John Bush writes to his son, Chuck, about his experiences during the 1913 flood
Friday 6 A.M.
Just a line to say all are safe. We have passed through Hell. The water came up in the kitchen Tuesday morning as we were finishing breakfast, I should say about 8 a.m., and I should judge about 10 a.m. it was about 6” below our bedroom. I managed to find a rope and Roy fastened it to Grabernick’s porch. Mother took the roof first – Jessie—Baby—Johnnie—myself and then Roy. The water rose steadily till 9 p.m. and I went up on the rafters and laid the shutters for the women folk, so as to be out of the water, got them up there, and there they stayed without food, light or heat till Wednesday morning. The water was then down about 4 feet. We were nearly frozen, and all our clothes were in the other house. Wednesday night we stayed on second floor but it was freezing hard and Thursday we decided to leave, but it was not necessary for us to decide, and we were forced to by Authority.
The women were moved first and taken to Simmer Hall, where dry clothes were distributed, also hot coffee, when all of a sudden the Militia ordered to go to the Hills, as there was another flood coming, so to the hills we went, till Patterson’s sent men around by auto and horseback and notified the people that if the other reservoir should break, it would not raise the flood over 1 foot. We stopped at a friend’s who fed us and gave us hot coffee, the first from Monday A.M. and I can tell you it tasted good. I then started for the N.C. R. and I seen Patterson’s School house, and on it a sign “Emergency No. 1. Free Food. Come in and ask for it.” And I did not need another invitation, but went right back and got the folks. We have plenty to eat and a warm place to stay. We know so many here. Dr. Smith and his family, and I could not mention them all, but it seems like a family re-union, and we are happy to be among the saved ones, as they were shooting one another in our hearing near us when they seen there was no avenue of escape.
The barn next door to us went down the stream 9 p.m. Tuesday taking the big tree that I figured on saving our lives, by climbing up into the branches.
I could not get a stamp yesterday to write, so left a card in care of N.C.R.
The town is under martial law, and I was stopped this A.M. and made [to] turn back. You cannot go in your own house till you get a permit. The crooks are crowding in from all quarters, the shooting is lively, four were shot behind us yesterday for stealing. A man on horseback stopped me and wanted to know if I would lend him a revolver, as he wanted to drop a thief. You can imagine standing in a room looking out of the window with flames sky high, and the water just ½” from your feet and about 18 feet deep, it looked like take your choice, burn or sink. Paterson of the N.C. R. is the Hero of the Day, they have made thousands of boats and he was the first man to get into one and he has organized a system of relief that is simply perfect.
Send this letter to Aunt Bessie as stamps are unavailable at this time. Little Johnnie, you would think, was at a country fair, and is racing around with the other children as contented as can be. It is good he was too young to recognize danger.
Address any Mail to the National Cash Register. We will stay where we are for a day or two, Patterson School, Wyoming St. This A.M. is fine but cold, but yesterday was a blizzard. Mother has braved all of the dangers with true heroism and has been the first to leave the house and get in to the boat, etc. I had my own time getting her through the scuttle on to the rafters, but she got there just the same.
The newspaper offices are all under water. Food is coming into the city from all sides, also clothing.
One man lost 75 houses, and our landlord is badly up against it.
We must say we are still fortunate, and it is one other episode to be added to the list of the Bush Family, let’s hope it will be our last experience of this order.
Your affectionate Parent.