1943 Hackleburg, Alabama Tornado

“…all in the twinkle of an eye.”

Franklin County Times, Russellville, Alabama (Thurs. Apr. 15, 1943, Page 1)

While researching my husband’s Mann family, I stumbled upon a tragedy. Around 1:30 AM on Monday, April 12, 1943 a tornado struck the town of Hackleburg in Marion County, Alabama. Four people were killed immediately and 26 people were admitted to the hospital. Walter James Mann (hubby’s 2nd cousin 3x removed) and his wife Dovie (Tidwell) Mann were 2 of the 4 people killed. Walter’s mother, Clarise Ann (Britnell) Mann, and 3 of his 5 children were among those admitted to the hospital.

Walter was the son of Monroe Mann and Clarise (sometimes called Clarsie) Britnell. Monroe’s grandparents and my hubby’s 4x great grandparents were William and Susan (Harris) Mann. Monroe and Clarise were married on November 21, 1895 in Marion County, Alabama. They had four children: Luther, Victoria, John, and Walter. They divorced before 1919 and Monroe remarried.

Walter was born October 8, 1906. He and Dovie Tidwell were married October 10, 1926 in Marion County. They had five children between 1927 and 1937: 1) James Beauford, born 6/12/1927; 2) Margie Josephine, born 7/24/1929; 3) Elewene, born 1/17/1932; 4) Alfred, born 12/4/1933; 5) Hubert, born 9/26/1937. In the 1940 census, taken on April 23rd, the family was living in Hackleburg, and Walter was employed as a railroad section head. Walter was listed as 33, Dovie was 29, and the kids were 12, 10, 8, 6, and 2.

Walter and Dovie with one of their sons, from Ancestry

On April 12, 1943, the first tornado of the year in Alabama struck Hackleburg in Marion County. Now it is classified as an F4 tornado, with a path length of 5 miles and a maximum path width of 200 yards. According to the National Weather Service, at least 85 homes and 17 businesses were destroyed, along with most of the town. The four deaths all occurred in their homes, since it was 1:30 in the morning. First reports of the tornado said that 3 of the Mann children were missing.

Images of the damage from the Birmingham News, April 12, 1943, p. 1

“First persons known to have been killed at Hackleburg were Postmaster Powell and his wife. Their bodies were found in the wreckage of their home. Three children of Mr. and Mrs. Mann, who earlier were believed to have been blown away by the wind, later were found safe, but injured. The three Mann children, Eloween [Elewene], 10, Albert [Alfred], 8, and Hubert, 6, were injured , however.”

The Birmingham News, April 12, 1943, p. 8
The Marion County News, 4/22/1943, p. 1

After the tornado, the children went to live with relatives. James joined the U.S. Merchant Marines, and was living in St. Joseph, Missouri on June 12, 1945 when he filled out his draft registration card (his 18th birthday). He joined the Army on February 8, 1946 and was discharged on March 28, 1947.

The other children, Margie, Elewene, Alfred, and Hubert, lived with their father’s brother, Luther, and Luther’s wife Myrtle at 835 Benicia Road, Vallejo, Solano County, California. In the 1948 city directory, Margie was a clerk at the Mare Island Navy Yard, while Luther was a welder. In the 1950 census, Luther was listed as an electric welder at Mare Island. Elewene was 18, Alfred was 16, and Hubert was 12. I think Margie was living as a lodger at the home of Arthur and Ruby Ewing in Vallejo, Solano County, California in 1950. She was 20 and a saleslady at a retail department store.

From Jimmy Emerson on Flickr

On April 27, 2011, an F5 tornado struck Hackleburg and Marion County and 25 people were killed. In April 2012, a memorial was dedicated remembering the victims of that tornado, as well as the 1943 tornado. The 2 additional deaths listed for 1943 were Walter’s mother, Clarise, who died on October 1, 1943 (presumably from injuries acquired during the tornado) and Charles “Pink” Lunsford. He and his wife were both injured. He was described by the Birmingham News as the “most seriously injured among those hurt at Hackleburg” and “was said to have suffered several broken ribs and other injuries.” He was 81 at the time. He died due to his injuries on June 1, 1943.


Veto McKinley

James Alfred Mann, seated left, with his first wife Emma and their children Arthur Veto McKinley, Margie, Martelia and baby Mary in 1910

Another 2nd cousin 3x removed from my husband was a man with the interesting name Arthur Veto McKinley Mann. He was born May 16, 1900 in Marion County, Alabama to James Alfred Mann and Emma Frances Coons. They had been married in February 1899. One can only assume Arthur’s father didn’t want Republican President McKinley to win re-election that coming November 1900. Since the voting age in 1896 was 21, it’s safe to say James, who was only 16 when McKinley was elected the first time, didn’t vote for him or his opponent Democrat William Jennings Bryan. In fact, 1,201 men in Marion County voted for Bryan, while only 502 voted for McKinley. Bryan won all 11 of Alabama’s electoral votes, as well as the popular vote (130,298 to 55,673)

On June 21, 1900, about a month after Arthur Veto McKinley Mann was born, William McKinley and his running mate Theodore Roosevelt were officially nominated at the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia. On November 6, 1900, McKinley again defeated William Jennings Bryan, but not in Marion County, nor Alabama. Marion County went for Bryan 1,137 to 685 for McKinley. Bryan again won all of Alabama’s electoral votes and the popular vote (McKinly got nearly the exact same about as in 1896 – 55,612, while Bryan received 97,129 votes).

