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125 Years Since ‘Children’s Blizzard’

“The Children’s Blizzard struck Dakota Territory and the Central United States on January 12, 1888. Dozens of children died in what is now South Dakota.

Long ago, on January 12, 1888, 125 years ago, the storm that came to be known as “The children’s Blizzard” struck the a huge area of the Central United States.

It’s known as “The Children’s Blizzard” because of the children who died that day, most of them trying to get home from school. More than 200 people in Dakota Territory died, and it goes without saying that many of them were young.

The day had dawned sunny and mild, but the weather changed quickly and the blizzard pounded its way in, prompting some rural schoolteachers to call off classes and in many cases, trying to keep the children there, where they could be cold and safe.

Now, no one I’ve ever known has told about it. My father’s parents were both born in Norway in 1869 and didn’t come to the US until the mid-1890s. My mother’s parents were both born in the 1870s, and I only knew my grandmother, who was born in Sweden. She’s been gone for nearly 50 years and I don’t remember the topic ever coming up.

I’m not an expert, but I have it in my head that one of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House” books includes a depiction, real or fictionalized, of the blizzard.

I’m told that the book “The Children’s Blizzard” by David Laskin is a vivid account of the storm and the stories and the grieving that followed.

Of course, weather forecasting then was nothing like what we know now, but we likely can’t imagine the grief and loss felt by parents who lost (One? Two? More?) children.

I don;’t know about you, but I plan to find a copy of the book and read it, so I can learn about and remember the people who died, so many of them children who were only trying to get home.

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