During the terrible winter of 1880 and 1881, which was immortalized in Laura Ingalls Wilder's "The Long Winter." Laura, both real and fictional, was going on fourteen. And the winter she wrote about was a real event.
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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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thanks to a request from Listener Leon an hour earlier episode this week on Laura Ingalls Wilder. This year's Christmas episode is about the terrible winter of eighteen, eighty and eighty eighty one which immortalized, enlarge Ngos wouters the long winter Laura both real. Fictional was going on. Fourteen in the winter that she wrote about was a real event and in the book there inkling of how banned this winter was going to be is while their cutting hay in hot weather at Lord and PA find a muskrat how's that has very thick walls and PA says that this is a sign that a very hard winter is to come. They keep on her thing. The hay through September, and then they wake up on October, first you're, really heavy Ross. They rush to get much of the harvest in as they can and partners to hunt, but he can't find any geese or other birds anywhere. The first blizzard, if that's the first blizzard rate,
hits in October and at last for three days and nights, which is bad enough to stop all the trains and, on the fourth day, In several cows, outside the so heartbreaking with their heads, goes into the ground thanks to the ice that was formed by their own breath. The moist their exhalation froze on their path, saved them so so it's so very sad, not long after that, in the picture that is quite problematic by today's standards A native american man tells a bunch of folks at the store that a big winter is coming with seven months of blizzards his his physical description and his use of language. Today, people would say, are pretty heavily stereotyped The ngos family moved into town for the winter, where they hope. They're gonna have a little bit of an easy time of it and the boy I do indeed continue for months and months with very the alarming adventures and misadventures to go along their freedom.
Talk about whether the worst is over and when the trains might be running again. cover copy of the book. That treaty used for a lot of this research is kingly Mary, children having a snowball fight on their sweating. It looks like the jolliest most enjoy, when delightful time ever. But we know that it was a little bit rougher than that. in reality, it really quite oppressive colon We are becoming increasingly scarce as long as the trains can't get through and for a while even when the weather is good in the story and good enough for school school is cancelled because they don't have enough cold to heat the building some of the serious most memorable tidbits happen during this hard winter like having to break I am a water basin to wash their faces in the morning. Carry flatirons upstairs to warm the beds ma bringing frozen washing and from the line and Alonzo who was not yet known as manly trying to
his seed wheat, so that his brothers won't sell it to other people who run out of food get worse the angles family has to twist there hey and sticks to burn when they have nothing else for fuel. I'm so wilder. Amp cap Garland make a heroic trip to buy wheat for families that will otherwise starve There is also the thing that everyone mentioned to me when I said we were doing a little house related episode, and that is that had to grind green in the coffee mill all day to make an a flower for dinner. This would have made a flower, that was not at all like bread, flower. It was more really more like a course and Graham Flower and, of course, as always, happens during the northern hemisphere. Christmas happens during winter. A few days before Christmas. The male actually come. Through and everyone is overjoyed the family gets a letter Reverend saying we should expect a Christmas barrel from his church.
and knowing that the odds are long on that barrel actually arriving by Christmas, they decide to save the church, PETE Papers and youth companion They have all come in the meal to open on Christmas day guys also start trying to figure out how to get some actual presents once they too, up all their money and go shopping? It turns out. There is really nothing to be bought. They do from suspenders were PA and Laura decides to give thinks she's already knitted an embroidered for herself to her mom and sisters. Grace also gets it boy and markets to Kansas oysters. What for? Basically, the last of the provisions that one of the stores cheeses them to me Mr Super lunch. Everyone, including Laura, gets a piece of candy that Paw had brought ahead of time, but that's all that Laura gets this. Might. They run out of kerosene for the lamp, for him as to the winners, is gonna be dark inside the voice.
