Lamar County, Mississippi Genealogy and History


Pamela J. Gibbs County Coordinator

Everette Carr - State Coordinator     Bill White - Assistant State Coordinator


        On April 24, 1908, the town of Purvis was practically destroyed by a cyclone. A citizen relates her experience in the storm and thereby gives a clear idea of the damage it did in the county seat:

        "On April 24, 1908 about 3:15 P. M., I saw a huge back funnel-shaped cloud approaching from the southwest. It looked as if it were boiling on the ground. I called my three children into the house and asked my husband not to go to the store where he worked. We got on the bed, wrapping up in quilts, putting a cotton mattress over us. The cloud was roaring; it was terrible. We were not in the straight path of the cloud, but three distinct whorls caught us. Some of our furniture was whirled straight toward the storm. The top of the house was torn off and then the walls fell in on us.

         We began to get out by the time the last whirl was gone. It took four men to pull the springs we were on apart to get the mattress and quilts out. We had a cedar bucket that was found on the floor turned over a chicken. Our pantry was blown about one fourth of a mile from the house with the pans and other things in it contained still in it just as I had put them. It was nearly dark for about four minutes while it lasted. The earth rocked, and rain poured in torrents.

         After the clouds passed, roaring on into the northeast carrying before them all that stood in their path, for a moment there was silence; then, with the light, came pitiful cries, groans, and screams that arose on all sides. People were dying; others hurt and still frightened beyond control.

         Mr. W. B. Allsworth and F. J. Calhoun rode on horses to Richburg, which is about ten miles from Purvis to tell of the disaster. A special train was sent from Hattiesburg by the N. O. & N. E. Railroad Company, reaching town before dark. On this train was Doctors, H. L. McKinnon, L. W. Bayne, B. F. Mosley, W. W. Crawford, and Leo H. Martin and several rescue workers. Wreckage and disaster lay before them on every hand. The courthouse was used as a morgue and a hospital. Its roof had been blown away, but the walls remained. The new town clock had stopped at exactly 2:15 P. M. The hands remained in this position for many years afterward, then started. It was never known to keep correct time.

         Within twenty-four hours the Red Cross, the army, the navy and other organizations had relief agencies on the ground. Governor Noel sent military tents and hospital equipment. Groceries and mattresses were sent from Hattiesburg. Red Cross aid arrived from Washington and Philadelphia. The two Hattiesburg hospitals were filled with injured. The body of James Moffett, city Marshall, was found transfixed with a piece of timber. It had to be sawed off before the body could be removed. There were sixty-five persons killed, around 340 injured, and nearly 2000 left destitute in Purvis. We had to start cleaning up and building again. In about eight months homes had been rebuilt, crops were made, churches and schools under construction."

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Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007  by Pamela J. Gibbs except where otherwise noted.


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