In 1873, we had what the old-timers call a “grasshopper” year. One day there came in sight, away to the southwest, a queer greyish-looking cloud. As it came nearer and got between us and the sun, it looked more curious still, and my mother made the remark to a neighbor who happened to be at our house, that this was the queerest looking rain-cloud she had ever seen. The neighbor looked up and exclaimed: “Why, that isn’t a rain cloud, that’s grasshoppers!” And
grasshoppers they were, as we found out to our sorrow, for what little vegetation and crops were left after the excessive dry weather were completely “gobbled up” in the day and night our winged visitors remained with us! As far as I know there was not an ear of corn raised in all that section of the country that year. I know WE never had even a mess of roasting ears!
This made life very hard for the homesteader, as many of them were obliged to leave their families and go farther east to secure work in order that “the woman and the babies” might have something to live on while holding down the claim. There were many things besides scanty fare to dishearten the wives and daughters of the pioneer. As late as 1870, straggling bands of Indians would steal away from the reservations and pass through this section of the country, committing depredations and sometimes taking a captive.
Every boy old enough to handle a gun learned to shoot, and many of the girls did too. While the boys often slept soundly and dreamed of scalping Indians, the mothers, after hearing of some raid, would lie awake all night long, trembling at every sound, thinking it might be Indians coming to scalp them! After a few weeks of this anxiety, when no harm came, their fear would gradually subside, and they would rest in comparative peace, until another report came, when the dreadful hours would all be lived over again!
It was many years before some of the homesteader’s wives who had been raised in the East could get over the harrowing fear of the Indians. The year 1874 was another grasshopper year, also a “dry” year, and had it not been for the good people of the East sending us “aid” not nearly so many could have “stayed by their claim.”
There was not nearly enough “aid” sent in to go around, although what was sent relieved much suffering, and would have relieved much more had it at all times been rightly administered. Many men and boys, during these strenuous times, went away to work.
But even in those early days there were “grafters” and there were persons, who, after being put in places of trust failed to properly distribute the things sent in by the good people of the east.
Notwithstanding the fact that much of the supplies sent in by the good people never fulfilled the mission its donor intended the mission its donor intended, much good was done, much hunger appeased, and many bodies kept clothed and warmed by their donations. There were many good, honest and loyal distributors who served all alike and did their very best to give satisfaction.