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Ben Ficklin, TX Area Concho River Flood, Aug 1882

Site of Ben Ficklin

Texas

The Galveston News of Sunday has the following details of the flood in the Concho River: Thus far forty-nine deaths are reported from drowning. The names as far as could be astertained [sic] are, Mrs. Metcalf and daughter, a negro named Van, George Roberts, Mr. Scott, Dr. Owens and one child, one Mexican, name unknown, and twenty Mexicans at Kelly's ranch, ten Mexicans at Tan Rersley's ranch, wife and four sons of Joseph Mathias at Kelly's ranch, and eight miles distant from there, one woman and baby.

The town of Ben Ficklin is all washed away except eight houses on the hill, the court-house and jail. The loss is a total one, as the fire insurance companies will not cover loss by water. The losses are as follows: John Engle, one two-story stone building, used as a saloon and dwelling; Wm. Wahrmunds, a stone store; Sam Pollock's stone dwelling; C. D. Foote's real estate office, Wisbart & Brown's new frame saloon, Smith's restaurant, Martin's frame hotel, Welch & Karger's blacksmith shop, the old court-house, the residences of R. B. Sanderson, S. Moore, C. D. Puckett, D. G. Partis, Pedro Padre and some twenty more residences unknown to your correspondent; also fifty to twenty [sic] Mexican huts. All of the above houses, stores, etc., are completely washed away. The poor Mexicans suffer most. They have no place to go. The people of San Angelo endeavored to get supplies of food and clothing to the homeless ones in Ficklin [sic], but without avail. To-morrow an effort will be made again. No persons residing at Ficklin [sic] are reported to have been drowned. Mr. Robertson had a narrow escape, but was saved by lodging in a tree, yesterday, and remaining there in a state of nudity until this morning. When he was rescued by Hon. Joseph Spencer he was nearly chilled to death, but is doing well now. The North Concho is again fordable, but the main river is booming, rendering it impossible to cross. The flooded country presents a spectacle which beggars [sic] description. Houses, horses, cattle and clothing are piled up in heaps at every step.

The bodies of Mrs. Metcalf and her daughter Emma have been found. Those are the only bodies recovered thus far.

Times-Picayune, New Orleans, LA 30 Aug 1882

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Ben Ficklin's first courthouse was donated by Taylor and Sheriff James Spears. An adobe building housed a subscription school, and lots were donated for future church buildings.  A two-story stone courthouse was completed in February 1882. - Handbook of Texas Online

The first courthouse, described here is the "old court-house" mentioned as destroyed in the article above. The second courthouse was not destroyed in the flood, but the became unused, as the county seat was soon moved to San Angelo.

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Heavy rains the night of August 23, 1882, swelled Dove Creek, Spring Creek, the Middle Concho River, and the South Concho River, already high because of a wet summer, out of their banks. Their combined waters roared down on Ben Ficklin at midmorning on August 24, and the town was destroyed. On the flat, only the courthouse, the jail, and two houses remained standing. Up the hill, fifteen houses and the schoolhouse remained. Sixty-five people were drowned. County offices and the post office were moved to San Angela, which became the county seat in 1883 with the new name San Angelo. Some survivors moved to Sherwood; others found jobs and free homesites in San Angelo. Two families continued to live at Ben Ficklin, a favorite swimming and picnicking spot, into the new century. The Ben Ficklin cemetery, on a hill overlooking new residences, holds the graves of flood victims and of F. C. Taylor and his wife, reinterred there after the flood dislodged their coffins. The Texas Historical Commission erected a marker at the townsite in 1965. - wikipedia.org

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The Flood of Ben Ficklin from History Engine

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article | by Dr. Radut