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This and That - Terror in Ohio The Flood of 1913 Part II PDF Print E-mail
Monday, April 15, 2013 7:56 AM


Do you think we got enough rain this week? That was a drop in the bucket compared to the Flood of 1913 when Mother Nature dumped about 9 inches of water on a 2,500-square-mile area of Ohio. That amount of water was enough to fill a hole in the ground 25 miles in length, a mile in width and 25 feet in depth. Bellefontaine claimed the heaviest downpour with 11.16 inches.

The 1913 Flood was the deadliest weather disaster in Ohio history, claiming 428 lives statewide.

Dayton was the hardest hit because within less than one mile, four rivers converge inside the city limits.


The National Cash Register Company of Dayton (NCR) sits on high ground outside the flood zone. John Henry Patterson, company president, turned his entire force of employees (7,100 persons) into a relief organization.


Patterson bought up all available food and had it carted to the plant to feed the homeless. Straw was quickly strewn on factory floors to create dry sleeping places for more than 1,000 refugees at night. (One report said 3,000 homeless were housed in improvised quarters in the factory offices.)

Every employee of the corporation capable of working on boats was put to work boat building. NCR built 167 boats in one day to help with the rescue of people in Dayton. The commissary department served 2,700 meals a day at its peak of refugees.

Patterson himself manned the oars of one of the boats. His two grown children, Frederick and Miss Dorothy, were part of the rescue teams. Mr. Patterson is said to have made a promise to his dying wife, Katherine, that he would give special care to the comfort and welfare of his women and girl employees.

Many fires broke out in the city. There were stories of people who took refuge on the second floor of their homes, only to have the building next door catch fire. They placed ladders from their window to a neighbor’s window and then crawled on the ladder to the other house. (City houses were sometimes very close together). They had to do this more than once to escape the flames as they spread.

Governor Cox asked the Associated Press to somehow get in touch with the gas companies to shut off the supply to Dayton.

The National Guard (including the Van Wert group) was called in to help in any way possible. At least 12 of these young men lost their lives in the line of duty.

Many tall, large buildings were turned into shelters for at least 7,000 people. These buildings managed to withstand the flood.

The Miami River peaked at a height of nearly 30 feet in Dayton and 40 feet in Hamilton.

A 115-year-old log cabin, the first house built in Dayton, withstood the flood on the banks of the Miami, right in the path of the flood.

Approximately 350 people were killed in the Dayton area — 255 from drowning and 106 from other complications, with approximately 20,000 homes destroyed and 65,000 people displaced; 428 were killed statewide and around 40,000 homes were destroyed.

During clean-up operations, many sight-seers managed to get into the city. Some well-dressed sight-seeing strangers who got into Dayton were ordered at the point of a bayonet by the soldier boys to take a spade and help bury dead animals.

It is estimated that approximately 1,500 horses perished in the flood.

Now back to Delphos and our neighboring communities.

In Delphos, the canal and the Jennings Creek overflowed. There was one expanse of water from a short distance south of Cherry Street to far beyond the limits of the city.

Flat Fork Creek went on a rampage all the way through Delphos. Much damage was done by the water backing into the basements and many homes in the San Felice Addition were completely surrounded by water. The water reached the tops of all the arch bridges, save the one at Fourth Street.

When the Flat Fork Creek reached its high stage Monday morning, water backed into an overflow leading from the pump well at the Water Works Station to create much of the muddy water that found its way into the pump well and from there was pumped into the stand pipe, causing the city water to have a muddy appearance. When the trouble was discovered, the area was dug up and the flow shut off.

The Delphos Gas Plant was put out of commission Tuesday when water entered the inlet and outlet valves. The plant was back in operation on Wednesday.

The Clover Leaf Tracks (later part of N & W Railroad) in Delphos and Ohio City and other points were in bad condition. A washout near the Aaron Fisher Stone Quarry was a bad one and would take some time to repair.

School was back in session at the Franklin, Jefferson and Lincoln buildings on Wednesday. The Parochial schools were scheduled to re-open Thursday morning.

Ottoville was also badly flooded. The Little Auglaize River runs right through town in the area that is now part of the park. Rita Turnwald has several pictures in her book, “History of Ottoville and Vicinity 1845 – 2001.” This book can be found in the Delphos Public Library.

Half of Middle Point was flooded, with half the residents surrounded by water. The Little Auglaize River was the highest ever known and much farm land was under water. The Ohio Electric Station in Middle Point was surrounded by water and there was 14 inches of water in the waiting room.

In Delphos, the high water began to recede Tuesday afternoon and by Wednesday morning the town and its people were showing signs of recovery on the east side of the canal. Conditions of all residences which had been flooded were very unpleasant.

The water did not recede so rapidly on the west side of town. Canal and Jefferson and parts of other streets were still under water. Houses in the southwest area of town were still surrounded by water.

Water Street (the main drag) in Fort Jennings was under water and the road between Delphos and Fort Jennings was under water. Between Fort Jennings and Kalida, the waters of the Auglaize River joined the water of the Ottawa River near Road R and Road 19. The water of the Auglaize River was said to be in front of the Joe Menke Farm on Road R.

(To be continued.)


Last Updated on Monday, April 15, 2013 10:45 AM

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