According to “On the night of March 14, 1859, the Baraboo River, greatly swollen by spring rains and melting snow, went on a rampage, taking out a dam that supplied power for the flour mill of Bassett and Pratt. The flour mill was then the ‘largest institution of its kind for many miles around and about it centered the interest of the entire community’. Nearly 500 men responded to the catastrophe. The progress of the water was checked by the felling of trees. The flour in the mill was hauled to safety with team and wagons. The flood caused damage to the lower Maxwell Dam.” To see what life was like then in Baraboo — and throughout much of southern Wisconsin at the time — read by settler Charles Abbott to his family in New Hampshire. “It is a universal rule here to help one another…,” he writes. You can find materials about the history of your own community in our online collection of .