The Diary of Lizzie Dopps
Then there were the wind storms and
blizzards to endure. Eli got caught in one of those
blizzards and he almost lost his life.
Dave had some corn he wanted to be
delivered and in order to earn a little extra money Eli was going
to deliver it. It was late
in the fall, a cold clear day. As
yet we had not had any snow, but each day told us that winter was
This load of corn was to be delivered quite
far away. I do not remember
how many miles, but it would take three or four days to make the
delivery and the return trip.
All went well at first and Eli
arrived at the town and place where he delivered his load.
The next day he started for home.
The sky was gray and soon snow began to fly and then the blizzard
was on in earnest.
The storm raged all that day and when
darkness began to fall he was sure he had reached a place on his return
trip where there were "draws", or small canyons.
By this time the snow was deep and had drifted still deeper in
places. It had been snowing
all day. In the dusk he
dared not go on for fear he would drop into one of those draws.
As darkness came it stopped snowing and the
stars came out and were dancing all about, but the contour of the land
was dangerous what with the snow having drifted into these draws.
He was sure he was on the right road but
things all looked so strange in the deep snow.
He knew he was near those deep draws he had gone over before, but
he could not tell where they were since the snow had drifted into them.
He went on, cautiously and soon saw a light in the distance and
called out into the night.
He was finally heard and they called back
to him, "Stay where you are, don’t move an inch.
You are near the brink of a deep draw.
We’ll come and get you."
After waiting for some little time and
hollering back and forth, the men found him, took him to their cabin and
persuaded him to stay there that night.
It was just a small place and there was no shelter for his team,
but as it had stopped snowing and the stars were out he thought his
horses would be alright. They
made a bed for him on the floor and weary with the struggle in the storm
through the day he fell into a deep sleep.
Along in the middle of the night he was
awakened by the howling of the wind and snow was drifting in under the
door. The blizzard was on
again worse than ever.
His first thought was of his poor horses
out in this storm and he knew they would perish out there, tied to the
wagon and under no shelter whatever.
He couldn't do that to them.
Better to be moving even though in the blizzard than to make them
stand, still and freeze. He
must go on with them so against the protests of his kindly host, he
started out into the night in the raging blizzard.
Snow was swirling from everywhere.
There was no sense of direction in this storm.
He could scarcely see a thing or knew where to go, so he just
gave free rein to his horses and let them go where they would.
They would at least be moving and not standing still freezing to
death. And, indeed, they moved!
They just tore through the storm.
In the morning after daylight had come,
they arrived, almost frozen, at a little town.
The team and he both were more dead than alive.
Men came running out to meet him and said, "Man, where have
you come from in this storm?"
When Eli told them, they could
hardly believe it. They
said It was almost impossible, yet they had to believe him, but said,
"Well, you are the first man to ever make a trip like that in such
a storm and be able to tell about it.
Take him inside, boys, and take care of him.
We'll take care of his horses."
After he was thawed out he slept, and when
he awakened and his team rested, the storm had subsided to some extent.
He again started out on his homeward way, letting his team go at
their own gait. They seemed
to know they were homeward bound and lost no time in getting there.
In the meantime I was worried sick all
these days after the blizzard had set in.
Dave and Ellen tried to quiet me by saying, "Lizzie,
Eli has got more sense than to start back in a blizzard like
this. He is warm and
comfortable by some fireside this minute, so don't worry."
They didn't know he had already started
back before the storm started, traveling through the sparsely settled
country, and though he himself found shelter, he wouldn't let his team
die out in the cold.
|© 2006 Laurie Arnold. All material presented herein was transcribed or otherwise provided by Laurie Arnold from the unpublished text of the diary, family photos and personal genealogy. She and her family have graciously given permission for the diary to be posted to the Norton County Kansas GenWeb website, for the benefit of others who had pioneer families in Norton County, Kansas. This diary, photos and personal genealogy may not be reproduced, published or re-published for any reason, in any format, without prior written consent of the contributors or copyright holders. web design © 2006 Ardie Grimes|