National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

April 29, 1909 map

The deadliest tornado outbreak ever in Middle Tennessee, and one of the worst tornado outbreaks in the history of the United States, struck the region from the evening hours on April 29, 1909, through the night and into the next day on April 30, 1909. These tornadoes were part of an immense multi-day tornado outbreak that began in the Plains states on April 28, 1909, which continued through the Midwest, Ohio Valley, Tennessee Valley, and Lower Mississippi Valley on April 29-30 before ending in the Southeast on May 1, 1909.  When the tornado outbreak was over, at least 62 people had been killed across Middle Tennessee, and over 200 more were left injured.

Details about each tornado in this historic tornado outbreak are provided by research from Thomas P. Grazulis in his book Significant Tornadoes 1680-1991 (St. Johnsbury, VT: Environmental Films, 1993); detailed newspaper articles from the Nashville American, the Nashville Tennessean, and the Pulaski Citizen newspapers; various websites listed below; and extensive research conducted by NWS Nashville Lead Forecaster Sam Shamburger.


Tornado Statistics
# Counties Rating Time (CST) Length (miles) Width (yards) Fatalities Injuries
1 Montgomery/Robertson/Logan KY F3 2000 20 300 4 51
2 Humphreys/Dickson F2 2000 20 400 0 5
3 Decatur/Perry F2 2200 20 800 1 4
4 Hickman/Maury/Williamson F3 2215 45 300 17 43
5 Humphreys F2 2230 unknown unknown 0 2
6 Giles/Lincoln F4 2300 30 800 31 70
7 Williamson/Rutherford/Wilson F2 2315 35 1760 2 20
8 Wilson/DeKalb F2 0000 15 unknown 0 2
9 Franklin/Grundy F2 0015 22 1760 6 30
10 Putnam F1 0100 6 unknown 0 2
11 Fentress F1 0130 unknown 100 0 0
12 Fentress/Morgan/Scott F2 0200 20 800 1 4


Reports & Data
Pulaski Citizen article Williamson Herald article Elkton Story Mapper - Bee Springs Tornado
Monthly Weather Review April 1909 Middle Tennessee Tornado Outbreaks SPC Tornado Outbreaks


F3 Montgomery County Tornado
Counties: Montgomery/Robertson/Logan KY
Time: 8:00 PM CST
EF Scale: F3
Damage Path Length: 20 miles
Damage Path Width: 400 yards
Fatalities: 4
Injuries 50


GRAZULIS: Moved NE near "Sango," 8 miles ESE of Clarksville. The tornado destroyed homes on at least three farms and killed an elderly man and a child in separate homes. A school was reportedly carried intact for two miles, touching the ground every 200-300 yards, leaving holes in the earth.

FROM THE NASHVILLE AMERICAN, MAY 2 1909, PAGE 4, section FOUR DEATHS IN MONTGOMERY:  CLARKSVILLE, Tenn., May 1. - The windstorm in this county Thursday night was probably the worst in its history. Two persons were killed outright, James Stafford, an aged white man, who was taken 200 yards from his residence and his neck snapped, and a small colored child. At least fifty other persons sustained more or less serious injuries, and the recovery of three is doubtful. The young son of J. L. Cox, who lives on Hervey Whitfield's farm in District No. 11, had his skull fractured by falling timbers. Ab Hays, of Nashville, who was visiting Joe Rosson's family, near Port Royal, was seriously hurt by timbers, and died this morning. Another one of Mr. Cox's sons sustained a broken leg and his wife is badly hurt. The top of the house was blown off and Mrs. Cox was thrown by the wind into the garden a short distance away. Henry Frate, colored, who lived on Finis Brown's farm, was so badly hurt that he may not recover. The farm of James Welch, near Sango, was swept clean, every building on it being wrecked. One room was left of his home place, a seven-room dwelling, and it was in this room the family sought refuge. Mrs. Welch and son, Byron, sustained slight injuries, the former being hit on the head and the latter had a gash cut in his cheek. Two barns and one stable were wrecked, ,and his stock suffered considerably. A colored child on W. R. Anderson's farm was killed, making the fourth death so far reported. Others are not expected to recover. On account of the destitution which is reported to exist in the stricken district, Mayor Northington has issued the following statement: "Reports having reached me of the destitution occasioned by Thursday night's storm, on account of which scored of persons have lost all of their means and been rendered homeless, it becomes my duty to make the fact known in our citizens officially. The emergency is one which as charitable, sympathetic people, we should take prompt steps to alleviate. I call upon all persons in this community who will contribute to this object to leave contributions at either of the banks. The several cashiers will take charge of same several cashiers will take charge of same and see to it that it is property and judiciously distributed among those who are destitute. Here is an opportunity in my judgement, for an exhibition of true Christian benevolence. It is an old adage that he who gives quickly gives twice. - M. C. NORTHINGTON, Mayor."

FROM THE NASHVILLE AMERICAN, MAY 1 1909, PAGE 4, section Robertson County:  SPRINGFIELD, Tenn., April 30 - A "twister", or cyclone, struck Montgomery County last night at Rudolphtown and plowed its way on through Montgomery County and the Seventeenth District of Robertson County into Kentucky, leaving devastation in its wake and entailing a loss of over $50,000. At Rudolphtown, which lies between Port Royal and Clarksville, one man was killed whose name has not been ascertained here. In its course from Rudolphtown to the Robertson County line the storm put out the eyes of several mules and other stock at Hinton, blew down the residence and stable of Joe Rosson, blew away the residence of Mrs. Ella Rosson and blew her over 100 yards. Striking the residence of Prof. W. H. Hooks it blew away all of his residence except the kitchen, his stable, outbuildings and shade trees. Coming into Robertson County the storm struck the barn of Mrs. Laban Warfield on the place occupied by Mr. Duff. Here it blew away the barn in which Duff was sheltered at the time, breaking three of Duff's toes, but otherwise he was not injured. It next struck the farm of Judge B. C. Batts, near Sadlersville, blew down his barn, his shade trees and other valuable timber, striking next the farm of Jervy Grubbs, where it demolished his tobacco barn, fences and other buildings; then struck the farm of Tom Sanders and his residence, barns and other buildings were destroyed. The next place in Tennessee was the farm of Mrs. Kate Wall, where all the fences and outbuildings were blown away and considerable other damage wrought. The cyclone struck Rudolphtown about 8 o'clock and traveled in a northeasterly course. Besides the devastation mentioned, fences, timber and numerous small buildings were blown away and other damage done.

