Friday, September 7, 2012

History Recorded on a Postcard: Belo House and the Flood of 1940

While looking online for old postcards of our area, I came upon this one of the Belo House. Located at the corner of Main and Bank Streets in Old Salem, Belo House is currently owned by the Salem Congregation.   The home was completed in the 1860s by one of the wealthiest residents of Salem.  You can read more about it's history at Digital Forsyth.  This postcard was postmarked August 25, 1940. 

Built for cabinetmaker Edward Belo, this home represents Old Salem's adoption of the Greek Revival Style.

The house is beautiful, but it was not the most interesting part of this postcard... what I found interesting is what was written on the back.

Dear Art, Well we really got in the middle some some excitement this time.  Water up to the roof of a house.  A land slide + many other things.  Love, Florence

Water up to the roof?
Land slide?

This history of the Yadkin River is from Yadkin River Story's Blog.  It was researched and written  by students at Wake Forest University, and each paragraph is credited to the student that wrote it.

"The 1940 flood of the Yadkin River was the effect of a category one hurricane that hit the region of North Carolina very hard.  Citizens who live along the river rely on it very heavily.  They use the water to irrigate their crops if they are farmers; also there are many fishermen who use the plentiful fish population for food.  Whatever the case may be, the river provides many things to many diverse people.  Everything the river gives can be taken away just as quickly.  In one night, a whole year’s tobacco crop can be lost to the churning flood waters of the Yadkin River. Matt Marsh

The Kerr-Scott Reservoir in Wilkesboro was built in response to the floods of 1899, 1916, and 1940, as a way to reduce flood damage.  I was surprised to find that the citizens of Wilkesboro waited until the flood of 1940 to prevent the recurrence of these floods.  As a result of the massive destruction caused by flooding on the Yadkin River, I thought citizens would have been more prompt in taking actions to protect their city.  Molly Rozeboom"

There are fascinating photos of damage from the flood at Digital Forsyth.  Train cars overturned, houses nearly submerged,  bridges inundated.

History recorded... on a postcard. 

Digging a little deeper, I think I've found a little bit of history about the writer of the postcard herself, and the man to whom she sent it.  
I could be completely wrong about this information, but it does seem to make sense.

Florence Prihoda would have been 30 years old when she visited Winston-Salem.  According to the records I discovered, she came through Ellis Island on October 11, 1922 at the age of 12.  She arrived with her parents, Rudolf and Julia Prihoda.  

And Arthur Prihoda, to whom the postcard was sent, was a USNR World War II veteran.  He died on November 22, 1966 and is buried in Ridgelawn Cemetary in Elyria, Ohio.

Yes, I was able to dig all this up from a postcard.  The magic of the internet.

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