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County History

In Old Allegany, Major Flood Hits

Transcribed by Crist Middaugh

Cuba Patriot, June 6, 1889

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IN Old Allegany

What the water did about the county.

Deaths and destruction of property.

“Grand Old Allegany County” is never behind the times. She always catches on to everything that is going. Immense damage was done to her crops by frost last Wednesday night in all sections, which was followed by still worse destruction by water on Friday and Saturday. The Devil himself seems to be out on a rampage and unless he sobers down to the no-license system he will make a panic-stricken community out of what is naturally a prosperous and happy one. The loss of life in the county is small in comparison to that ini many parts of Pennsylvania but the destruction of property along the Genesee River cannot be estimated. Houses have been rendered unfit for habitation, crops have been ruined, stock drowned, fences and barnes destroyed, costly iron bridges and wooded ones lost, and farming lands damaged beyond estimate.

Belfast

The heavy rains of Friday and Friday night made sad havoc with life and property on the Genesee river. At six o’clock Saturday morning the banks of the river were overflowed for miles, the water having raised nearly seventeen feet. So far as Belfast is concerned the damage in property is immense. The west half of the Transit bridge was taken away as well as nearly all of the smaller bridges in town. Where the bridges were left, the approaches were washed out making it impossible to cross in any direction. The river bridge at Belfast stood the current and was not injured, although it was fenced up for fear it might go. Large trees, logs, stumps, bloodwood of every description, and even horses were seen to pass. The flats on either side were covered and nearly all crops ruined although is some instances the wheat looks all right yet. The head gate and a portion of the race on the west side of the dam were torn away and quite a hole on the east side washed out, the dam stood firm. Large quantities of lumber and logs were carried away; the principle losers were being L.F. Hull, Willard Kelley and Henry Crawford. The water was nearly up t the first floor of the grist mill and rushed with great rapidity across the flats of M. E. Atherton opposite the mill, and will probably change the channel of the river across the flats of Taylor Atherton, M. Doherty and Ed Markham taking along wagons, plows, drags and everything else that happened to be left.

Andover

All the streams were swollen far above high-water marks, and fields and roads were over-flowed. No less than a dozen bridges were carried away, and newly planted crops are utterly ruined. The water continued to rise Saturday until 4 o’clock p.m., at the hour the two dams at the ponds above the village gave away and the water rushed madly down into the village. Nearly every street I the place was overflowed, and in many cases occupants of houses were driven to the upper floors for safety. Owens’ large tannery was flooded and ruined. Almost every rod of railroad track was covered, and much of it will have to be rebuilt. The track at some points was covered fifteen feet with earth. Much lumber, many small building and other property have been carried away.

Angelica

Great damage was done by the flood of Saturday. Many bridges in the town were carried away; the mill dam at Joncy's mills was was he out, houses along the creek were flooded, and cords of wood and miles of fence were carried down stream. Some houses situated on low land were nearly swept from their foundation, and the occupants barely escaped from the second story windows. Church bells were rung’ and everything was done to save property, but in the blackness of the night it was impossible to save much that lay in the course of the flood. People were awakened to step from their beds into water which covered the lower floors. Several thousand dollars damage has been done to individuals, and the town has suffered severe losses.

Belmont

Almost every bridge in this township, including four iron bridges, has been swept away. The damage in the town to property is estimated at from twenty-five to thirty-five thousand dollars. Saturday morning the west half of the iron bridge, that crosses the river at Hood & Bradley’s mill was carried away. William S. Allen and Chauncy S. Sterns, aged 65 and 75 years respectfully, were taken down with the bridge and drowned. The bodies have been recovered. About ten rods of the Erie track between Belmont and Belvidere was washed away. Fully three hundred cars of gravel will be necessary to repair the damage to the track.