SHAMBURGER (2016): Based on the reports in the Nashville American, the number of deaths and injuries cited by Grazulis is too low, and the reported 4 deaths and 50 injuries in Montgomery County were used here. In addition, Grazulis did not include the part of this tornado's path in northwest Robertson County near Sadlersville, which was included here along with the reported one injury. This tornado likely continued into Logan County, Kentucky, but no information is available. The path length was extended from Grazulis' 15 miles to 20 miles and path width added as 1/4 mile based on the information in the Nashville American, along with the time being adjusted to 8 PM from 830 PM.


F2 Humphreys/Dickson County Tornado
Counties: Humphreys/Dickson
Time: 8:00 PM CST
EF Scale: F2
Damage Path Length: 20 miles
Damage Path Width: unknown
Fatalities: 0
Injuries 5


GRAZULIS: Moved NE from 9 miles W of Dickson to Charlotte and on to Bellsburg. The tornado tore apart eight or nine farms and damaged or destroyed 25 buildings in Charlotte.

FROM THE PULASKI CITIZEN NEWSPAPER ARTICLE ON MAY 6, 1909 "FIFTY HOUSES WRECKED.":  Dickson, Tenn., Apr. 30. - Dickson County was swept by a terrible storm last night, and as a result more than fifty houses lay wrecked today, and the damage to property will run far into the thousands of dollars. The storm seems to have entered the county from the southern side, passing between this place and Tennessee City. For a strip more than two miles in width along the railroad between here and Tennessee City, and on through that portion of the county traversed by the storm, scarcely a tree is left standing, but all lie as flat as if rolled over by some immense road roller. Dickson was left to the right of the storm's pathway, and fortunately little damage was done here.

FROM THE NASHVILLE AMERICAN, MAY 1 1909, PAGE 2, "OVER FIFTY HOUSES WRECKED. Result of the Work of the Storm in Dickson County":  DICKSON, Tenn., April 30. - Dickson County was swept by a terrific storm last night, and as a result more than fifty houses lay wrecked today, and the damage to property will run far up into the thousands of dollars. The storm seems to have entered the county from the southern side, passing between this place and Tennessee City. For a strip more than two miles in width along the railroad between here and Tennessee City, and on through that portion of the county traversed by the storm, scarcely a tree is left standing, but all lie as flat as if rolled over by some immense road roller. Dickson was left to the right of the storm's pathway, and fortunately little damage was done here. However, for several hours a strong gale blew, and there was more or less excitement in the town throughout the night. The lightning flashed incessantly, and all evidences indicated that a great storm was raging in the neighboring sections. Until late this afternoon it has been impossible to communicate with other towns throughout the country. But the daily mail from Charlotte brings a letter from Circuit Court Clerk J. J. Taylor to the effect that about twenty-five residences were destroyed there. The courthouse roof was blown off. Among those whose homes are wrecked are Postmaster C. H. Underhill, Asa Hickerson, Mrs. Lizzie McPherson and Jim Butler. All the houses there are damaged more or less, but no one was killed. Several parties sustained slight injuries. Jim Cheat, a prosperous farmer near town, lost his barn, and had one very fine mule killed by the storm. Will Hudson, another farmer near Charlotte, lost his barn, and had several head of stock crippled by the storm. The home of the widow Speight was also destroyed.

FROM THE NASHVILLE AMERICAN, MAY 4 1909, PAGE 5, "HEAVY DAMAGE AT CHARLOTTE": CHARLOTTE, Tenn., May 3. - April 29, at 8:15 p.m., Charlotte was visited with an electrical storm and tornado about 300 yards wide, taking all in its path. Fortunately no one was killed, but several were wounded. The writer went across the country to Sulphur Fork, following it up, and through Charlotte, on the west side of town. In Charlotte ten houses were completely wrecked, and thirty in addition were damaged more or less. The courthouse was unroofed, and sixteen of its beautiful shade trees uprooted. F. H. Hickerson, in the mercantile business, suffered quite a loss. W. C. Greer lost his large barn and two mail hacks. J. A. Hickerson a house barn, buggies and fences. C. H. Underhill had a considerable loss, but it is covered by insurance. Mrs. Speight, one mile from Charlotte, suffered a severe loss. J. D. Butler's house was damaged considerably, and the Methodist Church, South, had part of the roof blown away. Several negro families lost their homes. The timber for 250 yards wide in the path of this tornado is down for many miles. The large marble shaft erected to the memory of the Collier family, and in the private ground, was thrown to the ground. Mail service over Route No. 1 could not continue on account of the wreckage of the roadways.

SHAMBURGER (2016): Based on the narrative by Grazulis and the reports in the Nashville American, the path of this tornado was adjusted to begin on the Humphreys County border around 9 miles west of Dickson, pass between Tennessee City and Dickson, go through Charlotte, and end between Charlotte and Bellsburg. The tornado likely began in Humphreys County based on the information by Grazulis and the Nashville American. The time of the tornado was adjusted to 8 PM and the path width added as 300 yards based on the newspaper articles in the Nashville American.


F2 Decatur/Perry County Tornado
Counties: Decatur/Perry
Date: April 29, 1909
Time: 10:00 PM CST
EF Scale: F2
Damage Path Length: 20 miles
Damage Path Width: 800 yards
Fatalities: 1
Injuries 4



LINDEN, Tenn., May 1. - A cyclone passed through this county last night about 10 o'clock, doing much damage to timber, fences, dwellings and barns, but so far as heard from only one life was lost, that being a little child about 6 years old. The storm struck the county line just opposite Perryville, and traveled a northeast course, passing about five miles to the north of Linden. In its track, which was about half a mile in width, practically all timber was uprooted or twisted to the earth. A few barns and other outhouses were totally destroyed, and a dwelling occupied by Sol Bates, near Linden, was utterly demolished, several members of his family being more or less hurt and one child was killed. On Lick Creek the house of Frank Hunter was badly wrecked and one member of his family blown for a short distance without serious injury.

