Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sunday Stories: Blizzard of 1913

The storm described in the newspaper article below is very reminiscent of the Atlas Blizzard that so recently struck South Dakota and Nebraska. Heavy rain, heavy wet snow and 50-60 mph winds combined do as much damage today as it did 100 years ago.

Excerpted from: McPherson County: Facts, Families, Fiction; Established in 1890

Worst Blizzard for Many Years
Storm Starts Thursday and Stops Saturday, March 14, 1913
Five Thousand Cattle Perish
In McPherson County – Storm Extends over Several States – Wind at Times was Fifty to Sixty Miles an Hour.

Last Thursday afternoon at about three o’clock it commenced to rain which soon turned to sleet and then to snow and by eight o’clock this country was experiencing one of the worst blizzards ever known in this section. It raged all night and by morning with a wind blowing at from fifty to sixty miles an hour, it was almost unsafe for anyone to venture out of doors. For this reason can be accounted the great loss of stock. The snow, which was wet and as fine as flour, penetrated the smallest cracks and filled up barns and hen houses and virtually smothered horses, cattle, hogs, sheep and chickens. Houses, which were supposed to be proof against rain, were almost like sieves with the snow as nearly everyone reports that they had to shovel snow out of their homes.

Every house and store in Tryon was damaged by snow melting in the lofts and running through the ceilings and onto the goods. Mike David’s ware room was almost full of snow and so was I.C. Heldebrand’s.

No lives were lost in this section, but there were several narrow escapes. One family, who recently moved here from Oklahoma, was living in a tent. They stayed there until Friday morning when the wind whipped the tent in tatters. Their shelter gone, they started for a neighbor’s house about a mile away, which they finally reached after a hard struggle.

Nebraska was not the only state hit by the storm of last Friday as reports show loss of life in South Dakota, Colorado, Wyoming, Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois, all suffered from the storm. Tennessee and Georgia were hard hit by a wind and hail storm and reports say that 100 people were killed in those states.

Two railroad wrecks on the Union Pacific, one at Gothenburg and the other at Sidney was caused by the storm. Several people were killed and about thirty injured.

Aside from the loss of stock, which will probably reach $300,000, McPherson will not suffer like some of the counties in the eastern and southern states were so many lives were lost.

It did not seem to make much difference in this county whether the stock was in the barns, sheds or on the range. Some housed their stock to save them and others had to turn them out of sheds and barns and onto the range to keep them from smothering.

Up to the time of going to press the following losses have been reported in McPherson County: Chas. E. Haney 45 cattle; J.W. Newberry 75 cattle; F.W. Klump 17 cattle; Dewey Weisner 100 cattle; Chas. E. Daly 45 cattle and four horses; H.A. Walker 42 cattle; L.C. Reneau two horses; S.E. Clothier one horse and one hog; Elmer Waits two horses; Wm. Coleman 50 sheep; John Clifford six sheep; R.J. Stack three cattle and 21 hogs; C.L. Moore 32 horses; A.F. Hatch 40 cattle; Ed Myers 1000 cattle; Whitewater Ranch 1000 cattle; H. Armstrong three horses; N.L. Reuter & Co. 32 cattle; W.J. Kahoe eight cattle; Kirts Bros. 33 cattle and two horses; H.E. Pinkerton 40 cattle; Lew Davis 10 cattle; Steve Davis one cow; James Currie two horses; J. Dunkin one cow and one hog; W.H. Zenor seven cattle and two horses; Martin Carothers 19 cattle and five horses; Wm Miller three cattle and 6 hens; John Miller y7 cattle and 1 horse; B.K. Wright 8 cattle; John Palmer 400 cattle; Foster Bros. 90 cattle; O’Brien Bros. 210 cattle; John Booze 6 cattle; Chas. Chessmore 10 cattle; Harry Pinkerton 100 cattle; C.G. Jewett 350 cattle; Chas. Kramer 85 cattle; Ed Able 85 cattle; Frank Kubal 16 cattle; R. Pfeiffer 16 cattle; Maurice Trumbull 12 cattle; E. Close 7 cattle; B. Aufdengarten 125 cattle; Herman Aufdengarten 14 cattle; Yarnell Bros. 7 cattle.

There may be, and undoubtedly is, others who have suffered loss, but the above is all we have been able to hear of. It is estimated that close to 5000 head of stock perished during the storm in McPherson County alone.

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