INERVIEW DATE: February 2, 1976



Interviewed by: Lois S. Davies

Transcribed May 13-14, 2013 by: Mike Robinson

Transcriber’s note: During the 1970’s, The Troy Historical Society recognized that among Troy’s citizenry were survivors of the horrific 1913 Flood. These individuals had keen memories of that event, old enough in 1913 to have remembered it in detail. Early Historical Society trustee Lois Shilling Davies took it upon herself as a project to seek these people out and tape-record their remembrances in interview format. We are grateful to her for this important work and the technical quality of the recordings. The complete series of these recordings is available for listening at The Local History Library by pre-arrangement with the archivists or The Troy Historical Society.

Alma Coble Powe was a well-known Troy realtor during the middle decades of the twentieth century. Here she recalls her personal experiences during the great flood. Alma was a warm and kind human being, a close personal family friend of this transcriber.

In 1913, I lived at 933 Jefferson Street with my mother, father and brother- that was in the Northwest part of town. Jefferson Street was the last street north, going east and west- close to where Madison Avenue is today. At the time of the flood, that area was a great big dump. There were sidewalks, curb and gutter; the house was elevated- we had a cement wall in front with and quite a few steps leading up into our yard. We had a cellar- no cement floor- we kept our coal in there, apples and potatoes; my father used to make Sauerkraut which was kept there also. Four rooms downstairs with two rooms upstairs. Ours was the only two-story house on the block. We heated with a big stove in our living room and a “laundry”stove in the kitchen- we used it for heat and also cooking. No inside plumbing, we didn’t even have water inside. We went out and had a well and pump, woodshed. We had a big yard and chicken house- we kept chickens. We didn’t have a horse.

This happened right after Easter Sunday in March; I went to Sunrise service at the Lutheran Church with Rhea Minser Gross; Reverend Paulus was the minister. After church, I went home with Rhea and stayed all day with her. That night it was still raining then rained all day Monday. We went to bed and in the middle of the night, Mother called me to get up- she said it was still raining and water was rushing by in front of the house. We got up, looked out, and it was just like a river coming from the northeast and got into Jefferson Street- it was deep with a strong current. Branches of trees, roofs of houses floated by- we got very concerned. At daylight, the water kept coming up and coming up and there was a little cottage next door to us; Tommy Ryan and his wife lived there and had three children. The water got into their house and the father took the children on his back and carried them over to our house. Three men, working in a nearby barn, also came over.

By that evening we had twenty-nine people staying in our house. Many of the men in the group helped us move our furniture and a piano out of water’s reach- the men slept in the chairs with water all around and the women upstairs. Our carpets were ruined but outside of that, we didn’t have too much damage. Fortunately we had a telephone and somebody took it upstairs and put a long wire on it so we could talk to the city building and report on the conditions we were in. Our cooking stove had high legs and thus out of the water, but we were slopping around in mud. We got breakfast for the folks the next morning but we did not have a lot of food to take care of twenty-nine people. The Red Cross sent food to us; they had a lot of volunteers with boats so we fed these people dinner for the second night; by that time the water had gone down enough that they could get away. We were so thankful the water was starting to go down that we didn’t care about a few inconveniences. The Board of Health told us to boil the water from the wells and our houses were all fumigated because there were all of those germs- even if the water hadn’t gotten into your house, if it was in the basement; we did take a lot of precautions.

My uncle owned a little one-story rental house on Garfield Avenue- the water kept getting higher and higher and the people climbed out of the windows, onto the roof, and either the man or the woman fell off the roof and was drowned. I felt so badly about it and it affected me because my uncle owned the house.

Every time we would have high water or a lot of rain, there was a little settlement north and east of the Market Street bridge called Nineveh. They would have to go over there with rowboats and get people out of Nineveh; I can remember as a child when we would have terrific rains, people would say, “Oh dear, what about the people in Nineveh”.

Return to Oral History Listing

Return to Main Page

Copyright © 2012 by The Troy Historical Society
All Rights Reserved.