From the collections at the Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum. Reprinted with permission from The Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum and the Leavenworth Times. Donated by Debra Graden.
Mrs. Ella Fulton, Jefferson county pioneer who resided many years in the Boyle station neighborhood, and who frequently contributes stories of pioneer life to the Winchester Star, recalls the big storm of 1875.
Writing for the current issue of The Star, Mrs. Fulton said:
"Did you ever experience a real Kansas dust storm? A blizzard of dust instead of snow. In e spring of 1875 after the hoppers had taken the crop of 1874, the farmers had put in their time plowing, so most of the cultivated ground was turned over and the prairie land was burned off to make early pasture. There was much speculation whether the eggs laid in the fall by the hoppers would hatch. some said it was too cold here and too far north of their native element, and many a clod of dirt was tested by the kitchen range and were soon hopping; no doubt but what they would hatch, as D. R. Anthony, of the Leavenworth Times, said they were all double yolked and both yolks hatched. That spring was dry, like the present one, and the dirt went in great clouds day after day.
"Along in April a young man died over toward Nortonville and the funeral was to be held at Center school house. He had been a former pupil of my husband and we wanted to go to the funeral, so we started to the north in a wagon. The horse snorted and blowed dust. Along toward tow o'clock, a little snow began to come with the wind, and the ashes from the recent prairie fires clear from the Nebraska line, came on us until our neighbors and us were black, and would not come off by rubbing. The school house shook and rattled, and it became so dark the minister could not see to read and the services were very short. Under the circumstances, he said, 'I will not detain longer. There are times when it is wise to think of the living and we will go to the cemetery." He was laid to rest in their pioneer burying ground, the old Hart cemetery.
"When we arrived home we found one of our doors which faced west had blown open, and piles of dust had piled in behind the door. There was not a garment nor a bite of food that had escaped. Milk, the water bucket -- the bread was shut up in a boiler with a tight lid, so that was saved. Another fight the pioneer had -- dirt, grasshoppers, your labor for nothing. But the rains came later, the hoppers hatched out and left, people took new heart and planted over again and, oh how things grew -- wonderful gardens and melons, and the corn, the late matured and were all make to say, 'Surely God was good to us and we went our way."