This article is from a relative’s scrapbook. The name and date of the paper are unknown.
“Aged Dakota Lady Tells of Real Hard Times of Pioneers - Grasshopper Scourge, Drought and Other Experiences Recalled by 92 Year Old Pioneer -
Many of us are prone to complain about the present hard times, and possible with good reason, but that some people of earlier years have passed thru times much worse is well known.
Mrs. H.L. Eldred of Mitchell, S.D., who recently celebrated her 92nd birthday recalled how she was left along with an infant son at Waupaca, Wisconsin, when her husband enlisted and served in the Union Army. At the close of the war, Mrs. Eldred with her husband and son moved to Brown county, Minn., there settled on land in the rich Minnesota alley, having experiences that built pioneer men and women. Undying friendships with neighboring settlers were formed and thru years of failure and success these pioneers stood up side by side.
“Hard times?” said Mrs. Eldred, “this generation does not know the meaning of hard times.” And then she described the drought and the grasshopper scourge of the early seventies. “Four years our land was stripped bare of every growing thing. Grasshoppers devoured everything. Bark was eaten from the trees, garden tools were divested of their wooden handles, and if the family washing was hung out of doors without being carefully watched, the clothing was riddled by the hungry pests.
“In the spring of the fifth year I begged my husband to save the little wheat we had left for bread, but his pioneer courage and faith were stronger than my pleadings so he took the seed and planted one and a half acres of wheat.
“A few weeks later, when the seed was sprouted and well on their way to making sturdy stalks of wheat, Mr. Eldred examined the little crop, only to find that every stem was literally covered with the grasshoppers and that no crop could be expected that year.”
At that time the governor proclaimed a day of prayer and fasting, and the settlers gathered in meeting houses and private homes. Faithful and faithless joined in supplications to God for relief from this five-year scourge, and returned to their homes believing their prayers would be answered.
“Not more than four or five days had gone by,” continued Mrs. Eldred, “when the grasshoppers rose in a mighty cloud and flew toward the east.”
Some weeks later there appeared across the river from the Eldred farm, a group of Finnish people who reported to the settlers the strange experience they had in being almost halted in their entrance into the harbor at New York by immense clouds of grasshoppers that were coming out from the west.
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