THE CYCLONE OF 1884
THE ANSON TIMES WADESBORO, N. C. FEBRUARY 21,1884
Tuesday's cyclone caused great destruction of property and killed thirty-two people. The
winds began to blow about 8 p.m., were very high and were accompanied by thunder and lightning
of unusual severity. The whole air was charged with electricity and the storm increased in its
fury and violence until about 2 am. Wadesboro was fortunate in not being in the path of the storm.
Trees and fences were blown down and a kitchen on the premises of Dr. Ingram was lifted from its pillows.
This, we are glad to say is about all the damages done in the town, but the surrounding country suffered
On the farm of Mr. Bee Martin on Brown Creek, the cabin of a Negro man was blown down and he was
instantly killed. On Mr. Steve Boyette's place every house except his dwelling was blown down.
The house occupied by a man and his wife near Mr. Boyette's
was leveled by the winds but the inmates were unhurt. Sheriff Wall's residence was un-roofed and
his gin house and screw were blown down. Mr. Thomas Beverly, near Sheriff Wall's, lost all of his houses;
there is not one timber standing on the others. His meat was blown away and he also lost his corn and farm
supplies. Mr. Henry Huntley lost every house on his place except his dwelling. At Mr. William Little's
place 28 out of 30 houses
were blown down and three Negroes were killed.
Mr. F. B. Flake's store house was un-roofed and his goods damaged by the rain. His screw was blown
over and all of his out-houses, save three. A colored tenant of his, "Croux" Staten, went out of his
house when the wind rose and has not been seen.
Fate Allen, colored, was crippled by his house being blown over. The building caught fire but the
flames were extinguished by the rain. James Thomas, white, a tenant of Mr. Moody Allen lost his house
James Hough, another of Mr. Allen's tenants, also lost his home. The building took fire but the rains
extinguished the flames.
A special from Polkton says: A severe storm of wind and hail crossed the railroad about a mile east
of Polkton last night prostrating everything in its course. Could see the storm from Polkton by
lightning, looked like a cloud of dense smoke and sounded like thunder. Hail stones measuring 2 1/2 inches
long, 1 1/2 inches wide and one inch thick fell.
Early yesterday morning a messenger arrived in this town from the farm near Polkton of Mr. F. M.
Gray for a coffin for the body of Mrs. Gray. The storm in it's fury leveled the dwelling, 3 shops,
smoke house grainery, kitchen and corn crib on Mr. Gray's place. The falling timbers of the residence
killed Mrs.Gray and seriously injured her husband who is reported to be in a very critical condition.
Their son, Mr. E. H. Gray, was blown 20 yards from the site of the residence but was not hurt.
The most distressing news comes from Rockingham and the loss of life there seems to have very great.
From passengers on the freight train yesterday we learn that the cyclone passed through the outskirts
of town in an easterly direction from the post office. Twenty to thirty persons were killed and a great
many wounded. All business was suspended and the physicians and the citizens did their best to relieve
suffering. Eleven dead bodies, eight colored and three white men were gotten from among the debris
yesterday morning and were placed in the Court House.
At Darlington the railroad depot was un-roofed and four are said to have been killed. It is also
reported the storm did much damage at Laurinburg but as the telegraph wires have been down in
every direction we could not get "specials" through to these points.
THE ANSON TIMES
As we expected the storm was much more violent and fearful than we knew positively when we went to
press last Wednesday evening. The sad and sickening accounts of the cyclone began to pour in last
Thursday and our exchanges have since been full of the horrible details of the loss of life occasioned
by it as it swept in its wild carnival of death and destruction. From our exchanges we clip much of the
news we herewith produce.
At Rockingham the storm it seems began near McDonald's mills on Fulling Creek near town - say about half
a mile south of the mills. Before reaching the mills several small houses were blown away, but no one
was killed. The mills, saw and grist, with cotton gin attached, were scattered like chaff. Even the
mill stones were taken up and carried several yards. The "breast" of the mill was blown out turning
the pond off. Several of the out houses about the mills were blown away and Mr. John L. Dawkins, a big
fat man weighing about 350 pounds, who was in one of them was severely injured.
