On January 12, 1888, a devastating blizzard swept across Nebraska, the Dakotas, and Minnesota. The day had begun as an unseasonably warm morning with the weather so mild that children traipsed off to their one-roomed schools wearing very little wraps. Farmers went to their fields and barns to tend their animals and work their lands. They, too, were devoid of coats and gloves due to the warmth of the weather. With the coming of mid-afternoon, without warning, the atmosphere suddenly and violently changed. Where the air had been calm one moment, in the next instance the sky sent snow that seemed to be falling in a horizontal pattern due to hurricane-forced winds.
Teaches, for various reasons, closed the schools and sent their pupils homeward. Many never saw their homes or families again. Heroes and heroines were made that day, although their simplest intentions were to save their own lives and the lives of those in their charge. By the following morning some five hundred people lay dead on the plains, frozen where they had dropped, and now buried beneath the drifted snow.
This report prepared by Mary Trotter Kion