1828 CAR OF COMMERCE STEAMBOAT DISASTER
The Wheeling Gazette of the 24th ult, contains the annexed paragraph: Steam Boat Disaster – At the Canadian Reach, about six hundred miles below Louisville , sometime last week, the boiler of the steamboat Car of Commerce bursted and fifty-seven persons were killed and wounded. [Republican Compiler, Gettysburg , PA , June 4, 1828; transcribed by Nancy Piper.]
Considerable anxiety exists in this city relative to persons injured by the accident on board the steam boat “Car-of-Commerce,” on the Mississippi . As yet we have not learned the names of the sufferers. We are indebted to a mercantile house, in this city, for the following extract dated,
Cincinnati, May 20
It is with painful feelings I have to advise you of the most distressing accident that has ever occurred in the annals of western steam boating. About 13th inst. the “Car of Commerce,” on her way from New Orleans to Louisville , burst her boilers, in putting out from a wood yard near the new Cut of (140 miles from the mouth of the Ohio , on the Mississippi .) The explosion was tremendous and produced the most awful effect. Out of 70 deck passengers, but 3 or 4 escaped injuries and only the captain and clerk, out of the whole of the crew were saved. But one cabin passenger was scalded – the rest 6 in number, escaped unhurt. 18 men were buried at once; 15 missing entirely and about half the number remaining could not survive being scaled and mangled in the most shocking manner. The boat remains ashore, a complete wreck. The La Grange arrived here yesterday with some of the sufferers on board. The Car of Commerce was owned at Louisville and is said to be an inferior boat, an engine patched up from old machinery and an old set of boilers – about fourth rate in size and appearance.
The Cincinnati Gazette give the following list of the names of persons who have died from the effects of the explosion on board the steam boat Car of Commerce.
“N. Green, engineer, James Platt, do; Charles Ivers, do; Asa Warren, steward; cabin boy; Peter (black) cooks mate; one fireman. Passengers – David Saunders, Isaac Smith, D. C. Smith, __ Smith, A. Jessup, J. Jessap, John Collins, James A. Picker, William Harris, W. Bradley, __ Huntsman, __ Coleman, __ Edmunds, John Bartlett.” [Republican Compiler, Gettysburg , PA , June 11 1828; tr. by N.Piper]
1895 SMALLPOX STATS
During the past quarter smallpox has been reported to the Illinois Board of Health as existing in 105 infected centers and 25 other States and at 5 points in Canada, as follows: Alabama, District of Colmubia, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Virginia. 1 city each: Arkansas, 7; Connecticut, 4; Indiana, 11; Kentucky, 9; Louisiana, 2; Michigan, ?__?; Missouri, 5; New Jersey, 2; New York, 4; Ohio, 6; Pennsylvania, 6; Texas, 5; West Virginia, 2; Wisconsin, 16. Of these States Wisconsin had the most, with 16 cities infested. -- [Source: The Inter Ocean newspaper, April 28, 1895; contributed by Teri Colglazer]
1927 MISSISSIPPI RIVER FLOOD
Last week residents of Memphis, Tenn., saw somebody's house bobbing down the Mississippi, headed toward the Gulf of Mexico. Soon other houses followed, plus bodies of drowned cattle, plus debris of every description. For the Mississippi, rain-swollen, high-rising, was flood from Cairo, Ill., to the Gulf of Mexico. Many a levee "went out," thousands of lowland acres turned into lakes, 24,000 refugees appealed to the Red Cross for aid, eleven lives were lost. Devastated areas. Southern Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri and Arkansas were the worst flood sufferers. In the streets of Judsonia, Ark., water reached a depth of four feet; one estimate placed 2,000,000 Arkansas acres under water.
Crawling southward at the rate of a mile an hour, the crest of the Mississippi flood last week spread through Arkansas and Louisiana the desolation that last fortnight it had brought to Kentucky and Tennessee. Some 600 feet of levee at South Bend, Ark., crumbled, water rushed through toward 30 towns in southeastern Arkansas driving 50,000 refugees before it. The Red Cross quickly collected a $5,000,000 relief fund, began a drive for $5,000,000 more. Pestilence and curtailed water supply threatened crowded refugee camps. Governor John E. Martineau of Arkansas asked the Red Cross for enough smallpox and typhoid vaccine to inoculate 25,000 persons. Senator Joseph T. Robinson of Arkansas suggested a special session of Congress to provide funds for relief work; President Coolidge decided that the emergency would be over before Congress could assemble and make appropriations. Senator Pat Harrison of Mississippi invited the President to visit the flooded area. The President declined, listening instead to a report by Secretary Hoover, who returned to Washington. From New Orleans came reports that business was as usual, that the danger to the city had been exaggerated by a Nationwide, sensation-seeking press. Newspapers were accused of having published pictures of New Orleans streets, flooded by rain, of labeling these pictures as "Mississippi flood scenes." Nevertheless, citizens of New Orleans waited tensely as the flood crest, slow as a snail but powerful as the sea, moved closer to their city. Fishermen came in from the Gulf of Mexico with news that the Gulf Stream had been darkened by the Continent's prodigious discharge of silt; that great fishes were schooling seaward to escape suffocation.
