This 1913 flood account first appeared in the Dayton Daily News on March 25, 1962.
Bride Spent Many Hours Thinking She Was A Widow
By MRS. FRANK SEILER
659 Carlisle Ave.
Next Nov. 20, my husband, Frank, and I will celebrate our golden wedding anniversary. But for several hours on Tuesday, Mar. 25, 1913, I would not have believed that we would have that first anniversary together.I thought that I had been widowed after four months of marriage, that my husband had drowned in the terrible flood that hit Dayton.
On the night before that disastrous day we had walked the short distance to the river from our apartment house on Washington St. to view the rising waters.
But we weren’t too alarmed as the newspapers that day had said that Dayton would be “protected by the levies which the city’s wise forefathers had built.”
But the next morning, the water had reached the first step leading into our apartment house.
My 15-year-old brother, Bill Fette, was visiting us from Cincinnati.
He, my husband and I were helping the tenants in the two lower flats to move their things into our second-story apartment when a gas explosion split open the sides of the building.
Everyone managed to get out.
My husband, brother and I waded through waist-deep water to the corner of Washington and Scott Sts. only to find the street impassable because of a strong cross-current.
Frank asked a man on a horse to take us up to the Emmanuel school building. I tried to make myself very small because it was a tight squeeze, four on a horse.
The horse retraced our steps and as we passed the blazing building that had been our home, I couldn’t help but think of the new furniture and wedding gifts that were lost.
When we reached the corner of Franklin and Perry, the horse threw us in very deep water. I grabbed a fence and braced myself against it.
A man in a rowboat dove in and saved my brother, but the last I saw of my husband was his head bobbing up and down in the current that was Franklin St.
The rowboat took my brother and I to temporary safety in a nearby home. For several hours I felt sure that my husband had drowned.
Suddenly my brother, who was looking out the window, shouted, “There’s Frank,” and we could see him in a third-floor window of Emmanuel school building.
We were close enough to talk to him and he said he would try to get a rescue boat to come for us.
When the boat came, we lowered ourselves into it on ropes made of sheets. The boat sailed right through the doors of the school building and up to the steps. We were able to step out without even getting our feet wet.
So at 5 P.M. that Tuesday we were together at last and began our four-day and four-night vigil.
I imagine there were 175 people there. We had no food, light or heat.
We scooped snow from the window sills and ate it in the absence of water.
One day a man swam out for a floating barrel, which contained apples. The three of us were given one apple. We divided it and ate the core and even the seeds.
By Thursday night we received a little canned food. It was brought from a grocery on Perry St. owned by one of the refugees in our building.
On Friday the militia arrived at Union station and we could watch them carrying cartons of food on their shoulders. What a welcome sight that was!
That same day the militia reached us in boats and we were able to set up a table of sandwiches and everyone got something to eat.
By Saturday the waters had subsided and we were able to walk to NCR, where we applied for free transportation for flood sufferers.
We were told that we could get a train for Cincinnati if we walked out to the old Brown St. railroad station. Late that day we arrived at my parents’ home where we stayed for two weeks.