The next houses taken in by the storm, after leaving the mills, were the residences of Richard Dawkins,
Sandy Smith, Asbury Sandford, Walter Dawkins, Wiley Dawkins Mr. Evander J. McDonald, and J. G. Grant.
All these were completely swept away except that
of Walter and Wiley Dawkins, which, being on the outskirts of the storm, escaped with slight damage.
The storm next struck the Philadelphia colored settlement, in which nineteen dwelling houses, most
of which, though small, were substantially built frame buildings, were totally destroyed, together
with the Philadelphia Colored Methodist Church, All together, more than fifty houses were destroyed
and the loss cannot be less than $15,000.
The following is a list of the whites known to have been killed; Richard Dawkins, aged about 40 years,
Charles, son of Asbury Sandford, aged about 14 years, Mrs. Flora Henrietta Griffin, aged about
18 years, leaving an infant about 8 months old, which was found unhurt in its dead mother's arms.
Emma Terry, daughter of the late Sheriff, Harris G. Terry, aged about 10 years. Asa Dawkins, son
of Walter Dawkins, aged about 14 years, collar bone broken, Mrs. Sarah Grant, wife of J. A. Grant,
face and chest injured, son of Asbury Sandford, name unknown, aged about 7 or 8 years old, left arm
fractured, William T. Hall and wife who were visiting Mr. Asbury Sandford, slightly wounded. There
were eleven colored persons killed and thirty-two wounded.
In the Mangum neighborhood, Richmond County, much damage was done; Pressley Stanback lost several
houses, but no lives were lost. Mr. John C. Gay, at Bittles Mill had all the houses on his place
blown away save one. All the houses on Mr. John D. Pemberton's plantation were demolished and his
horses and mules were killed. C. W. Luther lost all his buildings save his dwelling, as did also
A. T. Tyson, Ben Harris, J. M. Chappell, Jim Ussery and Lawson Ussery had their houses blown down,
some of the occupants being wounded, but fortunately none were killed.
The following letter has been kindly furnished to us from Rockingham, N.C.,February 23,1884:
Mr. Editor: -- By your request I proceed to furnish for your newspaper an account, imperfect tho'
it must be, of the cyclone which passed near here on Tuesday night, February 19th. We hear of the
first stroke from it at a point six miles southwest of
this place where an immense oak was thrown upon the house of David Watson, crushing it in and seriously
hurting Mr. Watson while his wife and her brother, a young Mr. Stewart, were killed.
From this place, its course was from southwest to northeast, though many houses were un-roofed and
thrown down, no loss of life occurred until it struck the neighborhood of McDonald's Mill, one mile
southeast of the Court House, when a white woman, Mrs. Griffin, was killed, her child being found in
the dead mother's arms and unhurt. The house was level with the ground and indeed from this point on,
the storm accumulated in force, for a distance of five miles not a house was left standing. The mill,
two hundred yards from the Griffin house, was hurled from its base and the mill stones even thrown
some distance from their site.
Mr. John Dawkins, miller, a corpulent man of 365 pounds, was standing in the door of the mill at
the moment of the shock was tossed, he knows not where, but, when found in the debris, was helpless
from a terrible gash in the calf of the leg and numberless contusions from head to toe. It is hoped,
however, that he will recover.
On Wednesday morning I rode over the tract from this mill northeastward, a distance of five miles,
and on the route I counted thirty-eight dwellings in ruins. Here were the ruins
of a house, the first I came to after leaving the mill, where dwelt a man, his wife and one child. The
three were blown in different directions, the distance varying from ten to forty
yards from where the house stood, none of them hurt.
One hundred yards further on, the house of Richard Dawkins, white, was demolished, killing him and his
son, the only inmates.
One hundred yards from this point was the house of Asbury Sanford, white, which crumbled like an
eggshell, he being mortally hurt, his wife not so seriously, one son killed, and other of the
inmates battered and bruised by flying objects.
