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Yalobusha Historical Society Minutes – Feb. 17, 2011

The Yalobusha Historical Society met Feb. 17 in the former Presbyterian Church in Coffeeville. There were 44 members and guests present.

   The opening prayer was spoken by Lawrence Litten. President Mike Worsham then welcomed everyone, especially the speaker, Mayor Larry Hart, his wife and son and the many visitors. There was no business to discuss. Mike extended condolences to the families of Eddie Nelson and Maurice Pittman, two of our members who died recently. Sympathy is extended to the family of Jamie McMahan, who died Feb. 16.

    John Nelson, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans,  spoke  about  a project the SCV is working on. The group plans to erect  about six historical markers across the state, on sites that were scenes of battle during the Civil War.

   Program Chairman Julia Fernandez, prior to introducing the speaker,  announced that the March 17 speaker will be Kathy Eubank, of Greenville. She will speak on “Historic Preservation.” The public is invited to all Society meetings.

   Larry Hart, age 66, graduated WVHS 1963,University of Mississippi 1968,BBA Degree, major in Banking and Finance. He is President of L Hart Inc, a ready -to- cook poultry marketing company, He is President of Reefer Truck Brokerage, a refrigerated trucking operation and owner of Midtown Auto Parts company in Water Valley.

    He served as alderman in City of WV for four years 1985-1989 and has served as Mayor of WV for 14 Years, 1993-2005 and 2009 to present. He is a deacon and Sunday School teacher at First Baptist Church. Married to Betty Morris Hart (daughter of “Dude and Lina Morris) for 46 years. They have three grown boys and five grandchildren.

   Larry’s subject was “The Great Flood of 1927.”His presentation, however, covered  not only the flood itself, but the ‘before and after’ aspects of this natural, but catastrophic, phenomenon that affected not only the MS Delta, but many other states, as well.

   Larry spoke of the culture of the 1920s, and how politics and money played a role in the period preceding the flood.He spoke of some of the prominent men of that period, one of whom was a Civil war veteran, Andrew Humphries. He witnessed the mighty river wreaking havoc on the Delta, time after time, and set about to come up with a way to control the River.

    Engineering was just coming into being, and he is considered a member of a movement that later became the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers. Humphries’ plan was to start at the mouth of the River, where it flows into the Gulf. The silt build-up prevented ships from entering the main channel, and he proposed to dig several canals, allowing the water to flow more freely, instead of backing up.

    He had strong Congressional support for this project, but there was another influential man in the picture – James Eaves, considered to be one of the top five Engineers in the that time He proposed the building of jetties to speed the flow of the River at its mouth. His proposal won out, and Congress approved a lot of money for the project, and James Eaves became a very rich man.

    This was the beginning of the effort to control the River, and although many flood-control measures have helped alleviate a lot of the flooding, Ol’ Man River still has a mind of its own, and still escapes its banks at times. The construction of levees along its banks has helped greatly.

    The powers-that-be in 1927 thought that  the levees  would hold, and no warnings were issued to evacuate.  But it was a break in one of those levees near Greenville that  was the main cause of the extensive flooding in the Delta. The water rushed out with great force, and, soon the whole region was under water.

 Larry quoted from Matthew 7: “And the rains descended, the floods came….” That is just what happened in the MS Delta, beginning in the Fall of 1926, when heavy rains fell in the upper reaches of the River basin, and continued off and on until Spring, resulting in “The Great Flood of ’27.” 

  Larry narrated a slide show of original film footage of the terrible conditions during the flood.  It showed people on rooftops, cattle stranded on high spots of ground, trees, dead animals ad debris floating by, and other heart-breaking scenes. It showed the rescue efforts, both of people and livestock.

  The third point Larry made was  the relief efforts following the flood.  President Calvin Coolidge’s Secretary of Commerce, Herbert Hoover, was sent down to work with the Red Cross to try to alleviate some of the suffering. Box cars and tents were brought in for families to live in temporarily, and food was also brought in. It was a very difficult time for many thousands of people, but this relief effort helped greatly. In fact, Secretary Hoover’s work with the flood victims  won him their respect, and when he ran for President in the Fall following the flood that popularity helped him win the election. 

   Larry’s presentation covered many aspects of the Great Flood, and it was al very interesting. Much of his information came from the book “The Rising Tide” by John Barry. We thank you, Larry, for an excellent program.  We appreciate the work you put into putting it all together. We hope you and your family can attend more meetings!

ATTENDING: Larry and Betty Hart, Ron Hart, Curtis Berry, Edna Harmon, John and Ruth Perkins,  Debby Hughes, Cliff Chandler, John Nelson, Bill Hamilton, Herb Hayward, Mike Ayers, Granville Vaughn,  Helen Jones, Tom and Alma Moorman, Bobby and Bobbie Hutchins, Carl and Mae Vick, Dave and Emma Hovey, Julia Fernandez, Opal Wright, Molly Koonce, Dot Criss, Kay McCulley, Thelma Roberts, Jimmie and Francine Pinnix,  Joe Moorman, Lawrence and Bettie Litten, James and Polly Simpson, Hugh Bill and Alice McGuire, Joy Herron, Betty Miller, Joy Tippit, Mike Worsham, Pat Brooks and James Person.


Betty R. Miller


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