The small town of White Hall stands southwest of Springfield in rural Illinois. It is there you will find Whiteside Park and a stone monument. Carved out of the top is a woman with her arms around a young boy and girl. At first glance you might think it was a carving of a mother and her children but looking more closely the boy is holding a school book. It is a memorial to a teacher who gave her life while protecting her students.
On April 19, 1927 a storm was racing across the Illinois countryside. Annie Louise Keller was the school teacher at Centerville School in White Hall, when she saw the approaching storm. Keller ordered her sixteen pupils under their desks while she stood near the wall at the front door. A tornado ripped through the area and destroyed the school. Townsfolk rushed to the pile of boards and timber that once made up the schoolhouse. Miraculously they found all of the children alive protected by their school desks. Tragically, they found the body of Annie Louise Keller under the wall she was standing next to. She gave her life protecting the students she taught and loved.
Schoolchildren from around Illinois raised four thousand dollars and the state pitched in five thousand for a memorial to the heroic teacher. The monument that stands in White Hall was erected in her honor two years after the horrific tornado.
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