Freeze of 1886


Arkansas City Republican, Saturday, December 12, 1885.

Last Tuesday rain fell and during the day the weather changed, getting very cold; consequently, the ground became quite slippery. Walking was a difficulty. Several parties received falls, but Mrs. Elizabeth Mantor was the only person who was in any wise injured. Mrs. Mantor went out in the yard on an errand, and when she was but a short distance from the door, her feet slipped from under her. She fell and struck the back of her head on the frozen ground. She was knocked senseless and remained unconscious about 30 minutes. No men folks were at home in the neighborhood and, as soon as the women folks discovered the unfortunate lady, they carried her in the house and summoned Dr. Chapel. At last report Mrs. Mantor was recovering, and in a few days will be around alright.




Arkansas City Republican, Saturday, January 16, 1886.

The blizzard of last week and the cold snap of the past 10 days caused great fears among cattlemen concerning their loss of stock. As far as we can learn around in this vicinity, the loss has been comparatively light. A dispatch from Dodge City, dated Tuesday, says that within a few miles of that town no less than 500 head have drifted to the river where they perished in attempting to cross, or drifted up to fences where they remained and were frozen to death. The dispatch further states that a gentleman from a ranch south reports seeing cattle on his way up frozen that were standing on their feet. The water holes are frozen over, the grass is snowed under, and the weather is cold, with every prospect of more snow. The loss of livestock is bound to be very heavy on the Arkansas River as cattle are drifting down from the Kansas Pacific road.


Arkansas City Republican, January 16, 1886.

DIED. The Courier reports that the bodies of Wm. Gilbert and a neighbor, living four miles southwest of Salt City in Walton Township, Sumner County, were found Monday down on Duck Creek in the Territory, where they froze to death in the terrible storm of last Thursday. They started early Thursday morning before the storm set in, for wood. Each had a good team, but whether they perished or not is unknown. They were not found with the bodies. The particulars are scanty. Gilbert was a young man and a cousin of Mrs. Sampson Johnson, of Pleasant Valley. Both men were well-to-do farmers.


Arkansas City Republican, January 16, 1886.

Thursday of last week, the coldest day ever known in Kansas, Marshal Crocker, Tom Runyan, Geo. Crocker, and an employee on the farm of Mr. Crocker, drove from his ranch down in the Territory some 25 miles to their home near Bitter Creek post office. Mr. Crocker froze his chin; Mr. Runyan the fingers on one of his hands; the junior Crocker, his cheeks, and the employee was frozen pretty much all over. They have all recovered from their frozen condition.


Arkansas City Republican, January 16, 1886.

At last in the annals of history the banana peeling has secured a rival. The sleet of Thursday made walking almost impossible. For the last two days sinners as well as Christians have stood on slippery ground. At least Maj. Woodin has that opinion. While standing on the corner with his cane behind him for support, gently conversing with a friend as to the ups and downs in life, the Major was suddenly startled to find that his support had been gradually slipping from under him, until, alas! It was too late to stop the downfall of mankind. Unfortunately for the Major, he was on his way back to the livery barn from the drug store with a big bottle of castor oil in his pistol pocket, which he had first purchased for the lubrication of buggies. Our readers can imagine the result. Even now when the jolly Major sits upon a chair, he is almost sure to slip off from the effect of the oil.


Arkansas City Republican, January 16, 1886.


Thirteen fat hogs belonging to F. M. Vaughn were frozen to death during the blizzard of last week.

Large quantities of fish are being caught daily in the Walnut since the workmen began cutting ice.


Arkansas City Republican, January 16, 1886.


For 10 days past the ice men have had their prayers answered. They have been busily engaged in pulling up ice this and last week.

John Love was at his range camp during the storm of last week. He seems to be growing younger and tougher since his vacation last summer.

Over in Walton Township in the vicinity of Bitter Creek post office Thursday of last week Al. Dean had six fine hogs frozen to death. Frank Ellis also lost several head.


Arkansas City Republican, January 16, 1886.


As far as we can ascertain, no one was frozen to death in this vicinity, although various reports were prevalent that several children were frozen. The rumors were false and without foundation.

