1928 St. Francis Dam Collapse



Victims of the St. Francis Dam Disaster


St. Francis Dam Disaster
Los Angeles and Ventura Cos., California
March 12-13, 1928

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Research by

Do you have any stories / memories / photos of those on this list? This is a partial list of all known victims - there may be many more that were not found. If you have information on this, please send it to me so that I can add your information to the list.

Any stories or memories of the victims you wish to share are welcome. for all items received, a rose will be placed in that person's memory next to the information.

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Facts of the St. Francis Dam Disaster:

Date: March 12, 1928 - (*Date is generally reported as March 13, 1928; dam actually broke at about 11:57pm on March 12 - most victims died on March 13)

Location: San Francisquito Canyon, Los Angeles Co. Towns affected were Castaic, Piru, Fillmore, Santa Paula, and Saticoy.

Deaths: At least 450 -- **Many bodies never recovered - bodies were recovered every few years until the 1950's. Most recent bodies were discovered in the 1970's in an old car sticking out of the riverbed - another body located in downtown Newhall, California in 1992.

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St. Francis Dam Victims

**Ages and Counties of Death are taken from the California Death Index 1905-1929**

ALVAREZ, Julina - age 8 (Ventura Co.)

ALVAREZ, Ynez - age 10 (Ventura Co.)

ANDERSON, Clinton M. - age 62 (Los Angeles Co.) -Spouse Initials: V

BASOLO, Georgie - age 21 (Ventura Co.)

BERRY, Oramae B. - age 32 (Los Angeles Co.)

BIANCHI, Frank - age 33 (Ventura Co.)

BRYSON, John H. - age 20 (Ventura Co.)

BURNS, Mrs. Harr - age 36 (Ventura Co.)

BURNS, Lois B. - age 31 (Los Angeles Co.)

BURNS, Louie M. - age 35 (Los Angeles Co.) - Spouse Initials: L.B.

CARRILLO, Adolfo - age 5 (Ventura Co.)

CARRILLO, Mrs. Jesus - age 32 (Ventura Co.)

CARRILLO, Juan - age 2 (Ventura Co.)

CARRILLO, Semona - age 7 (Ventura Co.)

CERNA, Florencia Q. - Buried Santa Paula Cemetery, Santa Paula, California

CERNA, Hipolita (Hipolito) - age 46 (Ventura Co.) - Spouse Initials: F - Buried Santa Paula Cemetery, Santa Paula, California

CESENA, Phillip - age 15 (Ventura Co.)

COCHEMS, Ethel E. - age 27 (Los Angeles Co.)

COE, Homer C. - age 27 (Los Angeles Co.) - Spouse Initials: N.F.

COE, Kenneth H. - age 2 (Los Angeles Co.)

COE, Nora F. - age 21 (2 Entries - one Ventura Co. and one Los Angeles Co.)

COSPER, Marvin - age 22 (Los Angeles Co.)

COWDEN, Alice M. - age 11 (Ventura Co.)

COWDEN, Corinne E. - age 29 (Ventura Co.) - Spouse Initials: E

COWDEN, Earl - age 32 (Ventura Co.)

COWDEN, Marguerite - age 9 (Ventura Co.)

COWDEN, William D. - age 7 (Ventura Co.)

CRUMLEY, Edwin M. - age 50 (Ventura Co.) - Spouse Initials: E

CUMMINGS, Gordon E. - age 40 (Ventura Co.)

CUMMINGS, Mayis - age 8 (Ventura Co.)

DESHIELDS, Richard - age 56 (Ventura Co.) Spouse Initials: R.E.

DOTY, Oscar J. - age 27 (Ventura Co.)

DUKE, Van W. - age 18 (Ventura Co.)

DYMENT, R.A. - no age (Ventura Co.)

ELY, Aaron J. - age 36 (Los Angeles Co.) - Spouse Initials: M.C.

ELY, Jack M. - age 8 (Los Angeles Co.) - **Also another entry as ELY, Jackie, age 8 under Ventura Co.**

ELY, Marguret C. - age 30 (Los Angeles Co.) - Spouse Initials: A.J.

ELY, Roy D. - age 3 (Los Angeles Co.)

FRAME, Vernon - age 35 (Ventura Co.)