McKinley’s second inauguration took place on March 4, 1901. On September 6, 1901 while visiting the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, McKinley was shot by Leon Czolgosz. McKinley died from his wounds on September 14, 1901.



Alpha and Omega

I found some interesting names recently while researching my husband’s family. Apparently it was a thing in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to name twins Alpha and Omega. My husband’s grandmother’s extended family from Tennessee/Alabama has two sets! The first set is related to him by marriage. Alpha Wills was married to my husband’s 2nd cousin 3x removed, Terah Y. Stiles. Terah’s grandfather Franklin A. Martin, Jr. and my husband’s 3x great grandmother Missouri Frances (Martin) Mann were siblings. Alpha was born in Texas on December 24, 1895 and died September 25, 1993. Alpha’s twin sister Omega (of course also born on Christmas Eve 1895) died on February 1, 1981.

Alpha and Omega Wills in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census

The next set of twins is a “step” situation so the relationship is a bit convoluted, but hopefully I have it figured out. Missouri’s son Alexander Mann was married first (in 1911, separated in 1912) to a woman named Nancy Alice Reynolds who had previously been married (in 1895) to a William Lewis. They’d had 6 children including twin daughters born in 1907 named Alpha and Omega Lewis.

Alpha and Omega Lewis in the 1920 U.S. Federal Census after their mother had married a third time.

52 Ancestors · Prompts · Spouse

#11 Mann Family

Front row Left to right-Myrtle, Enzil, Virgil, Martha, Lillian, and Joyce. Back row L. to R.- Fred, Herbert, Leonard, Violet, Ray, Fay, Ellen, Frank, Vesta, and Nancy.

My husband’s grandmother was Lillian Mann Eklund. She had 14 brothers and sisters, some born in Tennessee and some born in Michigan depending on where their father, Virgil Mann, had a job at the time of their births. Virgil and his wife Martha Byrd were married May 7, 1927 in Carter County, Tennessee. Their 15 children were born between 1928 and 1953. Their first child, a son named Richard, was born on April 19, 1928 in Adrian, Michigan. He died on New Year’s Day 1929 of pneumonia and whooping cough at 8 months old. He was buried in Palmyra Cemetery. At the time, the family lived at 921 E. Beecher in Adrian.


The Manns’ next four children were daughters. Their 2nd child was born in November 1929 in Elizabethton, Tennessee, but the family was back in Adrian for the 1930 census on April 9th. Lillian was born June 7, 1931 in Palmyra, Michigan. In the 1932 Adrian City Directory, Virgil was listed as a laborer for Ervin Foundry & Manufacturing Company. Their 4th child, Myrtle, was born in December 1932 in Michigan.

In the 1934 city directory, Virgil was listed as a molder at the same company, and their 5th child was born in Michigan in September 1934. The Manns’ next three children were sons. Their 6th child was born in 1936 in Tennessee, while their 7th child was born in Michigan in April 1939. In the 1940 census, taken April 9th, the family was renting a house in Palmyra, Lenawee County, Michigan for $10 a month and Virgil’s occupation was listed as “hauling iron” at Ervin Foundry. The Manns’ 8th child was born in Adrian, Michigan in February 1941. Their 9th child, a daughter, was born in September 1942. Their 10th and 11th children were a set of twins, a boy and a girl, born in June 1944 in Tennessee. The Manns’ 12th child, a daughter, was born in Tennessee in October 1945. Their 13th child, a son, was born in 1947 in Tennessee. Their 14th and 15th children, both daughters were born in Michigan in 1950 and 1953 respectively. In 1951, Myrtle was a senior at Adrian High School, while Lillian was married in December of 1951.

Martha died November 20, 1981 in Franklin County (Tennessee) Hospital at the age of 74.  Virgil died March 31, 1984, aged 78, at the same hospital. At the time, he was living in Elora, Tennessee. They are both buried in Pleasant Ridge Cemetery in Huntland, Tennessee.

virgil and twins
Virgil Mann and his twin great-grandsons in 1983. My husband is the one on the left.

Week11 (March 11-17) – Large Family

52 Ancestors · Maternal · Prompts · Spouse

#7 Grandparents in Love

I love finding pictures of my grandparents when they were young and in love. So sweet!

My maternal grandparents, Helen (Oakes) & Charles Wilson on June 4, 1932

My husband’s paternal grandparents, Ellsworth & Lillian (Mann) Eklund, in 1948

My husband’s paternal great-grandparents Leonard and Mayme (Kivi) Eklund on their wedding day, June 23, 1931

Week 7 (February 11-17): Love