Edward Neukom to his brother- and sister-in-law Tom and Evelene in Pennsylvania:
“March 24-25-26, 1913
“Dear Evelene, Tom and all the rest.
“Dayton is devastated by Flood and numerous fires, but Nellie, Everett and I are safe. We are isolated from the rest of the world and I am going to give this letter to some visiting farmer and ask him to post it. It would take altogether too long to describe affairs. You will no doubt read all about it in the newspaper. Everett, a colored man and I went out yesterday afternoon to take pictures [see gallery below] and you may see some of them in illustrated magazines.
At present writing, Mar. 26th 1 P.M., the river has gone down abt. 2 ft. All bridges are impassable, 2 of the most important ones are washed away and we cannot get over into town, there is 7 to 8 ft. of water in Main Street. Rumors have 3000 to 5000 drowned but I don’t believe it. We have no water, no artificial gas, no telephone and have enough to eat in the house for 5 or 6 days. It is still pouring rain—4th day incessant thunderstorms. Nellie is quite cool and thinks of everything. We sleep with revolvers alongside the bead for fear of marauders and thiefs [sic]. All the Fire Dept. is out of commission, police dept. also, cannot cross the river. No trains coming into Dayton, and of course none out. R.R. bridge gone. All day and all night long one can hear pistol shots from submerged houses calling for help; whole houses, pianos, organs, doorsteps, wash machines, cows, ducks, horses float down stream only ½ block from our house. A small town below Dayton, Miamisburg is said to be wiped off the map; of course no authentic information can be had, only reports from a few straggling farmers from surrounding country who drive in to see the gruesome sighs. I don’t know when or how this letter reaches you—to-day is the 3d day and we know absolutely nothing of the rest of the world. Our shops [Platt Iron Works on N. Keowee St.] are 8 ft. under water, so is Everett’s shop where he works [Delco], so is the Gas works, etc. etc. Fortunately neither Everett nor I were at our place of business or Nellie would be all alone in the house, and E. & I marooned over town. On 3d Street bridge are 5 Streetcars marooned with 35 to 30 people for a day and a night and another day, the Lord knows for how long yet—with absolutely nothing to eat; can’t get near them the current is too strong; and as it is very few boats are in Dayton anyway; five big fires in different parts of town.
“As soon as I can get to a neighboring town I will telegraph you, in the meantime I am enlisting the services of a farmer to mail this letter somewhere. Don’t worry we are all right. Nellie is making bread by the dozen loaves for refugees who are distributed all over Dayton View. Nellie made a large amount of yeast to give away to those who have flour so they can make bread. Many people don’t know where their relations are nor if they are dead or alive.
“With love, Edward.
“P.S. Several million dollars damage done in the business and residence districts. Changed my clothes 3 times yesterday. Mr. Baker, our next door neighbor went through the San Francisco Earthquake and he says this is worse, a great deal worse. In Frisco everything was over in a few hours and people could help each other, but here we can’t, the torrents of water won’t let you near those in distress. The river was over 30 ft. deep at Dayton View bridge, is still 28 ft.”