The True Story of Our National Calamity of Flood, Fire and Tornado
by Logan Marshall
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The appalling loss of life, the terrible suffering of the homeless, the struggles for safety, and the noble heroism of those who risked life to save loved ones; the unprecedented loss of property, resulting in the laying waste of flourishing cities and towns







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Prayer by Bishop David H. Greer:

O Merciful God and Heavenly Father, who hast taught us in Thy holy word that Thou dost not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men, give ear to the prayers which we humbly offer to Thee in behalf of our brethren who are suffering from the great water floods.

Cause them in their sorrow to experience the comfort of Thy presence, and in their bewilderment the guidance of Thy wisdom. Stir up, we beseech Thee, the wills of Thy people to minister with generous aid to their present needs, and so overrule in Thy providence this great and sore calamity that we may be brought nearer to Thee and be knit more closely one to another in sympathy and love.

All which we humbly ask, through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.




CHAPTER I The Greatest Cataclysm in American History . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11

CHAPTER II The Death-Bearing Flood at Dayton . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23

CHAPTER III Dayton's Menace of Fire and Famine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36

CHAPTER IV Dayton in the Throes of Distress . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55

CHAPTER V The Recuperation of Dayton . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74

CHAPTER VI Dayton: "The City of a Thousand Factories" . . . . . . . . . . . . 104

CHAPTER VII The Devastation of Columbus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110

CHAPTER VIII Columbus: The Beautiful Capital of Ohio . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 138

CHAPTER IX Cincinnati: A New Center of Peril . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 142

CHAPTER X The Flood in Western Ohio . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 152

CHAPTER XI The Flood in Northern Ohio . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 163

CHAPTER XII The Flood in Eastern Ohio . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 169

CHAPTER XIII The Flood in Eastern Indiana . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 179

CHAPTER XIV The Desolation of Indianapolis and the Valley of the White River. . 184

CHAPTER XV The Roaring Torrent of the Wabash . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 191

CHAPTER XVI The Plight of Peru: A Stricken City . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 197

CHAPTER XVII The Death-Dealing Tornado at Omaha . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 204

CHAPTER XVIII Struggles of Stricken Omaha . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 212

CHAPTER XIX Omaha: "The Gate City of the West" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 217

CHAPTER XX Other Damage from the Nebraska Tornado . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 220

CHAPTER XXI The Tornado in Iowa and Illinois . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 225

CHAPTER XXII The Tornado in Kansas and Arkansas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 228

CHAPTER XXIII The Tornado in Indiana . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 231

CHAPTER XXIV The Tornado in Pennsylvania . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 239

CHAPTER XXV The Freak Tornado in Alabama . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 243

CHAPTER XXVI The Flood in New York . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 246

CHAPTER XXVII The Flood in Pennsylvania . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 254

CHAPTER XXVIII The Flood in the Ohio Valley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 263

CHAPTER XXIX The Flood in the Mississippi Valley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 270

CHAPTER XXX Damage to Transportation, Mail and Telegraph Facilities . . . . . . 277

CHAPTER XXXI The Work of Relief . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 285

CHAPTER XXXII Previous Great Floods and Tornadoes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 294

CHAPTER XXXIII Lessons of the Cataclysm and Precautionary Measures . . . . . . . . 308


The Unleashed Gods

By Percy Shaw

Iron and rock are our slaves; We are liege to marble and steel; We go our ways through our purse-proud days, Lifting our voices in loud self-praise— Forgetting the God at the wheel.

We build our bulwarks of stone, Skyscraper and culvert and tower, Till the God of Flood, keen-nosed for blood, Drags our monuments into the mud In the space of a red-eyed hour.

Kings of the oceans are we, With our liners of rocket speed, Till the God of Ice, in mist-filled trice, Calls to us harshly to pay his price As we sink to the deep-sea weed.

Muscle and brain are our slaves; We are liege to iron and steel; But who shall say, tomorrow, today, That we shall not halt on our onward way To bow to the God at the wheel?






Man is still the plaything of Nature. He boasts loudly of conquering it; the earth gives a little shiver and his cities collapse like the house of cards a child sets up. A French panegyrist said of our own Franklin: "He snatched the scepter from tyrants and the lightning from the skies," but the lightning strikes man dead and consumes his home. He thinks he has mastered the ocean, but the records of Lloyds refute him. He declares his independence of the winds upon the ocean, and the winds upon the land touch his proud constructions and they are wrecks.

He imprisons the waters behind a dam and fetters the current of the rivers with bridges; they bestir themselves and the fetters snap, his towns are washed away and thousands of dead bodies float down the angry torrents. He burrows into the skin of the earth for treasure, and a thousand men find a living grave. Man has extorted many secrets from Nature; he can make a little use of a few of its forces; but he is impotent before its power.

Thus we pause to reflect upon the most staggering and tragic cataclysm of Nature that has been visited upon our country since first our forefathers won it from the Indian—the unprecedented succession of tornadoes, floods, storms and blizzards, which in March, 1913, devastated vast areas of territory in Ohio, Indiana, Nebraska and a dozen other states, and which were followed fast by the ravages of fire, famine and disease.


The terrible suddenness and irresistible power of such catastrophes make them an object of overwhelming fear. The evening of Easter Sunday in Omaha was doubtless as placid and uneventful as a thousand predecessors, until an appalling roar and increasing darkness announced to the initiated the approach of a tornado, and in a few minutes forty-seven city blocks were leveled to the ground. The fairest and best built part of the city could no more withstand this awful force than the weakest hovels. Twelve hundred buildings were destroyed, most of them homes, but among them many churches and school houses. The just and the unjust fared alike in this riot of destruction and then the tornado rushed on to find other objects on which to wreck its force in Council Bluffs and elsewhere. It left in its wake many fires, but fortunately also a heavy rain, while later a deep fall of snow covered up the scene of its awful destruction.


With the rest of the country, fair Dayton sorrowed for Omaha. Two days later Omaha, bowed and almost broken by her own misfortune, looked with sympathy across to Dayton, whose woe was even greater. A thousand communities in the United States read the story and in their own sense of security sent eager proffers of assistance to the striken districts. And not one of them has assurance that it may not be next. There is no sure definition of the course of the earthquake, the path of the wind, the time and place of the storm-cloud. Science has its limitations. Only the Infinite is master of these forces.

In the legal parlance of the practice of torts such occurrences as these are known as "acts of God." Theologians who attempt to solve the mysteries of Providence have found in such occasions the evidence of Divine wrath and warning to the smitten people. But to seek the reason and to know the purpose, if there be purpose in it, is not necessary. The fact is enough. It challenges, staggers, calls a halt, compels men and women to think—and even to pray.

But the flood did not confine itself to Dayton. It laid its watery hand of death and destruction over a whole tier of states from the Great Lakes to New England, and over the vast area to the southward which is veined by the Ohio River and its tributaries, and extending from the Mississippi Valley almost to the Atlantic seaboard. And as this awful deluge drained from the land into Nature's watercourses the demons of death and devastation danced attendance on its mad rush that laid waste the borderlands of the Mississippi River from Illinois to the Gulf of Mexico.


Those who have never seen a great flood do not know the meaning of the Scriptural phrase, "the abomination of desolation."

An explosion, a railroad wreck, even a fire—these are bad enough in their pictorial effect of shattered ruins and confusion. But for giving one an oppressive sense of death-like misery, there is nothing equal to a flood.

I do not speak now of the loss of life, which is unspeakably dreadful, but of the scenic effect of the disaster. It just grips and benumbs you with its awfulness.

In the flat country of the Middle West there is less likelihood of swift, complete destruction than in narrow valleys, like those of Johnstown and Austin in Pennsylvania. But the effect is, if anything, more gruesome.

After the crest has passed there are miles and miles of inundated land, with only trees and half-submerged buildings and floating wreckage to break the monotony; just a vast lake of yellow, muddy water, swirling and boiling as it seeks to find its level.

