Friday, January 8, 2010
Experience Helps a City
One story which relates to Baptist history in Troy and also the 1913 Flood in Troy is a tale concerning one Brooks Joshua Johnson.
Brooks Johnson was born in Troy in 1878 and, like most boys through time, dreamed of all the wonderful things he might do with his life one day.
In an effort to raise Brooks on her own, as best as she could, his mother took him regularly to the First Baptist Church on West Franklin Street. In time, Brooks came to the realization of his need for forgiveness and God's mercy, so he received Christ Jesus as his Savior and was scheduled to join the Baptist Church through baptism.
Well, if you know anything about Baptists you know they immerse people as symbolic of their identification with Jesus' Death and Resurrection. So, one of the last things Mrs. Johnson reminded her son to do was to be sure to take off his brand new shoes before he went into the water. Brooks remembered to remove his shoes . . . but, then he carried them down into the baptistry with him and, of course, soaked them in the process! It would not be surprising to find out that some may have thought his future did not hold too much promise after that fiasco.
But Brooks Johnson made out well! He eventually became the manager of The Western Union Telegraph office in Troy, where he learned the trade inside out; he then was deputy sheriff for several years; but finally made his way into his lifelong occupation as clerk of courts for the county, an elected position.
While waiting to enter office, and in between two jobs, the 1913 Flood devastated the Miami Valley, which includes Troy. Many lives were lost from Sidney to Cincinnati and millions of dollars in damage occurred as a result of the flooding.
Raging waters severed lines of communication and most places were without contact with those outside the flood region. According to one biographical notation, Brooks stayed up for two days and nights utilizing his telegraph expertise in order to wire the lines together and help Troy be one of the first communties in the Miami Valley to make contact with authorities and expedite assistance from the 'outside world.'
Experience in the telegraph business helped Brooks Johnson play an important part in assisting his town in a time of need. Obviously, he was not afraid of the water, he was already baptised. I just wonder if he got his shoes wet.