By Charlene Shields
Notes from the White County Historical Society as they appear in "The Carmi Times."
Copyright ©2000 by "The Carmi Times" Permission to reprint granted to Cindy Birk Conley and the ILGenWeb by Tammy Knox, editor, "The Carmi Times."
Old newspapers hold a particular fascination for me. The April 3, 1913, issue of the county paper carried a big headline about "The Great Flood." Perhaps some of our readers are as old as I, and may remember their parents or grandparents talk about this terrible time in White County history. Parts of the newspaper article are quoted here:
The flood in the Little Wabash reached its climax at Carmi last Saturday at midnight with a stage of 36 feet and 2 inches, higher than was ever known before.... The water covered the wagon bridge floor at Carmi, and men were employed to stay on the bridge day and night to keep the drift wood away. All residences, school and business houses in East Carmi are under several feet of water. By heroic efforts of Mr. Samuel Morgan, engineer at the city pumping station, and a force of men, water was kept out of the power house.... All of the farm lands in the bottoms are under water, and thousands of acres of wheat are ruined. Besides this, much live stock has been drowned....
A raging flood has visited the lower lands in the Big Wabash bottoms, and the scenes about Maunie and vicinity are beyond description. This river had been rising slowly for several days, but Saturday night a sea of water came rushing down this river, and people had to flee for their lives. The farmers sent telephone messages to their neighbors, and all hastened out of their homes as soon as possible. There was no time to look after the safety of live stock, and hundreds of heads of horses, cattle, mules, and hogs perished. Many people barely escaped with their lives. At Maunie the people had worked hard to built scaffolds, but the river rose about five feet during one night, and the following morning the whole town was under water. Many families took up their quarters in the Methodist Church, others went to their neighbors who had two-story buildings, while dozens of families are living in the grain elevator.
Mrs. Jane Murphy, telephone operator at Maunie, stayed at the switch board until the water put the board out of commission.... The water broke into Maunie from the north, and soon all property above the railroad was flooded. The railroad embankment protected the south side for a while, but the water soon eat (sic) its way through the road bed and flooded the remainder of the village.
The L & N Railroad Co. donated the use of an engine and flat cars for the flood sufferers. Our people hastened to the train, loaded several boats on the flat cars and went to Maunie to take the people out of the water.... The high water extended as far west as to cover the east side of Charles Parker's farm, and from there to Maunie, a distance of 3 1/2 miles, is a sea of water several feet deep. Farm homes in every direction are in deep water, and thousands of acres of as fine wheat as [was] ever seen at this time of year is ruined.
....Despite all the railroad men could do, the water went under and over the thousands of sand bags which had been dumped to make a dike, and 5,000 feet of the embankment on the Illinois side was ruined. At present, the Indiana side and bridge are still holding fast....
The backing up of the Ohio into the Wabash as far north as Maunie means the Wabash will be slow in running out.... The approximate rise of the lower Wabash river in 15 hours was six feet. The flood made 2,000 people homeless.
With the Wabash at Grayville standing three feet above a record height Saturday night, the waters held back by the Illinois Central embankment, two miles in length, broke through the railroad levee and began sweeping the country clear. Running like a mill race, the flood broke through the levee at a dozen places at once, turning loose upon the farm lands a wall of water six feet high. The entire embankment disappeared, giving the flood an unrestrained sweep.... This caused the sudden rise at Maunie.
(Continued next week.)
Gen Lib typed 4/19/00
The Coordinator for the White County, Illinois ILGenWeb page is Cindy Birk Conley
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