The cyclone of June 24, 1882, was probably the most destructive single storm disaster ever experienced in this county, occurring at six o'clock in the morning. It was first observed at Primghar to the northwest in two eddies or hanging streamers of cloud, being none other than whirling, irresistible maelstroms of air, called a cyclone. These two whirling movements of air seemed to unite just north and west of town. It did its first terrific work in the complete destruction of the Methodist church building, scattering its debris in its track for more than a mile to the southeast. The residence of William Hastings, just across the street, met a like fate. Mr. Hastings observed its approach in time to get his wife and children into the cellar, but himself was hurled a distance of over one hundred feet amid the flying timhers from the church and his own demolished home. Two other houses stood near. He aroused from a half insensible condition, where the gale dropped him near one of these houses, that of William J. Stewart, and dragged himself to a spot near the window and was pulled into the house through this window. It was first thought that his wounds were fatal and that he was dying, but by medical aid he was soon able to get around, though he felt the effects of his injuries the balance of his life. The family were imprisoned in the cellar, where their home had stood, but were uninjured. The other nearby house was occupied by W. H. Durham and family and that of his son-in-law, Walter Scott, and family. A long heavy timber from the church shot through the house endwise, striking Mr. Scott on the head, leaving him senseless on the floor, as if dead, and lying upon his infant child, which he held in his arms. Mr. Durham was likewise struck on the head by the same or another timber and stunned, but was soon able to assist. Walter Scott was still feebly breathing. He sustained a fractured cheek bone and lost an eye from a flying splinter. His case was at first thought hopeless. For a long time his brain was supposed to be injured at the base,


but careful nursing for a long period gradually improved his condition. He later removed to Lake Charles, Louisiana, but never fully rallied and died there from its results about 1895. Caleb G. Bundy, editor of the Primghar Times, resided immediately east of the church. It took half the roof and scattered the church debris all over the yard, tore down the chimney, part of the ceiling falling into the sitting room. The carriage sheds of Frank Tifft and barn of George Hakeman were demolished. A portion of the roof was torn from the home of Mrs. Henrietta Acre, in the southeast part of town. The Methodist Episcopal parsonage in the north part of town was twisted out of shape, and sundry smaller items of damage done in various parts of the town. The writer passed the church not more than five minutes prior to the time the storm struck the building and saw the intense whirling, destructive motion.
There seemed to be sundry unions and offshoots of this storm in various parts of the county. In Union township, on Mill creek, the barn of Alexander Davidson was demolished and his dwelling house ousted from the foundation. On the farm of W. P. Davis, six miles south of Primghar, his large barn and cattle sheds were destroyed; indeed, all but the dwelling. The large barn of John M. Thayer, in Dale, was destroyed and part of the house roof blown away. Harker & Green, in Highland, lost a barn and Riley Walling had his house shattered and foundation ruined. Mr. Walling and family escaped by quickly getting into a cave.
These whirls and spurs seemed to be everywhere in the air, and whenever the hanging cloud or strip, like a falling winding sheet, came down to earth there destruction was done. Up in Center township a vacant house was entirely blown away. Another spur in Highland carried away the house of Stewart King, and in the same township the house of Thomas Rollins was badly racked and twisted off the foundation. Mr. Rollins, on his way home from a neighbor's, was hurled into a hedge and badly bruised. A like offshoot veered to Sutherland where it did some damage. The general trend of the cyclone was towards the southeast. It next struck the house and barn of Fred Lemke, in Grant, and wiped them up as if so much chaff. The house, with the family in it, was actually rolled over and over, then jerked up in the air, and dashed on the ground into fragments. It was much commented on as one of the freaks of this class of storms that such destruction could be done and the family escape, and, as it was, one four year-old son, Robert, received an ugly gash in the face. A horse was badly crippled as the barn went flying into pieces. The Covey church, along the route of the storm, was badly shaken up and the gables torn off. One of the saddest accidents was at the home of William Haver. They saw it coming, but before they


