DISASTERS AND EVENTS
Alexander County Illinois Genealogy Trails
SMALLPOX EPIDEMIC, 1895
FLOOD IS COSTING MILLIONS-1912
MARCH 1913 FLOOD-CAIRO'S PART
Sun Newspaper, June 9, 1862
At Cairo, Illinois, on Thursday, there were three distant shocks of an earthquake. They were also felt at several points north as far as Urbana. No damage was done so far as ascertained.
Illinois 1st quarter Small Pox Stats for 1895
Illinois Smallpox Statistics--Springfield, Ill., April 27--Special Telegram--A tablulated smallpox statement has been made by Secretary Scott of the Illinois State Board of Health, showing that between ?___? and April 30 twenty-five places in the State have been infected. There were eighty-three cases of the disease with about twenty-five deaths. Cairo, Alexander County, reported 1 case. 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 Columbia, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Virginia. One 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.
--Date 04/28/1895, Inter Ocean newspaper; contributed by Teri Moncelle Colglazier.
FLOOD IS COSTING MILLIONS
Situation in Missouri, Illinois and Kentucky Worst on Record.
Source: Morning Oregonian, April 2, 1912
St. Louis, April 1--The floods in this section of the country, including Missouri, Illinois and Kentucky, are the worst on record. Property loss has run into the millions. Rain has been falling throughout the flood district for the past 12 hours and no relief is in sight.
The Mississippi has been stationary for 24 hours at 29.8 feet and a further rise is not expected for 24 hours.
The river at Cairo reached a stage of 53 feet tonight, which is eight-tenths of a foot higher than previous records. A stage of 54 feet is predicted before the flood subsides.
The Mississippi is pouring over the Iron Mountain tracks at Cache, Ill., and running across the country into Cache Creek and thence into the Ohio. The back water of Cache Creek has covered the Government road between the National Cemetery and Mounds, Ill., to a depth of three feet.
The water has extended to the outskirts of Mounds, and residents of that town are using skiffs to get to and from their homes.
The country about McClure, Ill., is inundated. Livestock is being driven to the hills and the people are leaving their homes.
MARCH 1913 FLOOD-CAIRO'S PART
Source: Excerpts from HORRORS OF TORNADO FLOOD AND FIRE, by Frederick E. Drinker, 1918, pg 156-160.
Transcribed by Anna Newell
Following closely the disastrous storms in the South, the first of a far worse series of death-dealing and destructive cyclones and floods occurred on Easter Sunday, March 23, when several tornadoes or cyclones with terrific force and speed swept over Nebraska and parts of Iowa, Indiana and Illinois. The city of Omaha (NE) was the worst sufferer.
Snowstorms and cold rains added to the sufferings of the homeless and to the difficulties of the rescue work at Omaha and other places west.
For Dayton (OH) and other thriving cities and towns of Ohio and Indiana an even worse fate was in store at the very moment that the nation was filled with sympathy for the victims of the tornado disasters. For several days rain and sleet had fallen in torrents over the entire Mississippi Valley, and with special heaviness over the States of Indiana, Ohio and Western Pennsylvania.
DESTROYING HOUSES FOR CITIES' SALVATION
The Ohio and Mississippi Levees
The wild rise of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers which for a time threatened to exceed anything ever known in the history of streams in this country made it necessary for the authorities to adopt extreme methods along the water at many points. At Shawneetown the levee was ordered cut and dynamite was used to form a breach, which relieved the pressure at Cairo, Ill., Evansville, Ind., and other river towns.
A survery of the condition along the rivers which was made with great difficulty on April 1, is basis for the following report showing the general situation:
The levee was ordered cut at Shawneetown near Cairo, to save life and property. Dynamite was used to make a breach, with the result that the pressure was considerably relieved.
The Big Four levee, which protected the "drainage district," and which was abandoned, went out to the north. Cairo proper was not affected, as the levee separating the city from the "drainage district" remained intact.
Long before the Big Four levee went out the water had climbed up over the railroad tracks, and the Executive Committee at Cairo, considering further preventive measures useless, abandoned that district to its fate. It was well wrecked last year, so far as dwellings were concerned, and dozens of these since have remained unoccupied. Several big commercial houses will unquestionably suffer great loss.
The Greenfield levee, on the Missouri side, a small affair, also went out.
The levee in front of Reelfoot Lake Slough, below Hickman, Ky., was reinforced with rock. The region was flooded last year. A break there it is said, would mean the flooding of about 14 counties. It would give great impetus to the already swift current of the Ohio River and probably would mean great destruction along the lower Mississippi levees.
