The chain of events that started Dayton’s Great Flood started on March 21, 1913, with a rainstorm. Over the next few days, more rain came, ultimately weakening the levees and flooding the already oversaturated soil. Water rose quickly, and as gas lines were destroyed, a fire started downtown that destroyed most of a block.
As these events were happening, twenty four year old David T. Chambers of North Dayton could not stand by and watch without helping. From the safety of his home, which was located above the flood waters, he could see the damage being caused by the rising waters.
David climbed into his family boat and rowed out to help. He carried supplies to the safe area in Riverdale and saved over 150 people from where they were stranded by the rising waters. He was killed when a log struck the side of his boat and knocked him into the water. He was carried off by the current and his body was not found until several days later.
Losing her husband caused Stella Chambers substantial money problems. David was a machinist at NCR while Stella stayed at home with their three daughters, Lorna Elizabeth, Mary Adeline, and Dorothy Ruth. She had to make the difficult decision to place her daughters in an orphanage until she could recover financially. Luckily, Stella was later reunited with her daughters.
Visit the flood section of Woodland Cemetery and you will find a large flat marker on David’s grave, detailing the heroic acts leading to his death. Stand at the base of this marker and look to your left to see Chambers Street, named in tribute.
To read the full text of the marker, click here.