Greene County, Arkansas
1937 "Flood Diary " & Business Ledger
Donated 3/29/00 by Joe Schreit
There is a hour to hour daily record of the diary at the bottom of page.
For Pictures of the Refugee's Click below.
Ledger had been found in the old Meriwether Hardware building that was donated to Greene County Courthouse Preservation Society, which his mother Mary Ann Shreit founded. Signature on page 338 seems to be from "C. W. Stedman" Charles W. Stedman was secretary - treasurer of Stedman Hardware, which was located at 112 S. Pruett, according to the 1939 Paragould City Directory. Meriwether Hardware was located at 212 S. Pruett. Another indication that it is not a Meriwether Hardware ledger: Periodic sales to Meriwether Hardware are listed. Perhaps Meriwether Hardware bought out Stedman Hardware. The 500 - page ledger is in fragile condition. Measures 6-inch wide by 15 inch X about 1-1/4 inch thick. Cloth covered and frayed, especially at bottom edges. Leather corners are mostly gone. Cloth is imprinted with geometric design and centered word "Day". Someone has added in red the word "Spelling" above "Day" Added further above in black ink are "4-1-36" and above it unclear notation that ends in "39" Might be "No. 39" as in 39th ledger. Pencil markings inside the front cover indicate that the ledger cost $1.50. Pages are lined and numbered in the top outside corner. Ledger is identified by imprimatur as "Biltwell Blank Book No. 350." The first listings on Page 1 do indeed start on April 1, 1936. Final listing in book is for may 22, 1937. The book is primarily a business ledger. But at the top of each page is a brief weather report. April 1, 1936, for example, was "cloudy".
Beginning in late December 1936, the weather reports become longer and more ominous. On page 330, January 22, 1937, the ledger evolves into a "flood diary" continuing through page 344 and January 25, 1937. Some weather notations are in red ink . All others are in dark blue. Weather reports leading up to the Flood Diary:
December 26, 1936 - 44 degrees ,
December 28 , 1936 "Cloudy &drizzling" ,
December 29, 1936 "Raining " "Rained all day and night " 50 degrees ,
December 31, 1936 "Ice " 32 degrees ,
January 1, 1937 "No (?) Close . New Year " 40 degrees ,
January 2, 1937 "Cloudy " 50 degrees
January 4, 1937 "Clear "28 degrees
January 5, 1937 "Cloudy" 40 degrees,
January 6, 1937 "Drizzling" "Rained all day & all night " 50 degrees,
January 7, 1937 "Drizzling " All Day " 60 degrees,
January 8, 1937 "Drizzling Rained all day 7 night " 60 degrees
January 9, 1937 "Raining" Ice &sleet all over. Timber all broken down. Light wires & telephone broken " 32 degrees.
January 11, 1937 "Cloudy " a.m. drizzling " 32 degrees
January 12, 1937 "Raining all day " Ice melting "50 degrees
January 13, 1937 "Drizzling " Lot of fog "Rained all day & night " 40 degrees
January 14, 1937 "Drizzling all morning , hard rain 1:30 p.m. rained all day " 60 degrees , 68 degrees PM"
January 15, 1937 "Cloudy " 40 degrees
January 16th 1937 "Clear , rained all night" 28 degrees
January 17th , Sunday "rained all day and night"
January 18, 1937 1937 "cloudy " 45 degrees
January 19, 1937 "cloudy " 5 p.m. drizzling . Rained all night." 32 degrees
January 20, 1937 "A.M. drizzling "Rained a good rain all day . Rained all night " 50 degrees "Water over all highway to town."
January 21, 1937 "Raining A.M. "5 1/2 (inch) rain in 24 hrs. "Rained all day " 50 degrees " All highways closed at noon except Paragould to Jonesboro (and ) Paragould to Walnut Ridge"
The above notation is on page 329. The "flood diary " starts on the next page and continues through page 344.