During the snow blockade the latter part of last week, the Santa Fe railroad company boarded all of its detained passengers at Newton free of expense. There were 204 persons and they were blockaded three days.


Arkansas City Republican, January 16, 1886.


A number of cattle were frozen to death in this vicinity. Mr. Botts, who has a range on Wolfe Creek lost two; M. Johnson, who has a range at the mouth of Deer Creek, lost quite a number; H. J. Chinn lost one; and Dan Feagans of Bolton Township six.


Arkansas City Republican, January 16, 1886.


Bowers & Wood, the enterprising butchers at the City Meat Market, are putting up ice this week for next summer=s use. These gentlemen always take time by the forelock, and are prepared year in and year out to furnish their patrons with good and tender meats.

N. T. Lawton has been very sick for 10 days with pneumonia. He was not expected to live Tuesday, but at this writing he has improved slightly. Mr. Lawton is an old soldier and his sickness is due principally to diseases brought on by hard service for his country.

Isaac Ochs came up from Pawnee Agency, Thursday of last week. At Ponca Agency Mrs. Morris joined him. They were considerably chilled by their ride against the blizzard, but fortunately neither was frozen. Mrs. Morris had been visiting at the home of Jos. Sherburne.

T. R. [?] McLaughlin informs us that he never saw so many frozen faces of men in his life as he did Tuesday last over in Guelph Township. Nearly every voter who came to the polls had the skin peeling from his face, occasioned by their cheeks being frozen during the blizzard.


Arkansas City REPUBLICAN, January 16, 1886.


S. B. Strong reports big losses of sheep in Rock Township, last Thursday night, says the Courier. Arthur Swain lost 150 head. J. F. Williams lost 100 head. John Snyder, 100 head. John Stalter lost a large number. Andrew Dawson also had a small loss. Mr. Strong, out of his large herd, didn=t lose a sheep. He had prepared the best of shelter.


Arkansas City Republican, Saturday, January 23, 1886.

From Florida.

Persons who have been dissatisfied with the weather and growled about the winter being so cold in Kansas will no doubt be greatly surprised to learn that our recent blizzard extended over all the gulf states down to the southern coast of Florida. In a letter from Winter Park, Florida, to Mr. and Mrs. D. W. Stevens, we gain the following information.

WINTER PARK, FLORIDA, January 12, 1886.

My Dear Uncle and Aunt:

You must excuse me for not answering your letter sooner. The only excuse I have for not doing so is the cold weather. I generally write on the dining room table, but we actually cannot get the room warm enough to only eat in and then run for the parlor, where we have one of our carpets down for the winter. Such cold times were never known in Florida. Since last Friday it has frozen every night. Last night and the night before there were millions of dollars worth of fruits destroyed. The oranges froze stiff on the trees. Our folks lost in the neighborhood of $1,000 on young trees that were only budding in the nursery. I pity the families whose houses are not plastered and have no place for fire, and there are many, particularly among the negroes. Yours etc.

L. C.

Orange County is the county where Arkansas City has a small delegation.


Arkansas City Republican, Saturday, January 23, 1886.

The Weather.

Never before in our existence did we tackle a subject so hard to write upon as the above. For the past three weeks, Aparagorically@ speaking, it has been extremely Avariegated.@ It eclipsed everything spoken of by the oldest inhabitants. Two years ago at about this time of year we induced a farmer friend of ours from AInjeanny@ to locate in Bolton Township by telling him about the beautiful Italian climate we had in the Italy of America in the winter. That friend came in to see us Tuesday. Now, there is nothing on earth that makes us feel so bad as Aforcible reproach@ from a friend. With the remark, AOh, you dodgasted liar,@ he grasped us by the coat collar, held us up in the air, spun us around at the rate of 2:10 at arm=s length for a few seconds, and then vigorously applied his boot where our maternity used to Alay on the slipper.@ We thought our time had come. We implored him to desist for the sake of our wife and posterity. With a few more awful kicks, he dropped our Acorpus@ and disappeared from our sanctum door. He taught us a lesson, namely, that Kansas weather is stronger than old time friendship. No more will we extol Kansas weather. Our heart has been reached at last. Hereafter, dear sunny Kansas, we will paint you as you are.