Wellsville

Never in the experience of the oldest inhabitants has Wellsville been visited with such a flood. Both ends of the town were submerged, water in many cases standing nearly to the roofs of the houses. Farms along Dykes’ Creek and Genesee river were under three to ten feet of water. Small buildings, bridges, farming implements and live stock were seen going down the river all day Saturday. Edward Fitterer was drowned Saturday while trying to save his stock.

Canaseroga

The flood was the most destructive ever known here. A considerable portion of the village was inundated at 3 o’clock Saturday morning. The Main Street iron bridge was lifted and carried forty rods down stream. It is almost completely wrecked. An ordinary sized river ran down Main street. Stock was rescued with difficulty. Everywhere the damage is very great.

Friendship

The Dipstick says: A very heavy damage has been done to private property, to say nothing of town bridges. The chiefest of all of the sufferers is Mrs. Miller, wife of Prof. Miller, who for so many years was principal of the Friendship Academy. The fine brick house built by Mr. Miller during the last years of his life, was undermined by Moss Brook, and at 1:40 o’clock Saturday morning was complete wreck. All the household goods were greatly damaged, and most of them will be totally unfit for use. Mrs. Miller and daughter Grace, were at the time of the accident, visiting friends on East Hill.

W.N.Y. & P. Railroad

The Western, New York & Pennsylvania railroad suffered a heavy loss on all its lines. On this division the track was badly undermined at Houghton, Roseburg, Nunda Junction, Tuscarora and Cuylerville. At Nunda Junction the roadbed was washed out to a depth of thirty feet for a distance of about five rods. The longest and which is probably the heaviest loss is the break between Houghton and Fillmore where the roadbed was entirely washed out for a distance of about three-quarters of a mile. At Tuscarora’s train of 30 cars is on the main track which caused some delay in repairing that point, the track under the cars being so badly washed it was not thought safe to remove them. Four work trains with large forces of men were set a work early Saturday repairing the road. All trains are abandoned on the division and it is not expected operations will be resumed before Friday or Saturday. The Clermont branch which was recently built and which the Company intended to commence operating on the 1st. Inst., was also badly damaged, so that in many places it will have to be rebuilt, and it will be probably several weeks before it can be operated.

The Spectator of Monday gives as follows “what a trip form Belfast to Portage revealed:”

Oramel and Caneadea

The damage to farmers cannot be estimated. Royal Berry, who moved from Rushford recently, and now occupies A. C. Vosburg’s farm, got up his cows in the morning, but before they were turned out the water commenced to come into his yard and in an incredible short space of time, was running into the house and put out the fires. Men on the shore built a raft and poled out to Mr. Berry’s house and took him and his wife and Joe Gentner, his hired man, and started for the shore. When nearly to land the water was to deep to reach bottom with the poles, and they helplessly drifted with the current toward the middle of the river. Fortunately they brough a rope from the house and one of the party threw it toward shore and man jumped into the water and caught the rope and finally succeeded in anchoring the raft to a telegraph pole, but almost threw off Mrs. Berry who was sitting on a trunk partially submerged. It was a very narrow escape and Royal things of moving back on the hill.

The water was creeping into residences of John Shotwell and A. L. Vosburg, but they “held the fort” until the water began to subside. Travel except by railroad, was completely cut off between Caneadea and Oramel. Old settlers say the river at this point was three feet higher than ever before; it was at this height at about 10 o’clock.

People who lived near the river bank at Caneadea moved out their household goods and anxiously watched the fast rising water, but no building were carried away from this place. Many people from Rushford and that vicinity came her and witnessed a sight never to be forgotten. Standing on the hill above Caneadea, the broad, beautiful valley of the Genesee - above and below - stretched out as a vast lake dotter here and there with clumps of green trees and buildings. It was a beautiful panorama, but thoughts of the irreparable loss of crops, bridges, railroads, highways, etc., made it sad.

A.J. Burr was interviewed. He was very despondent and said he would like to give $1,000 to have his farm in the shape it was on Friday night. Fences all gone, crops inundated, shade trees torn up by the roots, and his land covered with a sediment that will make it of no use this year, but may be a benefit hereafter. Mr. Burr is only one of the many farmer all along the river who have suffered in this calamity. Mr. Burr said the water rose six feet in two and one-half hours.

