This is the tenth of a series of entries from the script used on April 21, 1955, when citizens of Bovina presented a pageant of the town's history - "Bovina Center, My Home Town." Though I'm not 100% sure, it appears the script was written by Vera Storie and her brother Fletcher Davidson. The items in brackets refer to the tableau of local citizens acting out parts of the story. [Sections I and II are in the May 21, 2011 blog entry, sections III and IV are in the June 21 blog entry, section V is in the July 21 entry, section VI is in the August 21 entry, section VII is in the September 21 entry, section VIII is in the October 21 entry, sections IX and X are in the November 21 entry, section XI is in the December 21 entry and section XII is in the January 21, 2012 entry.]
XIII. Dates Not Easily Forgotten
April, 1857, stands out in local history as the date of one of the heaviest snowfalls in this section. On the 13th and 14th three and one-half feet of snow fell. This settled a bit until the 19th when three and a half feet more fell. It was damp, heavy snow with no wind and no drifting. The fences all being obliterated, the countryside looked like a smooth white sheet. Roads were impassable for many days. Hundreds of buildings were crushed from the excessive weight of the snow; and some stock perished from hunger and from the falling buildings. The roof of the barn of Mrs. Mary Snooks at the Hook broke down, killing four cows.
The blizzard of 1888 also did very well as snowstorms go. Families were snowbound in the outlying districts of the town for days since roads were not broke out for some time. Over the mountain from the present Raymond Rabeler home a doctor was needed. The road used at that time passed up over the hill between the two Rabeler farms, but it was drifted full. Therefore, Mr. Winter made his way over the hill by foot through the fields to the George Archibald home; and Emily Archibald’s father, then an 18-year old lad, rode a horse to the village for the doctor. This took hours as the roads were deep with snow. The following day the Mountain Brook farmers and their sons worked all day tearing down fences and shoveling snow to make a way over the meadow for the doctor and his horse and sleigh to get to Mr. Winter’s sick wife. This is but one example of the hardships experienced during the blizzards of those early years.
1894 is also a date marked in the calendars of many minds, if only from hearsay. One of the most destructive floods experienced by Bovinaites occurred in the month of June. During a heavy thunderstorm a heavy cloudburst poured tons of water down upon the town, causing both the Pink Street stream and the Coulter Brook stream to overflow their banks and to flood the lands lying between them, the waters roaring through the valley with such force that they not only flooded cellars and lawns and gardens but also carried with them everything that stood in their course. Hilson’s bridge, the Hook Bridge, the Cemetery Bridge and other small bridges were ripped out; roads were flooded and rutted; chicken houses, pig pens, and other small buildings were carried away. Chickens, pigs, calves, and cows dotted the waters as they rushed along. Many farmers were unable to milk their cows for a day or so because the cows, to save themselves, had gone to the higher grounds across the swollen streams and could not be reached. However, in a few days the town was back to normal, some animals and some buildings having been found along the sides of the streams. Once again the staunch Scotchmen had proved themselves capable of coping with any emergency.
Thursday evening, August 20th, 1953, however, is a date we of this generation can talk about; for once again Dame Nature showed her bad humor toward the residents of Bovina. Following a sudden cloudburst, a flash flood ripped through the village, ruining crops, gardens and lawns and causing damage ranging from $50,000 to $200,000. The heavy rain, beginning at about 8:30 pm was accompanied by blackened skies, thunder and lightning. It pelted Bramley Mountain the hardest; and the brooks, normally small trickles of water, swelled rapidly, then overflowed as tons of water cascaded down the slopes toward the village. The two-story house, at one time the town hall, which was owned by Lester Hoy, was lifted by the flood and carried nearly 30 feet from its foundation. The Thomas Garage was flooded, the water ripping out its concrete floor, many cellars were flooded, a part of the Hilson Bros. feed plant was flooded causing a loss of a large amount of stock, the McPherson farm and some of their buildings were flooded, some bridges were washed out, and roads were rutted and washed. In fact, Friday morning the town was a sorry looking mess, but the people lost no time in starting the cleaning up job. Perhaps after all of the bridges and roads have been rebuilt, the citizens will then be inspired to complete the job by beautifying this little hamlet snuggling down among the foothills of the Catskills.