Arkansas City Republican, Saturday, January 23, 1886.

The Work of the Blizzard.

The following is a list of the casualties resulting from the late blizzard. The list is pretty large, and is confined to the new south-west, where parties have gone lately and taken claims.

Two women in Seward County.

Two brothers in Ford County.

Two unknown men in Ellis County.

And a man in Lincoln County was reported frozen to death up to yesterday.

As returns from searching parties come in, it is found that the frost king has claimed yet more victims.

A mother and two small children were frozen to death in their claim shanty, ten miles northeast of Garden City. Their supplies of food and coal were exhausted, and the father had started to Garden City for both. He is still missing and it is believed he is frozen, and thus an entire family is swept away.

A young man named Elmer Smith started for his claim four miles from Scott Center in Scott County, Wednesday evening, and was lost on the prairie. He has not since been heard of. It is supposed he became bewildered and falling down, was frozen to death.

At Syracuse in Hamilton Countty, the bodies of M. F. Israel and another man unknown, were brought in frozen to death. They had perished within 100 yards of Israel=s house.

The body of Mr. Ford ws found 20 miles away from his home in Finney County. He had started home from Lakin with a load of hay and had passed within thirty yards of his own house as the tracks of his wagon in the icy snow showed; and blinded and bewildered by the storm, had moved on until he reached a final resting place, twenty miles away. His team was found within three miles of his body.

S. Higgs, who started to return home from Kendall about an hour before sunset, was found dead in the snow, two miles east of the town. He had passed within fifty feet of a house where he could have found shelter. His body was found about 250 yards from the house. He leaves a wife and four children.

Two young ladies by the name of Beetcher were found frozen last Thursday. They, with their mother, aged sixty years, started to a house less than a mile away and succeeded in getting within a few yards of the house where they were all found Friday morning. The old lady was alive and will recover from her injuries.

H. O. Ward and George Chapman, of Syracuse, and Isaac Staffle, of Windom, Kansas, started last Wednesday for Greeley County. They were caught in the storm twenty miles out, and after turning their teams loose, they started to walk back. Chapman perished with cold shortly after starting, and Staffle got within five miles of town and died. Ward got in at 4 o=clock Thursday morning with both feet frozen and will lose them. Staffle=s body was found yesterday. Chapman=s body and the teams are still out.

Two men named Meller and Powelson had a terrible experience in a journey from Wakeeney to Scott City. They traveled together until 1 o=clock Thursday morning, when Meller gave up and sank to the ground. Powelson tried to urge him to another trial, but his entreaties were of no avail, so he started on alone. Meller remained where he was until 1 o=clock in the afternoon, when he summoned up strength to rise to his feet. He walked a short distance when he stopped and cut his boots of his feet, and found that one of them was frozen stiff. He hung his boots around his neck and started on. His gloves were so frozen that he could not get them on, so he was compelled to go barehanded. He kept on his journey until the breaks of the Smoky Hill River was reached, when he struck the camp of a number of Scott City gentlemen, who were prospecting for coal. They took him into the camp and poulticed his feet, hands, and face, which were badly frozen. When he had related his story, Isaac Ruddock, one of the prospectors, started for Scott City in quest of aid for the frozen man and for men to search for Powelson. When Mr. Ruddock reached Scott City and related the state of affairs to the citizens, a large number started in search of the missing man. The horses are also mising, and it is believed that both man and horses are dead. It is said that Mr. Powelson had several hundred dollars on his person. The relief party brought Meller in from camp, and it is thought his life will be saved.

It is believed here that the terrible report is but begun.

The above are principally from the Southwestern part of the state.

From the central, the western, and the northwestern part of the state no reports have been made. The whole western portion of Kansas is dotted with claim shanties, that are mere temporary structures of rough boards, and which would not afford protection.

