INTERVIEW DATE: July 15, 1975


Interviewed by: Lois S. Davies

Transcribed August 21, 2013 by: Mike Robinson

Transcriber’s note: This will be the final in a series of interviews we have published concerning the horrific 1913 Flood in Troy. 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.

At the time of the 1913 Flood, I was thirteen years old; there were four of us- I was second from the oldest, then my brother and younger sister. We lived in a one-story house- no basement, and we heated the place with coal and wood in stoves, plus a wood-burning cooking stove. No telephone, no electricity. For water, we had a well outside with pump, and outside plumbing. Our house was never in the water.

My father worked at Bentwood, I think- making buggy shafts- a local factory where St. Regis is now. We lived on the Dye Mill Road South of Troy, about two blocks from Route 25-A, west of the railroad. In those days, of course, it was just called the Dixie Highway; not paved- just a gravel road. I went to school in District number one of Concord Township; it has since been converted into a house on Swailes Road. My sister and I built the fires and swept the building out in the morning; we went earlier than the others did.

The morning of the flood, Monday the 24th, my mother called out, “you can’t go to school, that field’s full of water.” The water had come suddenly during the night; there was no way into town except by the railroad tracks. At an earlier time, my dad had found an old flatboat, which came down the canal, floating all by itself. It had lodged in the locks; he put it on his back, brought it home, and threw it on the woodpile. Mother said, “what are you going to do with that?’ Dad replied “that will make good kindling when it dries out.” He brought six people out with that old flatboat from across the field: the Francis family, Herm Curtis and his family, his cousin Hoover Curtis and their family came down to our house on higher ground- they didn’t stay with us but went to friends and neighbors on the higher ground.

Dad went into town and worked with the boats in town- he and Luke Renning took an old man- Eugene Tillman off the wreckage on top of a house that came down and lodged right at the corner of the Dixie where it turns (Transcriber’s note: where Union Street intersects with Route 25-A). I don’t know where the house came from; it was only the top of a house and he was flailing around out there and the family saw him. My sister came and told me; I had gone to bed with a headache- she said ”there are some men out there trying to get a man off of some wreckage” but she didn’t know it was our dad doing the rescue. He (Dad) was in a boat and the oarlock broke and the boat just shot down the city sewer- the current was terrific there. He had to crawl down in the bottom of that boat and work the oarlock back and row back against the current. He finally got the old man in the boat and took him up to Mine Hirchs’s house- it’s still down there- a great big house setting on the hill, north of our house. They brought him in there, got him warmed up and full of whiskey, then he wanted to go out and rescue the people (laughter). Dad found an elderly lady out on West Market Street, a Mrs. Pearson, in her home. They laid her on the ironing board, took her valuables up to the city building; she was listed in the health records as an accidental drowning.

They were tied up there on Underwood’s porch on West Market at Grant, where the street turns, with a broken boat and from there they rigged up pulleys and they fed the people in Simon Weinberger’s house- Jakie’s house- they were in the attic, a lot of people up there.

My Uncle John Sharits was in this boat too (Transcriber’s note: Later Troy Police Chief during the 1920s) and his family didn’t see him for a week. Uncle John lived on South Union at that time and helped run the boats; he worked with Dad at Bentwood and did as much rescue work as Dad. They fed the people who were in attics and later as the water receded they took them out and to the ridge where people took them in. I remember one night Dad didn’t come home and the family started up the track to see where he was and he came home. We were worried about him; it was pitch dark, there were no lights anywhere, there weren’t any on that old railroad track, I know. We came into Troy later on when you could walk on the road- they let us come in just a short while to see what the waters had done; because of the Typhoid epidemic we weren’t allowed to get out or stay in town- I guess it was in the drinking water and everything.

At the time of the dynamiting of the Big Four railroad elevated track bed, Van Tyle was in his house; when the concussion came, it shattered his home, turned it over; I remember seeing it lying on its side. He was drowned- he was in the house at the time and wouldn’t leave. There was a boat with six people in it- a Smock family, Mr. And Mrs. Smock and the baby, Eugene Tilden (I think), Wilbur Curtis and Will Quick, who had latched onto a tree and sat there for a night or two; they upset and they found the Smuck family later, all gone. Wilbur Curtis struck land and walked out- my father went over in the boat and brought him over to our house and (inaudible) drove the grocery wagon down the railroad track and took him back to Troy. Mrs. Smock was found down below our house.

The National Guard was in Russia at that time, being marched to Dayton over the railroad and there were places where the tracks were just swinging- it was all washed out underneath and they had to find ways to get down that railroad track. Dayton was under Martial Law- a lot of looting down there. All trains were stopped- nothing could get through; I don’t remember how long it took to fix the track.

The next morning (Wednesday) it snowed and it was very cold. There was a report the reservoir up north had broken and we would all be drowned by morning- my sister and I decided we’d go up and stay on the bridge; my mother said “you’ll go to bed, just like you always do (laughter).

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