Almost one hundred and fifty yards further the Negro village of some twenty families was struck and
Mr. Editor, if you were describing a battle, you would say "here was the thickest of the fight." Indeed,
the furies of the storm seem to have had their merriest carnival here, for within a limited radius,
eleven colored were found dead and a score or more seriously disabled. The eye sickened at the sight
and moved the heart, and the nerves quail in the efforts at a recital of harrowing incident, for there
were many and sad, which marked the scene.
Other sources of information will furnish to you some of them. The cyclone in its progress contained
an average width of one fourth of a mile, houses on either flank were left standing, though terribly
shaken as if by sudden rending from outer edge toward the center of a seething vortex. The scene after
the storm, particularly the position of the prostrate trees, indicated a convergence toward the center,
as if a vacuum was created there and the wind rushed in from either side to fill it. The trees lay
exactly at right angle with the path of the rushing storm.
I will close, Mr. Editor, by mentioning one thing which I think is singularly significant of the
force of the storm. At a point, at least two hundred yards from where any house stood, a large pine
tree was felled, leaving a stump thirty or forty feet high and at the tip is sticking a piece of oven
or pot, six or eight inches square, driven firmly in.Yours, H. C. S.
At Monroe there was no serious damage done but to the south, Mrs. Jane Broom, in Lanesboro township,
had every house on her place blown down. Mrs. Broom was badly hurt and her daughter was mortally
wounded. It next struck the widow Philmon's, who lost every house on the place. Mr. Rilly Horton's
was next in its track. His house was left standing but turned completely around. At Mr. Buck Horton's,
every building was destroyed and every member of the family more or less hurt. Mr. J. P. Horn's cotton
press and shop were destroyed. At Mr. S. F. Ross's every building was destroyed and his wife injured.
Mr. Cebron Pope's barn was blown down. Alex. Helms' out buildings were destroyed. At Mr. Lewis Krimenger's
every building was destroyed and his sister severely injured. The cows, geese and chickens were killed.
John Bivens, colored, living on Mr. G. Allen's place, had everything destroyed and himself and family
were blown to the woods. Their clothing was torn from them and their hands and faces lacerated.
At Mr. G. D. Allen's, every building was destroyed and Mr. Allen and one child were slightly injured.
The geese and chickens in the yard were killed. Mr. Marley Griffin's house was blown down and burned
up. It is feared Griffin is mortally wounded.
In Goose Creek Township, north of Monroe, the storm was equally severe. We have reports of its
destructive work at the following places: Mr. Andy Fowler, dwelling destroyed; Mr. James Fowler,
kitchen blown down; J. M. Guin, smokehouse destroyed. Every house on Mr. Newton Presson's premises
After passing Mr. Presson's it went through the plantation of Mrs. A. A. Price, blowing down one house,
then to Mr. Eli Rushing's where it un-roofed his house. Mrs. Sally Medlin's buildings were destroyed.
Jennie Tomberlin's house was destroyed. The inmates living there were injured. Then to Mr. Andrew
Hargett's, where it completely laid flat all his buildings consisting of one double dwelling house,
barn, crib and grainhouse. Jacob Mullis's house, next in its track, was blown away. Then to Mr. Robert
Rushing's, where it blew down and burned everything he had, except some clothing. It next stripped a
house belonging to Mr. Jackson Mullis. Mr. Aaron Little's house was blown down to the joist. Then to
Mr. Joseph Hagler's where it blew one house down. Then to Mr. J. B. Tarlton's, where it blew down and
carried away his buildings, consisting of one two story dwelling, barn, crib and shop. Then it destroyed
a house belonging to Samuel Mullis. It next blew down an outhouse and stable belonging to Mr. John Love.
