Bullitt County History

1937 Flood as reported by Minnie Maraman

Minnie Maraman, who lost her husband in the 1917 Shepherdsville train wreck, wrote about her family and neighbors' experience with the 1937 flood. We have transcribed her story below. A few explanatory notes are inserted within brackets. We are grateful to Roy Gene Troutman for provided Mrs. Maraman's essay.

On Thursday, January 21, 1937, I knew that for the first time in our lives we were going to have to leave home. One time we thought about going upstairs. Father, Charles, Mother and I worked all day as we thought about getting things up high enough that the water would't reach them. It poured in torrents all day and night.

[Minnie's parents were John and Katherine (Eisenbach) Saar. She had a brother, John, and a sister, Annie who married Roger Mcahron. The Charles mentioned above was Minnie's son, Charles Maraman. Later she will mention Ida and Eva; they were her daughters.]

About 8:30 Mother decided to go to my sisters'. We didn't think water would get there - I went with her. Water was shoe top deep every step. I came back. Charles and I worked all night to save chickens. We saved 81 out of 110. They only had feed once in 10 days.

Later on in the night Robert Dever, his two daughters and son and widowed sister, Bertha Tinnell came to my sister's home: Mr. & Mrs. Roger Mcahron's house. (Bernie Milam and family came to Roger's house late Thursday night January 21, 1937.) That night about midnight the water was almost to the lower corner of our porch. I went out for the last time to ever milk our cows. Three of which drowned in our barn. We also had one calf, one hog, and one horse to drown in the barn. Outside we had nine hogs, one goat, one mule and one horse. We worked all Friday until about 3:30. Roger came over, took us out of the house with a boat. He put the boat on our porch. Then it hailed, sleeted and snowed. I had on two dresses, 2 sweaters, coat and a rain coat and a cap. I know I was a sight. As we passed the barn was the last time I ever saw the stock alive. It was a sad boat ride. After we got to Roger's house Roger, Bernie Milam and Robert Dever went and rescued Mr. and Mrs. Sam Mumford and granddaughter, Katherine Martin, and Mr. Knight out of the attic. They had a time getting Mrs Mumford out, she was so large and feeble. That was the refugees for Friday night. (We also had three dogs rescued).

Roger McAhron Home

[The McAhron home is shown here in a recent photo. Robert Dever's children were Lillian, Agatha, and Robert, ages 17, 15, and 14 respectively. His wife Mollie (Mathis) Dever had died of cerebral hemorrhage in March 1935. Bernie and Bertha (Wise) Milam had six children with them: Mary, Bernie, Charles, Jimmy, Helen, and Robert; Mary was the oldest at 10, Robert was a baby less than a year old. Robert and Annie (Saar) Mcahron had a son, Albert who was ten at the time of the flood. Sam and Frances Mumford were both in their late sixties. She would live until 1943. Their neighbor, James Knight, was about 75 at the time of the flood.]

3:30 Saturday morning the water came in lower floor. We all went upstairs in two small rooms about 12x12, a small hall and three small closets. I forgot to mention Friday we could see about 30 head of horses, mules and cattle going across a field of green barley, trying to get to higher ground. Saturday, January 23rd, the sun was shining; we had a little hope. All day men were busy reaching people with boats. About 10:00 p.m. that night I was helping care for Bertha's sick baby - I saw it lightning. You can imagine how I felt. In a few minutes it began raining and the news spread like fire.

McAhron Home in Flood

[Roy Troutman provided the photo shown above. The photo was taken when the flood was at its peak, 27 Jan 1937. The boat is in water eight feet deep. Those in the boat are Henry Mathis, Harve Milam, Albert McAhron, Bobby Dever, Billy Harvey Milam, Charles Maraman, and Rob Dever Sr. Lillian Dever, Eva Maraman, and Agatha Dever are in the left window. In the center window are Katie Saar, Anna McAhron and J.P. Saar. Bertha Tinnell and Minnie Maraman are in the right window. Roger McAhron was in another boat when he took this picture.]

The water was creeping up 2 inches an hour over the large body of land.

