The 1965 Palm Sunday Tornadoes in Indiana will be released by national publisher The History Press on May 2. The book was written and compiled by Tipton-based author Janis Thornton.
The tornadoes that devastated much of Indiana were part of a collective rampage that ripped through six Midwestern states. The day, Palm Sunday, started as the nicest of the year, with the kind of weather that encouraged Hoosiers to enjoy an afternoon outdoors, fire up the barbecue grill, hit the golf course, or take a leisurely drive through the country.
That evening, however, the skies over northern and central Indiana turned an ominous black and storms moved in, quickly manifesting as the worst tornado outbreak in Indiana history. Within three hours, twisters, some a half-mile wide, swept through 17 counties, destroying communities and leaving death and destruction in their wake.
When the tornadoes were finished with Indiana, 137 people were dead, hundreds were injured, and thousands more were forever changed.
Thornton’s book is the first encompassing all three lines of tornadoes that tore through northern and central Indiana on April 11, 1965. The book features dozens of photographs and more than 100 stories shared by people who experienced the tornadoes’ wrath firsthand. They are stories of heroism, terror, and heartbreaking loss, many told for the first time.
“When people ask what drew me to this project,” Thornton said, “my answer is simple: I love people, I love history, and I love telling powerful stories. Recording one of Indiana’s most tragic natural events through the experiences of people who lived it makes for powerful storytelling, and I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to document how so many lives were touched that long-ago Palm Sunday night.”
The 1965 Palm Sunday Tornadoes in Indiana is Thornton’s sixth non-fiction work. Her previous works by her include true crimes books, No Place Like Murder and Too Good a Girl; pictorial histories covering Tipton County, Frankfort and Elwood (all in Indiana); as well as three mystery novels. She is a member of The Authors Guild, the national and Indianapolis chapter of Sisters in Crime, Women Fiction Writers Association, the Indianapolis Writers Center, and the Tipton County (Indiana) Historical Society.
The book will be available for purchase at major bookstores and online booksellers, as well as Thornton’s website, janis-thornton.com. For more information, please contact Thornton via her website or visit her on Facebook.