The scene in a town is particularly ghastly. How ghastly it is, you would have realized if you could have gone with the writer into the flooded districts of Ohio and Indiana, traveling from point to point in automobiles and motor boats, penetrating to the heart of the flood in boats even before the waters receded, and afterwards on foot. The upper floors of houses not torn from their foundations look all right, but it fairly makes you sick to see the waves of turbid water lapping at second floor sills, with tangled tree branches and broken furniture floating about. It seems horrible—it is horrible—to think of that yellow flood pouring into pleasant rooms where a few hours before the family sat in peace and fancied security—roaring over the threshold, swirling higher and higher against the walls, setting the cherished household treasures astray, driving the furniture hither and thither, drowning out cheerful rooms in darkness and death.

If anything can be worse than this, it is the scenes when the waters recede. The shade trees that stood in the streets so trim and beautiful are all bedraggled and bent, their branches festooned with floating wreckage and all manner of offensive things, their leaves sodden, their trunks caked with mud. The streets are seas of yellow ooze. Garden fences and hedges are twisted or torn away. Reeking heaps of indescribable refuse lie moldering where there were smooth lawns and bright flower beds. The houses that stand are all smeared with the dirt that shows the height of the flood.

But inside those houses—that is the dreadful thing. The rooms that the water filled are like damp caves. Mud lies thick on the floors, the walls are streaked with slime, and the paper hangs down in dismal festoons. Some pictures may remain hanging, but they are all twisted and tarnished. The furniture is a tumbled mass of confusion and filth. But the worst is the reek of decay and death about the place.


But there is something greater in its tragedy than all this—something greater than a great region where splendid cities, towns and humble villages alike are without resource—something greater than a region of broken dams and embankments and of placid rivers gone mad in flood, bridgeless, uncontrollable, widened into lakes, into seas. It is the hundreds of dead who died a hideous death, and the hundreds of thousands of living who are left helpless and homeless, and all but hopeless.

Just for one moment think—we in our warm, comfortable houses, comfortably clad, safe, smiling and happy—of the half million of our fellow creatures out yonder shivering and trembling and dying, in the grasp of the "destruction that wasteth at noonday," swiftly pursued by "the pestilence which walketh in darkness." The leaping terror of the flames climaxes the terror of the harrowing day and the helpless, hopeless night of agony and sorrow and despair.

Think of the men, women, children and the little babies crushed and mangled amid the wreck of shattered homes—but yesterday as beautiful and bright as ours—the pallid faces of hundreds floating as corpses in the stately streets turned into rushing rivers by the relentless floods—brothers and sisters of ours, freezing and starving in homes turned suddenly into broken rafts and battered houseboats amid the muddy deluge, while the pitying stars look down at night upon thousands, wet, weeping, shivering, hungry, helpless and homeless, with the host of their unrecognized and unburied dead, in this frightful holocaust of fire and flood and pestilence.

Think of the region where people are huddled shivering on hills or housetops, watching the swelling waters; where practically every convenience, means of communication, comfort, appliance of civilization has been wiped out or stopped; where there is little to eat and no way of getting food save from the country beyond the waters; where millionaire and pauper, Orville Wright and humble scrub-woman, stand shoulder to shoulder in the bread-line that winds towards the relief stations, all alike dependent for once on charity for the barest sustenance.


These are the tragedies that touch our hearts. These are the tragedies that have brought messages of condolence from King George of England, from the King of Italy, from the Shah of Persia and from other monarchs of Europe. These are the tragedies that impelled a widow in a small town in Massachusetts, in sending her mite for the relief of the unfortunate, to write: "Just one year ago, when the ill-fated Titanic deprived me of my all, the Red Cross Society lost not a moment in coming to my aid."

These are tragedies, too, that have prompted wage-earners all over the country to contribute to the relief of the flood sufferers a part of their own means of support that could ill be spared—soiled and worn bills and silver pieces laid down with unspoken sympathy by men and women and children, too, who wanted nothing said about it and turned and went out to face the struggle for existence again. These people did not think twice about whether they should help those in greater necessity than their own. They had been helping one another all their lives, and it seemed not so much a duty as a natural thing to do to respond to the call from the West, where people had lost their lives and others were homeless and suffering.


This spirit of helpfulness is a fine thing. But even finer was the spirit of self-help. Secretary Garrison's telegram to President Wilson from the flooded districts that the people in the towns and cities affected had the situation well in hand and that very little emergency assistance was needed, was a splendid testimonial to the courage and the resourcefulness of the people of the Middle West and the admirable cheerfulness which they exhibited during the trying days that followed the beginning of the calamity. There was not a whimper, but on the contrary there was a spirit of optimism that must prove to be most stimulating to the rest of the country.


But perhaps the finest thing of all is the memory of the heroes that showed themselves. When death and disaster, in the form of flood and fire, swept Dayton, John H. Patterson arose with the tide to the level of events. Patterson is the man, more than any other, who brought cosmos out of chaos. When the flood was rising and nobody knew what the result would be, John H. Patterson began to wire for motor boats. He did not ask, he demanded. And the motor boats came. Patterson took all of the carpenters from the National Cash Register—one hundred and fifty skilled woodworkers—and set them to work making flat boats. The entire force of the great institution was at the disposal of the people who needed help. And not a man or a woman was docked or dropped from the payroll. Everybody had time and a third.

As for John H. Patterson himself, he worked in three shifts of eight hours each; and for forty-eight hours he practically neither slept nor ate. And then, by way of rest, he took a Turkish bath and a horseback ride, and forty winks, and was again on the job—this man of seventy, who has known how to breathe and how to think and who carries with him the body of a wrestler and the lavish heart of youth!

There were many other heroes—too many to mention here—but we cannot forget John A. Bell, the telephone operator who was driven to the roof of the building, where with emergency instruments he cut in on one of the wires, and for two days and nights, in the driving rain, without food or drink or dry clothing, kept the outside world informed as to what was going on and the needs of the sufferers. What Bell endured during those long hours was enough to kill the heart in a very strong man. Yet his greeting to Governor Cox, over the crippled wire Thursday morning, was: "Good morning, Governor. The sun is shining in Dayton."

Could anything be finer! Men with such spirit are great men, and the spirit that was in John H. Patterson and John A. Bell is the same spirit that was in John Jacob Astor, and Archie Butt, and George B. Harris, and Charles M. Hayes, and the band of musicians on the Titanic that played in water waist deep.

As I stood amid the slimy ruins of Dayton the day after the waters receded, Brigadier-General Wood said to me, "There go Patterson and Bell. Would you like to shake hands with them?" And I said, "Just now I would rather shake hands with those two men than own the National Cash Register Company."

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The Storms By Chester Firkins

And you are still the Master. We have reared Cities and citadels of seeming might, But in the passing of a single night You rend them unto ruin. We who feared Nor flood nor wind nor wreckage fire-seared, We shudder helpless in the thunder-light; The garners cherished and the souls endeared Emptied and sudden-slaughtered in our sight.

You, whom the Cave Man battled, whom we call Nature, because we know no better name, Goddess of gentleness and torture-flame, Still are you despot; still are we the thrall; Still we can only wait what Fate may fall From your wild pinions that no man can tame. Nor gold or gain, nor battlement or wall Shall guard us from the primal flood and flame.

Our castled cities tower to your skies. 'Gainst wind and wave we pile our stone and mold. Powered of genius, panoplied of gold, We build the bastions of our high emprise. But yet, but let the plunging torrent rise, The winds awake on glutted rivers rolled— We die as the reft robin fledgeling dies— We perish as the beast in jungles old.

We dream that we are conquerors of Earth; We think that we are mighty, that we dare Scorn your grim power—till we glimpse the flare Of burning Death 'mid holiness of Birth. What is our godliness and wisdom worth Against your strength embattled unaware? You are the Master, ever, everywhere, Deadly and gentle o'er the wide World's girth.

