March 6, 2021
Whole Number 15
A NEBRASKA BLIZZARD
[Editor's Note: The following is a copy of an account which appeared in a newspaper published in Clio, Iowa, or in one of the nearby towns in 1891. The Clipping has been preserved by Oral A. Sparks, Vice-President of The Sparks family Association, who is the son of John Sparks who wrote the following account. John Sparks's full name was John Garland Sparks and he was born in Wilkes County, North Carolina, in 1851. He came to Wayne County, Iowa, ca. 1875 and married Martha Hughes there in 1880. A few years later he and his family moved to Nebraska but remained there only a short time before returning to Wayne County, Iowa, where John Sparks spent the remainder of his life. He died in 1923.]
Box Butte. Neb., February, 10, 1891.
It may be of some interest to your readers to hear of the severe storm that swept over this section of country last Sunday. On the 27th and 28th of January there was about a foot of snow fell, and on last Saturday myself, wife, and little boy [this little boy was Oral A. Sparks--Ed.] started to Alliance, about 22 miles and our nearest trading point, to do some trading. When we levt home, about 10 o'clock, it was nice and warm; but about noon the wind raised from the northwest and drift show. We arrived in town about 2 o'clock, did our trading, and started about 5 o'clock for Mr. Ed. Rick's, 4 1/2 miles out of Alliance, to stay all night. The storm kept getting worse all the time, and after we traveled about two miles it got dark and we could not see to keep the road, and finely landed up against a barbed wire fence completely lost. We then turned around and undertook to follow our sled tracks back to the first house, but the snow had covered up our tracks so we could not follow them, and we wandered about, we knew not where, until hope was well nigh gone, when we accidently stumbled upon a house. We stayed there until Monday. Sunday was the worst day I have ever seen, and old settlers here say it was the worst blizzard that ever swept over this country within their knowledge. We arrived home Monday. One of our neighbors lost his team and some cattle by the stable drifting full of snow and smothering them. This is the 16th and the roads have been blocked so the mails could not get through. There has been 4 men and 1 woman frozen to death in the vicinity during the storm.