SHAMBURGER (2016): Despite the death of the child and significant damage to the two homes in Perry County, this tornado was not included in Grazulis' book Significant Tornadoes 1680-1991. This tornado appears to be the same tornado that struck Decaturville and Perryville in Decatur County, which crossed the Tennessee River before moving across central Perry County. The F-scale rating, path length, path width, and injuries are all estimated from the reported damage in the Nashville American, indicating the tornado began near Decaturville, moved through Perryville, and ended northeast of Linden. This tornado appears to be from the same long-track supercell which tracked from the Memphis area and later produced the tornadoes in Hickman, Maury, Williamson, Rutherford, Wilson, DeKalb, Putnam, Fentress, and Scott Counties.


F3 Hickman/Maury/Williamson County Tornado
Counties: Hickman/Maury/Williamson
Time: 10:15 PM CST
EF Scale: F3
Damage Path Length: 45 miles
Damage Path Width: 300 yards
Fatalities: 17
Injuries 43


GRAZULIS: Moved ENE from somewhere west of Shipps Bend to north of Clovercroft. Six people were killed in Hickman County, along a track through Shipps Bend, Centerville, and Little Tot. About 75 homes were damaged or destroyed at Centerville, and losses totaled over $100,000. At Leiper's Fork, in Williamson County, a mother and three children were killed in their home. Damage was noted 1 mile N of Franklin.



Centreville, Tenn., April 30. - Following the trail of the storm which passed through Centreville April 9, the tornado last night between 10 and 11 o'clock was one of the most appalling that has visited this section probably in half a century. Besides the loss of property, which is now estimated at $100,000, seven known dead are reported, and injured.


Bert Neely and child, Little Lot.

Lindsay Bishop, aged 70, and wife.

Mrs. Money, aged about 60, Shipp's Bend.

Four-year-old child of Mr. and Mrs. R. H. Thompson, Totty's Bend.

Eight-year-old boy of Paulina Farris, colored, Centreville.

The desperately injured are: R. H. Thompson, a son and daughter of Mrs. Money, Hiram Prince and Prof. R. S. Ballen.


Columbia, Tenn., April 20. - A terrific cyclone passed through a portion of Maury, Giles, Hickman and Williamson Counties last night, and as a result thirty-five or forty known dead and a hundred or more injured, some seriously. The cyclone struck Primm Springs, a summer resort in Hickman County, and devastated the country. Four people are known to be dead and two are missing, supposed to have been blown away as their home was demolished.


Mr. and Mrs. George Ladd and little son.

Mrs. Will Adcock and her daughter are reported killed, but not verified.

The missing are Mr. and Mrs. Bob Stevens, whose home was torn to pieces. The cyclone followed the course of Dog Creek, a small stream close to the springs, and followed it until it came to the mouth of the hollow, when it entered the hollow and laid waste everything in its path. A portion of the residence of Mrs. Alice Estes was blown away. The home of Wilson Estes was also destroyed, together with the livery barn of Russell Estes, owner of Primm Springs Hotel. The timbers in front of the hotel were laid waste, some of which fell on the hotel, doing considerable damage to the building.

The cyclone went from Primm's on to Centreville.


Franklin, Tenn., Apr. 30 - A heavy and disastrous cyclone passed through this section last night between the hours of eleven and twelve o'clock and struck one-quarter of a mile west of Franklin, killing an old negro woman and injuring three of her children, two of which may die. It is reported that three white people are killed about two miles further down the trail of the cyclone, but this statement has not been authenticated. Four houses are blown down in Franklin. The old McGavock home is wrecked. A large oak tree was lifted bodily and blown across it, crushing in the roof. One brick home was completely demolished. The stock barn of Rural home Stock farm was torn to pieces, and there were many other houses, barns, and outhouses destroyed. The property loss will mount into the thousands. The path of the cyclone at this point is about 300 yards wide, and was accompanied by a heavy rain and thunder and electrical display.

A latter report comes in from Hillsboro, a small place northwest of here that several people had been killed, however, this is not authentic.


It was around 10:15 p.m. when the first of these tornadoes came rolling out of Hickman County into the White Oak area, just across the county line. The loss in timber alone in this section was placed at $100,000. From that point, the storm moved into the Greenbrier section, where it destroyed two stores, several churches, and numerous farm houses, barns and outbuildings. There were also numerous reports of livestock killed by flying debris. This would be typical of damage reports all along the storm route that night.

One of the saddest stories took place at Leiper's Fork. The home of Mr. and Mrs. Jeff Marlin was completely demolished. Two of the couple's sons were blown over a 20-foot bluff and into a nearby creek. Their bodies were recovered the next morning at about daylight. A third son died two days later as a result of injuries sustained during the tornado. And five days later, Mrs. Marlin died from her injuries at a Nashville hospital. Mr. Marlin was badly injured, too, but he survived, along with an infant child, a 16-year old son, and two young daughters.

As the storm moved eastward, it cut a path into the Southall community, causing major damage and dealing additional death blows. From there, it crossed over to Columbia Avenue, where it completely wrecked everything along both sides of the pike, from Winstead Hill to the area just adjacent to Battle Ground Academy. Many historians believe it was during this phase of the storm that winds along the periphery also toppled the steeple that used to sit atop the Franklin Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

The tornado proceeded over across the Lewisburg Pike area, out Murfreesboro Road, and by 11 p.m. struck for a final time, near Clovercroft. In the end, this first tornado, an F3, cut a path 45-miles long through Hickman, Maury, and Williamson counties. It left 10 people dead and 40 more with serious injuries.

SHAMBURGER (2016):  Although Grazulis reported 10 deaths and 40 injuries from this major tornado, newspaper articles from the Nashville American and Williamson Herald indicated several more people were injured, killed, or eventually died from their injuries in the days after the tornado. A thorough reading of newspaper articles came up with a total of 17 deaths and 43 injuries, with 9 deaths and 32 injuries in Hickman County and 8 deaths and 11 injuries in Williamson County. The Alex Mitchell family of five in Hillsboro was also reportedly all killed, but this could not be confirmed.

