Elsie Frum, 108; Survived Disastrous Johnstown Flood

Times Wire Services

Elsie Frum, a survivor of the disastrous Johnstown flood of 1889, one of the nation’s worst natural disasters, died in her sleep Wednesday. She was 108.

Mrs. Frum was 6 when she and her family escaped the raging floodwaters that pushed a wall of buildings, railway cars, trees and bodies down the Little Conemaugh River and smashed into the city.

The May 31, 1889, flood killed 2,209 people and spawned a $10-million centennial celebration during which Mrs. Frum gained celebrity status.

She reminisced for reporters about that fateful day:


“I recall my father running into the house and grabbing hold of one of us kids. He said, ‘The dam had broken, get out!’ So we got out . . . and the force of it just took everything.” The family fled to a hilltop.

She also described the bodies lying in a church awaiting coffins that were being made by her father and others.