Sunday, January 15, 2017
The School Children's Blizzard of 1888
The blizzard hit in mid-afternoon following a pleasantly warm day. It took folks by surprise. Temperatures dropped to -20 degrees and the terrible wind reduced visibility to zero. Many of those who were caught away from shelter and tried to make their way home died. This was especially true for school children, whom the storm is named after. The storm killed 235 people and many more suffered frostbite.
Henry Paulsen was 11 years old when the blizzard hit Bennington on January 12, 1888. It only snowed 6 inches; however, the strong winds created drifts 5 to 15 feet high. He recalled after the storm was over, the only way they could get to the animals was through a door in the upstairs hayloft. It took over a week to dig out the entrance to the barn.
The following stories about the storm were taken from Wikipedia; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schoolhouse_Blizzard
Plainview, Nebraska. Lois Royce was trapped with 3 students in her school and by 3 pm they ran out of heating fuel. They attempted to reach her boarding house which was only 80 yards away but became lost in the blowing snow. All three children froze to death. She survived but lost both her feet to frostbite.
Holt County, Nebraska. Etta Shuttuck lost her way home and sought shelter in a haystack. She reminded there for 3 days until she was rescued. Her legs and feet had to be amputated and unfortunately she died of complications.
Great Plains, South Dakota. The school children were rescued by two men who tied a rope to the closest house and then headed for the school. They tied off the other end of the rope, letting the children follow the rope to safety.
Mira Valley, Nebraska. Minnie Freeman led 13 students to her home, half a mile away. She used a rope to keep the children together. All her students survived. She was heralded as "Nebraska's Fearless Maid"!