The description of the tornado path by Grazulis does not match the reports in the Nashville American and Williamson Herald, which indicate the tornado passed around 1 mile south of Franklin, not north as Grazulis wrote, with heavy damage in Hillsboro, Southall, on Carter's Creek Pike, between Winstead Hill and the Battleground Academy on Columbia Pike, at the Historic Carenton Plantation, and on Lewisburg Pike. The McConnico Church southeast of Franklin was also heavily damaged. In addition, the "old negro woman" killed "one-quarter mile west of Franklin" according to the Pulaski Citizen newspaper was actually killed, along with one of her children, on Carter's Creek Pike southwest of Franklin per the Nashville American newspaper. Based on all this information, the path location was adjusted to the south of Franklin, with the path width added as 300 yards based on reports in the Nashville American. Photos of the damage in the Hillsboro (Leiper's Fork) area from the Nashville American newspaper show extreme damage, with a home wiped off the foundation and a hillside forest completely destroyed, suggesting this tornado reached F4 intensity.


F2 Humphreys County Tornado
Counties: Humphreys
Date: April 29, 1909
Time: 10:30 PM CST
EF Scale: F2
Damage Path Length: unknown
Damage Path Width: unknown
Fatalities: 0
Injuries 2


FROM THE NASHVILLE AMERICAN, MAY 1 1909, PAGE 10, FROM M'EWEN:  M'EWEN, Tenn., April 30. - A terrific wind and rainstorm passed through this section last night at about 10:30 o'clock, destroying property and damaging crops of the neighboring farmers to such an extent that it is probable that they will have to be replanted. The residence of Rush Brown, four miles from town, was razed to the ground and Mrs. Brown dangerously injured by the falling of the roof. Oscar Brown, a young son, was also seriously injured. A large number of cattle and hogs were killed and telephonic communication south of the town has been entirely cut off.

FROM THE NASHVILLE AMERICAN, MAY 1 1909, PAGE 12, "PERHAPS FATALLY HURT": McEWEN, Tenn., April 30. - The house of Bush Brown, on Hurricane Creek, three miles from McEwen, was destroyed by a heavy wind last night. Mrs. Brown was seriously if not fatally injured. The house was completely torn to pieces. One son, Oscar, was hit by falling timbers and considerably bruised. A heavy storm raged here throughout the night. Reports from farmers are that crops will have to be planted over again. Much of the land was washed. A horse owned by Rev. Gibbons, of this place, was killed while eating. With the exception of several street lights being burned out, the damage at McEwen was slight.

SHAMBURGER (2016):  Despite the complete destruction of the home in Humphreys County as reported by the Nashville American, the tornado was not included in Grazulis' book Significant Tornadoes 1600-1991. The tornado is included here with an estimated F2 intensity and 2 injuries based on the destruction of the Bush Brown home south of McEwen. This tornado was reported to occur over 2 hours after the Dickson County tornado, so it does not appear they are part of the same tornado or were produced by the same supercell, although that is certainly possible if the reported time is incorrect.


F4 Giles/Lincoln County Tornado
Counties: Giles/Lincoln
Time: 11:00 PM CST
EF Scale: F4
Damage Path Length: 30 miles
Damage Path Width: 800 yards
Fatalities: 31 (22 Giles / 9 Lincoln)
Injuries 70


GRAZULIS: Moved NE from just over the Alabama line, crossing extreme SE Giles County to 5 miles NW of Fayetteville. Homes were "obliterated" at "Bee Springs" and near "Millville." At Bee Springs, five members of a family were killed in one home, and seven in another family died in a nearby home. A total of 22 people were killed in that area (Giles County), and seven near "Millville" (Lincoln County). Two more people may have died in rural areas near Fayetteville. "Some splendid homes were turned to rubbish."



Many Lives and Much Property Lost in Giles County.

The most terrible cyclone in the history of Giles County struck with great fury between 11 and 12 o'clock Thursday night. Greatest damage and the most horrible loss of life occurred in the community between Bunker Hill and Bryson, but the destruction was by no means confined to one place.

The storm extended over many states inflicting damage on widely scattered communities from the Great Lakes to the Gulf. But nowhere was the loss of life greater or the destruction of property more complete than in Giles County.

This particular cyclone began its work of destruction in the neighborhood of Conway, though several barns and tenant houses were blown down west of that place. From Conway eastward to the county line, and even beyond through Lincoln County a wide path of destruction and desolation was swept through a prosperous and happy farming community. But for the fact that the country is hilly and in places thinly settled the destruction would have been even greater.

The most frightful wreckage and loss of life occurred in the little valley through which passes the road from Bunker Hill to Bryson, and in which were located the homes of Bud Guffey, Will McGrew, Lee Smith, J. S. Bryson and others.

Will McGrew's family consisted of ten. The cyclone wrecked the house and killed Mrs. McGrew and six children, while Mr. McGrew, a son and a baby escaped with serious injuries. Only one member of this large family escaped unhurt.

Just a few rods east of the McGrew place stood the home of Bud Guffey. His entire family was wiped out of existence. Bud Guffey, his wife, and two chidlren. At the same time and place, Mrs. Thad Reese, who was a sister of Mrs. Guffey, with her two children, lost their lives, making seven deaths at this one house.

Jack Pope's home was wrecked and he and his wife were killed. Will Ross Lackey, Jr., and Esq. W. S. McLaurine's baby were also killed.

One negro family, Nancy Smith and two children lost their lives in the wreckage of their little home, and one of Till Bledsoe's children was killed.

The total list of those killed in Giles County, so far as could be learned the day after the storm was eighteen white people and four negroes, making twenty two in all.

In addition to those killed outright many were more or less seriously injured. Following is a partia (?) of those most seriously hurt:

Esq. and Mrs. W. S. McLaurine, Mrs. Ella King, widow of the late Mit King, collar bone broken, Hiram Usselton's baby, seriously, perhaps fatally hurt, George Hardy, son of T. J. (Bud) Hardy, Mrs. Louie Gordon, who was living with her mother, Mrs. Eliza Wilkinson, was cut and bruised about the face and arm.

