In the summer of 1874, the storms began in the deserts in Arizona and swept across the plains to the east. In time, they alighted in Osborne County, Kansas, where they had suffered from drought the month before. Blackness gripped the horizons…witnesses swore they were watching a solar eclipse. One could hear the rain marching across fields of crops and gardens…marching onward. The storm would last for eight days, and it would do nothing to bring relief to the water hungry soil. It would not drench the land; instead, it would drain the land and its tillers. Instead, it would leave devastation that would remind its survivors of an Old Testament plague.
When the families realized what was happening in the fields, in the gardens, and in their homes, it was incomprehensible. The blackness was gouging the crops. It was stripping the gardens. It was robbing their homes. Why, even the wool on sheep and the clothing on wall pegs were taken! What could be done to stop this destructive swarm of marauders? Only prayers, determination, resilience could fight this battle. The prairie winds would carry the swarm away from Kansas and into other plains states.
After the land and homes were ravaged, the survivors set to work raking and burning. What else could they do to rid themselves of the pestilence? What good would come from this? That year’s crops, fruits, vegetables were gone. Would some of the settlers stay to face the future, and would some flee to begin again elsewhere?
In time, one fourth of the people of Osborne County would move elsewhere. The loss of crops and food was too devastating…the grasshoppers had run them off their homesteads. My people chose to stay…to begin again…to face what would come next. And this is part of my story of how I inherited resiliency and perseverance.