The Heritage of Daniel Haston


The Caney Fork of the Cumberland
1902 Flood - Pages 15-16
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     The Standard received from our friend H. J. Conley, leading business man of Tullahoma, a few days ago a copy of an extra edition of the Southern Standard published by R. M. Reams giving the account of the flood of 1902 and also of the democratic primary election held March 28.  The extra was printed Wednesday, April 2, 1902 and told of the flood which occurred on March 28, 1902, the day the democratic primary election of the county was being held which kept many votes from the polls,  The article as it appears in the Standard extra, which was a two page, four column issue, is as follows:

     The greatest calamity that has ever befallen McMinnville and Warren County came on last Friday afternoon and Friday night in the way of a terrible deluge of rain, carrying death and destruction in a mad rush of waters.  Five people were drowned at the Woolen Mills, two and a half miles north of town, and the property loss in the county will aggregate not less than a half million dollars, probably more.
     According to the government rain gauge there was 11 inches of rainfall at McMinnville from 8 o'clock Thursday evening until 8 o'clock Friday evening and McMinnville appears to have been just in the edge of the storm, as the rainfall was evidently heavier in the western part of the county, on the headwaters of Barren Fork and Charles Creek, than here, and lighter than here in the Collins River valley.
     Heavy rains fell Thursday night and all Friday morning and from noon until dark Friday evening there was almost a constant heavy downpour.
     While the loss to farms, fencing and small buildings in all parts of the county will foot up an enormous sum, the heaviest losses were along Charles Creek, Barren Fork and Collins River below McMinnville.

Bridges Destroyed

     Four of the county's new iron bridges are gone, together with the wooden bridge at the mouth of Collins river built by Hon. Asa Faulkner, and which was turned over to the county some years ago.  The bridges over Hickory Creek, over Barren Fork at McMinnville, and over Collins River at Lusk ford and at the Hennessee ford were lost.  The two bridges on the upper Collins river, at Harrison's ferry and Martin's ferry are still standing.  The loss to the county on bridges is from $15,00 to $20,000.

Wreck of Manufacturing Plants

     The two centers of destruction are at the woolen mills, two and a half miles north of McMinnville, on Charles Creek, and for half a mile below the railroad bridge over Barren Fork at McMinnville.  One can stand on the bridge now and see the wreck of the Annis Cotton Mills and nearly a dozen houses around it, the Falcon Flouring Mills, the city power house, and one of the county bridges.

Power House Lost

     The McMinnville Electric Light and Water Works power house, a brick building, was destroyed.  The boiler, engine, pumps and dynamo were not swept out, but they were considerably damaged.  The loss to the town on this will be $5000 to $6.000.

Falcon Flouring Mills

     The Falcon Flouring Mills, owned by Messrs. Walling and Faulkner, was totally obliterated, not a fragment of it remaining above the foundation stones, while many of those were swept to the bottom of the river.  Estimated loss $10,000.

At the Annis Cotton Mills

     The line around the Annis Cotton Mills building shows that the water reached to the window sills of the second story.  The iron clad warehouse was swept away entirely, with about thirty bales of cotton.  The one story brick office building was badly wrecked and some eight or ten dwelling houses around the factory were totally destroyed or badly wrecked.  The loss to the Annis Mills Col, will be from $10,000 to $15,000.  Some of the people owned their houses, which they lost with most of their household goods, and several families are left utterly destitute.

Five People Drowned

     The saddest feature of the great calamity was out at the Woolen Mills, where in addition to the great property destruction, five people lost their lives.  Mr. Henry Madewell, who was trying to escape from the Mountain City Woolen Mills on a rope, fell into the swirling waters and was drowned.  He was about 28 years of age and had been married about three months.  His body was recovered near the wheel house of the Mountain City Woolen Mills Sunday morning.
     Mrs. Jennie Blevins and three daughters, aged 8, 10, and 15 years, who lived in the double log house near the creek about half way between the two woolen mills, were all drowned.  The house was utterly demolished, and the place where it stood now looks like the dry bed of a creek.

Tennessee Woolen Mills

     The loss and damage to the Tennessee Woolen Mills will aggregate $25,000 or more.  The iron clad warehouse was entirely swept away, together with the dye house and picker building.  One end of the new brick boiler room was washed out.  The warehouse contained several thousand dollars worth of wool and warps.  Most of the finished goods were in the brick store building and were not injured.  There is also considerable damage to the main building, while the injury to the machinery from mud and water cannot yet be estimated.  The Tennessee Woolen Mills is capitalized at $40,000 and this loss practically bankrupts the company.  The mills will not be able to start up again without reorganization and the investment of new capital.  Several residences and small building around the mills were wrecked.

Mountain City Woolen Mills

     The damage to buildings at the Mountain City Woolen Mills was not very great.  Two dwelling houses on the opposite side of the mills were wrecked.  The dam was damaged to some extend, and the injury to goods and machinery from mud and water will foot several thousand dollars.

Losses at Yager

     At Yager, four miles from town, on Charles Creek, J. A. Justice's mill and dam were totally destroyed, entailing a loss of $5000 to Mr. Justice.  Gillem Miller lost a little store building with 100 bushels of corn.  The new store building belong to E. N. Yager was moved several feet and considerably damage.  McCollum & Rucker, who occupied it, lost about $400 on their stock of goods.  Mr. Yager also lost a barn, blacksmith shop and granary.  He estimated his loss at $1000.

