by: Josh Heston, Ozarks First/State of the Ozarks
At the turn of the 20th century, a town south of Hollister, Melva, became a place of tragedy in March 1920.
“Storm system had produced a major tornado that started around the Long Creek Bridge / Big Cedar Lodge, and it came across Turkey Creek and hit the families of Melva destroyed the town. Eleven people died. Right here,” said Tammy Morton, historian. “Nine of those were children.”
For Tammy Morton and Angel Wolf, these stories are personal.
“My great-great-grandparents were Mary Elizabeth and Preston Mahnkey,” said Wolf, historian and descendant of town residents. “They owned the general store and post office.”
“We don’t want to remember the tragedy as much as we want to remember the people and all the good stories that came out of Melva,” said Morton.
Both of the historians find meaning in their research of the town.
“There were people living ordinary lives and it, just like that, it can change,” Wolf said. “I think any lesson anybody could take out of it is you don’t know how much time you have.”
To learn more about the tragedy, there will be a few presentations you can attend:
- A presentation on March 11, 5 p.m., at the Branson Centennial Museum
- A Tuesday talk at 2 p.m. March 17 at the Branson Centennial Museum
- A presentation at Hollister’s Hattitude Ball on May 1
Click here for link to Ozarks First feature.