With the Mississippi River steadily falling, with New Orleans generally considered safe from disaster, it last week became possible to estimate with some degree of accuracy the extent of what Flood Relief Director Herbert C. Hoover has called the "greatest peacetime calamity" in U.S. history.
Loss of Life.
According to official Red Cross figures, 114 lives have been lost in the flood. Deaths by states: Arkansas, 59; Mississippi, 42; Louisiana, 9; Tennessee, 2; Illinois, 2. This list includes only positively verified deaths. Unofficial figures have put the death total at from 350 to 500. Arkansas and Mississippi were not flooded so extensively as Louisiana, but were stricken before organized relief work could get under way.
Red Cross relief has been given to some 560,000: 166,781 victims in Arkansas.
In the Desha Bank & Trust Co. building at Arkansas City, Ark., stands a clock, the hands of which point to twelve minutes past two. They have been recording that moment for some eight weeks, ever since the Mississippi flood hit the town and stopped the clock. They may continue to register 2:12 for weeks, perhaps months, to come. For most of Arkansas City is still under water and in Arkansas City, as in thousands of other towns, villages and plantations in the flood district, the aftermath of the catastrophe threatens to cause more loss, more suffering than the catastrophe itself. So, last week, reported L. C. Speers, staff correspondent for the New York Times. Mr. Speers has been traveling through the flooded region, reporting to his newspaper conditions as he has observed them. His has been a story of destitute thousands forming shamefaced breadlines; of stagnant waters, breeding places of countless mosquitoes; of a lost cotton crop and a lost corn crop; of the collapse of the credit system hastily thrown together to relieve the stricken area. Mr. Speers writes as no sensation monger and the Times, though Democratic in policy, has never been an extremist organ, has even opposed the calling of a special flood session of Congress. Yet Mr. Speers has pictured widespread desolation made even more gloomy by the thought of what may happen when the summer is over, and autumn and winter come down upon a country where so many houses have no roofs and so few have any doors or windows left to keep out the wind & rain.
Even Secretary of Commerce Herbert C. Hoover, whose position as a representative of the Administration does not encourage anything in the nature of exaggerated damage estimates, reported last week that more than 1,300,000 acres cannot produce a crop this summer; that in 20 counties of "drowned land" the Red Cross would have to feed and clothe the refugees for many months to come. Mr. Hoover is expected to visit President Coolidge at Custer Park in the latter part of July and at that time will presumably bring conditions to the President's attention.
Cotton and corn are the principal crops in the flood district. In normal times the cotton would now be waist-high this year, even in regions where planting has been possible, it is only a few inches out of the ground. Corn should be from five to six feet high even where it has been planted it is only a foot or less out of the ground. Only an abnormally long summer can save even a fraction of these two main crops. Farmers have been experimenting with soy beans, sweet potatoes, cabbages, crops as strange to them "as Broadway to an Eskimo." It is a land where cotton is king, and the king is dead. [Source: Excerpts from several articles which appeared in the TIME Magazine between April and July 1927.]
1934 GNAT PLAGUE
Great black clouds of insects hummed softly over eastern Arkansas last week. Above waiting fields the sun rose higher each day but on many a farm spring planting had stopped dead. Some farmers tied smudge-fire buckets to their plows, tried to go ahead. Others gave up, herded their livestock into barns, circled them with smudges. Still others, too late, found their horses and mules choked, sucked, poisoned. By the week's end nearly 1,000 horses & mules lay dead in their tracks, and desperate farmers were crying to Red Cross and Government for relief.
The deadly clouds were buffalo gnats (simuliidae) so called not because they attack buffaloes but because they have humps on their backs. Broad winged, black or brown bodied, they are less than half the size of a house fly. Commonest in the Mississippi Valley, they are closely related to the black flies which pester humans farther north. Buffalo gnats breed in swift-flowing streams, attaching their wormlike larvae to the downstream side of a large rock or log. After a month or six weeks the larvae spin cocoons, soon emerge full-grown. The first spell of warm weather sends them swarming to fields and barnyards.
Ordinarily the gnats kill only horses & mules, but last week they were reported to be destroying cattle, hogs and poultry as well. Larger animals got throats and lungs clogged with them. Some think they poison their victims, others that the chief damage is loss of blood. Arkansas veterinarians and entomologists were researching frantically last week, but expected the gnats to be gone before they could learn much. Meantime they advised farmers to smear their stock with rancid lard and kerosene, with cottonseed oil and pine tar, or with a mixture of soap, water, petroleum and powdered naphthalin. But what the farmers really hoped for were a few good hot days, which drop gnats dead as quickly as they come. [TIME Magazine, Monday, May 7, 1934]
©Genealogy Trails History Group