Go on and on and on and its may before. A freight train brings anything new to the town, but all the upside big, have Christmas again complete with Turkey and Cranberries and Laura finally get the presents to the beautiful yarns and embroidery silks, She can use them up to replace the things that she gave away to mine her sister. I have actually got a convicted about this. This present rely because she wasn't the finest of sowing so it Hey. This present is work well, but you couldn't have bought things either grateful for it and in one of the many examples of what we might consider then values this episode of stuff. You must have a history class is brought to you by earnest. If you have you'd loans, refinancing them with Ernest could save you money or lower your monthly payments, and it only takes two minutes to check your rate online. that financial relief can really go a long way when you are trying to pay down those loans. If you are still paying the same.
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Percent or more off your first year. Go to Norton dot com, slash history, that's Norton, DOT, com, slash history for twenty five percent off, So it's a very sweet story in the end, in spite of the danger and oppression in the middle, but how much of that blizzard after blizzard after blizzard in this kind of sense of good gracious? When will the train come? What how much of that is real? there is a short answer. What about all of its boiler. This really was a real weather events, people during the time called it the hard winter and even the starvation winter hardware was actually Laura's original title for the book. A nineteen o four history of South Dakota reads the great, wizard in the middle of October. Eighteen eighty was the initial performance of a well a winter unprecedented and never succeeded in severity in the history of Dakota or the northwest heavy snow.
whose and severe storms came at frequent intervals, rendering keeping, whether records until eighteen, eighty nine but yanked in South Dakota, which is about a hundred and ten miles to the south, did the anthem reported layers as even the telegraph wires were under snow, so complete isolation, yeah is that which is the town where they were living did not start keeping whether records until eighteen, eighty nine but in South Dakota, which is about a hundred and ten miles to the south, did the ancient There is as cold as thirty two below zero Fahrenheit that winter though there were days when the temperatures rose above freezing they didn't, long enough for a real far, and so what had melted within referees into the rotary snowplow had also not yet been invented. This was a steam engine mounted plough used specifically for clearing railroad tracks. It was kind of like us,
critically mounted fan carrying scoops that basically, through the snow out of the way is it moved the first, I came out in eighteen, sixty nine, but it wasn't really viable working version of it didn't exist until eighteen, eighty three or eighteen. Eighty four. I've been really really useful. Had that been a couple of years faster near and without this piece of equipment to keep things going, blowing snow quickly filled up the cuts through hills and where the train tracks rim packing in the ice and making them completely impassable, plus people's efforts. Dick You're the tracks when the weather allowed for it just made things worse because they made these very high snowbank on either side and that allowed for more drifting in packing. As the wind blew, brains. Inability to get through was really what made this winter so hard in. It brought the population of the area so perilously close to starvation, because it was it had started so early. The harvest was already small and no trains meant that there was no way to
meant that small amount of food people have been able to in for their crop, so. The angles is had even harvested pumpkins that were not ripe, yet just so that they could get them before the freeze been archival pictures of train stuck in the snow, with the snow on either side of them taller than the train fires. One of was taken in March of eighteen. Eighty one mere sleepy I Minnesota, which is an aim. Bands of the series in the tv show, will probably recognise, and this man was also really new settlement at this time. So a lot of people had not cleared as much land or enriched it for better crops, yet spend a lot of people. did not have first hand. Experience of the weather, the air Terrible weather conditions also met. The animals were scarce beforehand, haven't having already taken shelter thanks to their instincts, and they became very much indeed, the ball to find as the wind war on in the book.
