Sioux Rapids Centennial 1855-1955
Mr. Risvold walked many miles over the top of the snow in order to deliver what mail did come in on teams, when they were able to get through. After being snowed in for quite some time and getting short of supplies how happy we were when Mr. Risvold had brought the mail to the corner near our place after walking over huge drifts. In the mail was a sample cake of yeast. Once more we had home made bread to eat as our supplies still consisted of some flour. How good it tasted after eating pancakes, biscuits and corn bread for several days.
Eggs and cream piled up as farmers were unable to deliver them to the market.
The snowfall had been heavy all winter and in February there was just one blizzard after another. Traffic was stopped, schools closed, coal was rationed and many pheasants lost their lives.
It was common sight to see caravans, so to speak, of bob sleds wending their way across fields and over fences trying to get to a neighbor or to town. For entertainment pop corn and apples were once more brought out, people were so happy to have radios as long as the batteries were charged up. H. R. Gross radio announcer over WHO certainly could make the weather sound cold. In fact it was cold. Telephone lines wee kept busy if you were lucky to be where the storms had not blown the poles down, as this was about the only connection with the outside world.
This winter of 1935-36 was just a glimpse into the good old times of yore.
Perhaps the next big storm Sioux Rapids had was the Armistice Day storm in 1904. The start was suddenness of the blizzard was responsible for the loss of 1,250 sheep that perished on the McGray farm tow miles west of Rembrandt. Huddled on a 688 acre section of land, the largest section of virgin land in Iowa, the 1, 400 head of sheep belonging to Ed Beck were caught in the path of the driving snow and only 150 survived.
A cold rain caused the loss of several thousand sheep in the field a few years ago.
Other losses wee heavy in this area, John Brummer (Sioux Rapids implement dealer, reported the loss of 50 hogs, Damage to turkeys was tremendous as the Peerless Hatchery lost more than 4,00 and Freil Plugman of Peterson reported a loss of 7,000. Lawrence Larson of near Linn Grove also reported a loss of 800 birds.
Armistice recess for the children proved lengthy for them in local schools. All roads in this territory were blocked and even the children in town found it difficult to get to the school house.
The storm took big pheasant toll in this area. Scores of birds were found dead along roadways and in groves. A request by the Iowa conservation Commission to cease the shoot of pheasants was issued because of the heavy losses.
But, after the winter, the spring always came to Sioux Rapids and the wild flowers lift their heads, the grass sends up new shoots, the birds sing and happiness and contentment is everywhere.
In the early days, just as the blizzards was the dread of winter, so the prairie fire loomed big in the summer: especially in the early fall when the grass was dry from the summer heat. Sometimes these fires were started by careless settlers or roving bands of Indians who would start a fire to scare small game from the tall grasses. Anyone who has seen the flames mounted high in a solid wall of fire would never forget. There is a certain fascination in bonfires in the spring or fall, but a prairies fire brings a sickening fear. But when they were one started they spread with the breeze with such fury, it was almost impossible to stop them. Most of the settlers would scan the skies cache night before going to bed, to make sure there was none. Even then many times the people would be awakened a nights, the house full of smoke and the skies painted fire red from the glow of the flames. This wall of flames would sometimes be fifteen feet high and a mile wide, leaping in the sky and roaring like demons turned loose.
The first thought was of their homes and property, plows were speedily put to work. Tow furrows were plowed around the building in an effort to protect them. Back fires were also used in an attempt to stop the oncoming menace.
Prairie fires had to be met head on, sometimes the gunny sack, the mop, the broom, old sacks or pieces of clothing were plunged in water and wielded by a brawny arm helped greatly in averting a serious loss.
There was one experience that George burr never forgot. It took place shortly after he was marred in 1878. A fire got started and with a strong wind coming up suddenly, the fire got out of control and a major prairie fir was soon underway, The flames jumped the Little Sioux River and raced northward twelve miles burning a strip tow miles wide.
Although he knew his place was safe, his only thought was to get word to his neighbors to the north and warn them of the fire. Riding his horse at top speed he raced ahead of the flames which threatened to overtake him.
He was able to spread the warning to a dozen or more settler in the path of the flames. The flames were stopped at a point northwest of Rossie where furrows were hurriedly plowed in tillable lands. As a result of his efforts, livestock and other property losses were averted. The memory of Mr. Burr will always be cherished by the many brave deeds and acts of kindness he did.
These are just some of the 'dark days' that will remain in the memories of those who called Sioux Rapids their home.
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