Saturday, November 3, 2012

52 Ancestsors in 52 Weeks: Cause of Death~Tornado

A post originally written in November of 2012 is my contribution for
 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks 2015 Edition Week 10-Stormy Weather.

From the headline of the Tampa  Morning Tribune 6 April 1925

The article lists among the dead F.E. Sullivan, Westwood Inn. The dead man was Francis "Frank" Emerson Sullivan, Sr. (1880-1925). He was the father of my maternal Step Grandfather Francis "Frank" Emerson Sullivan, Jr.

  I  first learned about the tragic death of Frank Sr. from his death certificate..  I am not sure why Frank was in  Miami in 1925. According to the 1920 Census, he was single and at Camp Jackson, Richland, South Carolina. By 1923, he had married Christine Williams and son Frank, Jr. had been born. What took him to Florida? Some in the family believe that he and Christine had moved to Miami because Christine had TB. Frank Jr. was left with his mother's parents in Camden, Kershaw, South Carolina.

Miami Florida Death Certificate of F.E.Sullivan

Searching for a newspaper account of the tornado gave me a few more pieces of information about Frank, Sr. or F.E. as he is named in the paper. I was amazed at how many newspapers from all across the country carried the story. Most were just copies of the same A.P. report but some had additional pieces of information. There were also some with pictures of the devastation.

Rockford Republic 6 April 1925, page 2
  From the Rockford, Illinois paper I learned
 that F, E Sullivan was" formally a city fireman".

Riverside Daily Press
Riverside, California
6 April, 1925 page 1

                             The Riverside, California  paper described the Westwood Inn as a roadhouse near Little River and said that it was hit by the tornado. Two died and several were injured in the Inn, including F.E. Sullivan.




Volunteers Searching Through the Rubble
Greensboro Daily Record,  8 April 1925  page 1
Many Homeless and Property Destroyed
Seattle Daily Times
14 April 1925  page 8

The Actual Tornado
The Sunday Repository
Canton, Ohio
19 April 2012  page 11

   From these newspapers, I learned that Frank Sullivan Sr. was living in a boarding house named The Westwood Inn located in Little River, Fla. He had been working as a Fireman. He and another person were  killed when the tornado hit and destroyed the boarding house where they were living. The tornado was reported as the worst the area had ever seen. There were no mentions in any of the papers about his family.
 The broader newspaper search of this natural disaster really paid off. Instead of just his name in the local paper I was able to get much more detail by looking at reports elsewhere. 
  Frank Sullivan Jr became an orphan due to the death of his father in 1925 in the storm and by the death of his mother just a few years later.  He was raised by his grandparents.
  Has a Natural Disaster happened in your family? What has the impacted been for them?

Are we kin? Please contact me. Together we can find our people.
Thanks so much for stopping by.


  1. That is tragic -- that they moved to Florida to help Christine, but the tornado ended Frank's life. The newspaper photos do remind me of those I am seeing on TV these days. If this is climate change, I surely hope we can do something to reverse it.

    I wondered if this might be the same hurricane as in Hurston's novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, but I looked it up, and that was the 1928 Okeechobee hurricane, further south.

    Good blog, and good documentation!

  2. Even sadder is that when they left their son Frank, Jr. to be taken care of by grandparents, they left a trunk of pictures and papers. No one knows what became of it!
    Thanks for reading!