could reach the house the walls and roof were whirled in every direction, a riving timber killing Mrs. Haver instantly. In the same township James Hiatt's house was destroyed. Luckily the family, as a summer convenience, were living in a tent. They were swirled up into the air and lit some distance away, uninjured. The house and stable of James Janes, on section 21, was destroyed, together with the stables of Ed Shepard, on section 10. At the homes of E. J. Frush and John Dakin in each case their stables were destroyed and houses uninjured. Mr. Lackey lost his residence. William Seeley's house was carried up into the air twice and dashed down before going to pieces. The family were carried several rods among the ruins, injuring Mr. Seeley severely, at first thought fatally, though he recovered, but his household goods were destroyed. Fortunately the family, when they saw it coming, sought refuge in the stronger granary and escaped. A large grove seemed to sufficiently protect and save the house of Don C. Berry, but his barn was destroyed. The Joseph DeMars family were among the unfortunate. Miss Elsie DeMars, a daughter of twenty years, was so badly injured that she died during the week. The collar bone of Mrs. DeMars was broken and her head and body lacerated. The three sons, Eugene, Samuel and Joseph. Jr., and Dina, the daughter, were badly injured. The house and barn of Thomas Jenkins were each crushed in and Mrs. Jenkins suffered a broken collar bone. The baby in the family was whirled away twenty rods and lodged in a pool of water uninjured. The barn of Richard M. Boyd, on section 14, was destroyed, actually driving many parts of the same into the ground, but losing only the roof of the house.
This same twister storm continued down into Waterman township, completely tearing to fragments the house of James Jenkins. Mrs. Jenkins was caught or wedged in between a barrel of lime and a hot stove and her eyes nearly burned from their sockets. The house of Oliva Marcott was swept away. They fortunately had a cave and escaped in that. The John DeTour residence was badly shattered in its upper story and a large part of the barn torn to pieces. At one point several feet of the building was left standing intact, showing the queer freaks of such twisters. Thomas Marcott, on section 12, lost his barn. His five year old boy was badly injured and died in a few days. Mr. Marcott also lost a roll of greenbacks amounting to six hundred dollars, which he never found. The house of Anthon Boyer, on section 11, was destroyed, though he himself was visiting at the home of William Conrad, just north of his house, and whose house was also demolished. Mr. Boyer had two ribs broken. Mrs. Conrad's skull was fractured and shoulder injured, while a son, Lennie had a hip broken, Mattie an arm broken and


Lilly injured in the back, while Mrs. Conrad was otherwise lacerated. The house of Abram Opdyke was torn to pieces and an upper floor fell upon and fatally injured him. He died the following day.


Just as this history is ready for the press, and on this June 5, 1914, at six o'clock P. M., occurred one of the most destructive cyclones ever in the county. It was first observed by our citizens in the county, when it struck several set of farm buildings, demolishing them and stripping several groves of trees of their barks completely, just south of Hospers, over in Sioux county, entering O'Brien county near that point.
Its first and perhaps worst destruction in the county was by a spur of the cyclone rushing in furious force through Carroll township, running nearly on a bee line north on the section line, commencing near the farm of M. F. McNutt, on the southeast corner of section 16, demolishing all his extensive set of buildings, curiously leaving his house intact and largely destroying his grove. The main maelstrom of air whirling in a circle as it proceeded, being from one-half to three-quarters of a mile in width, and its center of activity being squarely on the highway, destroyed practically all, namely about fifteen sets of farm buildings, each in value running from six to fifteen thousand dollars, including also groves torn up literally by the roots as it proceeded. One very sad death occurred in this township, the little grandchild of John Bilsland, one of the earliest settlers. M. D. Finch, another of the oldest settlers, was himself very severely injured and his buildings and grove destroyed. Perhaps the worst havoc in any one spot in its path was the total destruction of the buildings and grove of Fred Nelson. In the destructions of groves the trees of thirty and forty years growth were torn up by the roots and piled in confused heaps. Live stock lay dead right and left. Household goods, furniture, with the debris of buildings, were scattered over whole quarter sections of land, and to such an extent that the plowing of corn could not be proceeded with on many fields until the debris was removed and collected. Pianos were found in corn fields, and clothing and sacred relics of home hung in shreds and pieces on the barbs of fences and everywhere. Wire fences with posts were torn up and stripped loose and warped through the growing grain with such force and velocity as actually to burn in spots from the electricity and velocity of movement of wires. All the curious freaks were performed that are told of cyclones, all too much for detailed description. While a stunning blow to all the farmers in this long