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It remained for two telephone operators to be the real factors in giving to the world the news of the first day of the flood which inundated Dayton, Ohio, and the whole of the Miami Valley on Tuesday, March 25th. One, in the main exchange at Dayton, flashed the last tidings that came out of the stricken city by telephone, and delivered to Governor Cox news which enabled him to grasp the situation and start the rescue work. The other was the operator at Phoneton, who served as a relay operator for the man in Dayton. They stood to their posts as long as the wires held, and worked all day and night.


A seething flood of water from eight to twenty feet deep covered all but the outlying sections of the city by the evening of the 25th.

Beneath the waters and within the ruined buildings lay the unnumbered dead. The flooded districts comprised practically a circle with a radius of a mile and a half, and in no place was the water less than six feet deep. In Main Street, in the downtown section, the water was twenty feet deep.

The horror of the flooded district was heightened by more than a dozen fires which could be seen in the flooded district, but out of reach of fire fighters.

Most of the business houses and nearly all residences had occupants. Downtown the offices were filled with men, fathers unable to get home, and the upper floors and on some of the roofs of the residences were helpless women and children. Hundreds of houses, substantial buildings in the residence districts, many of them with helpless occupants, were washed away.

The water in the Miami River began rising Monday afternoon at the rate of six inches an hour and continued to rise throughout the night. The first break in the levee at Dayton came at four o'clock Tuesday morning at Stratford Avenue. This was followed by other breaks at East Second Street and Fifth.


But the severity of the flood that hit Dayton was due to the collapse of the Loramie reservoir in Shelby County about seven o'clock on Tuesday morning, hurling millions of gallons of water into the swollen Miami. Rushing down the Miami Valley, the water carried everything before it at Piqua, Troy, Sidney, Dayton, Carrollton, Miamisburg and Hamilton.

Three rivers, the Miami, Stillwater and Mad, and Wolf Creek conjoin in the heart of Dayton. As the city, particularly North Dayton, and a north section called Riverside, lies almost on a level with the four streams, it is protected from high water by levees twenty-five feet high, which guide the streams through the city from its northern to its southern end.

North Dayton is a manufacturing and residence district. Riverdale is a residence district. In the southern part of the city, on fairly high ground, is the great plant of the National Cash Register Company

Wolf Creek, flowing into the Miami from the northwest, early got out of its banks and added to the flood flowing over the floors of the Williams Street and Edgewater Avenue bridges.

Mad River, in the northern section, also got over its banks early. All of North Dayton, save the extreme uplands, was inundated. The Miami was more than a mile wide below the city, and thousands of acres were inundated.


At Third and Ludlow Streets, where were located the great Algonquin Hotel, a magnificent church, the great Y. M. C. A. building and the Hotel Atlas, were many feet of water. The central portion of the city was flooded, and the beautiful residence district, lying east of the exclusive boulevard district, was a Venice.

Hundreds of homes were filled with floating furniture. The citizens, used to the slow-creeping floods of other years, were entirely mystified and distracted by this sudden, hurtling, seething flood that seemed to spring by night from the clouds that hovered low over the city and plunged their seas of water into the rivers that converge in the very heart of Dayton.

Railroad and wagon bridges over the Miami River were swept away. The telephone operator at Phoneton said that from his window in the station he had seen a bridge one mile north of Dayton collapse and another bridge crossing the river at Tadmor, eleven miles north of Dayton, was expected to give way at any moment.

Communication between Phoneton and Dayton, the operator said, was only intermittent, as the only available wire was being used by the linemen in their efforts to restore service.

Troy and Tippecanoe City, north of Dayton, were both flooded and many people took refuge on the roofs of their homes.

Below Dayton vast acreages were seas of yellow. Farms were lakes, roads were raceways through which raced the swollen streams. Telegraph service was maimed, and all sorts of communication was well-nigh impossible.


Crowded in the upper stories of tall office buildings and residences, two miles each way from the center of the town, were thousands of persons whom it was impossible to approach. At Wyoming Street, three miles beyond what has heretofore been considered the danger line, water was running eight feet deep.

The Western Union operator at Dodson, Ohio, said the office was filled with foreigners who had fled from Dayton. Looters were shooting people down in the streets, according to these refugees. They also reported that the Fifth Street bridge at Dayton had washed down against the railroad bridge and arrangements were being made to dynamite both structures. This bridge was dynamited in the afternoon, but the effect was not felt to any marked degree.

The foreigners who sought refuge in the Dodson telegraph office were panic-stricken and told wild stories of the flood, saying nearly every part of the town was under water and the conditions becoming more serious.

The breaking of the Tarleton reservoir, which supplies the drinking water, left the city without water and added great danger of typhoid in the use of flood water.

Frank Purviance, an employee of the Terre Haute, Indianapolis and Eastern Traction Company, at Dayton, over the long-distance telephone said scores had been drowned there.

"They're dying like rats in their homes; bodies are washing around the streets and there's no relief in sight," Purviance said.


At Wyoming Station, on the South Side, where the National Cash Register Company centered its efforts at rescue, many saved their lives by creeping on a telephone cable, a hundred feet above the flood.

At first linemen crept along the cables, carrying tow ropes to which flat-bottomed boats were attached. When the flood became so fierce that the boats no longer were able to make way against it, men and women crept along the cables to safety. Others, less daring, saw darkness fall and gave up hope of rescue.

Those willing to risk their lives in the attempt to rescue found themselves helpless in the face of the water.

The first to seek safety by sliding along the telegraph conduits was a man. Then came four women. The first of the women was Mrs. Luella Meyer. She was a widow with one son, a boy in knee-breeches.

He got out on the wire and with the agility of a cat was soon across. But Mrs. Meyers, when over the boiling torrent, swayed as though faint, slipped and the crowd stood with bated breath.

By a lucky chance her senses came back to her so that she could grasp one of the wires. Hand over hand she was able to pull herself slowly to the nearest pole, where she rested before again making the trial. This time she did not falter, but when she was picked up by the rescuers at the farthest pole toward safety she was limp from nervous and physical exhaustion.

Four companies of the Third Regiment, Ohio National Guard, spent the night aiding the city officials in rescuing families in the flood-stricken districts. Telephone and railroad service was interrupted in every direction.

John Hadkins and James Hosay, privates of the Ohio National Guard, were drowned while in acts of rescue. The body of an elderly woman floated down near Wyoming Street in the afternoon, but the current was so swift that it could not be recovered.

The National Cash Register Company's plant, on a high hill, offered the only haven in the South End. Three women became mothers in the halls of its office buildings during the night.

In the woodworking department of the National Cash Register Company boats were being turned out at the rate of ten an hour, and these were rushed to where the waters had crossed Main Street in a sort of gully.

But the waters crept up and the strength of the current was far too strong for the crude punts, though they were the best that could be made in a hurry.

Trip after trip was made and hundreds of the refugees were taken from this stretch of houses.


Although John H. Patterson, president of the National Cash Register Company of Dayton, which employs more than 7,100 persons, is nearly sixty-nine years old, and has led a life of unusual activity, he was out in a rowboat tugging at the oars and personally helping in the work of rescue. His two children, Frederick and Miss Dorothy, both in their early twenties, likewise were so engaged.

When despatches came from Dayton late at night saying "the only organized relief movement is that which is being conducted by the National Cash Register Company," those who knew the fighting characteristics of the head of the big corporation were not surprised to receive the additional information that Mr. Patterson as usual was conducting the business of rescue and relief in person.

The Dayton despatches in relating that young Frederick Patterson "is leading rescue parties" and that Miss Dorothy, "dressed in old clothes and her hair streaming with water, stood in the rain for hours receiving refugees," gave a notion that the children are one with the sire.


The Cash Register plant is outside the flood zone. As soon as the waters rushed upon the city John Henry Patterson turned his entire force into a relief organization. Every wheel was stopped in the Cash Register plant early on Tuesday morning and the employees were set to work by Mr. Patterson to help the sufferers.