The sheet containing Page 339 and Page 340 is missing and it obviously was torn out at some point. The reports jump from 5 a.m. January 23 to 8 a.m. January 24, but whether the missing page had writing on it is uncertain.Many of the reports are credited to radio station KBTM. The notation right before the missing page reads: "The foregoing note from KBTM is not 1/10 part of the awful happenings that has happened in this highwater . I could not write fast enough to record all them. I hope this record in years to come will be of some benefit to future generations in the low lands of eastern Arkansas. "signature in different ink, C.W. Stedman" "All praise for KBTM, Jay Beard + Dick Altman." According to Charles A. Stuck's "The Story of Craighead County" KBTM , which was started in Paragould by Jay P. Beard at his father's Beard's Temple of Music - hence the call letters - moved to Jonesboro in 1932. "KBTM has done outstanding community service in times of emergency., " Stuck wrote. "During the flood of 1937 , the station personnel operated around the clock, directing relief activities and calling for were informed as to the needs of the relief workers . Supplies came in as direct results of requests broadcasted over the station , and it is certain that many refugees owe their lives to the tireless service that the station rendered during the emergency."
The description above was transcribed by Kitty Sloan.
From Jan . 10th to Jan. 22 16 " of Rain ,Sleet ,& Snow , All Day Snow & Sleet fell , still raining.
A.M. Jan. 22 - 1937 11 a.m. Today - Black Oak - Leachville -Lake City - Truman - Monette - Caraway . Letter calling for Boats & Help. Boats , Clothing & Food Going to the East Bottoms from all the near by towns . A Woman on the roof of a house at Lake City is going to give Birth to a baby . Must have help at ONCE! The first boat that gets the news go in a hurry. It is still raining.
You can hear women and children praying for help at Lester.
1:30 P.M. Monette Pray, If we do not get Boats at once Lot of people will drown.
2:00 P.M. Boys from Pochontas going to Caraway via Paragould & Jonesboro still raining Snow & Sleet 2 ft. deep.
2 P.M. Bay Station said send Hand Cars at once or we will drown.
8 acre Ridge fenced in at Mt. Carmel. For taking livestock out of over -flow. Free To All.
Walnut Ridge Sending boats to Lake City.
Otwell Clubhouse sending boats to Caraway.
6 P.M. Radio Autos - picking up food & clothing in Jonesboro. for the East Bottom over - flow people .
ALL THIS NEWS FROM K.B.T.M. RADIO STATION
Tim Taylor taking truck picking up food & clothing for unfortunate in overflow.
Lots of Cash donations from Paragould being phoned in.
Rev. Cross will take charge tomorrow . 1-23- 1937. K.B.T.M.
2:30 P.M. We must have more boats & Cash in the over-flow district.
Get The woman off top of house at Lake City . Bring her to East End of Bridge Ambulance will meet you & bring her to hospital at Jonesbor. This is the woman that is going to give birth to a baby on top of house at Lake city.
Ellis Otto Johnston left at 12:00 with motor boat for Lester Landing to help the over-flow folks.
Jonesboro donating to Red Cross $1.00 to $ 100.00 dollars $5.00 from Poplar Bluff , Mo. By telegraph . Haven't heard anything yet from Paragould up to this time we may wake up later on Hope so.
2:45 P.M. Black Oak must have boats HELP NOW.
Pocahontas, Walnut Ridge doing their best to get freinds out of over-flow. Driving via Paragould. Still Raining.
2:45 10 Family's Northwest Monette marooned must have at once Large motor boat or they will drown. The water is so swift it will take a Large boat. Must have help before dark. K.B.T.M.
3 P.M. Hickson Robert and Paragould Lumber are building boats just as fast as they can for the flood Help ! Also East Ark LBR. are building boats . Donations from Paragould to the Rev. Cross are being sent in to Jonesboro. Thanks a Lot.
3:15 P.M. K.B.T.M. says we must have more motor boats , food &clothing and Have It Now. Everything in the flood District is getting more serious every minute. Still Raining.
Walnut Ridge Donations to Red Cross at Jonesboro.
3:25 Red Cross head to Quarter to opened up at Cottage Hotel in Paragould Telephone 28 . Donations coming in $1.00 up to $10.00 .
3:40 P.M. The railway will place this evening at Lake City, Leachville, Monette, Black Oak, box cars for Flood Victims.
Lake City calling for men that can operate Motor Boats want 10 or 15 of these men. Several boats but no one to operate them . MEN COME QUICK K.B.T.M.