path of ruin, even yet they were perhaps better able to stand its money value than the ruin to immediately follow within a few short minutes to the town of Sanborn, and some of its many poorer people, many with but a house and modest home.
Indeed the whole heavens of the north part of the county seemed to be under a fateful pulsation of electric current and the whirling streamers higher up in the heavens or lower down near the ground as "the wind blew where it listeth."
The spur striking Sanborn was just a little higher up on the average than the Carroll township spur, smashing in a larger number of the tops of the buildings and leaving the main body partly intact but shivered up. This latter was true up Main street for some three blocks. It first hit the round house, demolishing it in part, then overturning in a mass of ruin two elevators, thence up Main street, as stated, thence turning to the northeast, doing all manner of the curious and the freakish in vengeful whim of devastation, barely and fortunately missing the forty-thousand-dollar school building, but just across the street destroying the city park and city water tank and water works. The telephone system of the whole east half of the city was one hopeless tangle of wires.
Two very sad deaths resulted in Sanborn. Patrick Donoughue, a prosperous clothing merchant, was lifted into the air full thirty feet or more, as stated by eye witnesses, and hurled to the ground one hundred and fifty feet away to his death. James Duymstra, a young man, was also killed. About twenty people were injured, many seriously. About one hundred buildings were damaged in varied degrees. The loss in dollars to the town reached a quarter of a million. It would be impossible to sketch in detail the thousand merciless havoc incidents. It proceeded north, repeating its destruction up as far as the D. M. Norton farm, near the Osceola county line, destroying his buildings. It landed the whirlpool of another streamer into Melvin, with considerable destruction. If it had to be such a fate, its chosen hour of the day was fortunate, rather than still later in the evening or night. As a whole, it was a county-wide historic calamity.


The city of St. Paul for several years erected an ice palace. It was elegant. The light of the sun shining on a prism of either glass or ice will produce the seven colors of the rainbow. The same sun shining on all the angles and architecture of a mammoth pile of ice would all but reflect the Aurora


Borealis. But St. Paul was reminded that it was harming the state of Minnesota in advertising the wrong kind of a crop. This might tend to frighten. But O'Brien county has been tested out for now fifty-eight years. She has had a few bad features and had some wrong things done as herein recited, and we have recited both the bad and the good. But we will find that the good and the good in abundance so overtops and overtowers the bad features in general results, that we can safely even state that we have blizzards and snow storms and occasionally an early hard frost. For instance, in one year a very early cold wave in September, before the corn was ripe or hard, actually froze the corn in the milk until it was left soft, which made the cattle's mouths sore to eat it. It was indeed a loss. But even in that year the other crops were so bountiful that it was no insurmountable calamity after all. It is a praise to the county that in so many years only one such year befell its people. The other great years of plenty, so many in number, have so filled Pharaoh's and Jacob's corn cribs that automobiles continue to move and be purchased by the hundreds. Hogs occasionally have an epidemic of cholera, but we keep right on raising hogs, Sheeney or no Sheeney. O'Brien county has indeed been quite free from what may be termed an overwhelming calamity. Likewise we may have blizzards and snow storms, but O'Brien county has the money to buy fur coats and the school boy in glee will continue to throw snow balls just the same. The early settler felt these blizzards more severely, for his home was but a shack; there were no trees for wind break; his clothes corresponded, and besides there were no definite straight roads to lead the wanderer home. We must record some serious experiences, however.
The writer was on the street in that awful blizzard of January, 1888, in Primghar. In its first dash, it was not that it was so fearfully cold, for the snow was damp and slushy, and the thermometer then twenty decrees above zero. It came down in slush, the wind blew a gale, the snow sheets (in fact they were more like snow bed quilts), like a young avalanche, striking the face, shoulders, ears and eyes, so suddenly, a surprise, followed by bewilderment, that it was literally true that it was so overwhelming, dash after dash, that it was not only an effort but a struggle to get into one's own house even from his own door yard. This was just dusk. Later on in the night the colder wave struck and the thermometer went down to thirty-six degrees below zero, or a change of sixty-six degrees, and froze this slush to ice. The wayfarer became exhausted in the first struggle and five persons lost their lives in O'Brien county in that awful night of storm. We will give some