It is impossible to estimate the property loss, probably not less than a hundred thousand dollars. Houses and barns with their contents, orchards, fences and timber make up a large list of valuable property much of which was literally blown out of existence in a few seconds. Following are some of the more serious losses: Lee Smith, house and barn; J. S. Bryan, house and barn; Werner Stevenson, house and barn; W. H. Watson, house and barn; Otha Young, house and barn; W. S. McLaurine, house and barn; Irby Scruggs, residence, outhouses and tenant houses; - barn escaped, Mrs. Eliza Wilkinson, residence; Hood Wilkinson, orchard, shop and barn, resident damaged, but not wrecked; T. J. Hardy, residence and barn; Ike Shapard, gin, The Scruggs' school house, near Conway, and the school house and church at Bee Spring were utterly swept away.

Coming as it did near midnight, when the people generally were asleep, many barely escaped in their night clothes. Jeff Dunnivant, a tenant on Irby Scruggs' place and his family escaped from the wreckage of their home with only slight injuries, but not a fragment of anything was left to the family, except the night clothes in which they were sleeping.

Elam Tucker, who lives at the old Suttle place, near Aspen Hill, lost his barn, also Will Coon, Billy Widene, and D. Biles, and the tenant houses on the Phillips place, south of Tucker's, were wrecked.

The horror of the storm was greatly increased especially were people were (sic) severely hurt by the darkness and torrents of rain, which followed. As soon as neighbors could be informed of the disaster, they hastened to the relief of the suffering. Brave men bared their backs to the chilly rain to provide wraps for suffering women and children; and worked through the dreary hours till daylight, searching for the dead and endeavoring to relieve the suffering of survivors. As soon as a message could be sent to Pulaski, local doctors and citizens hastened to the scene of disaster to aid as much as possible in the work of relief.

A relief committee was organized with John W. Young, Elkton R. 1, as chairman, and in a little while enough funds were in hand to provide food and clothing to supply the immediate necessities of those who had lost everything. But several hundred dollars will be needed for relief work and the more fortunate should respond liberally. Contributions may be sent direct to Mr. Young or to the Citizen and we will forward to the relief committee.


Fayetteville, Tenn., April 30. - The most horrible catastrophe ever known in Lincoln County was the cyclone which passed through the county last night about midnight, wrecking homes, destroying lives and injuring a large number of citizens. It is impossible to obtain details, as the wires are all down.


Barry Prosser, Fayetteville.

Miss Jennie Kelso, Fayetteville; killed by live electric light wire.

Roy Waite, Harms.

Mrs. Douthat, Cyruston.

Columbus Farrar, colored, Cyruston.

Negro woman at Harms.

A. M. Thompson, of the Fourth District.


The seriously injured are M. J. Farrar and daughter, of Gyruston, the former having a broken collarbone, and the latter a broken arm and leg; residence wrecked and burned.

Mrs. Berry (sic) Prosser, near Fayetteville; fatally injured.

Robert Barnes and wife, near Fayetteville.

J. M. Colston and wife, near Fayetteville.

Mrs. John Milstead, near Fayetteville.

Sam Cramsle, Harms.

James Oldham, Harms.

Mr. McNutt, wife and three children, near Fayetteville.

Dee Douthat, near Cyruston.

It is thought that the dead and injured list will be increased by further reports.

The property loss cannot be estimated. It will amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The village of Harms, five miles west of Fayetteville, was almost completely destroyed. Only two houses were left standing. A large warehouse and storehouse were wrecked.

Fayetteville was not in the pathway of the cyclone, but was near it. The damage in town is slight compared with the country.

The Elk Cotton Mill was damaged about $5,000.

The clouds rolled like tremendous waves out of the southwest, and the thunder's crash was deafening, while the electric flashes played incessantly, lighting up the dark-canopied earth like a refulgent monster meteor. For several minutes it was as bright as the glare of a noonday sun with this setting, the wind terrific in force and volume halted at no obstacle, and in its path it left an imprint on everything it touched.

Bee Springs tornado photo

SHAMBURGER (2016): Based on the locations of damage reported by Grazulis and in the Pulaski Citizen, the Nashville American, and the Nashville Tennessean newspapers, the path of this tornado as plotted by Grazulis is incorrect, and is certainly oriented more east-northeastward similar to the other tornadoes on this day. The tornado appears to have begun west of Aspen Hill in Giles County, not in Limestone County, Alabama, as Grazulis stated, then passed near Aspen Hill where it damaged homes and barns, through Conway where the school was destroyed, between Bunker Hill and Bryson, and through Bee Springs destroying numerous homes and the Bee Springs Church on Bee Springs Road about 1/3 mile south of Stevenson Road. This massive tornado then passed into Lincoln County where much of Millville, Cyruston, Clardyville, and Harms were damaged or destroyed. The damage reported in the far western and northern suburbs of Fayetteville along with the $5,000 damage to the Elk Cotton Mills north of Fayetteville indicates the tornado continued for several more miles before lifting northeast of Fayetteville, not 5 miles to the northwest as Grazulis stated. Based on all of this information, the path start and end points were adjusted, path length increased to 30 miles, and path width increased to one mile. A thorough reading of the Nashville American, Nashville Tennessean, and Pulaski Citizen newspaper articles for several days after the tornado outbreak indicates 22 deaths occurred in Giles County and 9 deaths occurred in Lincoln County, for a total of 31 deaths from this tornado. Another (not counted) indirect death occurred in Lincoln County due to a Miss Jennie Kelso interacting with a live electrical wire. Thirty-six serious injuries were reported in the newspapers across both counties, with numerous other more minor injuries, so the total of 70 injuries shown by Grazulis was kept.


F2 Williamson/Rutherford/Wilson County Tornado
Counties: Williamson/Rutherford/Wilson
Time: 11:15 PM CST
EF Scale: F2
Damage Path Length: 40 miles
Damage Path Width: 1760 yards
Fatalities: 2
Injuries 20


GRAZULIS: Moved ENE from 4 miles SW of Nolensville, passing south of Smyrna, just north of Walterhill and ending near Statesville. Ten homes were destroyed. One person was killed near Nolensville and another near Walterhill. The entire town of Statesville had severe downburst damage. Thousands of trees were downed and cattle were killed. Some homes were reportedly destroyed in six counties further to the ENE, but tornadoes there are not confirmable.


