Authors share southern Illinois history

Tornadoes, hauntings and nooses are a few of the highlights in three southern Illinois author’s books.

Angela Mason, of Wayne County, left, and Bruce Cline, of Carbondale, help each other set up Tuesday in preparation for their book signing at Morris Library. All of the writers had books published through Black Out Media about the mysteries and disasters of Southern Illinois. Alexa Rogals- The Weekender

Angela Mason, author of “Death Rides the Sky: The Story of the 1925 Tri-State Tornado,” Bruce Cline, author of “History, Mystery and Hauntings of Southern Illinois I and II,” and Kale Meggs, author of “99 Nooses,” came to SIU’s library Tuesday for a book signing. All of the books were published within the last two years.

Mason’s book” is about a tornado that affected Midwestern states Illinois, Indiana and Missouri. One of the areas affected was Jackson County. She said her story is told from a standpoint of an 8-year-old.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the 1925 tornado Mason wrote about was one of the most devastating tornadoes in recent history and had a record of 625 deaths.

Mason said she interviewed a range of survivors and eyewitnesses for her book. The range of the survivors’ ages at the time of the tornado was 9 to 20.

“The book itself is about the survivors’ accounts,” Mason said. “This happened right in our back yard.”

She said her book is a comprehensive story that includes accounts from survivors and meteorologists and information about the aftermath.

Mason said originally people did not want to discuss the event because many loved ones were lost. She said she conducted the interviews during the 1990s, which gave the survivors years to process the event.

“People’s stories were not widely known,” Mason said. “I wanted to tell their stories.”

She said she describes many of the survivors’ accounts to be impactful and morbid.

“I really wish people would look into this book because it tells people unique, unheard stories,” Mason said. “People should read this because history can repeat itself.”

Cline’s book, is the second volume of his series that gives insight to stories about southern Illinois historical places, events and the mysteries behind them. The founder of the Little Egypt Ghost Society, Cline’s book stems from his experiences within the group, and he said he plans to release a third volume that will be finished next year.

“A lot of the time when you look into history, you find mysteries,” Cline said.

He said one of his stories involves the Oakland Cemetery,

which is located on the north edge of Carbondale. “There is a lot of unknown, unmarked graves in that cemetery

as well as reports of strange lights,” Cline said. He said there were a total of 114 unmarked gravesites in the

Oakland Cemetery. One story included in his book, he said, is about a woman he believes to be haunting her grave in the cemetery whose headstone states she was murdered.

According to his research, Cline said, she actually committed suicide.

Cline said his book contains newly researched material that has not been published elsewhere.

“It is one of the very few books devoted to this type of subject,” Cline said.

He said his book is very relevant to southern Illinois residents and specific to the region.

“If it is in the area code 618, it is in the book,” Cline said.

Megg’s book is about 19th century legal hangings in Illinois. Half of the hangings Megg discusses took place in southern Illinois, he said. He said he is in the process of writing his second book that focuses on 20th century hangings.

“Many of the hangings that first happened took place in southern Illinois,” Megg said.

He said his book consists of 86 short stories that are based on his research of historical documents about the hangings.

“My book is unique because it is about something that is not commonly written about,” Megg said. “(It) focuses on all the separate executions that happened statewide.”

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