experiences as examples of what were duplicated over many counties adjoining.
Frank N. Derby, county treasurer, at that time lived in the south part of Primghar, and in an effort to get home from his office had an awful experience, he would have failed had it not been for two items. His wife had placed a light in the window. But even this would not have saved him had he not by accident run into the wire fence, which he held fast to and followed the wire, but even then as he entered his house fell exhausted on the floor from his flounderings with the storm.
William H. Bilsland, a homesteader in Carroll township, had a fearful experience and his two sisters, Jennie, aged twenty-five, and Tillie, aged twenty-two, met their sad fate in death. He had made a trip to court at Primghar. The two sisters were at the father's home on the road. They undertook to go home with him in the sleigh. The blizzard struck them with full force, and the horses refused to go, indeed could not in such a gale and blinding storm. The sleigh tongue broke and the horses were detached. An effort was made to ride the horses, but that was unavailing. The sisters became exhausted. They dug as much of a hole in the snow as they could for a possible shelter until morning. Mr. Bilsland wrapped his own fur coat around the two, but, sad to record, it became their blizzard grave and the blinding snow their winding sheet. Mr. Bilsland himself struggled and floundered on, throughout the whole night, lost his direction and finally in the morning found himself miles away from his supposed position. It was a testing time even with a hardy life. None but a strong man, buoyed up by the hope of saving his sisters, could have baffled this battle storm, he to only save, and barely save, his own life.
This sad experience was only paralleled by the pitiful experience in Baker township, just south a few miles, during the same midnight hours. The wife, sister and child of Thomas Kjermoe were in the first instance safe in their own home, but, evidently frightened at the terrible fury of the storm, undertook to get to what seemed a safer place with a neighbor and relative living near. The only record of their awful experience during that terrible night that can ever be told are our conclusions from the grim evidence of death of the three frozen bodies, found two days after, lying cold in death in the snow only forty rods from their own home and place of safety they had so unfortunately left.
In Dale township also, in this same storm, Mrs. Anderson and her very aged mother and son, ten years old, were found in the snow drifts dead.


They, too, had become frightened and left their home to escape, as they thought, to a neighbor's. The cloak of Mrs. Anderson was found where she had tenderly wrapped it around the mother.
George C. Godfrey, of Paullina, and his two neighbors, Isaac L. Rerick and L. A. Douglass, were caught in this storm going home from Primghar, and struggled for hours, but luckily followed a fence which led to Mr. Godfrey's house and escaped. Sam Norland, living near Paullina, was likewise caught, but very fortunately stumbled on to a straw stack, dug a hole and remained in it unharmed until morning. E. B. Pike, of Sheldon, started with his team for Hull, when the storm struck him. He lost his bearings and wandered over the wild prairies all the night, but just at morning found a hay stack and saved himself, having a narrow escape.
The winters of 1871 and 1872 were each severe, and the early settlers had some bitter experiences, though no lives were lost in the winter of 1871. In the winter of 1872 John Miller was caught in a blizzard near Mill creek, west of Primghar, with a load of flour. To save himself he threw the flour sacks in the road and undertook the race for life on horseback. He was all but exhausted when he arrived home, thankful even to save his life.
In 1872 a young man named Fred Beach, from Iowa City, a friend of Houston Woods and Mrs. Roma W. Woods (one of the advisory board in this history), came to Old O'Brien to visit those old homesteaders, and, with no experience in a new country, undertook to make the trip across the bleak prairie in a blizzard to their home, about seven miles awav. To accommodate Mr. Woods and other neighbors, he had also attempted to carry out their mail. He also had with him a pup dog sent from Iowa City to Mr. Woods. He evidently lost his bearings and started up the wrong creek towards, as he supposed, Mr. Woods' homestead, and lost his life in a blizzard snow bank grave.
The winter of 1880 was a memorable one, with immense snow banks, but fortunately the snow was dry and did not reach those death-dealing stages of the other winters. However, it was long spoken of as a blizzard winter from the mere quantity of snow. The Milwaukee railroad had not yet built its snow fences. It was said that the snow shovelers in many places had to throw it up, and then up again, even to fifteen feet high. Much snow blindness resulted with the snow shovelers, it lasting all winter. Indeed that year the writer saw heavy, hard crusted snow banks in Albright's grove adjoining Primghar as late as June.
It was that year when John H. Gear, governor of Iowa, issued a proclamation or order to the Milwaukee and other roads to remove the snow from