3:50 P.M. Still Raining. Jallee & Jackson Motors, Pocahontas are sending 2 high power motor boats to Lake City. via Paragould, to Jonesboro.
4:00 P.M. C C C Boys of Pochantas send to Red Cross at Jonesboro $35.83
Small Cafe of Hardy Bend send $5.oo to Rev. Cross at Jonesboro. Still Raining & Snowing.
4:20 Shell Gat of Jonesboro donated $100.00 to Salvation Army. K.B.T.M.
Cars at Lake City and other places expecting to return Jonesboro tonight had better start now As the water on No.18 is rising very fast.
Black Oak needs boats very badley. Please come get us. We Need You At Once. Still Raining.
4:40 P.M. If someone that can run Motor boats don't come to Monette and Black Oak before night we will drown before morning.
Lepanto and Caraway says that people are standing in water waist deep. And will drown if don't get help soon.
Lake City still calling for men to operate several boat that are lying at the lake with no one to operate them. K.B.T.M. Still raining.
5:00 P.M. Riverdale just phoned. That Folks are standing in water. Are in Great need of help at once.
5:10 P.M. Poplar Ridge Calling for help.
5:40 P.M. Lake City calling for motors to attach to several boats they have the boats can't be operated with paddles water to swift. Still raining.
Don't know what happened 1-22-37 from 6 pm to 8 A.M. 1-23-37. 8 A.M. 17 degrees cold & clear.
Up to this time No Report of anyone drowned.
$15.00 dollar reward offered for 3 to 4 Family's that are still in the overflow at Buntie in Craighead Co.
9:15 A.M. Boats are still needed at Lake City & Black Oak to take care of refugee's that are coming in to these places from the High Waters
9:30 The Mayor of Wynne has asked for 100 tents at once. All the churches and public buildings are full to overflow. Must have these tents today!
9:45 A.M. Miss Wilson of Jonesboro is the first Nurse to offer to go to the rescue of the sick in the overflow.
11:00 A.M. Walnut Ridge is calling for Cash, Food and clothing to help take care of 250 families must have help from outside.
Lake City is still calling for motor boats and men to operate them.
11:10 A.M. Autos can't reach Black Oak must have high power motor boat. The Highway is covered with water and cars can't go through.
11:20 A.M. All nurses for Harrisburg will leave K.B.T.M. at 12:00 noon.
To the Nurses at Lunsford a car has just left with medicine for you. Please Keep A Lookout For The Car.
11:45 A.M Pocahontas Bending Contributions to the Red Cross at Jonesboro.
11:50 A.M. Lake city Calling for all Blow - Torches available the car will leave K.B.T.M. 12:00 noon.
12:30 P.M. Please go down the river to Fletcher Landing and up to Black Oak. A number of families must be rescued at once.
12:50 P.M. So far no death has been reported on account of the over-flow. 17 degrees cold and clear.
Road information from Jonesboro you can go to Paragould, Hoxie, Harrisburg and Wynne. All other Roads closed.
1:00 P.M. 25 to 30 people East of Buffalo Ditch will drown unless they are reached in the next 2 hours.
No one allowed on road No. 18 to Jonesboro East unless you are given aid in some way to the relief of over-flow people.
1:35 P.M. Just received a message that the levee on the East side of Big Lake went out. We do not know the particulars.
1:40 P.M. Jonesboro American Legion hut is crowed with Mothers and children , the larger children have "Hooping cough" the mothers must be moved at once or the babies will have the cough. This is very important and must have attention at once.
2:00 P.M. The Little town of Bay the Frisco Railway East of Nettleton said please send boats at once we can't get out of the over-flow.
Jan. 22, 1937 We have it from good authority that Judge Pillow and E.N. Gardner offered a $25.00 reward for anyone who would rescue a Man-Wife and 9 children off of their roof near Manilla. We also understand that a 16 year old "Boy" Did reach this family and brought them to Saftey "Hope So"
Jan. 23 , 3:10 P.M. A mother and a 3 month old child are stranded 1 mile out of black Oak since yesterday. Must have help before tonight or they will Freeze or Starve.
3:15 P.M. All residence of Rocky are warned to Get Out At Once a car will run to Carmi every hour. This is Authentic. K.B.T.M.