If the loss of cattle can be spoken of in this connection, that loss will be most severe. In some instances entire herds have been frozen, and in other herds the losses will run from 20 to 90 percent. The great irrigation ditches and the railroad cuts are filled with dead cattle. The greatest sufferers were the blooded and graded stock, the natives standing the blizzard much better.



Arkansas City Republican, Saturday, January 23, 1886.

Last Sunday afternoon Mrs. Ira Barnett and her daughter, Mrs.

E. L. Kingsbury, concluded they could enjoy a merry ride behind the beautiful jingle of the sleigh-bells. Accordingly their coachman had orders to have the sleigh with Ira=s fiery chargers at the door at 3 o=clock p.m. At the appointed hour the ladies took their places in the sleigh. But, we are sorry to state, their drive was brought to a sudden and unexpected termination. Upon arriving in front of the National Bank, one of the runners gave away, letting one side of the sleigh down. Mrs. Barnett was thrown out by the sudden stoppage and of course Mrs. Kingsbury leaned over considerably to see whither her mother had gone on such a sudden aerial flight. Fortunately for the ladies, neither was injured by the accident excepting the disappointment it brought them.


Arkansas City Republican, Saturday, January 23, 1886.

Bitter Creek.

On Friday last J. H. Castle killed two wild geese, weighing fifteen pounds each, and measuring five feet three inches from tip to tip of wings.

Mrs. D. F. Coggins is suffering from a severe attack of rheumatism.

O. H. Marshall was out sleighing Friday afternoon. Mollie goes fine single.

Mr. Dean lost several fine hogs during the late cold spell.

Mr. Johnson lost a valuable brood mare last week from colic; also Mr. Harlan lost a number of sheep by the storm.

Mr. Foss was in Wellington last week on business. He says that railroad is not running right.


Arkansas City Republican, January 23, 1886.


F. M. Vaughn lost a valuable milch cow Wednesday. Her death was caused by the recent blizzard.

Huber Ferguson, of East Bolton, has been for 10 days past down with pneumonia. He is now convalescing quite rapidly.

The infant child of R. E. Balyeat, of Bolton Township, suffered from a very severe attack of croup the first of the week.

N. T. Lawton, whom we reported very sick last week, is convalescing quite rapidly now. For several days his life was despaired of.

Dr. Mitchell has lost his fever thermometer. He thinks he has left it at the bedside of one of his patients. Finder will please return.

Frank Balyeat writes from Goshen, Indiana, that the weather is exceedingly cold and business dull. Money is a scarce article in that region.


Arkansas City Republican, January 23, 1886.


Archie Dunn has filled one very large house with ice on the banks of the Walnut and is engaged in filling the second. Archie says he wants enough of the congealed fluid to supply the denizens of this burg during the summer months.


Arkansas City Republican, January 23, 1886.

W. J. Conway, a farmer residing in West Bolton, while trying to chase a pig into its sty last Monday, slipped and fell upon the frozen ground, injuring one of his legs quite severely. It was thought for a time that the bones were broken; but fortunately for Mr. Conway, it was not quite so bad.


Arkansas City Republican, January 23, 1886.

F. C. Deering and Will Campbell tried to take advantage of the snow, Tuesday evening last, by going a sleigh-riding with their lady loves. When several miles out in the country, one of the runners of their improvised sleigh was broken, and now the boys are writing poetry on the subject Awhether >tis more noble for the man to walk and draw the horses@ or vice versa.


Arkansas City Republican, January 23, 1886.

S. C. Smith, the new hotel man, returned to his home Monday. The weather has been so unfavorable lately for building that Mr. Smith did not accomplish much on this visit. He informed H. O. Meigs that he intends going ahead with the building as soon as the weather will permit. Mr. Smith purchased another lot in the same block. He owns eight lots now in the block where the hotel is going up.


Arkansas City Republican, January 23, 1886.

Serious apprehensions have been entertained this week by our citizens for the safety of the west Arkansas River bridge. The usual January thaw has been expected. The ice on the river is very thick; in fact, thicker than it was ever known to be in this vicinity before. The average thickness is about 12 inches and a sudden and rapid thaw followed by tthe break-up would make short work of both the bridge and the dam. Last winter they were washed out and the cost to the water power company and to our citizens to replace them was $3,000. Our enterprising citizens have been putting their heads together this week to devise some means by which a recurrence of last winter=s disaster can be avoided. The most feasible plan suggested is the driving of piling posts above the bridge to break the force of the floating avalanches of ice.