their tracks at all hazards and get coal to the needy people. The snow remained a depth of solid packed, crusted snow of three and four feet on the level all winter. The farmers in the various parts of the county turned out in large bodies to shovel and cut out the roadways to the towns. In a number of funerals the coffins were skidded by hand to the homes and burials had in the farm yards until spring. During that hard winter the writer, as county auditor, had the winter's coal for the court house hauled all the way from Cherokee, the town of Primghar then having no railroad. In many homes that winter the families had not fully provided themselves with the hay fuel, and the prairie grass was covered with this great bed of snow, coal was practically out of the question and the then small groves were not large enough to make wood. There were no telephones, neighbors were nearly all long distances apart, and even the trip to secure help was often a serious matter. With the now better homes and barns and buildings, with straightened roads, and houses closer together, these experiences could hardly be duplicated at the present time.


O'Brien county citizens will never again see the grand sight of a genuine prairie fre. It was a condition, like the prairie sod, never to be repeated. It took thousands of years to create that condition. The tall prairie grass in the fall, when deadened by the frosts, burned like tinder. Conceive this grass to be from eight inches to four feet high (old settlers say they have seen it six feet high), and then apply the principle that heat rises and creates its own wind even on a still day; then add to that a high wind; then picture what havoc fire can do; then add the hay stacks, bursting in air, which gave proof through the night that those stacks were still there; then get the conception of the fact that many prairies stretched for thirty or more unimpeded miles, and that a high wind would carry this seething, roaring, consuming fire and mass of flames often ten to fifteen feet high, with dense smoke and cinders flying all over and high in the air, all piling flame after flame, and actually going as fast as a horse can run. The writer has thus seen lines of these fires, running zigzag here, and in a straight line there, then a specially tall twenty acres of slough grass burst forth with unusual energy and creating its own wind, for ten miles each way, the crackling of hundreds of tons of this grass, sounding like the rumbling of distant thunder and lighting up the heavens on a dark night like the Aurora Borealis or northern lights. It was indeed grand, but, as can be seen, it was serious, and these fires were a menace tc the lone homesteader, then on a treeless prairie, living in a shack


shanty, with no money, as likewise to the hundreds of haystacks put up for winter use, or put up by these haying companies on a large scale. The homesteader soon learned to put up much more than he needed that he might provide against these fires, and. as there was plenty and labor the only outlay, he could do that easily. These people soon learned by experience to prepare fire breaks, by plowing strips around these stacks and around their homes, ten or more rods apart, and on a still day burn the strip between, but even then the fire would often bound over and beyond and clean out either a home or all the hay. They also soon learned that it was safer to leave fifty or more tons, or twenty stacks, scattered here and there over the prairie, with plowing around each stack, than to stack it all around the home and risk his all in one fire. At times these high winds would carry a bunch of blazing prairie grass high into the air and these precautions prove unavailable. The burning haystacks would only scatter the danger. Single fires have thus been known to burn over a full fourth of the county, and thence on to other counties, all in one fire. The next day this whole prairie would look like one drapery of death in mock funeral destruction, with the black ashes or dust moving in the heavens in streamers of black smoke, and working destruction to more than one home and winter's feed for stock. It was indeed a grand spectacle, now never again to be seen in the county.


In those early days, say 1875-1885, the tall prairie grass grew right in the public square of Primghar and in the streets of every town in the county. The writer remembers one little incident during those years, of sitting on the sidewalk of the main street of Sheldon with an old settler, with the prairie grass up to our knees, and of our remarking at the time that the grass was literally growing under our feet. The town was not yet old enough for this grass to have been tramped out. Fairly good sized prairie fires have thus burned within the limits of the towns of the county, on prairie grass. On perhaps half a dozen occasions the writer has seen a sudden scurry, a fire company organized impromptu, each citizen hurrying with a pail of water, a mop, an old gunny sack or a spade to pound out a streak of fire, as one of these long lines of fire would come sweeping towards the town, citizens hurrying to the blacksmith shop to break it open and draft into service the farmer's plows left there to be sharpened, while other citizens were hurrying to the livery to impress the available horses, to plow two strips around the town, and then to back fire the strip between to save the town, meantime the women and


children using the dampened mops and gunny sacks and spades fighting fire to save the town from burning.