4:00 P.M. All Residence at "Rocky School House" are notified to get at once. Cars will run every hour must have motor boats at once.
Pages 339 & 340 are missing from the original.
4:30 P.M. 4 Familys on "Giles Island " south of Highway are out of food and water. Deputy Sheriff Dave Edwards is now making arrangements to go to them with food.
5:00 P.M. A Gang of 30 people south of Monette have been marooned since Thur. Morning . A boat can reach them through Kuckle borough Slough. We hope that some one with a large boat motor will undertake to go for them.
The fore going noted from K.B.T.M. is not 1/10 of the awful happenings that had happened in this High - water . I could not write fast enough to record all of them. I hope this record in years to come will be of some benifit to future Generations in the Low Lands of Eastern Arkansas . C.W. Landrum
All Praise For K.B.T.M.
Jay Bearden & Dick Altman
Jan. 24 , 1937
8:00 A.M. 25 degrees 4 1/2 " Snow , Sleet & Rain All streets are covered with Sleet and Snow and breaking down.
8:30 A.M. Gene Sticklen and Bill Meriwether # INDZKS established communication shortwave. Between Paragould, Jonesboro, Caruthersville, Blytheville to WREC Broad-casting at Memphis which gave him Direct Communication in Record. Was glad to have this important hook-up.
11:40 Monette was surronded by water and all lights cut off.
Doss Hargroves and others left Paragould went South of Highway 25 near River-Side Station and rescued 28 people . They had to quit going to the fact their boat was not strong enough to fight the waves.
Gene Stickler and Bill Meriwether #WDZK Broad-cast and in less than 5 minutes A 16 power motorway donated.
The National Guard at Hoxie was called to Lake city bridge washed out between Hoxie and Jonesboro they did not arrive until several hour later.
A family near Monette marooned sent their little boy out for help. They found him later frozen to death on the levee.
Gene Stickler and Bill Meriwether #INDZKS Broad-Cast that Lake City wanted a "Propeller" at once none to be had in Memphis. The foreman at Memphis informed Meriwhether that this propeller would be made at once, and sent to Lake City.
Paragould made ready all available buildings to be used for flood, victims, Red cross, collecting bedding, clothes and food.
J.R. English of Cardwell sent S.O.S. to Memphis and to St. Louis for medical supplys. Houston Garner got the message here and took over to Dr. English all medicine he could get in Paragould.
Parties from Paragould went to Lower Rush Island found several families they refused to come out. Said they had plenty of food and did not need help.
Jonesboro reported today that the water at Lake city had dropped 1".
Jan. 25, 1937 Cloudy
8:A.M. Red Cross are taking care of 200 or more and expect 200 or more by night.
Pocahontas Capt. Gibson sends all trucks to Jonesboro & drivers with each truck. Do This At Once.
Matthis Truckline Jonesboro send a truck load of old Auto Casings to east End of Bridge at Lake City to burn for fuel.
1:00 P.M. Monette is caring for 500 refugees and say that must have food and help. Monette can be reached either from Cardwell or Paragould Go at Fanas School House and other arrangements will be made.
W. M. Henshaw of Black Oak will give the first boat $10.00 who will go for the Henshaw family South East of Black Oak if this is not enough I will pay what is charged by the one that bring them to saftey.
Mr. Tate offered $25.00 to anyone that would bring his son out of the over-flow 2 1 /2 miles south of Monette.
4:00 A reward of $50.00 will be given the first boat that will rescue a family 1 mi. from Leachville on Buffalo Ditch #21
2:30 Rector reports that they have $150.00 in cash and a truck load of food Will please send to America's Legion.
Cash and Trucks are needed at 305 the Friarson Building at Jonesboro.
2:45 P.M. The underpass at Truman is open Cars can drive under . Water Falling .
Jonesboro , reported to date that $3000.00 or over has been collected for Red Cross.
The above collection has nothing to do with food, clothing or other help.
3:00 A.M. Cash received by K.B.T.M. from this time on will be turned over to the America Legion. Please bear this in mind.
3:45 5 Men just drowned at Lepanto. They want boat. help at once. 25 to 50 has died account of over-flow today.
A Father at Egypt, Ark. died today his son on Battleship Raleigh in the seas.