleeding ranks of battle V or centurion, nor y ears, nor e'en a day Brought the proud city tumbling to decay, an instant only fanen and temple nod. And man expires beneath the hand obOod I" M Rise, Hatches I beauteous ' City of the Bluff The storm is paaa'd and you have mourned enough; And Ilk the Phcr - nix, upon golden wing, BejuTeneted from your ruins spring. Katehea. arise, and waft your happy paeans . On gentle breeze back to 'w Orleans." - Six Algerian engineers, who hare been consulted by M. do Leseeps on the inland sea scheme, report that the cutting could be made within five years, at a cost of f30.0C0.000. An average width of 60 or 100 feet would be sufficient, as the current would widen the canal rand since it would be nearly in a straight line the navigation would be devoid of difficulty. A rast tract of country, lacking only moisture to become rery productive, would thus be brought under cultivation. - - . - : : England has had the Coldest March In thmy - eigbt years. ... v - - .