The flood of 1903: part 2
By Tim Davis
Aug 3, 2015
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Just how impressive was the devastating storm and flood that slammed Fannin County and many other parts of North Texas in 1903?  An answer comes in the fact that one eyewitness wrote about it seventy years later.


In  July 1903, Casey Grimes was ten years old and lived with his family in the Danner community, northeast of Bonham.

By the 1970s Grimes was living in Acuff, Texas, just east of Lubbock. He was in his eighties and spent part of his time reminiscing about his childhood. He put his memories on paper, and they made it into the Bonham Daily Favorite on a regular basis in the early 1970s. In addition to his writings, he also showed his artistic ability by sketching Bonham area scenes from his childhood, one of which is a detailed look at the Texas & Pacific rail yards area, which was devastated by the 1903 flood.

This sketch of the Texas & Pacific rail yards, the T&P lake and the Bonham Cotton Mill, one of the areas devastated by the July 1903 flood, was drawn by Casey Grimes, working from memory. Drawn in perhaps in the 1960s, it made its way to Bonham in August 1969 (BDF, August 7, 1969) and is now on display, along with other Bonham scenes sketched by Grimes, in the Fannin County Historical Museum.

Among his recollections was the flood of July 1903, which he mistakenly referred to as the flood of July 1900. (Not one to take anything for granted, I checked to see if there was also a flood in 1900. Weather records from July of that year show only normal rainfall across all of North Texas.)

About the flood, Grimes wrote:

While we were living at Danner, there came a flood which was given the name of "July Flood." Timber Creek, Coffee Mill and Bois d' Arc Creek spread all over the countryside from hill to hill.

Although newspapers reported several drowned animals, none reported any people drowning. Grimes, on the other hand, wrote:

Some people and a large number of farm animals drowned in the flood, which buried everything under a sea of muddy water. After the flood went down, bodies of dead animals were found high in the trees.

"Nature," Grimes wrote, "seemed to turn wrong side out and the farming people suffered."

Referring to the hard hit area around the Texas & Pacific rail yards, the T&P lake and the Bonham Cotton Mill, he noted:

The flood of July, (1903) was something to remember always. The water was so high at the railroad pool that it was feared that the dam would break. Men from the Bonham Ice Factory (located at the northeast corner of Star and First streets) tied ropes around their waists before they swam out to the Cotton Mill to rescue the women employees.


For Grimes and many, many others, the flood of July 1903 left indelible memories.


Again, thanks to Michael Bennett of the Collin County’s District Attorney’s Office for the link to U.S. Government weather logs.


Tim Davis teaches at BHS.