Mr. Patterson bought up all the available food and had it carted to his plant to feed the homeless. Straw was quickly strewn on the factory floors, thus affording dry sleeping places for more than one thousand at night. Every employee of the corporation capable of working on boats was put to work at boat building.

Mr. Patterson is said to have made a promise long ago to his wife, who was Katherine Beck, a school teacher of Brookline, Mass., when she was dying, that he would give special care to the comfort and welfare of his women and girl employees. The dining rooms in the big plant, the rest and recreation rooms and other architectural comforts provided for the women employees as a result of this promise came in very well in the rescue work. The dining rooms and the rest and recreation rooms all were used as eating halls in helping the sufferers.

While Mr. Patterson was out pulling at the oars of one of his boats thirty-one of his company's automobiles were meeting the craft to hurry the refugees to the Cash Register plant and to dry clothing, food and beds.

Mr. Patterson sent out an appeal for immediate food supplies and for doctors and medicine. By night three thousand homeless were housed in improvised quarters in the Cash Register offices.


"What is your name?" asked the registrars who received the refugees at the National Cash Register plant of a slender young person in men's clothes.

"Nora Thuma," was the reply.

"Nora?" they asked.

"Yes, I'm a girl," was the answer.

She had put on a man's suit in order to cross the perilous span of wires unhampered by skirts.

She came in with Ralph Myers, his wife and their little baby. Myers had climbed a telephone wire pole first. He let down a rope to his wife, who tied to it a meal sack which contained their baby, three months old.

Myers pulled the rope with its precious burden up and then let it down again to aid his wife to ascend from her perilous position.

With the meal sack over his shoulder and his wife holding on to the two wires he walked along the cable a full block before he reached safety.


Scenes of indescribable horror were reported by the rescuers under Brigadier-General George H. Wood. Among those who perished were said to have been ten members of the Ohio National Guard who were guarding a bridge.

One man marooned with his family on the roof of his home shot and killed his wife and three children and then himself rather than suffer death in the flames, according to a report received by J. J. Munsell, employment superintendent of the National Cash Register Company, from a man who actually saw the occurrence. The bodies floated away on the flood.

Rescuers tried to get to a raft that bore a man and four women that whirled like a spool in the rapid waters. Then suddenly the raft was sucked down in the water and another chapter was added to the tragedy.


George H. Schaefer, a rescuer who went out into the flood with a skiff and saved a woman and baby, told of his perilous trip.

"A house that had been torn from its foundation came floating up behind us," said Schaefer. "The woman was frightened. I told her there was no danger.

"Suddenly she stood up and jumped over with her baby in her arms. She went straight down and never came up again."

Then there was the horror that William Riley, a salesman for the National Cash Register Company, saw.

"We saw a very old woman standing at the window of a house waiting for rescue," said Riley. "We rowed up to her. Suddenly the house parted and the woman was engulfed. It was the last we saw of her."

There was the man who was nearly rescued. He had stepped into the skiff and then walked back into his home, which a short time later floated away with him. Incidents of this sort were multiplied.

John Scott ascended a telegraph pole and guided across the cable to places of safety men, women and children rescued from flooded houses.

Scott had guided a dozen persons across the swaying bridges of wire when an explosion that started a fire occurred. The shock knocked Scott from the pole and he fell into a tree.

"The last I saw of him he was trying to get into the window of an abandoned house by way of one of the branches of the tree," said Frank Stevens, a fellow employee of Scott. "The house was in the path of the fire."


Thousands of those who were fortunate enough to escape the first rush of the waters were fed on short rations, and appeals for help were sent out by many of the leading men of the city.

Three carloads of foodstuffs arrived from Xenia, but there was no chance to deliver them to the victims of the flood until the following day.


Frank Brandon, vice-president of the Dayton, Lebanon and Cincinnati Railroad, succeeded during the night in getting communication for a short time from Dayton to Lebanon. He said that the situation was appalling and beyond all control.

"According to my advices, the situation beggars description," said Mr. Brandon. "What the people need most of all is boats. The water is high in every street and assistance late this afternoon was simply out of the question. My superintendent at Dayton told me that at least sixty had perished and probably a great many more, at the same time assuring me that unless something that closely approached a miracle happened the death list would run considerably higher. We are now rigging up several special trains and will make every effort possible to get into Dayton tonight."

It was on these scenes of indescribable horror that the shades of night closed down.




Scarcely had the appalling horror of the flood impressed itself on the stricken people of Dayton before a new danger arose to strike terror to their hearts—fire that could not be fought because there was no way to reach it and because the usual means for fire-fighting were paralyzed.


One fire started from the explosion of an oil tank containing hundreds of gallons which bumped into a submerged building.

The fire started in a row of buildings on Third Street near Jefferson, right in the heart of the business section, and not far from the Algonquin Hotel, the Y. M. C. A., and other large buildings.

The report of the fire was sent out by Wire Chief Green, of the Bell Telephone Company, who said the fire was then within a block of the telephone exchange in which was located John A. Bell, who for more than twenty-four hours had kept the outside world informed as best he could of the catastrophe in Dayton.

A. J. Seattle, owner of the house in which the fire started after a gas explosion, was blown into the air and killed instantly.

Mrs. Shunk, a neighbor, was blown out of her home into the flood. After clinging to a telegraph pole for half an hour, she finally succumbed and was sucked under the waters.

The explosion blew a stable filled with hay into the middle of the flooded street and this carried the flames to the opposite side.

The next house to burn was Harry Lindsay's. Then Mary Kreidler's and then the home of Theodore C. Lindsay and other houses that had been carried away from their foundations floated into the flames and soon were on fire.

The floating fires burned without restraint and communicated flames to many other buildings where families awaited help.

The Beckel House was threatened and Jefferson Street was on fire on its east side from Third Street as far down as the Western Union office. Refugees driven from their places where they had sought safety from the floods were leaping from roof to roof to escape the new terror. The fire was rapidly approaching the Home Telephone plant.


Another fire which started from an explosion in the Meyers Ice Cream Company place, near Wyoming Street, spread and burned the block on South Park, a block from Wyoming.

Flames, starting at Vine and Main Streets, jumped Main Street and the houses on the other side were soon aflame. In the middle of the street were a few frame houses that had been washed from their foundations. These were swirled about for a time, and, as though to aid in the passing of the section by fire, they were cast into the path of the flames. Persons hurried from their roof tops, where they had been driven by the flood, to the roof tops of adjoining houses.

A fire that appeared to threaten the entire business section was confined to the block bounded by Second and Third Streets and Jefferson and St. Clair Streets. In the block were the Fourth National Bank, Lattiman Drug Company, Evans' Wholesale Drug Company and several commission houses. This fire subsided somewhat by evening.

Fire broke out in the buildings on Broad Street and many who had taken refuge in the upper floors were threatened with death in the smoke and flames.

Sixteen persons were housed in the Home Telephone Building with a block and tackle rigged as a means of egress if the fire pressed them.


It was reported to Governor Cox that some had leaped from the buildings into the flood. The Governor received word via Springfield that 10,000 to 12,000 persons were in the burning buildings, fighting the fire by water lifted in buckets from the flood.

Governor Cox asked the Associated Press to notify its West Virginia correspondents to get in touch with natural gas companies supplying Dayton with gas and ask them to shut off the supply of gas in Dayton, as the gas was feeding the conflagration there.

Pleading that troops be sent to Dayton to relieve the flood sufferers, saying that their need was imperative, and that the town was at the mercy of looters and fires, George B. Smith, president of the chamber of commerce of Dayton, who escaped from the flooded city, wired Governor Cox from Arcanum.

Governor Cox, following the information that Dayton was on fire and that those who had sought refuge in the upper stories of buildings were in danger, determined at six o'clock to reach Dayton with troops and assistance.


It was impossible to get within two miles of the fire, and from that distance it appeared that explosions, probably of drugs, made the fire seem of larger proportions than it was. It appeared to have about burned itself out, and it was not believed it would spread to other blocks.

