Program On Austin’s Cora Brooks Scheduled Friday

From Potter County Today

An unusual program is scheduled for the next meeting of the Potter County Historical Society. Focus will be on the life of Cora Brooks, an unlikely hero in the Sept. 30, 1911, Austin flood. Margaret Crosby will present the program at the museum on North Main Street in Coudersport, across from the post office, at 7:30 pm Friday, July 30. Cora Brooks operated a brothel on the hillside overlooking the Bayless Pulp and Paper Company dam, which gave way in 1911, unleashing a torrent that killed upwards of 80 people and destroyed much of the town of Austin. Brooks contacted telephone operators to warn townspeople that the flood waters were coming. After the disaster, she allowed flood victims to stay at her home.

Margaret Crosby (left) has been researching Brooks’ life since her marriage to Austin native Dustin Crosby, a descendant of Brooks’s. She has combed through accounts in newspapers, court documents, and cemetery records.

Despite her checkered past, Brooks’s actions after the flood earned her the appreciation of townspeople, who circulated a petition pleading for mercy in the pending court case. Friday’s meeting is open to the public.

Article courtesy of the Potter County Commissioners.

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