By Carlos Burr Dawes, as told to Linda Showalter, December 1985.
When the flood of 1913 came along, Father seemed to know more than anybody else about it. He knew that the flood was going to come up into the house. Now, how he would know that, I don't know, because it had never before come above the top of the rim of the terrace that our house was built on. It had come up the back way and into the basement several times. But this time Father knew it was going to come into the house.
We had to get everything out of the first floor and take it up to the second floor or take it to the barn. We could see the water coming up very fast, two or three inches an hour. We finally got everything out of there except the player piano and the piano. The piano was an upright piano which would have been under water if we'd left it and it would've ruined it.
So, how were we going to get his heavy piano out of there? Father built a raft, of all things. We got the piano out of the living room and onto the raft and then as the water came in, the little old piano went right up with the raft. When it got high enough they attached a horse to it and pulled it on up to safety. I don't think we ever had the piano off of the raft after that.
What were we going to do while the flood was there? Well, Uncle Will Mills and Aunt Bettie Mills had just built their beautiful new home, Millgate, at the top of the hill on the farm south of us in 1912. So we all went up to Uncle Will and Aunt Bettie's house and stayed there during the flood. From there we were able to see all these houses floating down the river. One of the amazing things was that the three or four great wooden covered bridges, all of them, were taken out. Down the river they came. Somebody was usually out there watching, and as they came in sight yelled, "Here comes another bridge!" We'd all run out and watch the bridge go by, this tremendous, great bridge!
I don't know whether the river was starting to recede or not, but two great chestnut trees, or perhaps they were shellbark hickories, caught this one big covered bridge and held it there. The water went down and there was the bridge. It had lodged at the crook in Tupper Creek. Tupper Creek is the little creek that went in front of our house. The beginning was way up back of the old school house on Lovers' Lane.* When the flood went down, the current of water came tearing down and hitting this bridge, making a tremendous roar. It changed the whole channel of that creek. I can still see to this day where the channel had been changed by this bridge.
We had difficulty with drinking water during the 1913 Flood. Uncle Will had put in an electric pump and a little well down by the river and piped it up. Of course when the floods came over it, the pump carried the polluted water and we couldn't use that. I think we then had to collect rain water. Almost every farm house in those days had a big barrel at the bottom of each drain pipe coming off of the eaves. The eaves would run into these pipes and the pipes would run into the rain barrels.
Dawes was a 1922 graduate of Marietta College and Washington County native.