It was impossible to ascertain, even approximately, the number of persons who might have been marooned in this section and who died after being trapped by flood and fire.

The flames at night cast a red weird glow over the flood-stricken city that added to the fears of thousands of refugees and marooned persons, and led to apprehension that there might have been many of the water's prisoners in the burned buildings.

Fire started anew at nine o'clock at night and burned fiercely.

The men, women and children marooned in the Beckel Hotel were terror stricken when fire threatened the building for the second time at night. Since Tuesday morning two hundred and fifty persons had been in the place.

Crowded in the upper stories of tall office buildings and residences in Dayton, two miles each way from the center of the town, were hundreds of persons whom it was impossible to approach. Hundreds of fires which it was impossible to fight were burning. The rescue boats were unable to get farther from the shore than the throw line would permit. They could not live in the current.

At midnight residents of Dayton watching the course of the flames from across the wide stretch of flood waters believed the fire got its new start in the afternoon in the store of the Patterson Tool and Supply Company, on Third Street, just east of Jefferson, whence it ate its way west, apparently aided by escaping gas and exploding chemicals in two wholesale drug establishments.

Throughout the night fires lighted the sky and illuminated the rushing waters. Fifty thousand people were jammed in the upper floors of their homes, with no gas, no drinking water, no light, no heat, no food.


The crest of the Dayton flood passed about midnight, but the next few hours allowed no appreciable lowering in the water. Wednesday morning brought little hope of immediate relief to those who spent the night in horror, however, and it was feared that the number of drowned had been greatly increased during the twelve hours of darkness.

Cloudy skies and a cold drizzling rain added to the dismal aspect of the city in the morning. The temperature fell steadily all night, and when daylight came the thermometers showed that it was only three degrees above freezing. The condition was welcomed, because it was expected that a hard freeze would aid materially in holding back the innumerable tributaries of the flooded streams and assist the earth in retaining the moisture that had been soaked into it steadily for the last five days.

By ten-thirty the water depth had lessened about two feet. All stores and factories in the main part of the town were flooded to a depth of from eight to ten feet. Numerous residences and smaller buildings collapsed, but any estimate of the property loss was impossible.

A morgue was established on the west side of the city, and efforts to recover the bodies and aid the suffering were pushed as rapidly as conditions permitted. Relief trains began to arrive in the stricken towns.

Adjutant-General Speaks, with a small detachment of troops and a squad of linemen and operators, left Columbus early Wednesday in an effort to reach Dayton. The attempt was made by means of motor boats and automobiles in the hope to establish adequate telegraph or telephone communication with Dayton.


A message from Governor Cox ordered the entire Ohio National Guard to hold itself in readiness to proceed to Dayton as soon as it was possible to enter the city.

"I understand the importance of having the militia there," he telegraphed.

Soon afterward notice was posted in headquarters of the emergency committee announcing that the city was under martial law, and several companies of soldiers arrived from neighboring Ohio cities.

The soldiers were employed to patrol edges of the burned district, and prevent looting of homes freed from the floods.

The hundreds of refugees in the Y. M. C. A. building and in the Algonquin Hotel were facing possible short rations. Their food supplies were becoming limited and drinking water was at a premium.

Forty boats were requisitioned by the city authorities and were patroling the city in an effort to save life and property. These craft were manned by volunteers.

In front of the Central Union Telegraph office the water was still running so swiftly that horses could not go through it without swimming. One boat went by with two men in it, rowing desperately, trying to keep the bow to the waves. The boat overturned, but both men escaped drowning by swimming to a lamp post. They clung to the post for half an hour before a rope could be thrown to them. After repeated casts the line fell near enough to them to be caught, and the men were drawn into the second story window of the building.

The telephone employees in the building fished chairs, dry goods boxes and a quantity of other floating property from the flood. The debris swept down the main business street with such force that every plate glass window was smashed.

Only one sizable building had collapsed up to noon so far as the watchers in the telephone office could learn. This structure, an old one, was a three-story affair, near Ludlow Street, occupied by a harness manufacturing concern.


More than 70,000 persons either were unable to reach their homes or, held in their waterlocked houses, were unable to reach land.

While those marooned in the offices and hotels were in no immediate danger of drowning there was no way food or drinking water could reach them until the flood receded. Those in the residences, however, were in constant danger both by flood and fire. First the frailer buildings were swept into the stream, many showing the faces of women and children peering from the windows. These were followed by more substantial brick buildings, until it became evident that no house in the flood zone was safe.

The houses as a rule lasted but a few blocks before disintegrating.

Incidents without number were narrated of persons in the flooded districts waving handkerchiefs and otherwise signaling for aid, being swept away before the eyes of the watchers on the margin of the waters. Many of the rescue boats were swept by the current against what had been fire plugs, trees and houses. They were crushed. Canoes and rowboats shared the same fate. What life existed in the district which the water covered was in constant danger and helpless until the flood subsided.

Bodies were found as far out as Wayne Avenue, which is more than a mile from the river. At Fifth and Brown Streets the water reached a height of ten feet. At least one of those drowned met death in the Algonquin Hotel.

The rumor that the St. Elizabeth Hospital with 600 patients had been swept away, which gained circulation Tuesday night, proved to have been false.

Although it was impossible to reach the hospital, field glasses showed that the building was still standing. The water was not thought to be much above the first floor of the building, and it was hoped that the patients had not suffered.

Dayton was practically cut off from wire communication until late in the afternoon. Then two wires into Cincinnati were obtained and operators plunged into great piles of telegrams from Dayton citizens, almost frantic in their desire to assure friends outside of their safety. Operators at opposite ends of the wires reported that thousands of telegrams were piled up at relay offices. These were from people anxious over the fate of Dayton kinsmen.

Two oarsmen who braved the current that swirled through the business section of the city reported that the water at the Algonquin Hotel, at the southwest corner of Third and Ludlow Streets, was fifteen feet deep. From windows in the hotels and business buildings hundreds of the marooned begged piteously for rescue and food. The oarsmen said they saw no bodies floating on the flood tide, but declared that many persons must have perished in the waters' sudden rush through the streets.

Oarsmen who worked into the outskirts of the business section at night reported that two hundred and fifty persons marooned in the Arcade building and two hundred imprisoned in the Y. M. C. A. building were begging for water.


Before the terror of fire had dwindled, gaunt hunger thrust its wolfish head on the scene. Famine became an immediate possibility. All of the supply and grocery houses were in the submerged district and there was not enough bread to last the survivors another day. Every grocer in the city was "sold out" before noon.

The flood came with such suddenness that food supplies in homes were whisked away by the torrent that reached to second floors in almost the flash of an eye. Skiffs skirted the edge of the flooded districts attempting to take food to those whom it was impossible to carry off, but the fierce current discouragingly retarded this work.

"Food, food, food," was the appeal that reached the outside world from the portions of Dayton north of the rivers. The plea came from a relief committee which started out in boats and met an employee of the American Telegraph and Telephone Company, who attempted to drive to Dayton. The telephone man immediately "cut in" on a line and transmitted the appeal.

The relief committee had progressed less than two miles from Dayton when they met the telephone employee. They told him that any and all kinds of provisions were needed and could be distributed, but the relief must come soon if indescribable suffering was to be avoided.

Police officers of Dayton who were able to get about at all were swearing in all available men as deputies, commandeering provisions and charging the expense to the State of Ohio. The available supplies were so slender, however, that thousands of persons on the north side of the river were already destitute. Efforts to learn the condition of the 2,500 inmates of the old soldiers' home on the west side brought a report that the institution was in no danger because of its location on a high hill.

Leon A. Smith, one of the relief committee in North Dayton, was sworn in as a deputy justice of the peace with power to enlist other deputies to preserve order, guard against crimes and relieve distress.

