Depression Era: Dust Storms Caused Tragedies

Missourian remembers dust storms killing cattle and people during the depression era

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Prior to the depression era, people began plowing up most all the sod and making wheat fields. They disced the sod until the clods were all broken and then harrowed it down smooth. Well, the wind didn't stop blowing and we had dust storms. It wasn't unusual.

One nice summer day my husband and two little girls were outside and said there was a storm coming. There was dirt rolling in the air from the north, from the west and the east. He brought the girls to the house and went back and shut the windmill off. It hit and he had to hang onto the fence and follow it to the house because he couldn't see.

We didn't have electricity and I was afraid to light the lamp. It blew for three days. Next morning we went to the barn to milk, we had left the cows in the barn. Three milk cows were dead. They had been choked to death by dust. Almost all the families had dust pneumonia, large amounts of people died with pneumonia.

Still the wind blew all the thirties. But, now people began to plant grass where it should have been this whole time. Now the prairies are getting where they are very pretty.

Fern Jacobs
Rocky Comfort, Missouri

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.