GARCIA, Harry - age 25 (Los Angeles Co.) - Spouse Initials: T

GARCIA, Tootsie -age 18 (Los Angeles Co.) - Spouse Initials: H

" Harry Garcia was my great-grandmothers brother. He and Tootsie had a 1year old son named David. Also thought to have perished in the flood was another great-uncle, Eddie. I can not find a claim for him nor do I find his name in any documents. The story comes down my family from my great-grandmother. We are unsure as to why they were there except for all the work that was going on in the area. The only information I have is on the claims list under "entire families wiped out" It states Harry, wife, son and a brother. I am not sure why my other great-uncle Frank didn't claim for him as well. I have a lot of unanswered questions about the claim that was made. I hope this information helps you some. If you have come across any sites that may be of interest or help to me while I am researching my family history, I would appreciate any information you could provide." Story submitted by Lisa Wilker

GEORGE, W.R. - age 28 (Ventura Co.)

GOTTARDI, Frances Abalos - age 38 (Ventura Co.) - Spouse Initials: J  - b. Mar 13, 1890 - d. Mar 13, 1928

GOTTARDI, Joe - age 11 (Ventura Co.)  - b. Jul 23, 1917 - d. Mar 13, 1928

GOTTARDI, Lenore - b. Dec 24, 1923 - d. Mar 13, 1928

GOTTARDI, Pauline - age 7 (Ventura Co.) - b. Mar 7, 1921 - d. Mar 13, 1928

GOTTARDI, Reno - age 14 (Ventura Co.) - b. Sept 9, 1914 - d. Mar 13, 1928

GOTTARDI, Richard - age 8 (Ventura Co.) - b. July 23, 1919 - d. Mar 13, 1928

GRANTHAM, Seth D. - age 26 (Ventura Co.) - Spouse Initials: D.T.

GREGSON, Paul V. - age 44 (Ventura Co.) - Spouse Initials: V
     **Oakland Tribune - 16 Mar 1928 - "Listed among the missing in the Los Angeles flood disaster is Paul Gregson, former Sebastopol man, who is believed to have  perished when the St. Francis Dam gave way. Gregson's relatives at Sebastopol, his mother, a sister, Mrs. Dave Bollinger, and a brother, John Gregson of  Graton were notified last night by the missing man's wife, who telegraphed from Ventura. Gregson was working at a construction camp in the valley which was swept by the flood waters."

 

HALEN, Carrie - Mother of Leon J. and Kenneth - Grandmother of Jane G.

HALEN, Jane G. - age 5 (Ventura Co.)

HALEN, Kenneth

HALEN, Leon J. - age 31 (Ventura Co.)

"My great grandmother, Carrie Halen along with her two sons, Leon J. and Kenneth (my great uncles), as well as her grand-daughter (my aunt) Jane G. Halen were all killed in the St. Francis flood.  From what I understand they never recovered my grandmother’s body nor her son Kenneth’s and so neither have been listed on any of the lists of victims that I’ve found.  Not that it matters too much, but it would be nice to have them remembered on a list so that their memories, unlike their lives, aren’t just washed away". Contributed by Lisa Vines

HARTER, Clinton - age 56 (Ventura Co.) - Spouse Initials: M.G.

HOLSCLAW, Carita - age 12 (Los Angeles Co.)

HOLT, Mary C. - age 61 (Ventura Co.) - Spouse Initials: H.K.

HOLT, Veva Ann - age 38 (Ventura Co.) - Spouse Initials H. - Veva Ann (Pursley) and Howard Holt were married March 1924. Veva had gone to California from Missouri to visit her grandmother, Amanda Mayfield. Veva is a family member and this is the only information that I have about her other than her date of birth, which was April 2, 1889. Photo of Pursley Family Submitted by Gail Pool

HOPP, Donald F. - age 7 (Los Angeles Co.)

HOPP, Ferrell - age 30 (Los Angeles Co.) - Spouse Initials: F.R.

HOPP, Frances F. - age 30 (Los Angeles Co.) - Spouse Initials: F

HUGHES, Griffith O. - age 37 (Los Angeles Co.) - Spouse Initials: N.B.

HUGHES, June B. - age 5 (Los Angeles Co.)

HUNGERFORD, Joseph P. - age 26 (Ventura Co.)

HURST, Doyle - age 23 (Ventura Co.)

IMUS, Myron D. - age 7 mos. (Ventura Co.)