"What we need most," said Mr. Smith over the telephone, "is food for the living and assistance in recovering and burying the dead before an epidemic sets in."

Farmers in the vicinity offered their teams to haul towards Dayton any supplies that could be gotten together, and the housewives of the countryside denuded their pantries.

Relief committees issued the following statement:

"An awful catastrophe has overtaken Dayton. The centers of Dayton and the residence district from the fair grounds hill to the high ground north of the city are under water.

"Bring potatoes, rice, beans, vegetables, meat and bread and any other edibles that will sustain life.

"We have cooking arrangements for several thousand. We are sending trucks to nearby towns, but ask that you haul to us, as far as possible."

The first trainload of provisions from Cincinnati, with a detail of policemen to help in the rescue work, reached Dayton after being twelve hours on the road. This, with two cars from Springfield, relieved the immediate suffering. Word also was received that a carload of supplies was on the way from Detroit.

Encouragement was received in a message from the Mayor of Springfield, who said he was sending six big trucks loaded with provisions that should reach Dayton early Thursday. With the arrival of motor boats Wednesday night it was hoped to begin to distribute provisions among the marooned early next morning.

Messages from the flood's prisoners in the business section said children were crying for milk, while their elders suffered from thirst that grew hourly. Volunteers were called for to man boats and brave the dangerous currents in an attempt to get food to the suffering.


Rescue work efficiently managed, in which John H. Patterson was a leading spirit, proceeded smoothly throughout the day. A boat, which was engaged in rescue work, capsized, and all of the crew but Frederick Patterson, son of John H. Patterson, were drowned. Young Patterson acted as captain of the crew.

Missing members of families were restored to their loved ones through human clearing houses established at several points in the fringe of the flood district. Great ledgers filled with names presided over by volunteer bank clerks were at the disposal of persons seeking missing kinsmen. If these had registered in the clearing house their addresses were quickly given to the inquirer.

Up to seven o'clock in the evening three thousand of the homeless were housed in different places of refuge, most of them being cared for at the plant of the National Cash Register Company. Scores of the waters' victims were being carried from their places of imprisonment late in the evening, and leaders of the rescuing parties were arranging for relays of torch bearers to light the work during the night.

The powerful current on each cross street made it impossible for those manning the rowboats to pass a street crossing without the aid of tow ropes. Lines were stretched in many places and trolley boat paths brought many victims out. Every automobile in the city was pressed into service and used to meet paths and take the refugees at once to the hospitals.

"Our greatest need is a dozen motor boats and men to run them," was the message contained in an appeal sent out by Mr. Patterson. Skiffs and rowboats could not live in torrents rushing through the city's principal streets.

The big plant of the National Cash Register Company was made relief headquarters. As persons were rescued they were taken to a relief sub-station, where their names were recorded and they received first aid. At frequent intervals these lists were sent to relief headquarters and announced to crowds who waited in the rain for hours.

Two expert oarsmen, Fred Patterson and Nelson Talbott, conquered the current for a short distance on Main Street late in the afternoon.

"We penetrated to almost the center of the city," said Mr. Patterson. "Everywhere people yelled to us to rescue them, but it was impossible, for we were barely able to keep afloat. Large sums of money were offered us to take persons from perilous positions. The windows of the Algonquin Hotel seemed filled with faces, and the same conditions prevailed at most of the buildings we passed. We did not see any bodies, but the loss of life must have been great."

At Xenia a relief committee was organized to send supplies to Dayton. All the churches were made ready for Dayton refugees.


Two employees of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company, John A. Bell, wire chief at Dayton, and C. D. Williamson, wire chief at Phoneton, Ohio, by unprecedented devotion to duty kept Dayton in touch with the world.

At midnight they had been on duty continuously for forty-eight hours, and, although there was no prospect of their being relieved, they gave not the slightest indication of any inclination to leave their posts.

Bell reached the Dayton office before the flood broke on Tuesday morning. The water came with such suddenness that all batteries and power were out of commission before any measure could be taken to protect them. This left the wires without current and effectually cut off Dayton. Bell rummaged around and found a lineman's "test set." With this he made his way to the roof of the building, "cut in" on the line to Phoneton and reported to Williamson, whose batteries were still in condition. Over this meagre equipment messages were exchanged by means of the underground wires of the company, which held up until after the noon hour Tuesday before the cable in which they were incased gave way. The break, however, was south of Dayton, and Phoneton was still in touch with the flood-stricken city.

Except for brief intervals, Bell remained on the roof of the building suffering the discomforts of pouring rain and low temperature, in order that the waiting world might have some word from Dayton.


Late in the afternoon several refugees told stories that gave an insight into conditions in East Dayton, hitherto unexplored. The flood victims declared they knew of no loss of life in this section, because a great number of people had availed themselves of warnings and fled.

A Mrs. Van Denberg, who remained until the flood enveloped her home, when rescued declared she had seen no bodies in the flood.

Sixty-five persons were marooned in the central police station. Nothing had been heard from Mayor Phillips, of Dayton, or from Brigadier-General Wood, marooned, it was believed, in North Dayton.

The whole story of the Dayton disaster probably never will be told—the heroism of men; the martyrdom of women; the mad hysteria that seized some and caused them to jump into the flood and death; the torture of despair that gripped those who, imprisoned in their homes by the water, waited in vain for help until the advancing flames came and destroyed them. The most heartrending feature of the situation was the pitiable terror of the women and children. Many of them sat up and sobbed through the night refusing to believe that their fathers had been drowned in the satanic waters.

Mrs. James Cassidy and her three children were brought from the flood last night. Mrs. Cassidy was grief-stricken over the report of the death of her husband by drowning. Even as she was being registered there was brought into rescue headquarters a drenched man who had to be carried.

"Jim! Jim!" suddenly shrieked the woman. "That's you, Jim, isn't it? You aren't dead, Jim. Say you aren't dead."

Jim had been rescued from drowning. The return of James Cassidy was the one bit of joy in the awful gloom at the rescue headquarters, where gathered the victims of flood, fire and famine.


A woman, maddened by the horrors of the day, fought with Bill Riley and his companion, Charles Wagner, who had rescued her in a boat.

She bit Riley in the hand and choked Wagner, who sought to restrain her. The little boat swayed and was on the point of capsizing when the woman suddenly became calm and began to pray.

A big sturdy man cried like a child in the offices of the National Cash Register Company. He had been to the hospitals, the schools where refugees are housed and to the churches—but in none of these was his family.

In many similar cases relatives of the supposed dead were uncertain as to the fate of the missing. The money loss was heavy, but nobody cared about money loss, though it ran into the millions.

In this hour of Dayton's woe money apparently was the most useless thing in the world.

A graphic story was told by Edsy Vincent, a member of the Dayton fire department. His engine house was within a few doors of Taylor Street, where the break of the levee occurred.

The department watchers, fearing being flood-bound, sounded the fire call simultaneously with the break in the levee.

"When the horses, which were hitched in record time, reached the street," said Vincent, "we were met by a wall of water which must have been ten feet high. The driver was forced to turn and flee in the opposite direction to save the team and the apparatus."


The dark colors in these incidents were lightened here and there by stories of bravery exhibited by many of the flood prisoners.

A woman with three children marooned in the upper floor of her home on the edge of the business district called to the oarsmen:

"I know you can't take me off!" she cried, "but for the love of humanity take this loaf of bread and jug of molasses to Sarah Pruyn down the street; I know she's starving."

Twice the boatmen attempted to take the food, but waves that eddied about the submerged house hurled them back.


Numerous stories of looting were told, and many prisoners were locked up. In most cases these had entered houses and had been searching for valuables. A gang of roughs went through the southern part of the city late at night instructing the people to extinguish all lights for fear of a gas explosion and then began raiding. The police dispersed them.

All day and all night strings of automobiles were going back and forth. Those coming to Dayton were seeking friends or relatives. Those going back had people to take back with them.

