1. Why does Laskin state that the horrible blizzard of 1888 “hit the most thickly settled sections of Nebraska and Dakota Territory at the worse possible moment”? Describe the dramatic change in temperatures that accompanied this storm. Why were the humble people of this raw region of the prairie prone to take risks, even in the face of devastating blizzard? 2. In the post-Civil War years, what factors encourage the stampede of settler into America’s heartland, which earlier had been thought to be a worthless desert? Compare the lifestyle of these “sodbusters” to the luxuries enjoyed by the wealthy industrial tycoons back East?
The blizzard came at a bad time that day and also had bad timing for farmers and their family. The storm that shaped so many lives hit such a hopeful peoples; people that were hoping that this new land would be their new beginning. When the blizzard hit in 1888, most settlers hadn’t yet perfected their homes due to the urge to sow the fields and obtain live stock. The settlers “were vulnerable and exposed. There hadn’t been time to set up fences. Infections flourished in the primitive, unsanitary claim shanties (Laskin 41). Some pioneers didn’t even have sufficient housing to stand up to a windy day much less a historic blizzard. No doubt that many of the dead were ill and would not weather the storm. The pioneers had just gotten to their destination and barely settled when the blizzard ripped their family apart again, just like the Civil War had done or the hard journey in disgusting boats had done. The blizzard came to Southern Dakota and Nebraska when school children were being dismissed for the day. Unlike today’s world, those children would have had to walk a couple of miles to get home safely, not just ride in the heated car for ten minutes. In fact “the blizzard of January 12, 1888, [became] known as the “Schoolchildren’s Blizzard” because so many of the victims were children caught out on their way home from school” (Laskin 44)....
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