Circuit Rider Preacher's Decision Puts Couple in Blizzard

Couple barely survives fierce Nebraska blizzard after circuit rider preacher decides to call on parishioners.

| Good Old Days

It was New Year's Eve more than 150 years ago when David Marquette, a circuit rider preacher in the southeast Nebraska area, left the warmth of his hearth and went to the barn to hitch old Prince to the cutter. He admonished his wife, Huldah, "Now wrap up warm and bring the buffalo robe."

Huldah was used to these sudden urges of her husband to visit his parishioners. She laid down the sock she was knitting, put a cottonwood log on the fire, adjusted the damper and wrapped the sad irons in some burlap to put at their feet.

It was just past sundown as they started to visit a family whose home was two miles distant. Six inches of freshly fallen snow muffled the sound of Prince's steady trot over the rugged trail. Suddenly the left runner of the sleigh slid into a deep cut in the road, tipping the sled at a precarious angle.

David unscrambled himself from the warmth of the robe and found the runner bent inward. He pulled the sled onto solid ground. Not being one to turn back, he led the horse while Huldah remained in the up tilted seat. It would be only a short distance to the little stream on the opposite bank of which was the dugout home they were headed for.

In the gathering darkness, he missed the crossing over the ice-stilled stream. For more than an hour he led the horse along the tree-lined bank searching for the crossing. The wind had risen, blowing gusts of snow in their faces. Weary from battling the snow, David unhitched the horse and tied him to a tree. He and Huldah sought shelter from the icy wind near the bed of the creek.

The moon became visible from behind scurrying clouds and with renewed hope David turned back to right the sleigh and get his horse. But Prince had loosened his lightly tied reins and was gone. Taking the fur robe and woolen shawl, David and Huldah set out on foot to try to find shelter from the bitter cold. But they were hopelessly lost.

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