Sunday, January 24th, it rained all day. We had more refugees: Mr. and Mrs. Ira Holmes, Mrs. Mae Cundiff and niece Myrel Jean, Harve Milam, Billy H. Milam, Henry Mathis. We had prayer and scripture every day. About noon we found out that there was a relief train taking people to Highland Park. Mrs. Cundiff, husband and niece went on the train. About four o'clock Mr. & Mrs. Bernie Milam and children decided to go to Salt River Station for the night where they stayed until they got home again. That is when I gave down and cried. I can see them as long as I live. They had a pink blanket over them in the boat. It was near dark when they got there. One man had to fight to keep the cows from turning over the boat. It was still raining in sheets.

[Ira and May Holmes were in their early fifties. Harve Milam was Bernie Milam's brother. Billy H. Milam was 10. Henry Mathis, whose wife Anna had died the previous November, was 63. Mae Cundiff was Henry Mathis' daughter. Myrel was the daughter of Maude Cundiff, Mae's sister.]

Roger and Henry Mathis made four trips to Shepherdsville that day. Sunday was the first day we got food from the Red Cross. The men were nearly frozen that day when they got home. That night there 20 that slept in the two small rooms. Eva was in bed with the the flu. Ida was in town sick at our brothers. We did not know where Ida was for two weeks.

[Minnie's daughters, Eva and Ida, were 22 and 19 respectively.]

Monday, January 25th, was clear and cold. So about 8:00 a.m. the boats got ready to take some more to Masonic hall headquarters. Mrs. Mumford was so helpless they had to take the entire window out to get her out. They tied the boat to the porch post. It took six men to lift Mrs. Mumford out and down the ladder. I laughed and cried the same time. There were 5 cars almost covered with water in Roger's yard.

First Saturday in February the Milams came home. Fred Sadler brought them home in his truck. Bob Dever and family went to their home, then over to Mr. John Boes to stay until they got in their home about March 1st. I went as far as Salt River that morning with Mr. Sadler in truck. Had to wait to get a permit to get in town, as they still had soldiers on guard. I can see all that mud and trash in Shepherdsville now. It was so slick you could hardly stand up. I went to Masonic Hall to take my second shot and get a card from Red Cross to get food

I went over to the court house and helped Rev. Skelton and Mrs. Fisher distribute food all day to refugees. I walked home. Sunday, Dr. Ridgeway came down and gave Dad medicine for his rheumatism. Then that evening Annie and I cleaned the kitchen floor. It was mess. It poured rain again. Charles and Woodie Maraman worked all day hauling coal to people who had no fuel.

[Woodie Maraman was a son of Grover and Ella (Cundiff) Maraman. He was 23 just before the flooding began.]

Monday we opened up our house the sun was shinning. Roger and I went to court house to give a list of lost property and sign up for food. The hardest thing was to get soap and salt. Woodie brought us home in his truck. We had a terrible storm Tuesday. It cleared and we went to see about meat. We lost about 1,000 lbs. It was rotten. We took the piano out. It took 4 men to move it. It fell apart. That was also the day the men took dead animals, chickens and meat away. Each night we were so tired we could hardly move.

I worked over home all day getting fruit out of closet washed, and scalded it off. Our brother and family came out and brought Ida. That was the first time we had seen Ida in a month. We were so glad to see her and brother's family. Johnnie and Ethel [brother Johnnie and his wife] said we would never get the house so you can live in it. That was the first Sunday Rev. Heft came to Cedar Grove and Shepherdsville.

Monday we came home to stay at night, Charles and I. But we still ate over at Roger and Annie's. I came home every day to keep fires. Charles and Roger were working to get the car and truck started.

Roger's mother died just after the flood.

Below is a map showing the location of the McAhron home. This map shows you the relationship between the home and the river in normal times.

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The Bullitt County History Museum, a service of the Bullitt County Genealogical Society, is located in the county courthouse at 300 South Buckman Street (Highway 61) in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. The museum, along with its research room, is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday. Admission is free. The museum, as part of the Bullitt County Genealogical Society, is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization and is classified as a 509(a)2 public charity. Contributions and bequests are deductible under section 2055, 2106, or 2522 of the Internal Revenue Code. Page last modified: 11 Sep 2020 . Page URL: bullittcountyhistory.org/bchistory/flood1937maraman.html