Houghton

About a mile below Houghton was found the greatest devastation of this locality. At 10 o’clock a vast lake over a mile square covered the valley from hill to hill and extended from Chas. Leet’s to Delos Benjamin’s; scarcely an acre of several large farms was visible, but as the water went down, the people all tried to hide their discouragement, and felt thankful that no one had found a watery grave, and the climax of the tide was reached before their homes were swept away.

Uriah Leet and family left their houses as the water approached but too hurriedly to take their stock. The water as all around the barn floor, where were six cows. It was feared they were drowned, but about five o’clock, George and Fred Benjamin, Hugh Nisdell and Henry Leet, who deserve special mention to their unfortunate neighbors, went to the barn in a boat, and found the cattle all right.

As the water rose, Milo Thayer and wife took their pictures and light furniture upstairs, piled the heavy articles on the tables and awaited developments. He had eight cows in the pasture and they were seen swimming around in the water.

Fillmore

The first rumors of devastation by the high water seemed exaggerated, but proved true in all cases. Five creek bridges in the town of Hume are known to have been taken off, and the amount of lesser damage to roads is immense. It is the estimate of town officials that at least $10,000 will be required to repair the damage done in the township. On

Rush Creek

Which empties into the Genesee river opposite Fillmore, were seven bridges within a distance of six miles, one of them the beautiful iron bridge at Botsford’s all of which were swept away. At Wilcox’s mill, near Short Tract, the creek swept away a large amount of lumber that was piled in the mill yard. The “oldest inhabitant” does not remember of ever seeing the

Genesee River

So high as it was at Fillmore at 10 A.M., Saturday. It came within a foot of the iron bridge, and flowed over the “island” farm of Jas. C. Smith, even coming into the barnyard, and landing stumps and logs into his cornfield. At the east end of the bridge, a gorge was cut through the road thirty feet wide and fifteen feet deep. The iron bridge at Rossburg was nearly submerged, but still stands on its piers.

Portage

Several (places) on the highway were washed out and water covered the road in many places. It was reported that Geo. Letson, who resides on the Fort Hill farm had several horses drowned. A fellow that lived in that vicinity was asked if the horses were rescued. “Oh, yes,” he said, “we rescued them.” “How?” “Oh,” said the fellow, “we let them stay where they were until the water went down.” The horses were in about four feet of water nearly all day. The grandest spectacle of the flood in the Genesee valley was probably witnessed in Portage. Here the great volume of water had to plunge, through a narrow gorge and the romantic scenery of this favorite resort was greatly enhanced. The Presbyterian church at Portage was surrounded by water, which flowed down the streets. The flats above were all inundated.

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County Flood Notes

Wellsville, Friendship and Belmont were without gas for two days.

In fact, every farm from Belmont to Portage is more or less damaged.

Every bridge on the river from Belmont to Caneadea, except the Belfast bridge is impassable.

Maj. Richard Church of Belvidere, lost thirty head of cattle Saturday, fifteen head being recovered latter.

Engineer Howard of the Cuba pusher, says there was a cow tied to a chimney on top of a house at Carrolton, Monday.

Between Cuba and Cuylerville the W. N. Y. & P. R. R. Has suffered heavily from wash-outs, the largest being at Rossburg (Wiscoy.) Altogether there are several miles of track gone.

On Saturday morning a man, wagon and team were seen going over the falls at Portage. In the afternoon a woman in a carriage with horse attached, went over the same falls.

Reports from Caneadea say that on Saturday a man with his wife and child left that place with a team for Belmont, but nothing has been heard from them since. Men who were on the Caneadea bridge across the Genesee, say that a team and a wagon floated under the bridge Saturday, and it is thought to be the same the family left in that morning. Later. - The team was rescued.

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