Arkansas City Republican, January 23, 1886.

Items from 32.

Farmers busy plowing--snow out of their corn cribs.

J. H. Bilyeu had the misfortune to have a valuable mare break her leg last week.

On account of the inclemency of the weather, the wonderful animal, the Aglasticutus,@ was not exhibited last Friday night, and will be exhibited tonight.

[Have no idea what last item refers to!]






Arkansas City Republican, February 20, 1886.

As we stated last week, fears were entertained by our citizens that the west Arkansas River wagon bridge would go out upon the breaking up of the ice. Tuesday, a part of the gorge gave away and swept down the river at a fearful velocity, carrying two bents of the bridge with it. Wednesday another bent was taken out by another avalanche of ice. About 100 feet of the bridge has been taken out. The ice gorge has gone as far up the river as can be seen. The gorge at the west bridge was so compact and large that the channel of the river was changed to the bottoms west of the river for several days. The grading of the G. S. C. & N. W. Road was washed out by the changed course of the river for about 80 rods. This wash-out has been refilled. Considerable damage was done to the bottom lands west of the river by the washing of debris upon the land by the high water. The dam was not damaged very badly. Workmen had been engaged for two weeks past trying to ease up the expected gorge and wash-out. Their efforts were futile, however. For the third time in the last two years this west bridge has washed out.


Arkansas City Republican, February 20, 1886.

The beautiful weather which has been visited upon us the past week has caused the mechanics, contractors, and builders of Arkansas City to commence active operations. On the burnt district about 75 men are employed in the building of the six mammoth store-rooms. On the blocks of Parker and Bittle on South Summit, a large force has been hard at work excavating and getting ready for the stone-work. On the new hotel work has also been resumed, and an excavation has already been made large enough and deep enough to bury Winfield. About 25 hands are at work excavating for the hotel. Before another spring comes Arkansas City will be blessed with hotel accommodations far superior to any town or city in Southern Kansas. For a stranger to walk up and down Summit street and see the vast army of workmen employed in building substantial business blocks, it fills him with awe. It captivates him and Arkansas City becomes his future home.


Arkansas City Republican, February 20, 1886.

Notes from Kansas City Times.

Frank Jackson writes to Oswego friends from Arkansas City, Kansas, that he and a party of companions were in the Indian Nation during the severe storm of last month and for three days they subsisted upon a few biscuits; and to prevent themselves from being frozen, they had to lie down and let the snow cover them. There are a thousand people in Arkansas City now waiting for the Oklahoma country to be opened for settlement.

Arkansas City commenced Sunday to blow up the Arkansas River with dynamite and has since been whaling away. The ice on the river was thicker than ever before and a terrible ice gorge was anticipated, in which case the long bridge above the dam must go. James Hill and the city council got up this dynamite scheme. The ice next to the dam, of course, would be last to go, giving opportunity for the tremendous gorges to pile up and demolish the bridge. Holes were drilled in the ice, dynamite cartridges inserted with a fuse attached, when everybody would get into the Territory while the thing went off. It knocked Ablue blazes@ out of the ice and the 500 pounds of dynamite will clear the ice from next to the dam and bridge, giving the gorges a rapid descent over the dam on the water=s swift bosom. It was a fine scheme and will save the bridge.

[Note: It was a good idea and almost worked. However, a previous article shows that several spans of the bridge collapsed. Too bad there are two missing issues of paper.]


Arkansas City Republican, February 20, 1886.

Cattle Losses.

According to the Live Stock Journal, it would appear that the cattle losses during the present winter in Kansas, Texas, Colorado, Dakota, and Wyoming have been heavy. In Kansas the number reported frozen during the late fearful blizzard is put at 25,000 instead of 100,000 as has been stated heretofore. In Colorado the losses are not over 2 percent, and in Wyoming 1 percent.