there's this one moment of hope when word spreads, of an antelope heard near the town, and that hunt is unfortunately unsuccessful and it's one of the very Few large animal sightings the whole time in law, as account and its people and out of fuel for burning they broke down, out buildings that they didn't crucially need so fences and bridge. two, along with the ngos method of twisting hand, sticks all, went towards keeping a fire go, We have seen warm having them at a cook on both community in families banded together, so that they could ensure that the the what they did have was fairly distributed. Anti pool Resources as much as they were able on February second, a blizzard did that lasted for nine days in it dropped so much snow that some build we were in snow up to their roofs. People had to tell through the snow in some locations and people who were still on their homesteads had a tunnel
their Barnes and their other out. Building the, eighteen. Eighty one thought started in April started in October. The thought started in April the long term, towards the end of a book. Laura references, the Chinook winds, and these are wines that they go down. eastern slopes of the rockies. They warm up along the way and the may move across the plains and their responsible for ringing warmer weather and buying to the area this eventual actually lead to severe flooding, and some of this was sick. The sheer volume of water from the snow melt in some us from ice I am in bends and narrow places in the rivers and several towns actually flooded. And the course the Missouri River shifted as a consequence, some of the records set during these floods still stand. They had never seen a flood comparable right road and crops were also damaged as a result of the flooding which made the recovery alot slower,
and even though it was called the starving winter, there actually work. Many reported deaths from starvation or freezing oddly lucky we ve mostly been talking about what this winter was like, where their predominantly white settlers out on the frontier, and that's because most of the written records that survived today are from that perspective, but this was naturally also an enormously difficult winter for the native Americans in that area too. Some ways it was even harder. Since by this point in american history, many native Americans had been removed to reservations, completely altering their way of life and, in many cases, robbing them of the means that they had previously used to sustain themselves through hard. Winters like this Reed Sue reservation, and at this point in history, spammed, roughly the western half of what is now South Dakota. That was really a fraction of the of land that that group had lived on before.
One peace that we do have is a ledger book drawn by Lakota artist and spiritual leader, black hawk, and that was created after he worked out a deal. William Edward Canton, who was an indian trader and what was then Dakota Territory and here kings daughter. His name was Edith M Teal described this arrangement, black hawk chief medicine man of the sneer was angry. strikes that went to having several squaws and numerous children dependent upon him. He had absolutely nothing no food and he would not bag Father knew his condition. He also knew that black hawk had a wonderful dream. So he's for and asked him to make pictures of his dreams offering to furnish paper and pencils. to give him fifty cents in trade at the store for each sheet that he brought in so drawing a couple of the images from his dream black
moved on to drawings, of other things relevant to his daily life and I'll look go to customs as well as picture Crow warriors, who were traditional enemies of the Lakota and in the end he made seventy six drawings and earned thirty dollars and trade at the store. Although, as we discussed earlier, it's not completely clear how well stocked the store would have even been probably him out to me, now get some provisions for his family, and this was letter book actually survives today. There are scams on it on the internet that we can link to from assurance One industrious person is actually fact whether Laura Ingalls Wilder description of the weather actually adds up. What the weather was really like, or whether it is a sort of embellishment anvil
We talk about that. Let's take a moment. Talk butter, sponsor this episode of stuff. He missed in history, glasses, brought you buy Sakharov three years a really good time to take stock and change your habits because we all want to be. Selves and a lot of times. This is the time of year where we really try to make this those shifts and those changes that can make our wellness even better, and if you need some help in that area, a cholera is here to help along their delicious meals. The car also has daily wellness essentials like supplements and urban tease. That will support your nutrition and right now, cigarette is offering our listeners twenty percent off their first order when they go to secure a dot com, slash history or enter the code. History at check out that security S, a k, a are a dot com, slash history, to get twenty percent off your first order, one more time for wellness, Sakharov dot com, slash history,
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three sixty with lifelong today and save twenty five percent or more of your first year go to Norton dot com, slash history, that's Norton, Dotcom, slash history for twenty five percent off. So speaking of Laura near backtracking, her story right so national, whether service, meteorologist and Phd student, Barbara Maize, about stood back to check the book, It was she cross reference meteorological records from nearby cities, including Omaha Nebraska in mine. I what these are not really them your, but they the nearest by cities that were keeping records as well. Military force and South Dakota and based on historical accounts that she found this winter, between eleven and fourteen feet of snow on top of ice According to her work, the three
