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Collection Title: Purvis Tornado Photographs

Collection Number: M252

Dates: April 28, 1908

Volume: .25 cu.ft.

Provenance: Donated by F. H. Jordan, Jr. in August 1989.

Copyright: This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Biographical/Historical Sketch:

Purvis, Mississippi, was incorporated in 1888, although its date of settlement is not known. It is the county seat of Lamar County, which was formed in 1904 and is located approximately halfway between Hattiesburg and Lumberton at the highest point between Meridian and New Orleans on the Southern Railroad. Purvis was named for Thomas Melville Purvis, who in 1880 had granted the New Orleans and North Eastern Railroad a right-of-way through his land.

In 1907 the town was a thriving business center with nine general stores, three churches, two newspapers, a large saw mill, a money order post office, and a turpentine still. A new court house had been built in 1905, and the population was estimated to be 1, 500.

April 24, 1908, was a day of destruction in Purvis. Storm clouds lay over the entire coast that day and eventually produced four separate storms in which over 200 people were killed. In Purvis, shortly before 2:00 p.m. the clouds took on a funnel shape and began to move toward the town. Reports vary about the time the storm struck; some say 2:13 p.m. while others indicate later in the afternoon. The force of the storm moved the depot across the railroad tracks and toppled railroad cars. In the reported three minute length of the storm's destruction, a majority of the 125 residences were severely damaged or completely destroyed, the business district was leveled, and more than 50 people were killed.

Purvis recovered quickly from the destruction and remained about the same size through the 1950's. The town's population in 1980 was 2, 256.

Scope and Content:

This collection consists of sixty-three photographs of scenes of destruction in the town of Purvis, Mississippi, on April 24, 1908, when the town was hit by a tornado. The photographs document the total destruction of the business district and damage to a majority of homes by the storm. Many of the sites in the photographs were identified by the donor of the collection who also suggested that the pictures may have been taken by Jim Hand.

All of the original photographs are 4" x 5": copy negatives were made of each image, and 5" x 7" reprints are available for research use.

