Stormy Weather in Kentucky

The Storms of 1933

NEW From the May 17, 1933 edition of the Adair County News


The Louisville Courier-Journal, Tuesday, May 9, 1933, section 1, page 1:


Weather forecast for Kentucky and Tennessee: 'Showers and thunderstorms Tuesday, cooler Tuesday night; Wednesday generally fair and cool.'


The Louisville Courier-Journal, Wednesday, May 10, 1933, section 1, page 1:


Headline '6 Killed as Gale Hits City, State'. Article deals mostly with damage in Jefferson County KY and deaths & property damage in Tompkinsville KY. No mention made of Adair or surrounding counties.


The Louisville Courier-Journal, Thursday, May 11, 1933, section 1, pages 1 and 2:


Banner headline across top of section 1, page 1: '37 Dead is State Tornado Toll'. Under that, the sub-headlines read 'Bodies of 20 Discovered in Russell [County]'; 'Scores Injured, 36 Seriously, as Storm Strikes Near Russell Springs'; '15 are Dead in Monroe [County]'; 'Tennessee Reports 22 Killed, 20 at Beaty Swamps in Overton County'. There's also a photograph captioned 'Tompkinsville Storm Wreckage.'

'Workers of local, State and National relief agencies turned toward Russell County Wednesday night when it was learned Tuesday night's tornado in South Central Kentucky had taken its heaviest toll there, with twenty reported dead and thirty-six injured seriously.

'These reports by messengers and later by partially restored telephone communication brought the total reported deaths in Kentucky to thirty-seven.

'Tearing its way in a broad arc through the counties of Monroe, Metcalfe, Adair and Russell in Kentucky and accounting for thirty seven dead, the storm apparently jumped the border line counties and swooped down again in Overton and Wilson Counties, Tennessee, taking twenty-two more lives.

'In Tennessee, the storm did its greatest damage at Beaty Swamps, Overton County, where twenty were killed and at least sixteen injured seriously. In Wilson County two were killed.

'Tompkinsville, in Monroe County [Kentucky] from which first reports of the catastrophe were received late Tuesday night, discovered early Wednesday that the dead numbered many more than first estimated, and at nightfall a total of fifteen bodies had been counted.

'Adair county [Kentucky] was struck by the storm near Columbia and two dead and eight injured were reported. Six were injured in Metcalfe County [Kentucky].


'The [State] Board [of Health] previously had sent Robert Harris, also an assistant sanitary engineer, into the storm-stricken counties of Adair and Monroe. It also sent supplies of gauze, cotton, adhesive and other first-aid equipment.

'As soon as reports of the serious losses were received by the board Wednesday morning, supplies, including tetanus antitoxin and chlorinated lime, were sent to the are where the storm struck. Both Monroe and Adair County reported they had sufficient medical personnel and nurses to cope with the situation.


'According to J.W. Hill, attorney at Russell Springs, at least sixteen bodies had been found in Russell County, names of fourteen being given, and the most seriously injured included thirty being treated in the Russell Springs Hotel and six in a physician's office at Jamestown.


[The list of those killed in Russell, Monroe, and Adair counties is identical (with the exception of minor variations in the spellings of given names) to the list in the Wayne County Outlook.]


'In Adair County, the storm killed Robert Duvall and a Negro woman, Bessie Jones. Six other members of the Duvall family, including the parents, Mr. and Mrs. Al Duvall and four other children were injured seriously as their home crashed in the storm. They are in critical condition at Elizabeth Hospital, Lebanon [Marion County KY].'


*Notes: The online KY death record abstracts show


1) an Ernestine Duvall, age 7, died in Adair County on 9 May 1933

2) an Alfred Dewball, age 55, died in Marion County on 11 May 1933. (Residence of the deceased was rarely shown on pre-1940 KY death certificates.


The relationship, if any, of these individuals to the Duvall family mentioned above is unknown to me. There's no death record (that I can find) for a Robert Duvall (died 1933), nor is there one for a Bessie Jones.