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1957 FLOOD in HAMILTON


1. Flood Picture

 

hpl18t.jpg (17901 bytes)

2. FLOOD OF 26 APRIL, 1957

3. FLOOD OF 26 APRIL, 1957

4. FLOOD OF 26 APRIL, 1957

Beginning a few miles southeast of Hamilton, PECAN CREEK flows though the town on Hamilton on its way to join the Leon River east of the Leon River bridge on HWY 22. In 1998 this creek is usually a small trickle of water through Hamilton. This was not the case when the town was first established. The site of Hamilton was chosen because of the adequate supply of water. Before 1900 Pecan Creek was forceful enough to power grist and flour mills in Hamilton.

On 26 April, 1957, Pecan Creek went on a rampage causing an estimated $500,000 damage in the Hamilton business district. The square was submerged by the waters of Pecan Creek and its tributaries. Many stores on the north and east side of the square had serious water damage. The City Drug building had three feet of water when its back door disintegrated. Several cars from Paul Gilliamís Used Car lot on North Rice were washed away in the flood. Between five and eight inches of rain fell on Pecan Creek between 4:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. with the first five inches falling within the first hour. The second store from the east end of the north side of the square was the Geralds Feed Store which had folding doors across the front and back. Water swept through that building from front to back causing damage to almost all of their inventory. My parents, Verne and Elsie Crain, had Crainís Shoe Repair next door--at 123 E. Henry, in the first building at the east end of the north side of the square. I was a senior at Mary Hardin-Baylor College in Belton which was also the brunt of the violent storm which hit Hamilton. We spent the evening in the darkened first floor parlor of our dorm, Ruth Stribling Hall. Occasionally when electricity came on we heard about floods throughout central Texas. I was not concerned when news was broadcast about floods in Hamilton, because I was sure that my parents were safely home either at their home at Blue Ridge or the home on West Grogan Street in Hamilton. BUT they were not at home; they were in store on the square throughout the storm. I will never know why Daddy had sandbags in his shop, but he did. The sandbags were placed against the front door which was slanted across the northeast corner of the building, now occupied by Floral Designs by Jill.  The slanted doorway reduced the force of the water preventing flooding in their building. They watched their car--a 1941 Chevrolet--parked on the slanted sidewalk on the North Bell side of their building--almost joining the cars being swept away in the flood. After the rain subsided, their car still started and they were able to drive home.

Over sixty people had to be evacuated from their homes near the creek banks. Alfred Sommerfeld and his family were rescued by Cecil Kelly, Ralph Lawrence, and L. H. Manning of Hamilton, and Aubrey Suggs of Dallas who tied a rope to a tree and ventured into the swirling waters near the swimming pool to rescue Mr. and Mrs. Sommerfeld and Mrs. Helen Hohertz and baby. L. H. Manning rescued Walter Kinsey from his home.

After the 1957 flood, a series of water retention devices were planned to surround the city to prevent future flooding. Property could not be secured to build all of the proposed water retention devices, but at least three were build--north of HWY 36 at the Pottsville Road, in the northwest corner of the intersection of South Price and West Grogan, and west of HWY 281 and south of West Baker Street.

WORK PLAN - PECAN CREEK WATERSHED, MARCH, 1966

 
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People and Places: Gazetteer of Hamilton County, TX
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Copyright © March, 1998
by Elreeta Crain Weathers, B.A., M.Ed.,  
(also Mrs.,  Mom, and Ph. T.)

A Work In Progress