Johnstown, PA Flood, May 1889
Of Woodville's population of 1,500 souls barely half a dozen have been accounted for.
The work of exhuming the dead at Johnstown has only begun, but already more than one hundred bodies have been carried out of the ruins.
Eleven car loads of finished coffins and thirty undertakers arrived during the day, and the work of interment will rapidly progress under the direction of a specially organized force of men.
Ninevah will hereafter been known as the city of the dead. At this point the Conemaugh has given up a large portion of its dead. When the waters receded from the fields and bottom lands over which it had flowed, stiff staring and naked, bruised and mangled bodies of men, women and children from the aged to the infant lying in the soft mud, was a most horrible scene, making heartsick those who witnessed it.
Nunomacher's planing mill was used as a temporary morgue, and it was there that the bloodstained, swollen and disfigured remains of whites and negroes were first placed for protection and identification, if such thing were possible. Some of the faces were wreathed in dimpled smiles, upon others death stamped looks of agony and horror, that spoke the inexpressible language of the would while struggling with death. Most of the bodies recovered at this place were Catholics, and around their necks hung emblems of their religion. The attire and features of a majority showed them to be of the lowly class, yet there were many bearing evidence of culture, refinement and prosperity.
Directly across the river in Indiana county there are 315 bodies reported lying in the open air unattended to. The officials of Indiana county sent word that they would attend to the recovery of these bodies during the day. The probabilities are that a large majority of the victims will never be identified and will fill nameless graves.
During the day several persons succeeded in making a tour of what is left of Johnstown. On the upper floor of the club house, the best preserved building standing, five bodies are lying, unidentified, one of them, a woman of fine appearance. Here and there bodies can be seen sticking in the ruins.
There is no doubt but what, wild as the estimates of the loss of life and damage to property have been, it is even larger than there is yet any idea of. More than 2,000 residences lie in the confused mass of burning debris lodged above the stone bridge at the lower end of the town. The ruins are reeking with the smell of decaying and burning bodies. Six blackened skulls, from which the flesh has been burned, can be seen protruding from the wreckage just above the east end of the bridge. They are close together.
Conductor S. E. BELL, who was in charge of the day express, on Friday has turned up and confirmed the reported destruction of his train by the avalanche of water. He says there is no doubt that a number of persons were carried down to their death when the train was washed from the track. Some, however, heeded the warning in time to escape to the mountain side.
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