Next, the house of Mr. J. Tarlton was blown down and the home of Dorsey Williams was blown down and
Near Hamlet the storm passed between Hamlet and Rockingham. Trees were taken up by the roots and hurled
with fearful rapidity through the air and those not uprooted had all the bark taken off. Chickens were
found with all the feathers picked off them. Mill Stones weighing 2,000 pounds were moved fifty yards.
A mother and her babe, hardly a month old, were found in the woods dead, the mother clasping the helpless
form of her baby to her breast. A little baby was found in a swamp. The Negro, who found it, wrapped it
up in his overcoat and carried it to a fire, but the poor half frozen child soon closed its
eyes in death.
In Montgomery County the storm was very severe and laid low everything in its path. Houses and trees
were blown over and in the wrecks, lives were sacrificed. Below we append the list as complete as could
be ascertained by Mr. C. C. Wade, Clerk of Superior Court: Child of R. W. Halls, child of Willis Harris,
William Morris, James Byrd, Mrs. Richard Dennis, child of Mrs. Richard Dennis. Hansel Beaman and three
children were seriously crushed. Two of his children had both of their legs broken and another had her
arm torn nearly off, it being left hanging to her shoulder by a piece of skin.
The first dwelling it struck in Montgomery was that of Willis Dennis. Twelve souls were in the building
when it was torn to pieces and strange to say not one of the twelve were scratched. There were several
small dwellings blown down near him. The next dwelling in its path was that of Mr. Clark Hall, where it
swept everything away and killed his 19 year old daughter. It next struck the neighborhood, just south
of the village
of Uwharrie, where it leveled every building in its track. James Byrd's houses were destroyed. James and
his wife were killed, leaving four little children in the same room unhurt. The home of Rich Dennis was
leveled and his wife and infant child killed. Wiley Harris lost a child and two of his children were
dangerously injured. One has since died and the other members of the family are in a critical condition.
The dwellings of Wilson Davis, Edmund Mullinix and Mary Hurley were blown down and consumed by fire.
Not a soul in either family were seriously hurt, but they lost everything; clothing, furniture and
provisions, leaving them perfectly destitute.
The course of the cyclone was up the west bank of the Uwharrie River till it reached Uwharrie village,
when it left the river going in the direction of Asheboro.
Mr. W. S. Ingraham, a prominent citizen, was killed. He was caught out in the storm and his body was
terribly mutilated. Mr. Ingraham was going to Troy from Asheboro. He was in a buggy alone and in front
of him were two wagons being driven by colored men.
At a point between Mt. Gilead and Swift Island the cyclone struck. Mr. Ingraham was blown some distance
across a hill and instantly killed. His arms and legs were broken. The two wagons were totally destroyed.
One of the drivers was killed and the other driver was fatally injured.
At and near Beverly, after crossing Goulds Fork Creek on Col. Ledbetter's Plantation, it took a roof
from a dwelling occupied by Sandy Leak, a colored tenant. On W. B. Threadgill's Plantation, it blew
down all the outbuildings and dwelling occupied by Thomas Beverly. In the house at the time were Mr.
Beverly, his wife, his three children and his wife's sister. No one was hurt much. Mr. Beverly lost
much of his furniture and apparel.
Next was James Beverly's place. His out buildings and dwelling were blown down. In the house at the
time were, Mr. Beverly and his son Jesse and James Threadgill. No one was hurt.
Next was James Wall's Plantation. His screw, gin house, out buildings and two or three tenants houses
were blown down. The building occupied by Mr. Wall withstood the storm, but with some damage to the
blown down. Mr. Hildreth was in it at the time. His mother and sisters took refuge in a nearby house.
He was slightly hurt and lost much of his personal property. Next, the outbuildings and dwelling
occupied by Gas Harward and another tenant were all blown down. In this dwelling were fourteen people.
Mrs. Hildreth's daughters having taken refuge in the same. No one was hurt at this place.
Next, the outbuildings and dwelling occupied by Walter Pope, another white tenant, were all blown down.
