Linn County, Iowa Jacob Mann Drowning, Jul 1851

The Mann Disaster

A notable freshet occurred July 5, 1851, on Big Creek. The day was hot and sultry, and the night threatening. During the hours of darkness, a storm of terrific violence and suddenness burst over a limited territory adjacent to the creek. There must have been an instantaneous falling of a water-spout to have accomplished so appalling a calamity. It was upon Big Creek that Jacob Mann, the first settler of the county, located in 1837. Subsequently, he erected a little mill upon the banks of the stream, for his claim was made solely for that purpose. He cared nothing for farming lands, and was too great a lover of ease to feel the need of industry or thrift. His mill was constructed after his own ideas of such things, which were neither correct nor ingenious enough to be worthy of special mention. The mill was built several years after his advent into the county.

The fall of water on the night in question was so marked as to endanger the little mill property, and Mann hastened over to it, against the advice of his daughter, who stood upon the shore. Mann declared that if the mill went into the flood, he would go, too. The creek continued to rise, and soon shut off communication with the shore. In an almost incredibly short space of time the torrent increased the flow of the little creek to the dimensions of a river, and in the sweeping waters the mill, with its proprietor, was carried far down the course. Several days elapsed before the body of the drowned man was recovered.

In this connection, although it is not strictly in order, let it be stated that the Mann family ultimately scattered. Some remain on or near the site of the mill, while the younger members--some of them the children of the daughter, "Sall"--moved toward the west, following the instincts of the old man and their own nomadic disposition.

The History of Linn County, Iowa, Containing a History of the County, its Cities, Town, &t., a Biographical Directory of its Citizens, War Record of its Volunteers in the Late Rebellion, General and Local Statistics, 1878