Dakota Territory Homesteader Gets Lost in Blizzard

Blizzard in Dakota Territory resulted in homesteader's horse up on a roof.

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This story dates back to the early '80s when my father was homesteading in the north central part of the Dakota Territory. He lived alone for eight or nine years before he married. As often as he could, he visited relatives in the Red River Valley. Usually he made the journey in one day with his driving horse, Bronco Bill, hitched to a buggy in summer and to a cutter in winter.

One winter morning after visiting relatives, he left for home. It clouded up and began to snow; in the afternoon the wind came up, and soon a blizzard raged. When darkness set in, Father had no idea where he was. He held the reins, and Bill trudged into the storm. The going was slow.

Snowbanks from previous snows that winter were huge and solid, and Old Bill was walking on one when he stopped suddenly. Father noticed a scraping sound under the cutter and got out to see what was wrong. Then he heard a dog bark and saw a glimmer of light, and a man was hollering "Who's up there?"

It was the familiar voice of a homesteader who lived four miles from Father's claim. The joy of those men was indescribable as they worked to get horse and cutter down from the roof. The snow had drifted up to the low slanting roof of the shack and Old Bill had found his way to safe refuge. 

Mrs. P. F. Rosproy 
Spearville, Kansas

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.