The grasshoppers and the county debt were indeed twin scourges of the early day. The grasshoppers lasted for seven years, or perhaps it should be said from five to seven in the different localities. They were not merely the common, small, tame grasshoppers seen each year along the edges of the pastures. They were known as, and called, the "rocky mountain locust." Their natural home and hatching ground was in the arid, dry sands and soil of the west. They were visitors. In size they were often three inches in length. They did not belong to this region. The scientist has claimed that they never returned, but that each succeeding year, in this damper region that they degenerated in size and strength and finally disappeared. They were prolific, active, saucy and destructive and no remedy for their practical destruction was found. As one wag got it off, "You could catch one grasshopper and kill him, but you had a job on your hands with the whole bunch." They deposited their eggs in large numbers in the dry, mellow, soft dirt of recent plowing. The sun was the old hen that hatched them out. It may seem like an extravagant, overdone story to state the fact, as the writer himself did on many occasions, namely, gather up within a few feet a handful of from fifty to a hundred eggs, and hold them in the hands in the sun, and within twenty minutes they would expand and hatch out and jump off the hand, hop, hopper, a full frisky grasshopper, ready to light on the tender wheat or corn blade, in preference to the tougher prairie grass. They had a choice. They had been in the country before, but not in such countless numbers. When they arose in the millions in great clouds, they literally would dim and cloud the sun. When thus in the air they would usually fly with the wind and at a tremendous velocity. The sun shining on their silvery yellow wings, their rapid movements gave them the appearance of shooting stars. Their incisors and well-boring outfit were in proportion, in effect and size, only ten times increased to the blood-boring outfit of a good sized mosquito. These sets of tools could down a large field of wheat or corn in a short time, with many hands doing quick work.
They first came in 1873. In 1877, the year the writer arrived, the people were undergoing the blues of Blue Monday indeed. They were still in considerable numbers in 1878 and were practically gone in 1879. The year of 1873 was excessively dry. This resulted in enough ancestral grasshoppers


to keep up the family for the six succeeding years. The strong, hot southwest and westerly winds rousing them up in a myriad cloud, in clash and movement of millions of wings would often sound like the roaring of a storm.
The Sioux City Journal in one issue said. "Farmers should not get discouraged." It was hard to tell whether this was intended to be humorous, serious.or grim irony or satire. One wag put it: "In the (s)wheat bye and bye." Another wag got it off that "The impudent little cusses would work hard all day, boring wells into his corn stalks, eating, sucking and destroying his corn, and then in the evening would light and line up on his fences and posts and squirt corn juice in his face." All kinds of remedies and suggestions were made and tried out. Some dug a ditch along the held to stop their progress in part. This, however, was doing it just a little. Each remedy fell just a little short. Others tried a long trough filled with kerosene to drag along the fields with a horse, and get them emmeshed with the liquid, but this was only the old woman with her broom sweeping back the waters. The Eastern people and papers said we had all the plagues of Egypt. This did not assist emigration.
The grasshopper was indeed an early settler. He settled on the grain. He was a pioneer. He established his own right by possession. Just imagine, if the reader will, a penniless homesteader, planting corn for a sod crop, and that his first year in the county, as he would laboriously with an ox team turn up five to six inches of solid unsubdued sod of vigorous prairie grass roots in a dry season, and depending on that first crop to winter these oxen or span of horses a cow or two, a few hogs and also to support himself and family for the winter, with the farm machine man sticking a promissory note at him and threatening to sue him if he did not pay up. This was humorous again, as old Captain Edwards, county auditor, said to the machine note man, "Dod blame it, boys, that's right: sue 'em, put 'em in judgment, I can add 'em up better then."
This fact is probably true, however, with all the damage they did, that now in these later prosperous years of plenty, O'Brien county could feed all those grasshoppers and not miss it. But then they took it all. One man on a whole section of land, with twenty-five acres of first-year sod corn, did not last even a day sometimes.
Like all other new countries, the settler bought too much machinery, and during all these seven years and for years afterward these promissory notes became due with interest added. One machine agent came to Cherokee to meet one of these homesteaders, and took a photograph of one of these haytwisters, with his feet and legs wrapped up in gunnysacking in lieu of


