Lampasas, TX Flood, Sept 1873

Disastrous Flood at Lampasas.

From the Lampasas Dispatch Extra, September 29.

On Friday night, after midnight, the rain began to fall with considerable force, and so continued until late in the evening of Saturday. By 12 o’clock on Saturday, the town was flooded with water from the branches around town and the back water fro Burleson and Sulphur Fork. About 1 p.m., the overflow from the Sulphur Fork took place, and in thirty minutes the town was submerged. In less than half an hour from the break over on the water from the creek, a dozen or more houses were swept off, leaving the lots entirely desolate of a piece of timber. Not a thing had been taken from a single house so far as we know. In fact, no one suspected such a terrible catastrophe; and when it did come, the question was “what shall we do to save our lives?”

Women and children went from their falling houses, wading up to their waists, screaming for help, and on impassable slough many of the men from their families. Some took refuge in trees, where they were obliged to remain for three or four hours, before help could get to them. One sick lady, with a child three weeks old in her arms, stayed in a tree until rescued after the water subsided.

But a very few houses in town were high enough to be entirely exempt from the ravages of the rushing waters.

The College, Gracy’s Hotel, the Lampasas Hotel (upper story,) Mrs. Huling’s, Tom Haynie’s and Judge McGinnis’s are nearly the only houses without water on the floor. Many houses which were not swept away had all their contents taken off.

The houses in the highest parts of town were filled with the distracted, almost naked and shivering women and children. About four o’clock the waters began to subside and soon the men of the town were busy with wagons and horses hunting up the homeless and disconsolate. Every house where any comforts and provisions were left was made open and free to the destitute and houseless. Dozens of families are left with not a change of clothing, a pair of shoes or a morsel of food. More than twenty five residences and business houses were washed away.

One unfortunate man was drowned upon the public square-being crippled in the hand he was unable to catch among the trees through which he was dashed. His name is Lewis C. Phillips, whose brother was fortunate enough to save himself in a tree, where he remained till the subsidence of the waters. He saw his brother making desperate efforts to save himself, and at last was compelled to witness his envelopment in the angry waves. The body was found the next day on the other side of Burleson Creek, more than half a mile from town.

About two miles below town the saddest occurrence connected with our flood took place. Judge W.H. Garret an a Mr. Jones, who worked with him, lived very near the creek, and fearing their houses would be washed away, took their families in a wagon and started to higher grounds. A deep flat had to be crossed, and in passing through it the wagon upset and Judge Garrett and one child, and Mr. Jones with two children were drowned. Mrs. Jones and Mrs. Garrett, with the balance of their families were saved. Had they remained at their houses, they would have been safe, as the water did not get into them.

Those left entirely homeless, their houses washed away, are as follows: HRT Anderson, J.F. Powers, Mrs. Higgins, John Spark’ residence filled with furniture (he and his family both away from home) Dr. W.P. Beall, Ernest Engle, Mrs. Dickson, Mr. Labat, D.O. Mitchell, Thos. Bivins, Mr. Bruton, John Miller and part of Mr. Chalk’s house and most of the plunder are lost.

The business houses which were washed off are D.G. Phillips & Bro. family grocery; Vance & Thomas, large family grocery, with new stock just arrived; S.S. Gholson & Co., general merchandise; Kit Williams, book, drug and family grocery store, in which was the post office, with all the contents of the some; Mitchell’s meat market house Abney & Lessing’s law office with all their papers and books; White & Gibson’s law office, with all their books and papers; Hayworth & Bro new store house washed into the public square and lodged (greatly damaged;) Smart’s blacksmith shop. The large home of Henry Hill used as a court house, was washed ten or twelve feet, and many of the records lost, and the balances badly injured.

At present it is almost impossible to give and estimate of the loss sustained from the effects of the late flood, but we think $75,000 a low estimate.

We forgot to mention that the water came about three feet into our printing office and carried off our paper a mile or two. We can scarcely get things in shape to make a readable extra.

Owing to out late misfortunes we will be unable to issue the Dispatch this week. Persons not receiving out paper of September 25, will attribute it to the overflow, as a vast amount of matter prepares for the mail was lost.

San Antonio Express, San Antonio, TX 5 Oct 1873


Lampasas Washed Away.-We learn by private letter dated the 30th ultimo, that the recent flood at Lampasas was of a much more serious character than our first advices led us to infer.

The water reached the depth of fourteen inches I the store of Mark ward & Co., greatly damaging the stock. The store of Mr. Woods, and its entire contents, was swept away. Kit Williams’ dry goods store met a similar fate. Vance & Thomas lost their entire stock when their house went. Phillips’ store went with the flood, and one of the firm sacrificed his life trying to save the stock. Dr. Grant’s house was swept away. Dr. Beall lost all of his furniture. The houses of the following persons in the village went down with the angry waves: Thos. Bevins, James Jenkins, Mrs. Gentry, Mrs. M. Higgins, and John Sparks. All the building on the opposite side of the creek from Shoemaker Brown’s down to Castar’s Mill, were also carried away. Mr. Garrett and two children, Mr. Jones and two children, were lost despite efforts of their neighbors to save them.

This is a terrible blow to one of the fairest villages in all Texas. We sincerely trust that it will prove less serious than our accounts lead us to believe.

Galveston Tri-Weekly News, Galveston, TX 6 Oct 1873