Sometimes I like to research general history topics such as clothing, food, entertainment, and organizations because I know that my ancestors were not just names on documents. I want to understand how they lived and what influenced them to do some of the things they did. A small item about the rain caught my eye yesterday and I did a little research on the weather of 1915.
Most of you who read this blog know that the Corn Carnival was a major tourist attraction and “put Caddo on the map” for many years. That small item I read in the Herald was a notice that the 1915 Corn Carnival was “postponed for the year” due to heavy rains. I was baffled by the idea that they didn’t just postpone for a month or more. Then I read about the weather records for that year!
March, April, and May had already been wet months. April was the wettest April in 21 years. Rainfall averages for the state for each of those three months appear to have been around 6-10 inches. It was reported in several papers that planting was delayed, crops were damaged, and most rivers were out of their banks. August, the month of the Carnival, was also the coolest August of the century with an average temperature of only 73 degrees! Then I found this article about flooding in downtown Caddo:
The Caddo Herald
October 22, 1915
Heaviest Rain in Years Damaging
The rains came and the floods descended; they beat upon the houses, upon the fields, and upon everything else; many bridges were washed out, roads were cut up, trains were marooned, abandoned; cotton and corn suffered much damage. It was the heaviest fall rain that people remember. From Friday night to Sunday morning fully 12 inches of rain fell here.
Friday night the stores of W. F. Dodd, C. H. Grayson, Hardin Bros., The Electric Theatre, Smith’s barber shop, and Geo. Hensley were flooded; the Glasscock shop had a foot of water in it. This trick was repeated Saturday night and other damage was done. A load of wood floated off from Jimmy the shoemaker.
At Blue, considerable damage was done to the Caddo pumping plant in course of construction. Cement was ruined and lumber floated off. The river rose close to the top of the railroad bridge.
A part of the Kay Red River Bridge washed away and they’ve been using the M.O. & G. track from Denison to Durant. But one train was run Sunday, it was from the North. Boggy also was on a rampage and the Canadian was high as trains passing.
Monday the sun came out again brightening the hills and valleys. (Damaged-can’t read the rest of the last paragraph.)
Now think about how that year affected your ancestors. Most families were dependent on local agriculture. Much of their food was grown in their own gardens. No paved roads in Caddo. Only a few sidewalks. Trains were essential for moving freight. Even the loss of the Corn Carnival represented a huge economic impact on the local businesses. BTW, 1915 was the only advertised appearance of the “Booger Red Wild West Show” that I have been able to find, and I was sad that it was cancelled because I was hoping to find a description of the show.