A CLOUD BURST AND A BIG OVERFLOW
By S. C. Turnbo
The crests of the hills which separate the sources of Pond Fork. Big Creek and Brushy Creeks overlook a wide expanse of country. A view from here of the many hills, vales, glades and broken prairie knobs is interesting to the eye. Nature arts and scenery of rough broken mountainous country all around is a grand view to those who enjoy and admire such as is presented here. On the morning of the 14th of July 1867 this part of Taney County, Mo. was deluged with a flood of water that carried destruction and made history as it swept along. During the month of June and up to the date named the valley of Beaver Creek and other places in Southern Missouri suffered with drought. In an early hour after midnight of the 14th of July a general rain set in when later on an ugly storm cloud of great density where it apparently hung for an hour or more. Blinding sheets of lightning shot from the cloud in quick succession. The crashing peals of thunder was deafening. The electrical discharges were so great; that the earth beneath the angry cloud seemed to quiver like the tremmor of an earthquake. At last when the mass of dense black threatening clouds had gathered sufficient vapor and moisture to fullfill the work of nature it began to dissolve into water and was quickly followed by a collapse of the cloud. An enormous amount of water dropped to the earth and rushed down in great volumes on both sides of the dividing hills and filled gulches hollows and creeks to overflowing. Trees were undermined and jerked loose and drifted down the streams. Big boulders were torn from their foundations and rolled away from their resting places. Fencing and houses were swept away. The time was so soon after the war Big Creek and Pond Fork had but few settlements on them. The roar of the swollen water as it swept down Big Creek gave the few Inhabitants along this stream only a few moments of warning and they fled for their lives. Ben Jones who now is a resident of Lutie was living then on Big Creek where the old hat maker Jimmie Jones lived at the breaking out of the war lost his house and household effects and he and family narrowly escaped with their lives. The great seething mass of rushing water crushed down trees and submerged the bottom lands several feet deep and lodged piles of drift wood high up on the timber and hurled trees and biglogs into White River where some of trees stuck fast in mid stream and blocked navigation there until they were removed by a big freshet in the river. The highest stage of water in the creek lasted only a few minutes but during that time the current of water rushing out of Big Creek forced the back water in the river to reach more than a mile up stream. Parties who said they witnessed it said that in the Peter Friend Bend the water in the river went down in a roll 11 feet highs this gives some idea of the magnitude of this down pour of rain, Mr. Rufus Haskings who lived on Pond Fork, said the water was in two hundred yards of the house before they heard it coming. He and family had no time to flee to higher ground and they all climbed upstairs on to the loft. The building that Mr. Haskins and his family occupied was a stout one with 10 rounds of heavy logs. Believing the house would go and knowing they would all drown if they remained in the loft, Mr. Haskins and his wife knocked a hole through the roof of the house large enough for them to climb up through. The first roll of water reached the windows and in a few moments more it was above the windows when all at once it reached the loft and the body of the house went to pieces. Fortunately for Mr. Haskins and his family they had by this time had all got out on the roof and this held together and after it had floated 300 yards with its human freight lodged against a tree and Haskins and his wife including the children saved themselves by clutching to the limbs of the tree and remaining there until the huge roaring flood subsided enough for them to descend the tree and wade out. Sam Merritte a son in law of Mr. Haskins reached there in time to render the family valuable aid. Mr. Haskins said that he was acquainted with Pond Fork since the year 1840 and that this freshet was 15 feet higher than any previous one or afterward since the year named. There was no one living on Brushy Creek at the time of this flood and the ast amount of water that flowed down this stream did not endanger human lives. Just below the Daniel Quack Ford on Big Creek where the road leading east from Pro-tem, Mo. is a large elm tree with a hole or hollow in the body of the tree some 13 feet above the low stage of water in the creek. This hollow place in the tree was caused by the end of a big log striking against this tree during this great rise and knocking the bark off. Fine driftwood and leaves which were stuck on the tree above this mark showed that the highest water was one foot above the upper edge of this mark.
Springfield-Greene County Library