IMUS, Violet O. - age 32 (Ventura Co.) - Spouse Initials: E.O.

ISAACKS, Alberta - age 8 (Los Angeles Co.)

ISAACKS, J.R. - age 28 (Ventura Co.) - Spouse Initials: F

Following information on Isaacks family submitted by Carol Weldon: "I have a little bit about one of the families, the ISAACKS.
I'm not sure that they are really related to my husband: Grandmother's sister married a Van Lindt and a Van Lindt sister married a Isaacks. No excuse, just got curious.

The J. R. Isaacks listed was the son of James N. Isaacks and Florence Pearl Van Lindt. J.R. for Jefferson Riley married Florence May CRAFT, on unknown, from other info probably in Arizona (Territory). They had three children according to another researcher, I can find 2 in the Arizona online birth certificates. The two are: Alberta Ardeth, born 11 Jul 1919 in Tucson, Pima Co., Arizona; and the other is Lorance Norman, born 24 Nov 1922 in Bowie, Cochise Co., Arizona. On Lorance's birth certificate it does state that he is the third child. in the 1920 census J.R., Florence and Alberta are living with J.R.'s folks in Tucson, Pima Co., Arizona.

Below is the info I've gathered, with the links:
James N. Isaacks, commonly called Jim, as before stated, moved from Erath County to New Mexico with his brother, Jeff, and lived there many years, then (he) went to Arizona, and now lives at Emery Park. He married Florence Vanlindt, of Dallas and they had five children, four boys and one girl,
James Ennis, Henry, Della, Jeff and Allen.
Della, the only daughter, was drowned, with her baby boy, in the Animas River[Dorango, CO, Framington, NM] several years ago.
Jeff, the third son, with his entire family of five was drowned when the St. Frances, California dam broke several years ago. Only his and his oldest little girl's bodies were found.
James Ennis, the oldest, and Allen, the youngest, both live at Emery Park, Arizona. Henry lives in Elida, New Mexico. per http://www.lonestargenealogy.com/bound/boundi.html
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Twelve billion gallons (45 million m³) of water surged down the San Francisquito Canyon, crushing the heavy concrete walls of a hydroelectric power plant sweeping away everything else in its path. The flood continued down the San Francisquito then into the Santa Clara River bed. The towns of Castaic Junction in Los Angeles County and Fillmore, Bardsdale, and Santa Paula in Ventura County were hit especially hard.
Bravery was seen in the actions of telephone operators and motorcycle policemen who notified people in their homes of the dangers, until the rising floodwaters forced them to retreat
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CITIZENS' RESTORATION COMMITTEE
Report on Death and Disability Claims
St. Francis Dam Disaster in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties
July 15, 1929.
-
Craft, J.W. & Isaacks, J.M. 4,100.00 2 3 4,100.00 [am assuming that the J.W. Craft is Florence's dad or mom.]
-
ISAACKS, JEFF R. Wife & 3 Children
per http://www.scvhistory.com/scvhistory/stfrancis-claims071529.htm
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PARTIAL LIST OF PERSONS DEAD, INJURED AND MISSING IN FLOOD
Los Angeles Times (1886-Current File). Los Angeles, Calif.: Mar 14, 1928. p. 1
Isaacks's not listed
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KADERABECK, Robert - age 21 (Ventura Co.) **Also another entry under KADERADEK, Robert, age 21 (Los Angeles Co.)**

KENNEDY, A.T. - age 28 (Los Angeles Co.) - Spouse Initials: R.M.

KENNEDY, Charles E. - age 2 (Los Angeles Co.)

KENNEDY, Pauline - age 5 (Los Angeles Co.)

KENNEDY, Reba M. - age 24 (Los Angeles Co.) - Spouse Initials: A.T.

KIMBALL, Gerald - age 20 (Ventura Co.)

 

In Memory of Joachim KliemannKLIEMANN, Joachim - age 45

Joachim Kliemann had a ranch between Piru and Saugus. His nephew, Henry Voelker who was working at the ranch, also perished in the flood after the St. Francis Dam collapsed.

Henry Voelker was only 18 years old, having graduated from Oxnard Union High School in 1926. Of such impact was the water that their bodies were found six miles away from the farm. Henry's mother (Joachim's sister) and brother Joe searched the mortuaries and holding places where the bodies were taken and finally found them in Bakersfield. They were buried at a double funeral from Santa Clara Church, Oxnard.

