April 7, 2015

Flooding of the Mighty Mississippi, Part Three - The 1890s

Mississippi River at Natchez - 2014

The Flood of 1892

It appears that Catahoula and Concordia parishes suffered flooding in 1892 but there is no mention of the Mississippi River flooding that year per the National Weather Service.

Asheville Daily Citizen - 2/8/1893
An article appearing in the February 8, 1893 edition of the Asheville Daily Citizen in Asheville, NC references the flooding of the previous year.
Four thousand people in Concordia and Catahoula parishes in the northern portion of Louisiana are on the verge of starving. Information received from that section yesterday shows that the people are in a pitiful condition and unless relief is given them at once many deaths from starvation will result.  The floods of the last summer destroyed their crops and the water remained so long that it was not possible to plant corn or anything else beyond some quickly maturing vegetables. Hence hundreds moved away. Thousands, however, were unable to leave.  Those remaining have subsisted during the winter on wild game, but now they have nothing to keep body and soul together.

The Flood of 1893

Catahoula Parish did not see as much flooding as its neighboring parishes to the north.

St. Paul Daily Globe - 5/17/1893
The St. Paul Daily Globe in St. Paul, MN warned of the consequences of the levee break on the west bank of the Mississippi River south of Greenville, MS in an article dated May 17, 1893:

"All of the northern part of Louisiana will be flooded, and it is also feared that the water cause great damage in the central portion of the state, as Red river, in which it will flow, is rising rapidly, and will soon be out of its banks."
Daily Public Ledger - 5/24/1893

On the 24th of May, the Daily Public Ledger in Maysville, KY reported the news of a break in the levee south of Lake Providence, Louisiana:
"The levee on the Wiley plantation, four miles south of Lake Providence, broke at 10:30 o'clock Tuesday.  This is by far the most serious break that has occurred during the present high water....the crevasse Tuesday is nine hundred feet wide and only eighteen feet deep and caving rapidly."

The Flood of 1897

From an article appearing in the April 17, 1897 edition of The Herald in Los Angeles. California:
The crisis has arrived in northern Louisiana where the the mighty force of nature has won the fight.  
The Herald - 4/17/1897
Last night at 10 oclock the workers on the levee at Biggs, four miles below Delta, La., were horrified to see a sudden bulge in their embankment.  A small yellow stream began to trickle through the aperture and a moment later there came a crash.  The Louisiana main system had at last succumbed to the fearful onslaught of the Mississippi river.
A general alarm was sounded and the inhabitants of the vicinity began moving their valuable effects.  In thirty minutes the crevasse had increased in size from a dozen feet to fifty yards, and the water was pouring through the opening with fearful velocity.
San Francisco Call - 5/10/1897
There is a strip of swamp about two miles wide immediately behind the levee where the break occurred, and beyond that are many of the finest plantations of Southern Louisiana.  
The water flows into the Tensas river, and should that stream prove unable to carry the great volume of water into the main channel the flooded area will extend to Franklin and part of Catahoula parish, and take the fifth district levee, where the board had concentrated nearly a thousand men along the line of the levee adjacent to Biggs, this strip having been regarded as one of the weakest points in the entire system.
The fertile lands that will be inundated are in the highest state of cultivation and the loss will be tremendous.
On May 10, 1897 the San Francisco Call reported, "The town of Trinity, Catahoula Parish, at the junction of Tensas, Ouachita and Black rivers, is submerged."

Residents of Catahoula Parish finally received good news towards the end of May.

NY Sun - 5/27/1897

*This post is part three in a series of posts in which an attempt will be made to document the history of flooding in Catahoula Parish caused by the overflow of the Mighty Mississippi River.  Occurrences will be presented using maps, newspaper articles, photographs and reports from the State Library of Louisiana and other collections from the sources linked below each post. 

Part One

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