The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
Greetings to ever one in western Illinois and all readers of The Quill.
Ground Hog Day is over and so is the so-called "Super Bowl". I really didn't see either one, but by the score of the Super Bowl I would have had more excitement wait'n fer the groundhog to show his head.
I'm wonder'n if'n all the security distracted the players. With all of the high priced advertisement, with all its hoopa la, I'm a guess'n a lot of money changed hands, which is what its all about anyways.
Some folk is complain'n about all the deep snow we is a have'n around these parts lately. It might be well to remember afore one gets to complain'n too much that "Deep snow in the winter means tall grain in the summer". That's an old proverb that generally holds true.
Back in February 2008 I wrote about the winter of the Deep Snow, which happened in the winter of 1830-31. It was the granddaddy of em all that we have record of. I'm repeat it again fer this column, just in case someone feels this is the worst winter on record.
"The Winter of the Deep Snow"
The fall of snow was phenomenal, and of course, I was not around to experience it, no matter how old me grandchildren believe I am.
This large amount of snow probably had never occurred before, and certainly has not since within the boundaries of the State of Illinois.
On a calm windless day the snow fell to the depth of four feet. This was followed by a drizzling rain which soon turned to sleet.
Then the weather became intensely cold, and the whole face of the area was covered with a sheet of ice, overlaying a field of snow that was four feet deep.
Indians that yet lived in the area starved, necessitating the use of their council house for a kitchen.
The storm was very destructive to game of all kinds. It was several years before wildlife again became abundant. Birds, such as grouse and quail, perished in great numbers. Deer starved to death by the hundreds. Showing no signs of fear, they would stand and eat the branches from a fallen tree while the woodman was chopping and splitting the body of it.
After the snow had continued for some time, the deer were not molested, as they were so emaciated that they were unfit for food and were only occasionally killed for their skins.
There is a place, in a swail along Route 34, north of the highway in Tompkins Township, of our neighbor Warren County to the east, where the buffalo piled up that winter and starved in huge numbers. Their sun-bleached bones were of such a large volume and piled by the thousands, that they had remained for school children from a nearby one room school to gather many years later, and served as a reminder of that harsh pioneer winter.
It has been said that the winter of the Deep Snow took the last of the buffalo from east of the Mississippi River.
Valley Forge had a bad winter fer General Washington's soldiers in 1777-1778, but this 1830-31 snow was worse. It has been stated as the deepest most intense, coldest, and longest last'n snow since the retreat of the last glacier. Storms with high hurricane force winds continued fer over 60 days, day and night, filling the air with snow, so stinging, blinding, and choking, that no person could make travel against it on foot. The breath of anyone was almost stopped fer those who attempted to face it.
A man with his wife and six children froze to death, huddled about their half-burned wagon on the prairie as they made a vain attempt to survive.
Another man, attempt'n to reach home a mile and a half from home with oxen and wagon, unhitched his gentlest ox and attempted to ride it home. The ox's back was so slippery that he could not stay on it. In despair he wrapped the tail of the gentle ox firmly around his hand and allowed it to drag him the entire distance home.
A Pottawatomie Indian described the winter this way: "Big heap snow came early and no thaw until late spring. Snow, snow, snow everywhere. Blow into hollows and make all level. Deer could not travel. Indian wigwam all covered. Turkey got nothing to eat, prairie chicken starve, deer starve and die. Wolf not die, he run on top of snow crust, kill and eat plenty deer. Deer break through snow and no could run. Poor Indian hungry and almost starve."
Interestingly Abraham Lincoln's family first came to Illinois from Indiana to settle here at a spot 10 miles southeast of Decatur just in time to experience the Deep Snow. Also, Mormon missionaries, under the leadership of Oliver Cowdery, were inspired by Joseph Smith to travel to the western edge of civilization from Fayette, New York to preach the restored gospel to the Laminites or Native Americans. They arrived in Illinois just in time to experience the winter of the Deep Snow.
Well, so much fer winters history once again. It brings ta mind some enterest'n writin's I've been readin':
Quotes on Winter
There ya has it then, that's all fer this week. Wherever ya is, whatever ya be a do'n BE A GOOD ONE!
Keep on Smile'n and hope to see ya in church this week.
Catch ya Later,
P.S. Keep yer powder dry, yer feet warm, and the snow shovel handy.