Photograph Log
M252-1 McLeod and Company Warehouse, Purvis, Mississippi. (Front view) (Located where Jim Dyar's feed store is now).
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-2 Dr. L.L. Polk's home, Purvis, Mississippi. (Rear view) (Where parking lot is now on north side of courthouse).
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-3 Home of J.B. Purvis, Purvis, Mississippi.
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-4 Home of C.V. Hathorn, Purvis, Mississippi. (On east side of Bay Street near where Lillian Leard home is and Steve Walker house; three unidentified persons in photo).
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-5 Ruins of O'Connell store, Purvis, Mississippi. (Front view) (Facing east on Main Street right across from Weems' Main Street property; unidentified man and woman on sidewalk).
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5 (2), 5 x 7.
M252-6 Lamar County Courthouse, Purvis, Mississippi. (West Entrance)
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 4, 5 x 7.
M252-7 Lamar County Courthouse, Purvis, Mississippi. (Front. View)
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-8 Presbyterian House, Purvis, Mississippi. (On north side of Mulberry Street near Main Street).
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-9 View of destruction, Purvis, Mississippi. (Courthouse in background looking west).
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-10 Ruins of Baptist Church, Purvis, Mississippi. (South of courthouse).
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-11 Ruins of W.H. Magee Home, Purvis, Mississippi. (Note timber in tree on Ohio Avenue now Shelby Speights next to present, day Western Auto).
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-12 Ruins of Will Vowell Home, Purvis, Mississippi. (On Mitchell Street east of Edwina Anderson and Methodist Church).
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-13 Turpentine Operation or Commissary, Purvis, Mississippi. (Men and wagons lined up in front).
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-14 J.W. Woodard Residence, Purvis, Mississippi. (On Main Street facing Mulberry Avenue and north of District School Office).
  April 24, 1.908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-15 J.W. Woodard Residence, Purvis, Mississippi.
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-16 Ruins of School House, Purvis, Mississippi. (Where grammar school is now on Mitchell Avenue).
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-17 Part of James Hand Sawmill, Purvis, Mississippi. (Behind where Purvis Library is now).
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-18 J.B. Perry Residence, Purvis, Mississippi. (Pictured is F.H. (Jack) Jordan and two unidentified persons).
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-19 Ruins of McLeod and Company Turpentine Still, Purvis, Mississippi.
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5 (2), 5 x 7.
M252-20 McLeod and Company Store, Purvis, Mississippi. (Back view) (In present alley between these buildings and where TWL is now).
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5 (2), 5 x 7.
M252-21 Ruins of James Hand Cotton Gin, Purvis, Mississippi (Near Depot).
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-22 M.L. Richardson Home, Purvis, Mississippi. (On south side of Ohio Ave. in area where Dr. Vincent's Office is).
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-23 Ruins of E.J. Looms' home, Purvis, Mississippi.
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-24 W.H. Magee Residence, Purvis, Mississippi.
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-25 James O'Connell Store, Purvis, Mississippi. (Side view).
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-26 School House, Purvis, Mississippi. (Back view) (Looking toward Mitchell Ave).
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-27 View of destruction, Purvis, Mississippi. (Looking west from school house).
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-28 Merchandise from McLeod and Company Warehouse. (Exterior view) (Where Jim Dyar feed store is presently located).
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-29 Open area with E.J. Murphy Residence in background, Purvis, Mississippi. (Exterior view)
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-30 Ruins of C.E. Thomas Residence, Purvis, Mississippi.
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-31 Yard at W.H. Magee Home, Purvis, Mississippi. (Exterior view) (Lumber driven into tree.)
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5.
M252-32 Ruins of Weems houses which front on Main Street, Purvis, Mississippi. (Rear view on Richburg Road).
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-33 Ruins of Baptist Church, Purvis, Mississippi.
  April 24, 1908.4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-34 East or back side of commercial building, Purvis, Mississippi. (Facing present day Jim Dyar feed store, including McLeod & Company and Pylant Brothers Stores).
  4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-35 Floor of A.J. Clark Residence with schoolhouse in background, Purvis, Mississippi.
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-36 Government Commissary/Turpentine Operation, Purvis, Mississippi. (Men and wagons in right of photo.)
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-37 Turpentine Operation, Purvis, Mississippi. (Men and wagons in center.)
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-38 Ruins of house on corner of Ohio Avenue and Manor Street. Purvis, Mississippi. (Looking east, standing home is probably home of Mrs. M. O. Jordan.)
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-39 McLeod & Co. Turpentine Still. Purvis, Mississippi. (McLeod & Co. changed its name later to W.H. Magee Co.)
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-40 Post card of era - Purvis, Mississippi Street Scene with notation, "Escaped Victims From Cyclone at Purvis, Mississippi 4/24/08."
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-41 Ruins of James O'Connell Store on Main Street, Purvis, Mississippi.
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-42 Commissary or Turpentine operation. Purvis, Mississippi. (Note railroad cars in background).
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-43 Ruins of building, Purvis, Mississippi. (Front view) (Appears to be same building in distance on #44.)
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-44 Street Scene, Purvis, Mississippi.
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-45 Street Scene, Purvis, Mississippi. (Edge of courthouse visible on right hand side).
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-46 Street Scene, Purvis, Mississippi. Unidentified scene of destruction, unidentified man and woman.).
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-47 Commercial Building. Unidentified. Purvis, Mississippi.
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-48 Street Scene, Purvis, Mississippi. (View of destruction with undentified couple walking beside flattened building.
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-49 Scene of destruction, Purvis, Mississippi. (Pile of boards with path in front)
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-50 Rural home near Purvis, Mississippi. (Evidence of destruction and tent in front ,yard.)
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-51 Street Scene, Purvis, Mississippi. (Exterior area strewn with lumber and other objects).
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-52 Open Field With Homes in Background. Purvis, Mississippi. (Pieces of wood strewn in open field; large homes in background appear to be in tact.
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-53 Ruins of a building, Purvis, Mississippi. (Walls only debris strewn in yard).
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-54 Street Scene, Purvis, Mississippi. (Man rolling wheelbarrow with demolished buildings in background).
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-55 Scene of Destruction, Purvis, Mississippi. (Man rolling wheelbarrow; others in background).
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-56 Farm scene near Purvis, Mississippi. (House in background; barn area strewn with debris.
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-57 Street Scene, Purvis, Mississippi. (Walls of home standing with no roof; two homes in background appear to be in tact.)
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-58 Home near Purvis, Mississippi. (Exterior view with debris in yard).
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-59 Street Scene, Purvis, Mississippi. (Side view) (Wire fence in foreground and collapsed buildings in background).
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-60 Street Scene, Purvis, Mississippi. (Destruction in foreground, houses in background).
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-61 Street Scene, Purvis, Mississippi. (Destruction in foreground; house in background).
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-62 Home of James Hand, Purvis, Mississippi. (South entrance) (Debris strewn around). (Home was next to Jordan residence in #63).
  April 24, 1908. 4 x 5, 5 x 7.
M252-63 Home of Mrs. Mittie O. Hand on Ohio Avenue and Manor Street, Purvis, Mississippi, (Back view) (Debris scattered in foreground).
  April 24, 1908.4 x 5, 5 x 7.


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Revised: January 26, 2005

January 26, 2005