Memory courtesy of Sister Joseph Cecile Voelker, CSC

 

LAWSON, Andrew - no age (Ventura Co.)

LAYTON, Clay - age 44 (Ventura Co.)

LEDBETTER, Charles T. - age 32 (Ventura Co.)

LUDLOFF, George T. - no age (Ventura Co.)

LUNA, Elvira - age 3 (Ventura Co.)

LUNA, Esther - age 1 (Ventura Co.)

LUNA, Henry - age 4 (Ventura Co.)

LUNA, Lupe - age 5 (Ventura Co.)

MANN, George A. - age 25 (Los Angeles Co.)

MARTINEZ, Joe - age 50 (Ventura Co.) - Spouse Initials: P

MARTINEZ, Jose - age 2 (Ventura Co.)

MARTINEZ, Rosie - age 5 (Ventura Co.)

MATHEWS, Carl J. - age 2 (Los Angeles Co.)

MATHEWS, Carl J. - age 36 (Los Angeles Co.) - Spouse Initials: M (**Also another entry in Ventura Co., age 41)

MATHEWS, Millie - age 25 (Los Angeles Co.) - Spouse Initials: C.J.

MCCARTY, Bessie - age 32 (Ventura Co.) - Buried Santa Paula Cemetery, Santa Paula, California

MCCARTY, Charles Edgar - age 41 (Ventura Co.) - Buried Santa Paula Cemetery, Santa Paula, California

MCINTYRE, Asbury C. - age 45 (Ventura Co.) - Spouse Initials: E

MCINTYRE, Joseph B. - age 14 (Ventura Co.)

MCINTYRE, William - age 9 (Los Angeles Co.) - (**Also another entry in Ventura Co. - McIntyre, William C. - age 9)

MONDLOCH, Nicholas B. - no age (Ventura Co.)

NEILSON, Bertha J. - age 7 (Los Angeles Co.)

NEILSON, Frank A. - age 5 (Los Angeles Co.)

NEILSON, William W. - age 60 (Los Angeles Co.)

NEILSON, William W. Jr. - age 32 (Los Angeles Co.)

PEGORARE, Pete - age 67 (Ventura Co.)

PEREZ, Andres - age 7 - Buried Santa Paula Cemetery, Santa Paula, California

PEREZ, Antonia - age 24 - Buried Santa Paula Cemetery, Santa Paula, California

PEREZ, Jesus - age 22 - Buried Santa Paula Cemetery, Santa Paula, California

PEREZ, Maria B. - age 48 - Buried Santa Paula Cemetery, Santa Paula, California

PIKE, Felda L. - age 22 (Ventura Co.)

PIKE, Richard A. - age 4 (Los Angeles Co.)

PIKE, Richard E. - age 29 (Los Angeles Co.)

RUIZ, Henry - age 60 (Ventura Co.)

RUIZ, Martin - age 20 (Ventura Co.)

RUIZ, Mary S. - age 29 (Ventura Co.)

RUIZ, Raymond - age 8 (Ventura Co.)

RUIZ, Rosaria - age 51 (Los Angeles Co.)

RUIZ, Susie - age 7 (Ventura Co.)

SAMANIEGO, Matilde S. - age 63 - Buried Santa Paula Cemetery, Santa Paula, California

SAMANIEGO, Santana - age 76 - Buried Santa Paula Cemetery, Santa Paula, California


STEPHENS, Dave - age 54 (Ventura Co.) - Spouse Initials: M

STEPHENS, Grace - age 17 (Ventura Co.)

STEPHENS, Mary - age 44 (Ventura Co.) - Spouse Initials: D

"David Andrew (Dave) Stephens was my great uncle - he was brother to my grandfather, James Alexander Stephens.
David's wife Mary Eliza Jane Russell - Stephens and daughter Grace Sally Lou Stephens all drowned when the dam broke. David, Mary and Grace are all buried in Pleasant Hill Cemetery, Blount Co., Tennessee.
My mother (Lula Mae Stephens-Patterson) told about their deaths.It was sad for the families.
" Memory submitted by Wanda McGee

