Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Terrible Hurricane in South Mississippi, 1882

Hurricanes are in our news. While we have been learning about Texas, Louisiana and Hurricane Harvey and Florida bracing itself for Hurricane Irma I read this account of a Hurricane in Mississippi in 1882 that caused trouble for my family.
The years pass but many things remain the same.

Pike County. The unfortunate victims of this calamity are, so far as we have heard, as follows: J. P. Welch, W. J. Fortenberry [William Jackson Fortenberry, 1853-1928], W. S. Ellzey [Willis S. Ellzey, 1857-1946], Jeptha Simmons, Alexander Green, Raymond Alford, Mrs. Shillings, Eli Alford, Ellis Varnado, Jordan Dykes and Rhoda Smith, a colored woman. These persons lost their houses, fences, timber and some stock. Nearly all of them received some personal injuries, and the only particulars we have obtained are in regard to Mr. Fortenberry and Mr. Alford.

Dr. W. F. Simmons was at Mr. Fortenberry’s on a professional visit when the storm occurred, and just previous to that awful visitation, Mrs. Fortenberry [Canolia A. Simmons, 1858-1925] had given birth to a child – a girl [Myrtis Jane Elizabeth Fortenberry b 18 April 1882]. Several ladies were present, and manifested some alarm at the threatening elements. The force of the wind struck the house, first breaking the glasses, then taking off the roof, after which the walls fell in. Dr. Simmons knew no more for some time, for he was knocked senseless by falling timbers. After he became conscious, he found himself under the debris of the building, and with powerful exertions extricated himself. The he began a search among the ruins to see who was hurt. He found Mrs. Fortenberry still in bed, and safe. The foot of the bed-stead was broken down, and she was slightly bruised. One lady had the infant in her arms, and was sealed in a rocking chair when the storm came. Dr. Simmons found her and the babe wedged in among the timbers, and it took about 15 minuted hard work to extricate her. When she was released from the perilous condition she was found to be bruised considerably, but the infant was not injured at all. Mrs. Fortenberry and the ladies were injured also but not seriously.

Mr. Raymond Alford’s family were all injured, and Mrs. Alford seriously, by some gashes on her forehead and other parts of her head. She remained unconscious from Tuesday until last Friday, when she realized her condition. The fright and wounds have had a terrible effect upon her. Her condition is regarded as being very critical.

A mule was blown some distance from Mr. Alford’s place, and a broad-axe was taken up by the wind an carried 50 yards.  A dead crane was found in the track of the storm with its neck and both legs broken. Other dead birds were also found.

Farm fowls were carried off and feathers scattered in all directions. Some of the fowls have been found and they present the appearance of having been picked or deprived of their plumage. Bark was taken off the young pines and oaks and the large timber were all blown down. Some of the largest trees after they had fallen show signs where they have been forced by the wind, as though they had been dragged a distance of from five to fifteen feet. In some places the grass had been actually torn up by the roots.

Source: The Terrible Hurricane in South Mississippi on the 24th. (Jackson, MS: The Clarion-Ledger, 3 May 1882) 2; digital image, accessed Sept. 2017.


  1. Colleen, Great posting. The Lord was looking after your kinfolk on that terrible day.

  2. What an awful situation for your ancestors, Colleen. It's amazing to find an article like this -- and horrible, too, because it brought so much damage to the people who lived through it. I wonder if there were follow-up articles to keep interested readers informed.

    1. Nancy I did not find any follow up but that is probably because the newspaper sets are not complete. Wish they were!


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