At night the temperature dropped suddenly. A blinding snowstorm and high winds followed close upon the fall of the thermometer. The blizzard weather caused added suffering. Survivors who escaped the horrors of a flood and fire stricken city at night were huddled roofless in an arctic storm. Countless men, women and children were marooned in the storm who had had no warm food or clothing since Tuesday morning.




When Thursday morning dawned on stricken Dayton the food situation which had threatened to become serious was relieved temporarily by the arrival of a special train from Richmond, Indiana, bringing seven cars of provisions. Quartermaster Logan also received word from the United States Army quartermaster general that 300,000 rations had been ordered shipped from Chicago, 100 ranges and one complete quartermaster depot from Columbus, 3,300 tents, 100 hospitals tents and 400 stoves from Philadelphia, and 300,000 blankets and 500 bedsacks from St. Louis or Cincinnati. Quartermaster Logan was authorized to purchase in open market all rations needed.

The thing that made the situation most difficult for concerted rescue work was the peculiar geographical situation of the town. It is divided into six sections: central Dayton, comprising the down-town business district; West Dayton, the territory extending several miles west of the big Miami; Riverdale, the northeast, across the river from the central district; Dayton View, the extreme northeast; Southern Dayton, the manufacturing district in which the National Cash Register Company's plant is located and separated from the central district by lowlands which were deep in flood water, and North Dayton, northwest of the business district, across the river from the business section.


The river forms a horseshoe around the business district, making it impossible to reach that part until the torrents that poured down the valley should recede.

Dayton View, West Dayton and Riverdale were the only sections between which communication was possible.

The suburb of Riverdale up to Helena Street was penetrated by the down-town relief commission and conditions found much similar to those in the southern suburbs. Everyone was crowded to the second floors or roofs of their homes, but few of the more stable dwellings were washed away.

North of Burns Avenue as far as Fourth Street the water was found to be from three to six feet deep. Beyond Fourth Street the water had receded to make it possible in many places to proceed on foot.

Nothing was known of the foreign settlement in North Dayton close to the Miami River. It was this part of the city where the flood first made its way and where the occupants of the houses had ignored warnings to leave. It was here also that it was feared most of the deaths would occur. The only body found on Thursday was that of Charles Parker, a livery man, discovered in the court house yard.

Captain of Police H. E. Lackhart declared that water in North Dayton, Miami City and East Dayton reached the housetops. His estimate of the number of dead in that district was three hundred.

The bodies of a woman and a baby were seen floating down Jefferson Street, one of Dayton's main thoroughfares. It was thought that they came from the district north of the river.

A report which had been current in the water district south of Main Street that Brigadier-General Wood had been fatally injured by falling plate glass, proved to be untrue. He continued in full charge of the relief work, although his arm had been badly cut.

Parts of Main Street were impassable because of debris. At several points it comprised outbuildings that had struck more stable buildings and been dashed to pieces.

Hourly apprehension for the appalling sights to be uncovered when the waters return to normal was growing.


Pestilence was feared and sanitary and health officials mapped out their work. Sewers were burst by the flood, manholes were simply blown from the earth, and it was realized that many days must elapse before the water service could be restored and before street car companies could operate.

Because of the lack of electric lights, and as a precaution against looting, military notices were posted, forbidding citizens to be on the streets between the hours of 6 P. M. and 5 A. M.

Word was received that a number of motor boats with men to operate them were on the way from Cleveland and Cincinnati.

The water receded rapidly during the day. An occasional snow flurry and biting gusts of wind added to the discomfort of the rescue crews, but they remained steadily at work.

The Emergency Committee began publication of an official newspaper from the plant of the National Cash Register Company. It was a one-sheet poster designed for free circulation in all accessible parts of the city. Its leading article warned the people to beware of thieves and burglars.

A thief was caught robbing homes of flood victims who had been taken to refuge stations. He was shot to death by state guardsmen.

The progress of the first canoe into the water-bound district was greeted by appeals for bread and water. In nearly every house left standing wistful faces were to be seen pressed against window panes. All of these were asked whether there had been any deaths and with only a few exceptions all replied that there had not.

Temporary morgues were established in the United Brethren Church and also at Fifth and Eagle Streets. At these points many bodies were cared for, chiefly those of women and children.


Needless suffering was caused during the day by an announcement of the breaking of the Lewistown reservoir. Men rushed through the uptown streets shouting:

"Run for your lives! The reservoir has broken!"

There was really no danger. The reservoir contained 17,000 acres of water space, but it was pointed out that the flood extended over several million acres and the worst possible effect of the breaking of the reservoir would be to retard the rescues and could not cause a rise of more than a foot. The waters at the time were seven feet lower than the high water of Tuesday night.

The alarm was spread by a policeman who was posted on the edge of the flood district. Others were quick to take up the cry.

Soon thousands of men and women crowded the streets. Many of them fled for the hills, but hundreds hurled themselves past guards and into the main office building of the National Cash Register Building, which was already crowded.

Not until John H. Patterson, president of the company, had addressed the throng was any semblance of order restored.

Mr. Patterson was appointed military aide in the southeast district of the city, with full control under martial law. He at once ordered every available motor car and truck to scour the farmhouses south of the city and confiscate all available food supplies.

Colonel H. G. Catrow arrived with his military aides from Columbus in the afternoon and took charge of the militiamen.


Sightseers of Springfield who sought to visit Dayton received a rude shock. On the first train to the stricken city from Springfield were fifty linemen and three coaches full of people on a sightseeing tour.

The Governor learned of this and on his orders when the train reached Dayton two soldiers were stationed at each car door and none but linemen were permitted to alight. The train was then run back to Springfield with its disappointed passengers.

The Governor then ordered guardsmen at Springfield to let none board trains for Dayton who did not have a military pass. The purpose in this was to prevent idle visitors draining the limited food resources of Dayton.


Dynamite, gasoline and lime were sent from Springfield as supplies for the sanitary corps ordered there to prevent the spread of disease and a feared epidemic. The dynamite was needed to blow up dangerous obstructions, the gasoline to burn rubbish and the lime for disinfecting purposes.

Mutiny broke out in the city workhouse, where one hundred prisoners were confined. Terror-stricken by the flood and fire, the prisoners were demanding freedom.

They beat at their cell doors and shouted imprecations at their keepers. Superintendent Johnson applied to the militia for help. One workhouse prisoner was released because he knew how to run the water-works pumps.

The two hundred and fifty guests of the Algonquin Hotel were kept comfortable except for the continuous dread that the fire would spread to them. The water reached the second floor, but all the supplies had been moved to places of safety, and those in the hotel experienced little discomfort.

From Fourth Street to the Miami River, relief work was taken up by a committee headed by Chief of Police Allaback. All of the grocery stores were commandeered and, although in most cases the goods were covered with water, yet sufficient supplies were found to prevent great suffering among those in the interior dry strip.


One of the remarkable features was the cheerful spirit with which flood victims viewed their plight. This was Dayton's first big flood in many years. Much of the submerged area had been considered safe, but as the majority of residents of these sections looked out on all sides upon a great sweep of muddy, swiftly moving water, they seemed undisturbed.

In some of the poorer sections the attitude of the marooned was not so cheerful. As a motor boat passed beneath the second floor at one partly submerged house, a man leaned out and threatened to shoot the boat's occupants unless they rescued his wife and a baby that had been born the day before. The woman, almost dying, was let from the window by a rope and taken to a place of refuge.

Further on, members of a motor boat party were startled by shots in the second floor of a house, about which five feet of water swirled. The boat was stopped and a man peered from a window.

"Why are you shooting?" he was asked.

"Oh, just amusing myself, shooting at rats that come upstairs. When are you going to take me out of here?" he replied.

Three babies were born in one church during the afternoon. One was born in a boat while its mother was being conveyed to safety. Such scenes were common.


At the rescue stations the scenes enacted were heartrending and the most pitiful were witnessed at the temporary morgues. At the West Dayton morgue frantic crowds all day and night watched every body brought in, hoping against hope it was not that of some loved one.

