Annie Keller

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On April 19, 1927 a large tornado roared through Greene County. In a little Centerville school were 16 children and a teacher, Annie Keller. Miss Keller looked out the window as the sky grew darker and the atmosphere became heavy and still. She wondered if a big storm was headed that way. After lunch the wind suddenly got stronger and a small shed west of the building was blown away. Realizing the situation was serious, Annie quickly herded the children to their seats telling them to get under their desks immediately. The tornado struck at 12:18 p.m. and much of the top of the building was blown off. Annie's attention was on the children and she was unprotected. She was struck by flying debris and was killed instantly. A few of the students suffered some injuries but none were killed.

Annie graduated from White Hall High School in 1920. She taught 4 years in other schools and was in her third year at Centerville school when she was killed at age 25. She was born October 31, 1901 to Philip and Nora Russell Keller. Her mother was the granddaughter of Dr. John Russell. Dr. Russell built a stone house a few miles north of Eldred at the foot of the bluffs known as Bluffdale Farms.

Annie's fiance Howard Hobson was first to arrive at the scene of the tragedy. Annie's funeral was held on April 24 and she was buried in the Russell Family Cemetary close to Bluffdale.

A monument was sculpted by the famous Loredo Taft and is in the Whiteside Park in White Hall, Illinois.


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