Missouri and Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of the Ozarks region and surrounding area.

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I'm a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. I've written fifteen nonfiction books, two historical novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Bushwhacker Belles, Wicked Women of Missouri, and Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Marshfield Tornado

A couple of my recent posts concerned the killing of Webster County Sheriff Bertie Brixey in 1914. Another historical episode of note from Webster County is the infamous Marshfield tornado of 1880.
It struck in the early evening of Sunday, April 18, catching most of the townspeople unaware. Some folks living near the town square took shelter in the bottom floor of the courthouse, but some who tried didn't make it that far before the storm hit. Many others were too far away even to try and were left with nowhere to hide.
The twister killed ninety-two Marshfield residents and seriously injured over 150 others. It virtually demolished one side of the square and left the top floor of the courthouse in ruins. About 150 homes and most of the town's businesses were destroyed. In terms of lives lost and damage done, the Marshfield tornado, at the time, was the second worst twister in U. S. history, surpassed only by the 1840 tornado at Natchez, Mississippi.
The same twister that struck Marshfield first touched down in Barry County and continued in a northeasterly direction, killing seven people in Greene County, before reaching Webster County. In addition, several other distinct tornadoes struck the Ozarks on the same day as the Marshfield twister. One of them, for instance, killed five people in rural Morgan County, Missouri, before wiping out the small village of Barnett, where several more people lost their lives.

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