Women became hysterical at times when searching for missing members of their families whom they had failed to find at the relief stations.

With the coming of nightfall Thursday the efforts to rescue more persons were slackened, and all of Dayton not in the central flood districts waited in dread for the nightly fires which had added horrors to the already terrible situation.

The flood situation at night appeared brighter than in the morning. The water had fallen from three to five feet, the currents of the river and creek had slackened, and there was food enough left for the town's breakfast and dinner.

As Galveston and San Francisco pulled themselves together after calamity so Dayton began pulling itself together on Friday of the week of the flood. Emerging from the waters and privation, citizens began co-operating with those who rushed to the rescue from outside. Considerable progress was made toward the restoration of order and in giving relief to those in the worst distress.

Much cheer was taken from the fact that so far as loss of life was concerned it was not so great as had been feared, though no exact estimates were yet calculable.

Financially the citizens had a great burden to bear. Investigators on Friday put the figures of the losses at double that of the previous day, making it $50,000,000.


The down-town district was practically free of water. Fire engines pumped out the basement of the Algonquin Hotel, that the Algonquin's artesian well supply might be pumped into the empty city water mains for fire protection.

Water was still from ten to fifteen feet deep in certain districts of the west side. A mile of residences on Linwood Avenue had been swept clear and nothing remained to indicate that the street had existed.


In a tour of the business sections it was found that the high stage of the flood had been nine feet at Third and Main Streets, the heart of the city.

The tower of Steele High School was levelled and the Leonard Building on Main Street was undermined so that it collapsed. Other buildings stood up.

The following buildings were found to have withstood the flood, furnishing shelter to about 7,000 people who were marooned in them since Tuesday: Conover Building, Kuhns Building, The Arcade, two Cappel Buildings, Callahan Bank Building, Schwind Building, Commercial Building, Mendenhall Building, Rike Kumler Building, Reibold Building, Elder & Johnson's building and United Brethren Publishing Company's building.


None of the public buildings was destroyed. Among these buildings were the Dayton Club, Victoria, National and Colonial theatres, city hall, court house, Beckel, Phillips, Algonquin and Atlas hotels, Masonic temple, post office, Y. M. C. A. and various churches.

The Log Cabin, 115 years old, the first house built in Dayton, still stood, although it is on the south bank of the Miami, right in the path of the flood.

The electric light and gas plants were safe from the high water. The city's water comes from a reservoir high above the river.

In Dayton less than one hundred bodies had been recovered by Friday night, though thousands were missing. The fire was out, however, and the flood had so receded that relief boats were able to get to practically all parts of the city.


Every house in the flooded district was practically ruined. Streets were so clogged with wreckage that it was almost impossible to get through them.

"Strange to say, there was not much suffering in our particular neighborhood," declared George Armstrong, who had been marooned in the Capell furniture store building. "There was one woman with a three-weeks-old baby. We took excellent care of her. And did we pray? There never were such prayers in church. We had a case of whiskey and offered to send it off to persons who seemed exhausted. They refused to take it, although ordinarily they are not teetotallers."


Members of the United States life-saving crew of Louisville navigated sections of flooded Dayton heretofore unexplored, reporting conditions in North Dayton and Riverdale quite as deplorable as the first estimates concerning suffering were concerned.

Cruising the southern end of Riverdale, where it was feared there would be found a big death list, Captain Gillooly, in charge of the crew from the United States life saving station at Louisville, Ky., reported conditions paralleling those in other sections of the stricken city, but only two bodies were reported as having been recovered. The flooded territory in Riverdale, which is a section of substantial home owners, was approximately seventeen blocks long and seven blocks wide.

After having descended the Miami River, Captain Gillooly reported that in the south central section of Dayton, where the flood flowed wildest on Tuesday night and Wednesday, thousands of persons still were imprisoned in upper floors of their homes. He stated that from numerous inquiries among people whose residences had been inundated it appeared the life loss would not be nearly so large as it was placed by first reports.

This section still was flooded, although the water rapidly was receding, and while a few corpses eddied out from the flood's edge, yet in the center of the area it was stated that only two bodies had been seen.


Captain Gillooly and his men distributed food and quantities of drinking water to a large number of the flood's prisoners. Arrangements also were made to provide the needy ones with the necessary supplies from time to time until the flood waters receded.

At many different points along the route stops were made and the crew detoured away from the rivers. It was found that many of these detours could be made afoot, the water having rapidly fallen since the night. At no place was the water behind the levees deeper than four feet.

The Louisville men took relief to several hundred families in the low district in the vicinity of Ludlow and Franklin Streets. Here the water had reached the roofs of all two-story buildings. Only a few of the most desperate cases were brought out, the first move being to leave bread and water in as many places as possible.

Sixty Catholic sisters at the Academy of the Sisters of Notre Dame and eighteen persons for whom they had provided refuge were found to have been without food or water since Tuesday. There were several cases of illness, and the suffering had been intense. The life savers left bread and water and planned to take further help.

Meanwhile Capt. H. A. Hansen and the crew from Cleveland were operating several boats in North Dayton. There many of the poorer class live, and few of the buildings were substantial. Dozens of them were swept away, upturned and shattered.

Mayor Phillips was still marooned in his house, and G. B. Smith, president of the Chamber of Commerce, continued in active aid of relief operations.

The Fourth National Bank Building, which was reported several times to have been destroyed by fire, was found untouched by the flames, although a building immediately adjoining was burned. The newspaper offices, the News and Herald and Journal buildings, were safe, but none was issuing papers.

The Cleveland battalion of engineers were the first of a horde of troops which began to pour into Dayton in the morning. They were immediately put at work distilling the water. The fifteen men of the Dayton Ohio National Guard companies, who had been on duty since midnight Tuesday, frankly had been unable to cope with the situation. The police force was also depleted by the fact that many of its members had been marooned by high water. The looter had been in high glee.


Strict martial law was put into force. With headquarters at Bamberger Park, Col. Zimmerman of the Fifth Ohio Regiment organized the forces of protection, and by noon every accessible section was under strict guard. Frequent fights and skirmishes were held with the pillagers, who sought to steal under the cover of darkness. Orders to shoot to kill looters on the third shot were issued to the militiamen. The pillaging of abandoned homes and stores and the slugging and robbing of men and women in the streets after nightfall had reached a desperate stage when the troops arrived, and drastic orders were necessary.

"Shoot at the legs first, and then shoot to kill," was the way the soldiers were instructed to act.

Colonel Zimmerman listened to thousands who sought passes to go through the flood area to reach marooned friends and kinsmen. Only a few were allowed to go, and these were compelled to prove special causes. To those who asserted they had starving friends, Colonel Zimmerman rejoined that provisions and medicines constantly were going into the inundated district.

"Be satisfied you're not dead yet," was the Colonel's disposition of many of the applicants.

All during the night and until dawn revolver and rifle shots had sounded. Most of the shooting was in the bottoms near the river, but about midnight there was a lively volley of shots, evidently an exchange of bullets, believed to have been between soldiers and pillagers.

A robbery was thwarted when the police arrested a man who was escaping from the city with a satchel containing $50,000 in diamonds and jewelry which he had stolen from downtown jewelry shops.

"Beware of thieves and burglars," said an official bulletin given wide circulation. "Don't leave your houses without protection. It was thieves who scared you about the reservoir and natural gas explosion. The natural gas has been turned off and there is no danger of explosions."


At three o'clock Friday morning it was unofficially announced that three pillagers had been shot to death in various parts of the city during the night.

Over in North Dayton, when the lowlands were inundated by the rush of the waters of the Mad River, the foreign population, which practically occupies that section, was driven to the upper floors and the housetops. With the extinguishing of the city's lights bedlam broke loose in various portions of North Dayton. Men in the frenzy of their trouble fell to desperate quarreling among themselves, and shots were heard at all hours of the day and night Wednesday and Thursday.

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