Mayor G. B. Parsons, of Cairo, issued the following statement at the critical hours:
"Prospects are favorable to successfully take care of approaching floods at Cairo, now coming out of the Ohio River, which will greatly exceed the high waters of 1912, provided levees to the South hold. Citizens and soldiers are working to accomplish this end."
Flood conditions along the Ohio River levee were declared by the oldest citizens to be the most desperate in their time. The water rose at the rate of one foot a day, and stood only two feet and eight inches from the top of the concrete wall built at the levee. The rise was much faster than last year.
The city sent its women and children out on every train. Two baggage cars were filled with trunks on one train and enough remained to fill another.
The weather was beautiful. Business men acted as switchmen, loaded baggage, unloaded sand, clay and lumber, while clerks and other office employes handled shovels. Negroes were put to work with hand-pumps to keep the street clear of seepage water which came under the concrete walls. The water rose in places to a depth of six inches.
The situation in the city later became very precarious, as all railroad communication was cut off. First the Big Four Railroad went out of commission, then the Illinois Central and finally the Mobile and Ohio and the Iron Mountain were shut off. A food famine threatened as a result.
The inundation of the drainage district north of Cairo was complete. The flood waters rose to a level with those in the Ohio River, and were prevented from flooding into Mississippi only by the Mobile and Ohio levee. There were from 7000 to 9000 acres from 7 to 20 feet under water.
The greater number of industrial plants in the section were submerged up to second-story windows and many houses were completely under water.
One of the most thrilling of the stories of Cairo was told by Captain S. A. Martin, regimental quartermaster, and Captain H. A. Jamieson, of the Sixth Missouri National Guard.
They were rescued in a launch from a section of levee which broke away at Bird Point, Mo.
Thirty-six of their men, they said, were on the levee section, which is 200 yards long and ten feet wide, and floating down the Mississippi.
To Rescue the Missouri Soldiers
Commander McMunn, of the naval reserves, at once arranged for a steam launch, and started out to rescue the Missouri soldiers. A pilot, who understood the river course, was taken along to guide the reserves.
There is a swift current in the river and the safety of the men caused their commanding offiers much worry. The regiment was on military duty in the town, which has been threatened for several days on account of the high Ohio waters, and the race after the men in a launch furnished a thrilling adventure seldom equalled outside of fiction.
A large subway which was the only passageway from Cairo into the drainage district was blocked to save the city. The place was boarded up and dozens of carloads of sand bags placed to hold it secure. When the workmen abandoned the Big Four levee to its fate they were brought into the city and set to work on the river front.
Rev. M. H. Love, of the Methodist Church, who has had charge of relief work in former years, again was at the head of the Relief Committee. He had about 20 assistants and a temporary hospital, which was arranged on a large wharf boat in the river.
Cairo is situated on lowlands fork of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. Its safety depends absolutely on levees from all sides. There is no way by which people walking or on trains could escape except by gong back into the drainage district. Consequently, hope is always placed in boats in case of great trouble.
About one-half of the population left the city at the first alarm.
At a meeting between officials of Alexander County, the city of Cairo, and Colonel Daniel J. Moriarity, of the Seventh Regiment, I. N. G., it was decided to place the entire situation in charge of Colonel Moriarity. All negroes and others who refused to work were arrested.
To Help Reinforce the Levee.
As soon as authority was given the Colonel he detained squads of soldiers to go along the levees of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers as far as the drainage district and compel every one who is able to work and not already engaged to ehop reinforce the levee. Engineers were called into conference and asked for descriptions of the weak points that special attention might be given them.
The Seventh Regiment, I. N. G., which had headquarters in St. Mary's Park, moved its equipment to a large wharf boat on the Ohio. This placed all the quarters of troops on boats. Two additional companies, one from the Fourth Regiment and the other from the Fifth, were sent to Mounds, Ill., where it was said a ciritcal situation was developing. Nearly every home in the lowlands was deserted and wagonloads of furniture, trunks and household effects of every description were taken to the railroad stations.
The State troops were sent out in squards of five each accompanied by a policeman, to visit the rendezvous of men who were either unwilling to or refused to work.
One of the purposes of closing all places of business which do not handle goods needed for the comfort and necessities of the people, was to give opportunity to get out the strongest working force possible. Employes of closed concerns responded willingly for duty and reinforced to a great extent the work along the river front.