The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

The Wisdom Of Barnyard Bruke: "Other Deep Snow Stories!"

Greetings to everyone in western Illinois. Warmer weather is a welcome event around these parts for I reckon it'll get rid of some of the snow.

It'll make it plenty sloppy for a spell, but that goes with January thaw in February.

Congratulations to Byron Burg on be'n elected as a bank director.

We all knows you are the right person for the job and reckon by many past conversations we've had you will bring good insight to a stable institution fer that part of our community.

It's shore enough a bless'in to all of our rural communities fer the likes of Stronghurst, Raritan, La Harpe and Oquawka banks and all that they contribute to the betterment of all the folks that do business with them.

"Cowboy John" wrote in and commented on his experience with the blizzard we had a few weeks back.

Dessa shared the letter and the author's name with me. She said, "Cowboy John" is a twelve year old farm boy who has a good dog, chickens, several barn cats, and helps his dad with the livestock chores.

She says he is not shy on proclaim'n he's a gonna have a farm of his own someday just like his dad.

Well that's mighty fine, and thank you for write'n in on your blizzard experience, "Farmer John".

The boys and I will be a watch'n ya ta see how things go with your plans.

As I understand it you wrote that little piece all by yourself without any help or encouragement from mom and dad.

Keep up the good work and us older folk will be a wait'n patiently for you to take up your share of the load continue'n our traditions and way of life in western Illinois.

In referr'n back to the winter of the "Deep Snow" there is a story of a hunter, George Foster, who went deer hunting with his two eldest sons, William and Peyton Foster.

They were 7 and 8 years old and before they had bagged any game the storm began.

The father, fearing the weather might be too much for the young boys, sent his sons home whilst he continued his search for food on the table.

This was the last the boys saw of him for many days.

George stayed out search'n for game too long and as the storm grew worse he finally realized he was lost.

He was lucky to have his dog with him as it provided much help to him during that terrible time in the storm. Eventually, the dog helped save his master's life.

A neighbor, Mr. Wilcox, was several miles from the Foster homestead. Five nights into the storm Mr. Wilcox heard a strange sound which awakened him in the middle of the night. It was then followed by a scratching at his door.

When Mr. Wilcox went to his cabin door, he found Foster's faithful dog with much coaxing by the dog, Mr. Wilcox was led through several hundred yards of unbelievably deep snow in the dark of night to find George Foster more dead than alive.

Through great effort, Mr. Wilcox was able to retrieve Foster back to his cabin and saved his life, not without much patience and diligent labor.

After more than a week Wilcox struggled to get Foster home with his family. Before they arrived, Foster's dog beat them to the homestead door, again scratching and whining.

Joy abounded in the Foster cabin when they opened the door to spot Wilcox off in the distance struggle'n across the deep snow with Foster. They had given their loved one up for dead.

George Foster was considered a very strong man before the storm. He lived six years after the storm but never fully regained his health afterward.

Another story tells of a feller Buckles, who along with a friend went on a hunt with a wagon and oxen but got bogged down in the storm.

After struggling relentlessly for a long time they eventually unhitched the wagon. They obtained the safety of shelter by clinging to the tails of the oxen.

Yet another tale I learned of was of a man and his wife with six children who froze to death, huddled about their half-burned wagon on the prairie.

One can only imagine the struggle and fear they went thru as the storm surprisingly descended upon them.

Abraham Lincoln with his parents had moved to Illinois one year prior to the storm. Stories of young Lincoln helping neighbors in need dure'n the "Great Snow" or "Deep Snow" of 1830-31 helped build his early reputation by goin' miles out of his way to help folk in need.

Other storms for our state were the winter of 1779-80. At that time Illinois was our nation's far western frontier.

Local Indian tribes referred to that winter as "The Great Cold". Much wildlife perished in the cold and snow. The native American inhabitants were very stressed to survive during the worst of "The Great Cold".

Illinois is more than 350 miles long from north to south. Its weather can vary a great deal throughout its length from one end to the other. As the "Great Cold" descended some Indians were fortunate to have migrated further south before the worst of the winter had settled in. Temperatures were well below zero for a considerable length of time.

Another winter storm on December 20, 1836, is recalled as "Sudden Change Day", "Cold Tuesday" or "The Cold Day in Illinois".

On December 19, a Colorado low began moving eastward and just before sunrise on December 20, the front was speedin' into Illinois with its frigid arctic air.

The day before was warm and rain had fallen leavin' snow meltin' into slush.

When the front came through there was a terrible temperature drop of more than 40 degrees F, followed by very strong winds.

A black cloud came sweep'n over the sky from the northwest followed by a roar'n wind that brought the cold wave and in the twinklin' of an eye rain and slush turned to ice.

Stories have it of chickens frozen into the ice standin' on one leg. Also, men were caught out on horseback and froze to their saddles. They and their saddles had to be lifted off and carried to a fire to be thawed apart.

Thus far this winter we have been blown, frozen, rained on, and snowed upon.

I reckon if'n those early settlers could manage to survive in a log cabin with primitive live'n and short supplies, we shouldn't complain too much today with our modern conveniences, adequate food supplies, and comfortable homes.

Keep on Smile'n

Catch ya Later

Barnyard Bruke