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Fremont Flood Humor

1883 Flood, Hayes Diary

(Excerpts from the diary of Rutherford B. Hayes)

February 4.--The last two days will be long remembered.
Yesterday for the destruction of trees; today for the greatest
flood ever known at Fremont. The rain Saturday morning early
began to freeze as it fell. The telegraph wires became so heavy
with ice that the poles were broken or pulled over, and the whole
telephone and telegraph system of this neighborhood broke down.
The small twigs were covered with ice until they were an inch
in diameter. All the weak-limbed trees suffered greatly. For
two or three hours the crash of falling limbs was almost con-
stant. Even a small limb falling with its ice and the ice on other
limbs which it broke would make a roaring noise. Lucy and
the family watched the scene with the greatest interest. Many
favorite trees were badly marred. Old trees of all sorts lost
large limbs. Soft maples, cottonwoods, and elms suffered par-
ticularly. Young white oaks and evergreens stood up best. The
losses that grieved us most are the injury to the large elm north-
east of the house; one half of the tall sassafras; the tall young
hickory in the orchard; the damage to three of the large old
oaks, [and] to the four street elms.

Sunday was given up to the flood and the rescue and relief
of the sufferers. No such flood was ever seen here before. The
water filled the valley from bluff to bluff. It ran two to four
feet the whole length of Water Street, and drove from their
homes perhaps one to three hundred families. Men in skiffs
were at work all day Sunday, rescuing people. One woman was
drowned -- others perhaps. The water reached on the pike
(State Street) to the west side of Arch Street, on Croghan
Street south side to the ---. On Birchard Avenue it ran in rear
of the Ball House and was within about two inches of the lower
side of the water table of the building. The anecdotes of es-
capes, losses, and experiences are without number and often very

Monday, February 5.--The river has not fallen a great deal
--perhaps a foot. The water still runs through Front Street
and is at the front steps of the bank on Croghan and Front,
covering the basement perhaps eight inches. A citizens' meeting
was called to provide aid for the sufferers. The mayor pre-
sided; Tyler, secretary. Tyler made a speech favoring applica-
tion to the Legislature for power to issue ten thousand dollars
bonds. [Isaac M.] Keeler, [editor of the Fremont Journal,]
opposed this; said the aid was wanted without delay, and the
citizens were ready to give it. The mayor called for my views.

I made a short speech for immediate voluntary contributions.
I ended by moving a committee (five) to report on the whole
subject. Carried. Haynes, Keeler, Osborn, ---, and myself
as chairman. I called the committee to meet at once in the room,
promising to report in a few minutes. We agreed to organize
with three committees -- finance, supplies, and distribution. I
was appointed chairman of the first, E. H. Underhill of second,
and George Engler of the third. All unanimously done, and
about one thousand dollars soon raised, I heading with one hun-
dred dollars.

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