Others Losses in County

     Mr. J. Walling's roller mill on Mountain Creek was totally destroyed.  Loss $400.  Gribble's, Womack's and Goff's mills on Mountain Creek were destroyed, also Newby's mill on Charles Creek, the old Wilson mill and Mrs. Davis's mill on Barren Fork, Lawson's mill on Hickory Creek, Jack Barnes' mill on Collins Rivers, and the old Griswold mill about a mile below McMinnville on Barren Fork, owned by J. S. Burroughs.
     Decker's mill at Hanlan, and the Swann mill on Hickory Creek are among the few mills still standing.
     Both the flour mill and the saw mill at Shellsford withstood the flood, but Mr. DeBard lost a great deal of lumber and some grain.  He estimates his loss at $1300.
     Mrs. Jerome Lusk, who lived near the north end of the county bridge at Bain's ferry, lost all her out buildings and provisions.  The dwelling house was badly damaged, as were all her household goods, the water getting into the second story.
     It would be impossible to recount the hundreds of individual losses all over the county.  The fencing along all streams is washed away, and thousands of acres of farm lands are ruined by washes.  Many horses, cattle and hogs were drowned.

Damage to Railroad

     There was a big landslide in the railroad cut near the red bridge on Main Street, also in the Marbury cut near Collins river. The cut in town was cleared Sunday morning.  A construction train from Tullahoma reached here late Saturday evening, with a few passengers.  Also again on Sunday.  On Monday a large section of the big railroad fill near the Annis Cotton Mills washed out, leaving the rails and ties for several feet beyond the west end of the bridge suspended in the air, and stopping the further passage of trains.
     None of the railroad bridges between Tullahoma and Sparta were materially injured.  Reports that the Hickory Creek bridge and the Manchester bridge were washed out are unfounded.  The greatest damage to the railroad on this line is the washout of the fill near the Annis Cotton Mills.

Rebuilding Commenced

     Mr. J. Walling put a force at work early Monday morning on the foundation of Falcon Flouring Mills, which will be rebuilt as fast as men and money can do it.  Much of the machinery has already been recovered from the river and can be repaired and used.
     Te city power house will be rebuilt as soon as possible.  It is probable that a temporary shed can be erected over the boiler and pumps, which were not materially injured, so as to get the water works in running order by next week.  There is now a hundred feet of water in the stand pipe, but it will be held in reserve for fire.

Rapid Rise and Fall of Waters

     The water arose and fell with astonishing rapidity.  A great volume of water swept down Charles Creek, destroying Justice's Mill about three o'clock in the afternoon.  In less than an hour the flood had reached the Woolen Mills and began the destruction there.  Mr. Bass, manager of the Tennessee Mills, was in town when a telephone message announced the destruction at Yager.  Before he could reach the mill, the flood had destroyed $25,000 worth of property there.  About 5 o'clock a telephone message came from the Mountain City Mills, saying they were surrounded by water, and asking for help.  Quite a number of men went out from town, but dry branch was a roaring torrent and delayed them for some time. Mr. Clay Faulkner and a number of  his hands were imprisoned in this mill for hours, the waters driving around it in such mad fury on all sides that it was impossible for them either to escape or others reach them.  The water began to fall about dark, and all were gotten out of the mill during the night.  Back waters from Collins River again surrounded the Mountain City Mills to the depth of several feet on Saturday morning, but as there was no current to this, boats could be easily managed.
     Barren Fork was scarcely more than past fording at the Annis Cotton Mills early Friday morning.  It reached its height, the waves just lapping the timbers under the railroad bridge, about 2 o'clock Saturday morning.  It began falling soon after his hours, and by Daylight had fallen four or five feet.  It went down rapidly, and was within its bounds again by dark Saturday night.
     The Falcon Flouring Mill fell at 11 o'clock Friday night, the power house and county bridge about two or three hours later.  Quite a quantity of flour was moved from the mill before it moved off its foundation.

Body Recovered

     The body of Henry Madewell was recovered Sunday morning, lodged against the wheel house of the Mountain City Woolen Mills.  He was buried at the Faulkner graveyard Sunday afternoon.  Diligent search has been made for the bodies of Mrs. Blevins and her three children, but none of them have yet been found.

The Mails

     There was no railroad mail in or out of McMinnville between noon Friday and afternoon Tuesday, except a few papers brought up on the work train from Tullahoma.  The telephone and telegraph wires were down in every direction.  The Western Union got wires to working Monday.  The Postal lines had no connection either way up to Tuesday night.  The Cumberland Telephone Co., is rapidly restoring its connections.
     A train from Tullahoma Tuesday evening brought quite a lot of paper mail, including Tuesday's dailies, being the first Nashville papers received since Friday.
     Postmaster Faulkner expects to be able to send out mail today (Wednesday) and it is quite likely letter mail will also be received today.

Relief Measures

     Committees were appointed in the Methodist, Christian and Cumberland Presbyterian Churches Sunday to receive and distribute contributions to those rendered destitute by the flood.  There was a liberal response in cash, provisions and clothing on Monday and all the sufferers have been well provided for as to immediate wants.

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