"David Samuel Stephens (b. 28 Apr 1875 TN) and his family moved from Maryville, Blount Co., TN, to Lane Co., OR, between 1910 and 1920 before they made the fatal decision to settle in Los Angeles Co. (All of their children were born in Maryville: Dolphus Richard, Wade Samuel, Annie Mae Belle, Carrie, and Grace Sally Lou. Apparently, only Grace was living at home at the time of the disaster. All except Carrie are accounted for after the disaster.)
      Mary Eliza Jane Russell Stephens (b. 21 Mar 1882 Maryville)was the daughter of James "Doc" Russell (15 Jun 1861 Blount Co., TN - 4 Sep 1918 Maryville, TN; my great-great-uncle) and Leah Laura Simerly (1 Sep 1864 TN - 26 Nov 1932 Maryville). Mary's paternal grandparents were Isaac Jacob "Gruffy" Russell and Eliza Jane Gibson (3/4 Cherokee). Mary's maternal grandparents were Isaac Abraham "Ham" Simerly and Lucinda "Lucy" Long. "

Stephens Family information submitted by Glenda Czerwinski Kent

TAYLOR, Fred W. - age 27 (Ventura Co.)
;**Oakland Tribune - 16 Mar 1928 - "Carl W. Shannon, local undertaker, was yesterday advised that the body of Fred W. Taylor, 25, a former resident of Modesto, drowned in the St. Francis dam disaster, would be shipped here for burial. Taylor was employed as a truck driver by the Southern California Edison company at Kemp at the time the dam went out. He was a native of Sonora, California and is survived by his father John W. Taylor, residing at Jamestown, and five brothers, L.P. Taylor of Oakland, T.M., G.W., and E.W. of  Modesto, and J.G. Taylor of Knights Ferry"

TORRES, Carmen - age 6 - Buried Santa Paula Cemetery, Santa Paula, California

TORRES, Guadalupe - age 10 - Buried Santa Paula Cemetery, Santa Paula, California

TORRES, Isabel C. - age 28 - Buried Santa Paula Cemetery, Santa Paula, California

TORRES, Jose Luis - age 7 - Buried Santa Paula Cemetery, Santa Paula, California

TORRES, Luis - age 68 - Buried Santa Paula Cemetery, Santa Paula, California

TORRES, Maria - age 3 mos. - Buried Santa Paula Cemetery, Santa Paula, California

TORRES, Mercedes - age 9 - Buried Santa Paula Cemetery, Santa Paula, California

TORRES, Pilar - age 3 - Buried Santa Paula Cemetery, Santa Paula, California

 

In Memory of Joachim KliemannVOELKER, Henry - age 18

Joachim Kliemann had a ranch between Piru and Saugus. His nephew, Henry Voelker who was working at the ranch, also perished in the flood after the St. Francis Dam collapsed.

Henry Voelker was only 18 years old, having graduated from Oxnard Union High School in 1926. Of such impact was the water that their bodies were found six miles away from the farm. Henry's mother (Joachim's sister) and brother Joe searched the mortuaries and holding places where the bodies were taken and finally found them in Bakersfield. They were buried at a double funeral from Santa Clara Church, Oxnard.

Memory courtesy of Sister Joseph Cecile Voelker, CSC

WEINLAND, Ina R. - age 37 (Los Angeles Co.)

WEINLAND, W.Y. - age 34 (Los Angeles Co.) - Spouse Initials: I.R.

WILMOT, Clara - age 36 (Los Angeles Co.) - Spouse Initials O.H.

WILMOT, Raymond (James) - (Family called him "Jimmy) - age 10 (Los Angeles Co.)

WILMOT, Oscar H. - died after the flood - see note below

"My mother-in-laws family was killed in this tragedy. She was the only survivor to live out her life. Her father survived the flood, but contracted pneumonia, and died within a month. Her family lived in the lower canyon. She was 12 years old at the time, and lost her mother, and brother. When the flood struck, the family home was literaly swept away. My mother-in-law, whos name was Peggy, found herself being washed down stream in a torrent of mud and debris. She grabbed a cedar chest that was afloat , and held on for dear life. She heard a dog barking in the darkness and attempted to steer herself toward the sound . It was her family dog Roscoe, a Labrador Retreivor. Together they managed to find high ground. The cedar chest is still in the family. Peggy, Roscoe and her family, alas are all gone. She left me with her memories, and a sad heart. Adendum, Her family's name was Wilmot. Father, Oscar/ Mother, Clara/Brother Raymond (James)."Thanks to <Skelton94710@aol.com > for this family information.