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This and That - Terror in Ohio The Flood of 1913 Part III PDF Print E-mail
Monday, April 29, 2013 7:56 AM

The Flood of 1913 did not pick and choose its victims. It struck the rich and the poor alike.

Orville Wright, his father, Bishop Wright and his sister, Katherine Wright had been marooned in their small unpretentious frame house on the West Side of Dayton. The aged father was taken by boat to another nearby house, where he was again marooned for three days. Orville and his sister escaped on an auto truck to a refuge center. The flood stopped just short of wiping out the priceless original records and drawings of the aeroplane that Wright Brothers had invented and flew just a few years earlier.

Our state capitol, Columbus, is dissected by the Scioto and the Olentangy Rivers so it suffered from a great deal of flooding. It was estimated that over 10,000 persons were homeless on the West Side as a result of the flood and at least 15,000 people were stranded on the second floor of their homes. The Norfolk and Western Railroad managed to get one train into Columbus from Portsmouth. The train practically swam into Union Station after creeping through high waters most of the way from Portsmouth on the Ohio River. Nearly 100 babies were born in the flood district and at refuge camps in Columbus between Tuesday morning and Saturday. One doctor took care of three child births in four hours in a graveyard. A maternity hospital was improvised by a small tent made of bed covers in the cemetery.

The flood trouble for Cincinnati began on Tuesday, March 25. By Thursday it had rained steadily for 34 hours. By Monday the flood stage was at 69.8 feet. Covington and Newport, just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati were badly flooded as were other towns on both sides of the Ohio River.

Railroads in Ohio were hard hit by the flood. One report in The Delphos Herald stated that the Northern Ohio Railroad (later the A C & Y) would probably not be able to run any trains for several days as there were many washouts between Delphos and Bluffton. There are also bridges out in Columbus Grove, Rimer and Carey.

About a dozen bridges are out on the C H & D, on this branch of the line and every town on the railroad between Dayton and Delphos is suffering from flooded conditions. The tracks in many cases were still under water. Officials of the railroad offered as high as $5 a day to laborers who would help repair the C H & D tracks.

There were washouts on the Pennsylvania RR, including on both sides of the Auglaize and over culverts east of Delphos. In one place the track was washed away for a distance of about 60 feet and in another place for a distance of 140 feet. The engine and rear sleeping car of the Pennsylvania train plunged into the Mad River near West Liberty. The sleeper car landed on an island. Two members of the train crew were reported killed.

The Clover Leaf tracks between Delphos and Ohio City and other points were in bad condition. A washout near the Fisher Stone Quarry at Delphos was a bad one and would take some time to repair.

The Ohio Electric Traction line was under several feet of water.

The Delphos Herald received bulletins from many, many Ohio towns all up and down the east side of the state from Cleveland to the Ohio River and on the west side of the state from the Ohio River to Waterville. Grand Rapids was badly flooded. Even Lima was flooded. The Findlay Police Captain McGowan was drowned in the Blanchard while attempting to rescue residents.

A relief train from Delphos was sent to Cloverdale on Thursday. Two hundred loaves of bread and a large amount of canned goods was placed upon the relief train by E. L. Stallkamp. Drs. Hartnagel, Mauk and Hixson also accompanied the train to provide medical assistance if need. Fortunately the people of the village were in good health. They found the people of the town had suffered greatly from the flood but were in no danger. The entire town had been submerged and flood waters entered nearly every home and business place. In some instances water was four to five feet deep on the floors. On Thursday the water was still 18 inches deep on the main street in the section south of the Findlay, Ft. Wayne and Western Railroad. During the flood many residents of the town were housed in the Catholic Church and in the school. The water had receded enough for some people to enter their homes. They started fires to their homes and were cooking food to aid others who could not reach their homes.

The Cloverdale area suffered a considerable loss of livestock. Some farmers drove their livestock to the highest part of the railroad right-of-way. Some drove their animals into box cars. One farmer said three of his horses drowned and four were missing. He also lost 30 hogs, 18 sheep and some cattle. The residents of Cloverdale were very grateful to the relief party and requested them to return.

All the neighboring towns of Delphos were flooded, including Van Wert and Middle Point. In Ottawa Ed McGreevy was one of many who had narrow escapes. He was in Rampe’s Saloon and had to remain on top of the billiard table for 36 hours, being unable to be heard in shouting for help.

Oakwood suffered the severest of nearby towns—-all the people of that town had to leave. Continental and the farmers took care of them. The Nickel Plate Railroad run an engine and caboose between the two towns almost hourly. An experienced brood sow landed on top of a furniture store in Oakwood, remained there for two days and was saved. The town of Paulding sent a car load of food and $800.00 in money to Oakwood.

Now for a little humor after all those tales of woe! The Wieging “boys” of Fort Jennings told of Billie Boehmer and Ike Fosnaught taking a boat ride on the swollen Auglaize in 1913. Ike told Billie he had never had a boat ride. Billie was good with a row boat and told Ike to get in. First thing, Ike’s hat blew off and he tried to get it. They got into the main current and they had to cross the river with the current and wound up of the southeast side at Bill Suever’s house. Suever said they had better stay there until the river dropped some. The two young men stayed at Suever’s for three days, and then decided to head home. With that Suever phoned Heinl’s Bar and told them the boat was coming home. Alex Heinl ran across the street to the shoe shop to get Framz Geier and he got the town band together and went to the river. Then Rabbit Burkmeyer and Speedy Bertling stepped in for Paul Revere and ran down the street opening the doors and shouting “the boat is coming in.” Rudy and Gilbert Wieging were in the hardware store with their dad. George Brenner said “let’s go” and locked up and headed for the river. Gilbert said he remembers how quiet everything was when they saw the American flag on the front of the boat coming through the trees. The band started playing and some men were shooting their guns, giving them a salute. When the guys got out of the boat, Ike held up the flag and they paraded down the street to Raabe’s Store and got two bread boxes to stand on and give their speech. Then they moved on to Heinl’s and Burkie’s. The Wieging boys were too young to go along to the bar.


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