Friday, April 22, 2016

Channel Cat Tales: Flood of 1904 and Steamboat Captain Haywood

Vincennes Commercial April 3, 1904
Capt. William Haywood brought his ferryboat from the Embarras River at Billett to Westport Saturday. The boat was equipped with four big side paddles and a stern paddle and the following 16 men, all from Billett, were aboard: Capt. Haywood and son, Ernest, Charles Cox, M Flock, Samuel Beale, Liz Richman, Tony Cabbishee, Millard Lawrence, S Weller, Jonathan and Cal Green, Clarence Case, Ed Anderson, I Naugle and Marion Farrar.

They made the trip of 7 miles across country in three hours. At Westport the boat was made fast and the men crossed the bridge to Vincennes and invested in flour, potatoes, salt and various other provisions and groceries, some of it cosigned to C. A. Murphy, merchant at Billett. What provisions were not carted across the bridge on wheelbarrows and trucks, were ‘shouldered’ over and loaded onto the boat. At 1:30  the boat weighed anchor and put off on the return trip against a stiff southwestern wind. On account of this, it required perhaps six hours to return to Billett. Capt. 

Haywood reported that his boat had rescued a number of families in the past four days and was, no doubt, of material assistance in relieving suffering of water bound families, whom it  assisted in reaching the sand knoll at Billett.

Capt. Haywood hoped to get the Billett mail which had been stranded a week, but he was disappointed as the Billett mail is being held in the post office at Lawrenceville. On the way here the boat was hailed by Willis Hinchman, who was water- bound on a knoll. Hinchman desired to have several horses that were standing in water, hauled to  dry ground but at the last minute Hinchman decided not to undertake to move the animals.

Crib Undermined

The backwaters Saturday undermined the foundation of a big corn crib on the farm of Calvin Littell, a well-known farmer, living in Lawrence County, Illinois 4 miles from Vincennes.  The corn crib was demolished and 450 bushels of corn were carried away by the flood waters.

Big Four Railroad

Because of a quarter of a mile of track being washed away between Lawrenceville and St. Francisville, the Big Four detoured its trains from the north over the B&O SW tracks to Vincennes then south over their own tracks.

Women Visit Levee
Many women ventured across the wagon bridge from Vincennes Saturday and in pairs and quartets strolled down the levee on the Illinois side of the river for quite a distance. On the Illinois side of the levee the back water was 22 inches lower than the bed of the Wabash River on the river side of the levee.

From the levee a fine view was had of the deplorable conditions of inundated fields, dotted with flooded buildings, wreckage and skiffs going to and fro caring provisions. A portion of the road near the Illinois end of the bridge is above water and here improvised pens hold swine and cattle.

Several rafts of logs, passed down Wednesday. They had been tied up the river. Mussel shell workers are actively preparing for business when the river recedes to a normal stage.