FROM THE WILLIAMSON HERALD NEWSPAPER:  The second tornado that night struck at 11:15 p.m. about four miles southwest of Nolensville. It cut a huge path over a mile wide through the area. Just like the previous storm, it caused widespread property damage. Many Nolensville residents said it was the worst storm to ever strike there -- even worse than the notorious cyclone of 1900, which had cut a path only a few hundred yards wide. After striking Nolensville, the storm moved into Rutherford County. Two people were killed and 20 injured in that second storm. It went on record as an F2 tornado.



NOLENSVILLE, April 30. - This section was visited by a cyclone last night at 11 o'clock, leaving suffering and destruction in its path. It came from the northwest, traveling with great momentum. At Trinity, about seven miles west of here, the damage is beyond description. Both the Methodist and Christian churches are blown down; the homes of Will Tullass and James Marshall, both of which were beautiful country residences, are complete wrecks; the home of James Nolen is considerably damage, but not so bad as the others. Between the Wilson turnpike and Nolensville Pike for a distance of seven miles and half mile wide a number of houses are destroyed. One of the strange things of it all is that both the Christian and Methodist churches at Trinity were blown down about ten years ago, and both rebuilt on the same foundation to be blown away again last night. The home of Tobe Cunningham stands directly between the two churches and has withstood both storms without any especial damage. No fatalities have been reported as yet, but several are very painfully hurt. Miss Daisy Marshall received a few slight wounds. James Marshall, a young man of about 20, was blown from the bed in an upstairs room and lodged in a tree about twenty-five feet away but escaped without injury.


FROM THE NASHVILLE AMERICAN, May 1 1909, PAGE 4, "RUTHERFORD COUNTY. Track of Cyclone a Mile Wide and Vast Damage Done":

MURFREESBORO, Tenn., April 30. Rutherford County was visited last night by one of the most destructive storms of many years. The track of the cyclone was about a mile in width, passing across the country from west to east and north of Murfreesboro. Owing to the fact that all telephone and telegraph lines are down it is impossible to get the details of the damage wrought. The greatest damage was done in the Florence and Walter Hill sections. For about one mile north of Florence the telegraph poles were twisted off and thrown across the N., C. & St. L. Railroad, which obstructed traffic for a considerable time last night.

Great injury was done forests. Large trees were torn and twisted from the roots, and in some places scarcely a tree was left uninjured in a whole forest.

Houses, barns and buildings generally were blown down or else badly wrecked. Ward's Mill, one of the oldest country mills in the country, was blown bodily into Stones River. The old Henry Wade residence, a two-story frame buildings, was demolished, and also several cabins on the place. Representative M. E. Neely lost a valuable barn, as did Maj. B. Randolph, both of the Walter Hill neighborhood. The residence of J. M. Lews at that place was twisted entirely around, but it did not fall, but is in such a damaged condition that it will be necessary to tear it down. Many narrow escaped from death are reported, but only one person is known to have been injured, an old lady, Mrs. Upchurch, but the extent of her injuries is not known...



SMYRNA, Tenn., April 30. - The little town of Smyrna was close to the path of a terrific storm that swept through this section last night, causing much damage to property, and it was miraculous that no lives were lost. The path of the storm was through a section about one mile southeast of Smyrna, where several homes were converted into wreckage and much farm property was destroyed.  The storm seemed to reach the proportions of a tornado at a late hour of the night, sweeping from northeast to southwest, carrying down many farm buildings, but fortunately it passed through a sparsely-settled section and in about twenty minutes it completely reversed its course, turning from the northeast to the southwest, and many of the buildings were blown back in the opposite direction. So far as reported, no lives were lost, but on the farm of Mrs. Charles Ward all of the outhouses were blown away and a Mr. Gannon and his wife were injured. The home of Mrs. Ward escaped any serious damage.

The tornado passed up the Nashville and Murfreesboro turnpike, between this place and Florence, for a short distance, and for a quarter of a mile or more made a complete wreck of the telegraph and telephone lines.  The poles were broken down and splintered and the wires were left in a tangled mass.

The Evans Mills, on Stones River, one mile north of Florence, were blown into the river and destroyed.

The Sixth District schoolhouse, of Rutherford County, was blown a distance of fifteen or twenty feet and left standing without showing any visible results of great damage.

Windows were blown from the residence of William H. Gregory, and the barn on his farm was blown down and numerous losses of a similar kind were the result.

The homes of Mrs. John Brown and William McAdoo were blown down, and part of the home of B. M. Peebles was blown away. Many tenant houses and barns were wrecked on different places.

The total damage cannot be accurately stated, but it will go into the thousands of dollars in this section.



MURFREESBORO, Tenn., April 30. - A terrific rain and wind storm swept this county last night and many reports of widespread damage and destruction are being received. At Walter Hill the residence of Mrs. Upchurch was totally destroyed and she herself was fatally injured. No other fatalities are reported from this town although barns and outbuildings were swept away by the fierce assault of the storm.

At Florence, a village about six miles from here, the large mill known as "Ward Mill", on the Stones River, was blown completely into the river. Several other houses were blown down and a number of people injured. It is reported that one man is dead, but his name cannot be ascertained.

The barn of Dr. Neely, representative from this county, was blown away. The house of Judge Lewis was also destroyed and several other houses damaged beyond repair.

SHAMBURGER (2017): The path of this tornado, which touched down just south of where the Franklin tornado occluded near Clovercroft, was estimated to begin southwest of the Trinity Methodist Church southeast of Franklin. This large tornado then passed 2 to 3 miles south of Nolensville, moved 1 mile northwest of Florence Station, passed over Wards Mill (also called Evans Mill or Nice Mill) around 4 miles southeast of Smyrna, then damaged homes and barns just south of Walter Hill. Farther to the east, the homes of Mrs. Upchurch and Mr. McAdoo were damaged or destroyed northwest of Lascassas. There is no information about the tornado path from Lascassas into Wilson County, so the tornado is estimated to have lifted somewhere southwest of Statesville.


