Lawrenceburg, IN Flood, Feb 1883

There are no tidings yet from Lawrenceburg, Ind., except that the town is at the mercy of the waters.... It will probably continue to rise here to-morrow. People at Lawrenceburg at the last report were virtually helpless, lacking food and unable to procure any. Telegraph and telephone lines are down and there are no means of communication. Arrangements have been made here to mount fire engines on flats in case of fire in the flooded districts.

Decatur Daily Republican, Decatur, IL 13 Feb 1883


From Lawrenceburg, Ind., a few miles below this city, but meager reports are received, communication being almost entirely cut off. But enough is known to warrant the statement that the suffering and loss at that point will practically wipe out the existence of the town. At the highest point in the town the water is six feet deep, and the terrified people are crowded into the Court House and other solid buildings as a last resort before attempting to leave the place by boat. The greatest destruction prevails, and the loss of life and property will be simply appalling when all is known.

Newark Daily Advocate, Newark, OH 14 Feb 1883



More than 3,000 people in Lawrenceburg, Ind., have been driven from their homes, and over 200 houses, with their contents, have been overturned by the water, and some have been swept away. It is estimated that the loss will reach over $500,000. Hundreds of poor persons are destitute, losing everything they possessed. Indianapolis, Greensburg, Shelbyville, Cincinnati and other cities are generously sending supplies.

E.H. Dobel’s furniture warehouse fell in last night, carrying the floors with it, on which were thirty persons, and although they went down with the building, not a life was lost. There were $20,000 worth of furniture stored in the building, all of which was lost.

The Market House contained $10,000 worth of furniture belonging to the homeless, all of which was swept away.

The loss of different manufacturers will amount to many thousand dollars. About one-fourth of an acre of land is all that is out of water in the two towns.

A number of children were born, some in the Court House, where 460 people are sheltered.

Oldtown is deserted, excepting the public buildings, and the suffering is horrible.

Newark Daily Advocate, Newark OH 17 Feb 1883



With the slow abatement of water comes increased sickness, and fears arise that the mortality will become fearful, for the shadow of death already darkens the miserable quarters, where hundreds of poor creatures are confined, and dread disease in its most dangerous forms is becoming alarmingly manifest. Children and old people are the most subject, and typhoid pneumonia is the prevailing trouble. Jacob Griffith, father of Officer Griffith has been buried, and Mrs. John Moore died at Garnier’s Hall, Henry Myers and A. Goble at the Court-house, and W.C. Skinner was reported dying, while many others prostrated. Drs. Gatch, Miller, Collins, Terrill and Evans are going night and day attending the afflicted. The suffering may be ameliorated, but can not for the present be abated. Much-needed supplies have begun to arrive. All persons who have friends away from the town or places to go to are leaving to avoid further exposure and almost hourly Colonel Bannister, who is most prominent in his efforts to aid and suggest measures of relief, receives telegrams from abroad from parties inquiring about friends here, for no mail matter has been received or distributed for ten days, and all outside intelligence has been cut off. Petty pilfering has been going on to an alarming extent, as might well be expected. The loss here, by the depreciation of property, and in merchandise and household goods, cannot be approximated.

Newark Daily Advocate, Newark, OH 19 Feb 1883


Lawrenceburg Flood, Feb 1883

1883.—Early in February of this year the continued rains and gradual rising of the river had been a topic of conversation at Lawrenceburgh, but notwithstanding the Ohio and Miami Rivers had been making encroachments on the high lands, hopes were entertained that the river would not exceed that of 1882, and that the levee, though known to be weak at the points filled after the washout of the preceding February, would be sufficient to hold the waters in check, but the people were doomed to bitter disappointment. The whole city was completely submerged except a few squares in Newtown. High Street, the highest street in what is termed Oldtown, or the principal part of the city was under water on an average of about six feet, and there was not, in the main part of the city, a single house of which the first floor was not under water. The stores all along High Street had an average of about five and one-half feet of water in them, and along Elm, Short, Walnut and other streets leading from the river, the depth of water increased, and in many cases the water reached the second story. In 1882 the waters were enabled to flow over High Street by the aid of a boom from the Miami, but the Ohio failed to reach this street, the highest street in the city, only at the extreme upper end. In 1883, however, the Ohio River became the ruling master, and took complete possession of the city, and covered its highest street to the depth of six feet.

With such a depth of water running with rapid current through the city, it was to be expected that the loss of property would be enormous. Aside from the loss of merchants, grocery men and business men, the destruction of houshold [sic] goods and personal property was enormous. The loss of buildings also was great. Eight manufacturing establishments, 2 business houses, 40 dwellings, and 3 stables were entirely destroyed, and 179 dwelling houses, 133 barns and stables, 19 shops, 6 business houses, removed from their foundations. Graham & Marshall lost heavily in lumber and had their saw-mill swept away, while Henry Fitch’s losses were nearly as large, although his mill stood firm.

As the water disappeared the destruction of property became more apparent. The houses generally presented a very shattered appearance; the windows were broken out, doors and sash smashed, and where the furniture had not been removed, bureaus, bedsteads, tables, and safes were turned upside down, mirrors smashed, carpets, bed-clothing and wearing apparel covered with slimy mud, and pianos injured beyond repair.

History of Dearborn and Ohio Counties, Indiana, 1885, Pages 196-197