In January of 1922, the days had been warm. A cold front approached from the north and triggered a line of thunderstorms and a line of tornados the night of January the fourth.
Grandpa Achilles Morgan was 79 years old at the time and very deaf. He was crippled and walked with two canes. He had been a Civil War soldier and would still sing the old Civil War songs. Grandma was 83 years old. She had a shrill voice and seemed to be able to make Grandpa hear her without much trouble. Both of them wore nightgowns and night caps to bed.
On the night of the tornado, Grandma heard the thunder and saw the lightning. She covered up her head as she was afraid of storms. Then she remembered that the phone line needed to be unhooked so it would not be hit by lightning. She sat upright and screamed at Grandpa, "Ack, you have to get up and unhook the phone line. There is a storm coming." By that time the lightning was lighting up the room. Grandpa got up and walking with his two canes he picked up the broom on the way to the back door. He walloped the phone line with the broom and stepped back on the porch. He thought he heard hail hit the porch roof.
As he got back into bed, Grandma sat up again and asked him if he had gotten the phone line unhooked. He said that he had, but almost got caught in a awful hail storm.
The next morning, Grandma got up and started a fire in the wood cook stove before making biscuits for breakfast. Before the biscuits got brown she would call Grandpa for breakfast. The stove just wouldn't draw. She tried to fan the fire with her apron. This only made the smoke worse. It got in her eyes and she lost her temper. She screamed, "Ack, go out and see what is wrong with the chimney that it won't draw. Maybe a big bird is building a nest on top."
Grandpa walked out through the smoke filled kitchen and out on the porch. Then he saw what he had thought was hail the night before. Bricks from the chimney covered the spot where he had stood as he stepped back up on the porch. The board fence that he was so proud of was blown down, so were his hand made gates. The well house was gone, as was the well bucket and 100 feet of rope. The house had been moved on the foundation. The trees, cedar and maple, had toppled and the big oak tree blown over. The two high hedge rows to the southwest had a sixty foot gap.
The old log house southwest of the house was still standing and had broken the force of the tornado. The huge barn to the south, and a big log chicken house were not damaged.
Grandpa could hardly believe his eyes. It took him a long time to survey the mess that the storm had left. When he came back into the back door, Grandma was still fanning the fire with her apron and she screamed at him, "Ack, what did you find out?" Grandpa took a few steps toward her and said, "Old woman, I want to tell you something. We got blowed away last night."
The news of the tornado damage quickly spread and among those who viewed the destruction was my cousin Byrl Losey, who was older than I was. Grandma told her the story. Byrl told it to me years later. Byrl still laughs about Grandpa being in the hail storm and getting blown away.
Note: Grandpa Achilles was Achilles Morgan, son of Thomas Scott Morgan. Byrl Losey was the daughter of Cora (Morgan) Losey and Dr. George Losey. The author, T. Clifford Morgan, was the great grandson of Thomas Scott Morgan.
Posted: 23 Sep 2009