Lawrenceburg, IN Flood, Feb 1832
1832.—Passing over the high waters of more than forty years we come to the first great flood of which a correct record exists, that of February, 1832. On the 1st of February, the ground was covered with snow, but the weather was warm and pleasant. The snow melted rapidly until the 6th when the rain set in. On the 8th and 9th it rained continuously; on the 10th the rising of the waters in the Ohio began to attract attention at Cincinnati and Lawrenceburgh; on the 14th many merchants at Cincinnati were compelled to remove their goods to the second story of their houses; the river continued to rise rapidly until Saturday morning, February 18, when it came to a stand.
The flood was of a most distressing character; the Ohio did more damage by overflowing its banks than had ever before been done since the first settlement of the country. Nearly all the towns on the Ohio were inundated in whole or in part. Fences and movable property were swept from all the farms on the river bottom from Pittsburgh to Louisville. Houses, barns, grain and haystacks were seen floating down the river in great numbers. Hundreds of families were turned houseless upon the community. At Cincinnati the water covered between thirty and forty squares of the city which was then nearly all crowded into the bottoms.
The flood reached its highest point on the 18th; two days later it had declined two feet four inches; on the 24th the river was within its banks. The bottoms about Cincinnati and Lawrenceburgh may be said to have been inundated for about twelve days—six days while the flood was advancing and six days after the decline began. The Lawrenceburgh Palladium, published by David V. Culley, in its issue of March 3, 1832, said of this flood:
“The late great flood in the Ohio and its disastrous effects being subjects of painful interest to all, we have collected in our paper to-day statements from the different towns on the river. From Pittsburgh and as far down as we have been able to learn; the destruction of property has been great beyond a parallel in the West. The height of the water in this place, over the great flood of 1815, was five feet nine inches, and over that of 1825 about eight feet. High Street, the most elevated part of the town, was covered with from four to six feet of water its whole extent. On some of the cross streets the water was still higher, and the inhabitants were compelled to seek refuge in the buildings along High and Walnut Streets. All the two story buildings on these streets were filled to overflowing—some having three, four and five families in them.”
Although Lawrenceburgh suffered much from this flood, some of the statements concerning the condition of the town at the time of high waters were gross exaggerations. A Cincinnati newspaper stated that “the town of Lawrenceburgh is wholly inundated, so that there is scarcely a house to be seen but the spire of the church.” To this the Statesmen replied: “Now the truth of the matter is, the flood was perhaps about six or seven feet higher than it has ever been known; two small frame or log dwellings on the low ground were floated away, and some light, empty frames removed from their foundations, but no lives were lost and no very serious injury sustained, indeed not nearly so much as was expected while the flood was up and before it subsided. The whole of the old part of the town was inundated, but the principal part of the new town was not touched with the flood. * * *No white man can recollect when the water has been of sufficient height to overflow the principal street in our village, and except the small cupola on the court house there is not a spire, dome or sky-light on a church or any other building in the town.”
History of Dearborn and Ohio Counties, Indiana, 1885, Pages 193-194
…. all was prosperous until the year 1832, when the great floods of that year seemed to crush for a time its growth, and dampened the energy of its citizens. The flood occurred in February of that year, and rose to a greater height than any that had preceded it since the settlement of this town, or any that has occurred since that date. It was between two and three feet above the present level of High Street. It was quite disastrous, destroying a great deal of property, and carrying off a number of small frame and log-houses. The town presented a novel appearance for nearly two weeks; the entire business was carried on by the citizens floating around on rudely constructed rafts. There were no promenade concerts, and the old-fashioned quilting parties our early dames delighted in, were unavoidably postponed. Everybody was on a common level, and the cattle and hogs had rights that were respected, and after the waters had subsided, it was discovered that an old sow had taken posession of the pulpit of the Methodist Episcopal Church on Walnut street; and during the entire time remained secure in her devotions from the interference of the outside rabble.
History of Dearborn and Ohio Counties, Indiana, 1885, Pages 255-256