in Misc. Diary Entry

January 23-26, 1952

January 23, 1952, Wednesday

The blizzard quit but none too fair, only partly, as hazy clouds when sun came out. Cows just stood as they are, frozen snow on their backs and sides. One calf was down, but Dan got it limbered up and it got up to eat later as the men gave hay to cattle. Fed the big herd behind the hill S.E. of the house. Will is about all in, but we stayed up late to get weather conditions. A Mr. Maxwell from Winner froze to death near his truck, as he was a trucker. Virginia Spinar died at the school house where her mother had taken her, and brothers going from the school had their Jeep stalled. The older brother walked, then mother tried to get a tractor there, but it stopped, so she sent the boy back to care for a small one, and she took the others to the school house where the girls had died from exhaustion. A trucker died somewhere near Pierre at a school house. Mr. Kourt, Winner, died at Vivian from exhaustion. A lot of folks are away. and not found yet.

January 24, 1952, Thursday

Sun shone quite a bit, so the Men gave cattle hay and dug out water by the culvert for the cattle to get some more to drink, as there was not wind enough to pump for them in the tank. An old cow got down north of the hill when feeding cattle, so Dan killed her and hauled her away to S.W. of the house. Also a calf is dead at the S.W. corner of their lot in a snow bank. Flora, 8, Helen, 7, Mr. Pete Judd, their father, a nephew Cecil Judd, 20,got stalled in a Jeep getting the girls from school four miles from home, 18 miles north of Murdo, Jones Co., S. D. The girls were found 1/2 mile from home in a creek bed under a clump of trees, Mr. Judd 1000 ft. from home and Cecil on top bridge floor 1500 ft. from home, all frozen to death. Mrs. put 4 month old baby in a basinet on a hand sled, and pulled it 2 miles to neighbors, and the Patrol was there today to tell her. She expected something was wrong. Lots of cattle are frozen in drifts in these parts. Thomas Whiting, Jr., lost 7 cows, Lemoyne some, Van Epps saved only milk cows out of 31 head. Graydon Hallock lost a lot, also Paulie Charboreaux and Tripp Co. S.W. part lost a lot. We haven’t a road to highway but Dan had to wash clothes to-day so no dig out.

January 25, 1952, Friday

Bright nice so Men gave cattle hay and in p.m. Dan tried to go to Store with Tractor, no get so came back, went horseback, got some mail. Usual pastime and work for me, played some cards.

January 26, 1952, Saturday

Some clouds but mostly Sun shone so Men gave cattle hay and had to make 3 trips to get one stack cut in two, then last half fell off so left it on Sled when they pitched it on. Went to Klein fence with tractor in p.m. after Dan washed clothes and put on line. Never saw Betty and Calvin but they are O.K. Calvin sleeps in day, wakes until late in night. Will and I played cards this eve and usual meals but we have pancakes and fritters for bread. I am all in also.

Lisa’s Note: For more on the blizzard of 1952, see The Blizzard Of 1952: Before The Storm (by James E. Roghair, Murdo). Also, Hattie’s nephew and niece shared these memories of the ’52 blizzard:

From Harley: “This blizzard started on the 21st. It was a nice morning and Dad and I went out to get hay for the cattle. Suddenly the weather got very still and I remember Dad felt we should get to the house and get Mary Alice and Jean Chauncey from school. We got home and picked up the girls at school. On the way home the blizzard suddenly hit. I was driving and I don’t think I went 50 feet before I hit the side of a drift (the roads had been opened with a snowplow). We walked something over a mile home. We were able to stay between the drifts on the sides of the road, otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to stay on course.

We never went out until the storm eased the evening of the 23d. We had ear corn and took some and fed it to the cows. I remember seeing a cow trying to eat an ear and she could only push it ahead of her as there was probably 6 inches of ice frozen on the end of her nose.

I don’t remember how cold it was but, it was cold and this before they thought of wind chill.”

From Dorothy: “Aunt Hattie wrote about the Blizzard of 1952…and…I remember that day! I was teaching at the Lone Hill school southeast of Mission. I roomed and boarded at Veryl Holmes about 1/4 to 1/2 mile west of the school. About a foot of snow fell with no wind during the earlier part of the day. Then, with no warning, a strong wind came up. Parents came and got their kids. No phones. Who knew what was going on? Then I walked to Holmes. I could see nothing and walked right along the fence line until I got to their driveway.

There were huge drifts along Highway 18 east of Mission. The regular snow plows couldn’t handle the snow and ‘rotary plows’ were brought from somewhere.

Mom told many, many times about my dad and your dad bringing Mary and Jean from school that day. She said they came into the house completely covered with snow…the way snow looks when the wind has plastered it over something. They looked at each other and started laughing. It was probably a release of many emotions. Mary was in 2nd grade and Jean in 3rd.

I have wondered now about so many things. There was no way for Chauncey’s to know that Jean was safe. However, I do faintly recall Mom saying that someone went there as soon as they could to let them know that she was at our house. And, how worried was Mom as to where they were as they were walking home.”

  1. As I remember, Bill Chauncey came to our house during the blizzard and found that Jean and Mary were at our place. The Chaunceys lived about a half mile north of us. This was about our first year with REA and I don’t remember the power ever going off.

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