F2 Wilson/DeKalb County Tornado
Counties: Wilson/DeKalb
Date: April 30, 1909
Time: 12:00 AM CST
Damage Path Length: 15 miles
Damage Path Width: unknown
Fatalities: 0
Injuries 2


GRAZULIS: ...The entire town of Statesville had severe downburst damage. Thousands of trees were downed and cattle were killed. Some homes were reportedly destroyed in six counties further to the ENE, but tornadoes there are not confirmable.



WATERTOWN, Tenn., April 30. - The heaviest rainfall in years, accompanied by high winds, has fallen here since midnight last night. The creeks are out of banks and all the farm work of the spring is practically lost. The farms lying on the hillsides are washed in deep gullies and the low land is completely flooded. Most of the land will have to be returned and planted. Telephone wires are down and roads are in bad conditions. The town of Statesville, six miles from here, was struck last night by a tornado. The three churches - the Cumberland, the Methodist and the Baptist - also the schoolhouse, were blown down and destroyed. A number of residences were badly damaged and business houses unroofed, the rain destroying almost the entire stock of John Jewell. No lives were lost, but live stock suffered greatly.



ALEXANDRIA, Tenn., April 30 - A destructive wind of high velocity accompanied with much lightning and the largest hail ever known here struck the section of the country from Statesville to Smith Fork, traveling east. The storm was about two miles south of Alexandria, and the following farmers had their barns demolished entirely or unroofed: James Dinwiddle, J. S. Turner, J. D. Griffith, Oby Jenkins, G. G. Gibbs, Vick Groom, Bob Vannatta, John Midgett (two), Mort Foutch, and Hanison Self. The dwelling of Lon Dowell was unroofed, and the house of Will Hickman was blown fifty yards and caught fire and was consumed. His mother, who was seriously injured, and a little boy were rescued with much difficulty from the ruins. This is only a partial report of the damage done sent in by telephone this morning. In town here a number of window panes were broken. The plate glass show windows stood the shock, but a number of other smaller lights in the windows were broken.



ALEXANDRIA, Tenn., May 3. - At Statesville, seven miles from here, the storm of Thursday night destroyed the three churches and the school building. Almost every dwelling was rendered unsafe. Dr. Barger lost five of his six barns, and the merchants suffered much loss from their business houses being unroofed. The house of Mr. Harvey, near town, was turned bottom side up without serious injury to the occupants.

SHAMBURGER (2016):  Although Grazulis states that a downburst caused the immense damage in Statesville, the severity of the damage across southeast Wilson County into DeKalb County - with three churches demolished, numerous homes and barns unroofed, and several injuries - strongly suggests this damage was from a strong tornado. This tornado is estimated to have begun southwest of Statesville, then moved east-northeast into DeKalb County, passing 2 miles south of Alexandria before ending near Smith Fork - roughly around 15 miles. A damage rating of at least F2 intensity seems likely based on the newspaper descriptions.


F2 Franklin/Grundy County Tornado
Counties: Franklin/Grundy
Date: April 30, 1909
Time: 12:15 AM CST
EF Scale: F2
Damage Path Length: 22 miles
Damage Path Width: 1760 yards
Fatalities: 6
Injuries 30


GRAZULIS: Twenty-three homes were destroyed, and a hotel and depot were unroofed at Decherd. $150,000 damage.


MONTEAGLE, Tenn., April 30 - Much damage was done in this section by the storm of last night. Elk River is higher than ever before. The barn of William Gillam was blown down and his house twisted. Ab Lane lost his barn and two mules. Mr. Parkes had a cow killed, fruit trees destroyed and barn blown down. From the foot of the mountain, near Wonder Cave, half way to the top, two-thirds of the large trees are down.

SHAMBURGER (2016): The devastating and very large Decherd tornado, which was only given a few meager words in the book Significant Tornadoes by Tom Grazulis, began somewhere west of Owl Hollow in western Franklin County, then moved east-northeast passing about 1.3 miles north of Winchester, then plowing directly through Decherd. No information is available farther to the east across the extremely rural area between Decherd and Monteagle, but based on newspaper reports and damage in Franklin and Grundy Counties all lining up in a straight line, the damage in both counties was almost certainly produced by the same tornado. Therefore, the Franklin County damage (at least F2) and Grundy County damage (F1) were combined into this entry and added to the NWS Nashville tornado database. The rear flank downdraft of the parent supercell also caused significant damage up to 2 miles south of the tornado path, such as the numerous trees blown down across Winchester. Grazulis and some newspapers reported 4 deaths in Franklin County from Owl Hollow to Decherd, but newspaper articles indicate at least 2 more people died from their injuries several weeks later after the tornado, with other people still in critical condition. Therefore a more accurate total of 6 deaths was used here, although the final number may have been even higher. This tornado was almost certainly produced by the same supercell that spawned the even worse Giles/Lincoln County tornado just to the west.


F2 Putnam County Tornado
Counties: Putnam
Date: April 30, 1909
Time: 1:00 AM CST
EF Scale: F2
Damage Path Length: 6 miles
Damage Path Width: unknown
Fatalities: 0
Injuries 2


FROM THE NASHVILLE AMERICAN, MAY 1 1909, PAGE 2, section "NUMBER OF HOUSES WRECKED - Cookeville and Surrounding Territory in the Path of the Storm":

COOKEVILLE, Tenn., April 30 - A storm of cyclonic effects struck this city last night about 1 o'clock. The wind was from the southwest and first struck the west end of the city and blew down a number of houses in Bushtown, the negro part of the city. It then completely blew away Webb & Crawford's Planning Mills and the stock house of the Cookeville Roller Mills. Parts of the planning mill were blown through F. H. White's residence, some 200 yards away, and Mrs. White was slightly injured and their house considerably damaged. C. H. Whitney's barn, in the track of the storm, was blown down and Rural Carrier Morgan's horse was killed in the barn. Col. Pendergrass' residence was blown from its foundation. Mrs. Hughes' house was torn into kindling wood, but she was not at home at the time. A. C. Morgan's house was blown away and Mrs. Morgan was badly injured, but not fatally, it is thought. Bob White's house was blown from its foundation. P. M. Greenwood had a small house blown away. One-half of the house where Attorney J. B. Thompson lives was blown across the street and his barn turned over, but his family was not hurt. Mr. Brinkley's house was carried from its foundations, as was a newly completed house of J. B. Barnes'. John Lee's barn was blown over. Ed Ragland's house was blown from its foundation. A number of small barns was blown down. Trees were twisted in two and hurled great distances. Shade trees and orchards suffered greatly. It is miraculous that there was no more personal injuries, as this was the worst storm ever seen in this part of the State.

