Remembering 1913 flood

About 200 people filled the pews at the former Methodist church on South Washington Street Sunday for a memorial service to mark the 100th anniversary of the massive flood that crippled Tiffin and many other Ohio cities in March 1913. The event was modeled after the original service that took place a century ago.

Seth Innis provided period music. The Rev. Donna Van Trees, pastor of Faith United Methodist Church, gave the invocation. Calvert students placed flowers into a vase as the names of the flood victims were recited.

Coming to the podium, Tiffin Mayor Aaron Montz related some of the debate that took place when city officials proposed the widening of the river corridor through downtown Tiffin and construction of the flood walls. History shows much opposition to the plan, but it eventually was approved. Sections of the walls have been repaired and replaced, but they continue to protect the community.

The Rev. Joseph Szybka, pastor of St. Joseph Church, and Rev. Louis Dorsch, pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ pointed out how the people of Tiffin assisted one another after the 1913 flood. That sense of service has been evident during more recent disasters, as well, they noted.

“From ruin came renewal,” Dorsch said.

Sue Smith, an organizer of the memorial service, told the gathering that descendants of some of the flood victims were in attendance, and she asked them to stand. They included members of the Klingshirn, Ranker and Knecht families. Steve Schorger, a great-great grandson of Jacob Knecht, drove from Newark, Ohio, to attend the memorial.

Mary Jane Holzhauser, representing the 1976 Antique Club, presented a plaque to the city of Tiffin in honor of Louis Jones, the man who built Tiffin’s original floodwalls. Montz accepted the plaque and stated it would be mounted at City Hall, next to the water mark on the exterior of the building.

The Rev. Michael Rommele, associate pastor at St. Mary Church, gave the final blessing.

Photographs, news clippings and other memorabilia were available for viewing before and after the service. Lisa Swickard was on hand to sell and sign copies of her book, “Calamity and Courage,” as well as some limited-edition copies of vintage postcards.

Following the service, wreaths were to be taken to Greenlawn, St. Joseph and St. Mary cemeteries in remembrance of the flood victims buried at each location. Because many guests had been turned away due to an overflow crowd at the museum’s 1:30 p.m. flood program, members of the Seneca County Historical Society announced Mark Steinmetz would present it one more time at 6 p.m. Sunday.