The building caught on fire but was extinguished by Mr. Pope. There were five in this dwelling when
it went down. No one was hurt. Next was the
dwelling occupied by Robert Hall. It was blown down. Nine people were in this house. Some were slightly
Next was the store house occupied by Flake and Alien. This house was un-roofed. The store goods were
slightly damaged. Mr. Allen, the only one in this house, was not hurt.
Next was the dwelling occupied by Clarence Staten and Lafayett Allen, two colored employees, of Mr.
Flake. Staten was instantly killed by falling timbers and Allen was badly hurt. The out buildings and
dwelling occupied by Henry Sanders, another white tenant, were all blown down. His house and personal
property consumed by fire. Some of the occupants were burned, but not otherwise injured. Next, came
the buildings and dwelling occupied by Mr. Flake. The building withstood the storm but with considerable
damage to the roof. Counting all, barns, stables, cribs, gin house and screws on this plantation, the
number is fifty-one, only five of which stood.
Next, was the plantation jointly owned by M. J. and J. T. Allen. On it the dwelling occupied by James
Thomas was blown down, In it was Mr. Thomas, his wife and child. Mr. Thomas was slightly burned. Next,
was the outbuildings and dwelling occupied
by Wiley Thomas. The dwelling stood with damage to the roof. The outbuildings were demolished and some
clothing was lost to fire.
Next was the dwelling occupied by James Hough. Mr. Hough was absent from home. The house and a
center brick chimney went to pieces over and around Mrs. Hough and her five children. The youngest of
which is about three weeks old. The house caught on fire and would have been consumed but for the
commendable effort of Mrs. Hough who extinguished the flames after losing her bedding and clothing.
Thence it passed across Brown Creek. Robert Ballard was out camping and was killed by a falling tree.
The storm went through the plantation of R. H. Carter's. There it tore down a dwelling occupied
by Jack Ingram, colored. One of his sons was killed. Mr. William Little's plantation was next where
considerable damage was done to buildings and timbers. Some hurt here but only one killed.
As per request I send you some corrections of storm items in neighborhood of Brown Creek Church.
First, on this side of Brown Creek was Gray Taylor's, whose out buildings were un-roofed and timbers
demolished. No one hurt. Rich Sturdivant, colored, Green Shepperd and Miss Patsy Taylor escaped with
similar loss. Next in the line was P. Martin, whose dwelling, tenant houses and out buildings were
completely wrecked, save gin and screw, the former of which was considerably damaged. The colored
cook, who was sleeping in the stove room, was killed by falling timbers. Mr. Martin was considerably
bruised and burnt in extinguishing the fire which was fast gaining headway. The bed on which his
little children were lying caught on fire. Mrs. Martin and infant were jammed by the timbers and
unable to move but were unhurt.
On Tom Martin's place lived two white families who escaped in safety but their houses were ruined.
Sid Sturdivant, colored, was next. Only his out houses were un-roofed. Brown Creek Church was splintered
and the debris was scattered for hundreds of yards. Hubbard Ledbetter, colored, on Henry Huntley's
plantation was wiped out first by wind then fire cleaned up what was left.
Next, was little Jim Flake, the hero, whose staunch house cornered the winds and weathered the storm.
Windows were blown in and one door was blown off its hinge. Clothing, books and papers were blown in
the fire and the fire blew over the house.
Still, little Jim stood at his post ordering all hands to keep cool and finally conquered with the loss
of chimneys, roofs and one tenant house.
The cyclone skipped Henry Beverly and dropped under Pres Beverly's large and commodious house completely
ruining it. Other houses were un-roofed. Hugh Ingram, Allen Carpenter and Guilf Carpenter suffered much.
So did Alex Biles and James Smith.
It is a terrible sight to see articles of clothing, old hats, stockings, shingles, boards, fodder,
shucks and a little of almost everything else strewn all through the land. "New Sash," none of which
is in use in all the community was found, but where they came from, no one can tell.
Strange to say, but few were hurt in the least. Cora McLendon, Mr. Martin's cook, being the only
one killed. No stock injured. W. A. Liles
Back to Myrtle's Genealogy Page