Father Anticipates Great Blizzard of 1886

Kansas settler prepares for worst, and Great Blizzard hits just as he returns home.

| Good Old Days

The Great Blizzard of January 6, 1886, found my father, my mother and two children living on a Kansas claim. The day preceding the blizzard was so warm the cattle stood and drank water because of the heat. My father feared a storm and drove two cow ponies and a light wagon to the new village 18 miles away to lay in a supply of foodstuff and fuel. They couldn't keep chickens because the prairie country was so overrun by gray wolves. Cornbread, beans and sorghum were the main bill of fare.

Father drove home with his supplies and prepared for the worst. A few minutes after he got back, the wind changed and a raging blizzard began. By morning the temperature had dropped to 40 below zero.

People in dugouts had the best chance of making it; those in sod houses had a 50-50 chance. People froze to death; cattle on the range stood in groups frozen into a huge icicle. Even rabbits froze. The family sat wrapped in heavy woolen bed clothing by a roaring fire in the old heating stove with a drum. It was three days before it was safe to venture outside.

Carrie Omeara
Caldwell, Kansas

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then CAPPERr’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. 

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