Flood

Nearly all the first settlers established their homes in the timber close to the river, not suspecting the threatening floods that endangered them when the Sheyenne River would be swelled by spring thaws.  During the winter of

1880-81, a heavy snowfall, averaging about three feet on the level, had fallen.  In the spring, the snow melted and swelled the river, flooding the lowlands.  John Hogenson, one of the settlers trapped by the waters, later recalled:

"One afternoon I noticed the waters rising gradually and before night it was over the tops of the banks, so we made immediate preparations to move to higher land.  We had a tent, which we pitched and moved the family into, drove the cattle out, but left the sheep.  A settler by the name of Martin Johnson agreed to remain in the log hut during the night.  A gun was left in his charge with instructions for him to discharge it in case the flood should threaten the place."

"Mr. Johnson had arrived earlier in the day from a long tramp through the snow and slush from Valley City, and being weary and tired, thought a good bed and some sleep would be a rare treat to him.  During the night we watched the water and noticed it rising gradually, but heard no report from Mr. Johnson.  At daybreak we hitched up a yoke of oxen to a wagon and made the trip to the log hut.  We peeped through the window and saw the water reaching nearly up to the bottom of the bed, and Mr. Johnson sound asleep.  We awakened him, and he, much to his surprise, found himself surrounded by water and had to plunge right into it to get out of the hut.  We rushed about to get the sheep moved and also some of the household goods.  Among other articles, I noticed a sack of flour which I went to get, and not being aware that the trap door leading to the cellar had floated up, I accidentally stepped into the opening and in I went, flour and all."

During the flood their provisions commenced to run low.  They still had some coffee, flour and syrup in their possession, but they were 50 miles from town (Valley City), with water everywhere around them, the higher land being the only dry place.  They had to skimp along as best they could until the water receded so that they could go to town for more provisions.

Source: Cooperstown, North Dakota 1882-1982 Centennial Page 264

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