Nunn Center oral history project documents loss, survival and resilience of Mayfield residents
December 10 & 11 marked the two year anniversary of the tornadoes that struck and devastated parts of Western Kentucky. On that evening, into the next morning, a high EF-4 tornado directly hit the historic downtown center of Mayfield, KY. Of the 74 people who lost their lives in Kentucky that evening, 24 resided in Graves County, where Mayfield is located. In this edition of Saving Stories, center director Dr. Doug Boyd highlights one of the 22 interviews from the Mayfield, Kentucky 2021 Tornado Oral History Project; a partnership with Dr. Rebecca Freihaut.
Twenty-two residents shared their stories near the six-month mark after the disaster. Eighteen residents who participated in the original interviews agreed to follow-up interviews approximately a year later.
The project serves not only to capture the riveting stories of survival and resilience, but also to serve as a memorial to the loss of life and many of the historic buildings of downtown Mayfield, including their beloved courthouse, other government buildings, eight historic churches (including two historic black churches built shortly after the Civil
War), and other buildings that once served as the bustling center of industry in their community.
Mayfield, KY is the county seat of Graves County and the center of the Jackson Purchase.