Various Towns, NC Tornado Along Virginia Border, Jan 1931
TORNADO'S TOLL IS UNDETERMINED.
6 KNOWN DEAD MANY HURT; 5 COUNTIES HIT.
DESTRUCTIVE PATH CUT THROUGH CASWELL COUNTY SOUTH OF DANVILLE -- STORM LIFTS AND DESCENDS ALONG VIRGINIA-NORTH CAROLINA BORDER BETWEEN BOYDON AND NORLINA -- CLAIMS LIFE OF WHITE WOMAN AND FIVE NEGROES -- MUCH PROPERTY DAMAGE.
Five counties in Virginia and North Carolina were taking stock today of a tornado which whipped its way for nearly one hundred miles yesterday evening, brought death to at least six persons and left property damage in its wake which was too imperfectly kown[sic] to be estimated early this afternoon.
The tornado was marked by all the vagaries which attend such atmospheric disturbances. The funnel cloud seen by hundreds as it raced across country writhed like a celestial whip dipping here and there to cut a swath four hundred feet wide while in other places it narrowed down or lifted itself completely only to descend further on.
Originating apparently a few miles east of Reidsville the cloud travelled east along the state border. It passed three miles west of Yanceyville dipped down into Milton, Semora and Blanche where considerable damage was done bounded into Mecklenberg county and back into Warren county, N. C. The last place it damaged was at Warrenton with lessened violence and apparently disspiated[sic] at that point.
The six deaths were near Boydton and around Norlina. Those known dead are:
MRS. GROVER HENDERSON, crushed under her subsiding house, near Boydton.
JAMES DUNSTON and his three sons, colored, near Ridgeway in Warren county, N. C. All killed in the collapse of their home.
EDNA HARARIS, negress, slain when crushed as negro farm life school caved in.
County authorities today were seeking to check further possible deaths and maimings many people being known to have been injured.
Storm Without Warning.
Yesterday's storm came without warning and struck this section at about 3:40 p. m. It had been a day of swiftly changing temperature. There was an early morning warm rain followed by a drop in temperature and then during the afternoon a marked rise in the mercury.
The black storm could could be seem from Danville but caused no apprehension because showers had fallen most of the day. According to many eyewitnesses, there is no doubt about the character of the storm because the funnel cloud was plainly seen with a cloud of what appeared to be smoke at its contact with the earth. Many report a noise like sustained thunder, one or two heavy claps of thunder and a deluge of rain after the storm had passed. It lasted less than five minutes in any one locality as the cloud rushed towards the east.
Mayor C. T. GALLION of Norlina told The Bee this morning that the storm struck there at about 4:30 o'clock. DUNSTON and his three sons taken unawares sought to run from their cabin and collided outside the house with falling timbers. Their bodies were crushed and their skulls crushed. EDNA HARRIS met death when the farm school became partially dismantled. WALLACE ALLGOOD'S child was severely injured while being carried to safety. There was much damage not yet checked. Mayor GALLION reported, at McKinney and a colored school at Wise, is said to have been demolished. His report was similar to those of others and made mention of trees uprooted and many farm buildings destroyed.
Describes Terror Of Cloud.
J. M. CREWS, large farmer, whose plantation is a mile from Boydton, and on whose property MRS. GROVER HENDERSON was killed, said that the storm was terrifying and came without warning. MRS. HENDERSON was on the upper floor of the house when the tornado arrived without warning. The whole house collapsed and she was crushed by beams. Her eighteen months child was found crawling over the dead body of its mother and was found to be cut and injured with some doubt as to whether the infant would live. HENDERSON was out in the yard. He heard a roaring sound and saw a pall of smoke rushing towards the house. He took refuge in the spring house. Four other children escaped. One of them a girl, was picked up and carried in the swirling mass for a hundred yards and was deposited unhurt but greatly frightened in some lowland.
Hit By Wagon Body.
Near Boydton, MRS. CLYDE ROBERTSON, emerging from her reeling home in fear, collided with a wagon body hurtling through the air. She has a broken leg. CREWS who estimated his damage at $2,500 with no insurance, said that it looked as though the ground was smoking. The storm lasted about ten minutes, he said, and cut a swath 100 yards wide. Thunder accompanied the storm. Counted in his losses, CREWS said was his own home, two tenant houses, four barns and two cribs. At least nine houses were destroyed or damaged in the Boydton area, he stated.
Sheriff W. R. BEALE, of Mecklenberg county, said there was no damage at Boydton and little wind, yet the cloud could be seen pursuing its mad course.
Evidence of Ferocity.
Closer to home there was abundant evidence of the storm's ferocity.
Three miles this side of Yanceyvilleon the Danville highway is a small settlement known as White's garage. This was unroofed. R. T. EILSON'S home was badly damaged and trees carried away from the yard. GEORGE GUNN, a negro, was injured when his cabin subsided under the pressure of the wind.
Yanceyville escaped the visitation and there was no damage there.
At Milton the Methodist church was moved from its foundations and was partly unroofed. WINSTEAD'S old tobacco factory was damaged and several houses damaged. Semora had similar damage. Reports that the steel bridge spanning Country Line Creek between Semora and Milton had been broken in when a housed had been hurled to it, proved erroneous.
Much Damage At Blanche.
At Blanche there was considerable damage. STANLEY MOORE'S home being unroofed and many farm buildings blown down.
GEORGE CARTER, a Danville student, proceeding along Yanceyville road, saw the tornado at close range. He saw roofs and timbers as well as trees, moving in rotation as the tornado advanced. The noise he said, sounded like a fleet of airplanes. Leaves and debris clung to his windshield and he stopped his car but feared it would be blown over.
R. W. WILSON who drives the Yanceyville school truck, saved the school children from possible death or injury. He saw the storm approaching and stopped his bus on the edge of it.
After the storm had passed it was not long before groups of landowners and tenants began making temporary repairs. The loss will be a heavy one as few farmers have tornado insurance because they are so rare in this section.
Many freakish incidents came out of the storm damage. There is the instance of the son of R. T. WILSON near Yanceyville, who just before the storm arrived chained his dog to a tree in the yard. After the storm the tree, dog and chain were missing.
The Bee Danville Virginia 1931-01-06
Researched and Transcribed by Stu Beitler. Thank you, Stu!