FROM THE NASHVILLE AMERICAN, MAY 1 1909, PAGE 4, ALGOOD SECTION: The worst storm that has visited this section for thirty years passed over this section about midnight. At this time it is impossible to ascertain the damage and loss of life to stock; no lives so far reported. Numbers of barns completely wrecked, and several houses ruined. The worst damage to houses is the home of Prof. J. M. Goulson, a good two-story house, completely ruined, but no loss of life, though to look at the ruins seems marvelous that the family escaped. One of the heaviest and hardest rains followed by a hail storm; hundreds of trees blown down and nearly all orchards ruined. Telephone lines are a mass of wires and poles. Thousands of dollars worth of property completely ruined. It is impossible at this time to estimate the damage.


ALGOOD, Tenn., April 30 - At this place, four miles east of Cookeville, the Southern Methodist church was demolished. Prof. J. M. Coulson's residence destroyed and a number of other buildings greatly damaged. Wires all down everywhere and communication with the country cut off. Today the people of Cookeville and Algood are applying themselves vigorously to removing the debris and repairing the damages and the fact that no one was killed dispels much of the gloom caused by the destruction of property. This is the first storm of the kind that ever visited this section, although in 1878 much timber was blown down.

SHAMBURGER (2016): Despite the significant destruction caused by this tornado in Cookeville and Algood, Grazulis did not include this tornado in his book Significant Tornadoes. However, descriptions of the damage appear to warrant at least an F2 rating, which was used here. The path length was estimated based on a beginning point in the Bushtown area and end point just past Algood. Another tornado or downburst later struck near Monterey in eastern Putnam County, as the Nashville American reported "one of the worst wind storms in the history of the town" unroofed houses and barns, but the description of the damage is unclear whether a tornado or downburst was the cause.


F1 Fentress County Tornado
Counties: Fentress
Date: April 30, 1909
Time: 1:30 AM CST
EF Scale: F1
Damage Path Length: unknown
Damage Path Width: 100 yards
Fatalities: 0
Injuries 0



WILDER, Tenn., May 1. - This place was visited Thursday night about 1 o'clock by a cyclone traveling in a southeasterly direction. A path about 100 yards wide was swept clear of timber. A gulch just west of the town evidently broke the force so that no serious damage has resulted. A number of houses have been damaged by falling timber, one or two thrown off the foundations and one large two-story building completely demolished. The houses damaged were all unoccupied, except the one destroyed. However, the party living in this was away. Their household effects are destroyed. All of the buildings belong to the Fentress Coal & Coke Company.


SHAMBURGER (2016): This tornado was not included in Grazulis' book Significant Tornadoes 1680-1991. The F-scale rating, location and path width are estimated from the reported damage. The time of this tornado appears to be incorrect as the Cookeville tornado was well documented as occurring around 1 AM, so a later time was used. Due to the proximity to the county border, this tornado likely began in Overton County, but the article does not mention any damage to confirm this.


F2 Fentress/Morgan/Scott County Tornado
Counties: Fentress/Morgan/Scott
Date: April 30, 1909
Time: 2:00 AM CST
EF Scale: F2
Damage Path Length: 20 miles
Damage Path Width: 800
Fatalities: 1
Injuries 4



The storm of last Friday morning, which was so severe in different parts of the state, did no damage in this immediate vicinity. We hear that considerable damage was done in the south part of the county, that a large amount of timber was blown down near Gatewood Ford on Clear Fork and that the Tennessee Lumber and Coal Co.'s saw mill near the mouth of Crooked Creek was demolished. RUGBY. The cyclone of the night of April 29th or morning of April 30th, did great damage near Rugby. Its course was about a half mile wide and lay from Cross Roads into Scott Co., between the farms of William Cummings and Laban Riseden, just escaping both the homesteads, but tearing up all the timber in the neighborhood and bearing on southward below Rugby, carrying away the home of Young John Brewster and crushing in his shoulder and injuring his wife. At Cross Roads, Scott County, it demolished the home of Henry Reed, debris falling upon him and crushing his skull. His daughter, who had her leg broken, crawled to hear father's aid by the light of a flash of lightning and found him dying. Mrs. Reed was also found unconscious, but has recovered. The night of the 29th was one of severe wind and rain, with heavy thunder and lightning the cyclone coming at 2 a.m. Friday morning with a low terrible rumbling heard by those awake at Rugby. It is seldom our mountain country has such a cyclone. One hundred trees were blown across the Rugby Pike, delaying the mails that day, for it was next to impossible to get through. A force of men from Scott and Morgan counties under the road overseers, cleared the road on May 3rd.

SHAMBURGER (2017): Based on the Fentress County Gazette article, this damage appears to be yet another tornado produced by the same long track supercell that spawned numerous tornadoes from southeast of Memphis to Cookeville. This tornado is estimated to have touched down in Fentress County southwest of Gatewood Ford Road just west of the Morgan County border, then moved northeast to near where the Crooked Creek and Clear Fork meet destroying a sawmill (F1), and then on into Morgan County. The half-mile wide tornado moved across the Brewster Community causing two injuries (F2), then passed just south of Rugby into Scott County. Near Cross Roads, one man was killed and two more people were severely injured (F2) before the tornado lifted somewhere northeast of that community, a distance of roughly 20 miles. Although not specifically stated in the article, Mr. Henry Reed of Cross Roads died from his injuries per death certificate records. Despite the significant damage, death and injuries, this tornado was not included in Grazulis' book Significant Tornadoes.