We invite you to visit our new Office/Archives Building.
Open 2-4 Fridays or by appointment.
Contact Donna B. Ryan, 607 288 2833 Cell 607 725 0735
For dues and membership information, see our 2019 AHS Dues Notice
Memories of the Flood of 1972
(Editor’s note: As we prepare to remember the 50-year anniversary of the devastating Flood of 1972, we find many personal stories, newspaper accounts and pictures in our AHS files. This account is written by late Fred Bayless, who was an AHS charter member, board member and treasurer for decades. Many residences suffered much more serious damage than his Angelica Street residence . . . but this gives a picture of some of the events)
The tail end of Agnes began pouring rain on Almond about 8 p.m. Tuesday June 20. The steady hard rain continued all night. About 4:15 A.M. Wednesday morning the fire siren sounded. We got up and I went down to the Main Street where I could see firemen removing people from the houses beyond the Inn (now Muhleisen’s). The Crooks, Washburn and two other families were evacuated. By daylight water was running down Main Street almost knee deep and washing through the above mentioned houses. A new 12×50’ trailer just below the Spratt house (Canacadea Street) was lifted up like a leaf and taken downstream. It was probably smashed to kindling wood before it reached the lower end of the village.
By 5 A.M. water had broken through the banks above the bridge at the upper end of town and was running back of the houses on our side of Main Street (west side), washing around our house (Angelica Street) and thence on to Main Street (however water did not reach our first floor). Angelica Street was also a rushing torrent as the storm sewers couldn’t take that volume. About this time the John Ide family (Viola VanOrman’s son) who lives over and operated the service station (now 7/11) at the lower battery were surrounded by rushing water so they got into a boat to get over to Chapel Street. However, the swift current took the boat into midstream where it capsized. An 18-year old daughter and her mother clung to trees a half mile downstream and were rescued by firemen: however John and a five-year old daughter were drowned. Because of so much silt around the flooded area of the dam, they have not yet found the bodies.
A situation where the new expressway crosses the ledges provided a bad hazard. Instead of putting in a bridge, they placed two 14’ tubes and covered them with fill. Evidently a floating tree lodged at these trees and collected debris which plugged the tubes causing a dam and flooding the Karr Valley Road for about three miles with about 60’ of water at the road fill. The danger of water eroding the fill and letting the water out was always present during the next week, so all of the residents of the village were evacuated to the school. We moved many of our things upstairs and put chairs and sofas on top of tables, took up rugs and then took food and clothing up to Auntie’s (the late Gertrude Bayless/Chapel Street). We also took an elderly neighbor and Gertrude Palmer’s sister with us. (Gert was in the hospital). We stayed there until the next afternoon when food began to get scarce and with no gas or electric we decided to join the others at the school.
There were about 600 people there. We had cots and blankets and slept in classrooms, the cafeteria staff with help of others provided food donated by the bread company, Richtmyers and McDonalds which was brought in by helicopter and (amphibious) ducks. We had one wedding and one birth (Not the same couple). Had a church service Sunday morning with about 70 of all faiths attending. Alfred University invited all who wished to stay in their student housing units and eat at a university dining room. We went up Sunday afternoon: Dorothy, Fred and I were billeted in a unit with Lyndon White. The units had 3 bedrooms, a bath, kitchenette and a living room. Meals were excellent: we ate the food on hand for the summer school students as the summer session was delayed. First bath in five days. Monday A.M. I went to work (Fred was treasurer of First State Bank Canisteo) via Hartsville Hill and Crosby Creek Road. Found little damage with water in the bank basement. On Sunday and Monday firemen pumped out cellars and turned off gas so that we were able to go home at 10 A.M. Tuesday. Controls of water heater and water softener had to be replaced and we are still waiting for the motor on the furnace to be replaced.