A blizzard that marks the start of the long winter in the book really happened from October fifteenth eighteen, eighteen. Eighty in the book, the children are trapped by Third, while at school on December six, that also seems to have really help. on December second, through the fourth, so pretty close there. If not, I mean a couple days off is not that much now, especially when you're reconstructing it from memory many many years later. There was also really a blizzard on Christmas day that year, the Tripoli get. So that our ongoing cap took probably happened on February sixteenth based clear night and the full moon Bastard did all this factor. After reading the book during a similarly severe modern winter, which also the thought that lead to flooding. Coincidentally Bay hand to roll out some of the few remaining rotary plows still in working order during that particular event, and she thought rises that this winter was caused by the jet stream pulling arctic air deep into the MID West, plus an illness
a year that jet stream It is called a negative oscillation of the North Atlantic oscillation without the negative North Atlantic awesome It would have been a warmer winter than normal. whether for that matter, rather than wetter and full of blizzards. She has, Innovations on all of us at our website, which you can watch, we will linked to them from our shared. It's love a little history and media. energy coming together here there is also an interesting trivia bit. according to bastard this winter actually one of the things that led the prevalence of quote blizzard as the word that means of light, Snow storm before it meant a knockout blow and it was first used in relation to whether in eighteen sixty two. So I made fun of the cover of my copy of the long winter, because it does not at all suggests my family and our nearly starved and my future husband. Almost died trying to get wheat where the town instead it looks like they very happy. Let's go play outside winter,
an awhile while that is kind of incongruous with the material that inside it turns out but even though it was a very lean winter, a lot of the people on the frontier kind of thought of it. Finally, they re sleep, young, healthy people which help them make it through according to the ninety knew for history, but that we discussed earlier, they said quote It is the almost universal testimony of the pioneers that they have never gotten more real enjoyment out of a winter. Then they did from the winter of the big blockade short. After the big snow of February, a thought came of sufficient power to soften the surface of the drifts, and an immediate freeze followed forming an impenetrable crust. After slaying was superb condition continued until the twenty sixth of April. I would imagine you're having a horrific, seemingly. Never DE winter, never ending winter
flying found. A great here will amend a thing that is kind of hard to remember some does that being on the frontier, Four settlers was basically twenty. Four hours of work, I'm not really twenty four hour day, but was a constant labour and shore, and if it goes into this point that you were basically snowed in and you couldn't Any provisions and you can do anything you could have a break from all the work with a little bit more substantial than the normal reduction in workload. That would happen during winner from not being planting harvesting crops. When was also community building thing, because they did I'll throw in their resources together and kind of shared equally- and I imagine it form some really interesting and meaningful- you no long term relationships amongst people. this history. Work is also a kind of glib about the like positive side of all of this flooding. which is the most of the frontier towns that were affected were so knew that there was
We would all to be lost when it was lost It's a more established cities very hard, but tone is sort of like it was a good thing. Haven't had time to do a whole lot of work here, because I know it all got washed away the bright side. way to look at it. It was extremely bright. Writing oh, yes do. You also have some listener meal when you have some listener mail and it's a quick one, Emma and Emma says hi guys. I really love your podcast. My name is imminent. Fifteen and I got very excited listening to your Pakistan artery Lord, because she's amazing, and because, through that, had cast iron that she went to my eyes. Answer is very different. Now we are no longer and howl droll school, for example, but knowing that someone is inspirational ass, when he makes me feel like The stress we are put under is worth hidden the poetry Audrey. Lord love is no longer a club hunter, but my friend and I have decided that we need to remedy the situation and restart,
love, the pipe gas. The thanks ever episodes Emma I loved anyway, I tell my made us both smile. A whole lot seems, like a nice happy note to end on for this Christmas day. Part. If you celebrate Christmas, Merry Christmas eve. You know, Have you celebrate heavy holiday or specific body? We hopefully not hurt The third area that cold climate, you're somewhere. Warm in summary, happy happy. Some. I always think to mention phone line and the son of a bitch you may or may not like, depending on how you feel about it yet happy holidays to everyone, if you'd like to write to us about this or anything else where history five ask every not also on Facebook, Facebook, but found splash this be done.
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