shoes, with all other clothes to match, and sent it in to the house. Chattel mortgages were given galore, for machine notes, for groceries, for bread. There is one chattel mortgage on the records of O'Brien county actually covering a coffee mill with some other household articles. No wonder they were willing to catch some gophers for the bounty offered and take a county warrant, and even press the matter beyond the limit.
At the September session, 1876, the board of supervisors, on petition of these now distracted homesteaders, by resolution declared all taxes of residents unavailable and cancelled them from the tax lists. This petition and resolution also directed itself to Congress and relief committees for help and relief. Other counties likewise joined who were similarly afflicted. Some citizens, however, held back, fearing that this advertising of those troubles would injure later on in securing settlers.
During the darkest year of 1874, State Senator Samuel H. Fairall, of Iowa City, and our own George D. Perkins, state senator from this district, made a tour of these northwestern counties of Iowa and on the convening of the Legislature in January, 1875, recommended an appropriation of a loan of one hundred and five thousand dollars to these northwest counties, but to be paid back. The Legislature reduced the amount to fifty thousand dollars, but made it an out-an-out donation, which was distributed for seed grain to those most needy. This was supplemented also by contributions from relief committees over the country. This making it a donation instead of a loan was the proper thing, as it took many years for those homesteaders of O'Brien and other counties to remedy their conditions.
A committee of the Legislature, composed of Representatives Brown and Tasker, came to Sheldon in March, following and made the distribution, but, as can be seen, even this large sum permitted but a small amount to each homesteader, just sufficient to get seed in the spring, the orders being "to exercise the utmost caution and to supply only the most needy, as it was an emergency measure." Gen. N. B. Baker, of the governor's staff, was the general manager for the distribution of this relief. The people were very grateful, however, as the item of seed grain actually determined the question in many cases whether the homesteader either would or could stick for another year, or dig out, as the expression went. Probably, however, like the prairie sod, like the homesteader, like the Indian, like the pioneer, like the then grasshopper in the millions, these conditions only happen or occur but once. When done and gone they were gone forever. Therefore they were historic.
In these later years of prosperity and plenty, in this year 1914, it would


seem absurd to think that the resolution following could ever have been seriously adopted in O'Brien county. Those who have never experienced the ravages for seven years of millions and clouds of grasshoppers would hardly believe it. But in 1873 it was serious. It may be curiously observed that the word grasshoppers was not used. Like the silent lips of death, it was not necessary. The names therein given, however, were among Sheldon's most reliable citizens. In this history we have refrained from inserting long petitions on various subjects, but we cannot abbreviate it in this case and express the due distress of the people during those years and at same time give the proceedings and names of those responsible people taking part. The following was the report of the meeting and resolution:
From the Sioux City Journal of December 6, 1873 ‐"Sheldon, Iowa, December 1, 1873.‐Pursuant to a call of the citizens of Sheldon, a meeting was held at Sheldon, November 29, 1873, to take steps for relief to the needy homesteaders of O'Brien county. Meeting was called to order by J. A. Brown, H. D. Wiard was chosen chairman, and E. F. Parkhurst, secretary. The following resolutions were presented and adopted:
"Whereas many of the people of O'Brien county, through the unfortunate failure of crops last season, are needing such aid and assistance from others as is necessary to carry their families through the winter, and procure seed for their land in the spring; therefore, be it;
"Resolved, that we appoint a committee of eight to apply to such other parts of the state for what is needed, and to distribute the same when received, among such families as require it."
"Resolved, that the committee report from time to time a list of such goods as are received and that names of the families to whom they are distributed and what each one received."
"The following persons were elected as that committee: J. A. Brown, H. C. Lane, Ben. Jones, Eli Biarsh, Eli F. Woods, M. G. McClellan, E. F. Parkhurst and E. W. Evans.
"It was voted that a copy of the minutes of this meeting be sent to the Sheldon Mail, Sioux City Journal and State Journal, with a request for publication.
"H. D. Wiard, Chairman.
"E. F. Parkhurst, Secretary."

O'Brien County Iowa Genealogy - The IAGenWeb Project