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 • Oak Lawn Cemetery (West Plains)
 • West Plains
 • Howell County
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Mary Violet Adair
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Birth: 1910
Gum Springs (Clark County)
Clark County
Arkansas, USA
Death: Apr. 13, 1928
West Plains
Howell County
Missouri, USA

A young victim of the "West Plains Dance Hall Explosion."

Mary Violet Adair was born in Clark County, Arkansas, in 1910. She was the daughter of Charles Henry Adair and Rosalie ("Rosa") Belle Weber Adair, who had married in Hurdland, Knox County, Missouri, in 1903. Mary had two older siblings: a brother, Christopher Weber Adair, born in 1904, and a sister, Beulah ("Betty") M. Adair, born in 1907.

Christopher and Betty were both born in Missouri, but the family subsequently moved south into Arkansas, where Mary was born. By 1915, the family had moved to Kansas, and in 1920 they had moved again, to Mooreland, Oklahoma.

At some point in the 1920s, the Adairs moved back to Missouri from Oklahoma, settling in West Plains in Howell County.

On the rainy evening of Friday, April 13th, 1928, 17-year-old Mary Violet Adair and a girlfriend attended a popular West Plains event: a weekly dance held on Friday nights at the Bond Dance Hall on East Main Street. The dance hall was on the second floor of the building, with an auto garage below it on the ground floor.

At about 11:05 p.m., as the dancers swayed to the tune "At Sundown," a terrific explosion utterly demolished the building, hurtling some dancers and musicians into the air and burying others under the fiery rubble of the collapsing building. The blast was heard for miles and surrounding buildings and storefronts suffered extensive damage as well. The nearby Howell County Courthouse was so badly damaged by the explosion that it had to be condemned, torn down, and eventually replaced.

Thirty-nine people lost their lives in the massive explosion and ensuing fire, and 22 more were badly injured. Only 20 of the dead could be positively identified. The bodies of the remaining 19 unidentified victims were buried in a mass grave at Oak Lawn Cemetery in West Plains that ended up containing a total of 20 caskets. The 20th body was that of Mrs. Esco Riley, one of the deceased who had been identified. She was included in the mass grave so that she could be buried with her husband and brother-in-law, both of whom were among the unidentified victims.

Young Mary Violet Adair was also one of the 19 victims never positively identified killed in what became known in newspaper headlines across the nation as the "West Plains Dance Hall Explosion." She is among the 20 victims buried in the common grave at Oak Lawn Cemetery.

Theories of what caused the explosion ranged from the suggestion that the fumes from gasoline stored in the auto garage below the dance hall had ignited, to a rumor that the blast was caused by religious fanatics who were opposed to dancing, to a scenario that suggested a robbery attempt-gone-wrong occurring at the auto garage, in which a fire was then set by the perpetrators to cover up the crime a blaze that triggered the explosion. To this day, the exact cause of the catastrophic West Plains Dance Hall Explosion has never been determined. 
 
Family links: 
 Parents:
  Charles Henry Adair (1876 - 1945)
  Rosalie Belle Weber Clark (1885 - 1982)
 
Inscription:

IN MEMORIAM
Unidentified Of The Explosion April 13, 1928

At The Dawn Of A New Day
When The Shadows Flee Away
 
Note: Missouri Death Certificate #13113-U
 
Burial:
Oak Lawn Cemetery (West Plains)
West Plains
Howell County
Missouri, USA
 
Maintained by: Douglas
Originally Created by: Patti Hall
Record added: Jan 20, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 17590229
Mary Violet Adair
Added by: Douglas
 
Mary Violet Adair
Added by: Beca
 
Mary Violet Adair
Added by: Patti Hall
 
 
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Footloose and fancyfree. The way we would all like to go in the end. To the Adairs; Such a beautiful life story! X With Love xx Violet
- Violet Adair
 Added: Dec. 28, 2010
Taken too young ... remembered by her family and friends. Rest peacefully, Mary Violet.
- Douglas
 Added: Nov. 12, 2010
The fragrance of a beautiful flower never dies, but lingers in our soul to fill us with love. May you rest in peace now.
- Beca
 Added: Sep. 18, 2007
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