The village is still a mess. The Guy Washburn house was damaged beyond practical repair (Canacadea Street) Ed Karr house (next to old telephone office – Main Street) was badly washed, the library basement was flooded with loss of chairs, tables, etc., and many homes with washers and dryers in the basements had that loss besides controls on furnace, water heaters, etc. The new approach to the expressway from the old hardware toward the Bishopville road caused damage at the lower battery: 1n 18’ deep ditch from the overhead to Main Street was filled with sand and dirt from the road excavation which then covered the whole area from the manse to Main Street with sand from 3-4’ deep. The Jim Sturdavent House on Karrdale Avenue (now the Almond Community Church office) was hard hit. Sand washed to the level of the first floor and water washed through the first floor. We have to replace the four downstairs room floors, have torn out the hardwood flooring and will put down underlayment and carpeting. The cellar is still knee deep with oozy mud. (End of Bayless story)
The Hagadorn House was spared, thankfully, from serious damage. From an interview with the late Glen Leathersich, posted in the July/Aug/Sept 2006 AHS newsletter: When the 1972 flood hit Almond, Glen told of his great concern for the Hagadorn House and its “treasures” but he was unable to get down into town. He told me this story, and I quote: “The water was flowing like a river on both sides of our house (the brick house across from AACS) toward the creek,”– and they joined the Almond community as “refugees” at the Alfred Almond School for the night. “The next day, however, we returned home and asked Mr. and Mrs. Don Burdett to come over from the school so that they might sleep in a bed.
“The following day, Mr. Burdett got permission to go into Almond where the road was closed to traffic to get his auto which had been parked up by Max Marvin’s and pick up medications at his house. I rode down with him, wanting to get to the Hagadorn House to see what conditions were there. I found several inches of water still pouring down from Karr Valley against the back garage door. I got the door open to rescue some pieces of antique furniture that had been given to the Society by the Estate of Mary Lockhart. A large chest of drawers with sandwich glass knobs was sitting in about a foot of mud and water. I attempted to pick it up to set it up onto a dry spot. I succeeded in lifting it up after removing the drawer, but when I tried to make a step forward to set it down, I found my feet were stuck in the silt. I thought I would have to drop the chest in the water as my feet were beginning to pull out of my high-top arctics. However, with a long steady pull, I finally got my foot loose and deposited the chest at a safe level. . .”
Staying to do any more “rescuing” was out of the question, since there was so much danger from the huge amount of water that had backed up into Karr Valley. . . . .so he walked away and waited until they could get back down there and clean up the mess.
Come to the Sunday, April 10, meeting at AHS at 3 p.m. We plan to show a movie of the Flood of 1972 and the vast damages in the Southern Tier. Other stories of local flood damage can be found in various AHS newsletters. You, too, may have a story you want to tell. Contact Donna B. Ryan, email@example.com.
THE ALMOND STORY AVAILABLE AGAIN
In 1962, John Reynolds, published a delightful book, The Almond Story – The Early Years. The book was eagerly received by the community, and was a catalyst (in lighting a fire within local people to Join with John and organize the Almond Historical Society.
In celebration of the Almond Historical Society’s fifty years, the book will be available this fall. This will be a great Christmas gift for your friends and family! When you read it, the history of this valley will come alive – written from the heart of the man whose passion for the preservation of Almond’s history brought forth not only this book, but also the Almond Historical Society more than four decades ago. (How to order The Almond Story)
The Hagadorn House was built in the early 1830s by Jesse Angell, a prosperous merchant whose general store was located across the street from his house. By 1867, the house was occupied by the John Wetherby family. The daughter, Cornelia Wetherby, married Dr. William Hagadorn in 1869. They resided here with her parents. In 1872, the Wetherbys moved to their farm and the house became the Hagadorn home. The second Hagadorn generation in residence was William H. and Alice Simmons Hagadorn, who owned the hardware store across Karrdale Avenue from the home. (later razed for Rt 86 entrance)
The third generation living here was Kenneth W. and Marie Dodds Hagadorn. Marie was a nurse and Kenneth was the postmaster in Almond. They had no children. One of the unique features of the Hagadorn House is the cooking fireplace, discovered boarded up in the dining room wall by Mrs. Ken Hagadorn in the early 1940s.
It is believed that the original 1830s house consisted of the fireplace room with the attic/bedroom above. Cornelia’s diary of 1868 mentions the addition of the kitchen area. The two front rooms, gallery and hall with corresponding rooms above were built later – probably during the doctor’s time because the present gallery was the doctor’s office.
In 1971, the house was bequeathed to the Almond Historical Society by Kenneth Wetherby Hagadorn, the grandson of Cornelia Wetherby and Dr. William Hagadorn. It then became the repository of treasured items from Almond’s past.