could be Buffalo's crossing the platte

 Research Papers

Today is:


Apparently not native to Nebraska, and not here all the time like now.

September 6, 1860 – Most of the settlement in Buffalo County was along the Wood River in the present-day Gibbon, Shelton area. The Huntsman's Echo at Shelton reported “that clouds of grasshoppers migrating south have for several days been doing considerable damage…"

Late July, 1874

Saxon Colony in Schneider Township – (written by an original colonist; they arrived late fall ‘73)
Prospering, good crops growing.
Spring wheat (the only kind then raised) had been harvested and a portion of the oats.

At the noon hour the sun was slightly darkened, much the same appearance as precedes the coming of an eclipse; like a snow storm cloud moving in from the north

A member of the family going to the well at noon for fresh water returned, hurriedly exclaiming, "come and see the grasshoppers and do look at the chickens."

Grasshoppers in great numbers were dropping from the air;

At the first as a hopper alighted a hen would dash forward and gobble it up;

Then without stirring from her tracks she would swallow another and another until, her crop distended to an unusual size, she could hold no more.

Then when a hopper alighted near, the hen would cock her head to one side, stretch out her neck and by her actions seem to say, "can I possibly hold one more?"

Efforts to save the crops – Used bedding and extra clothing to cover garden crops like onions & tomatoes.
The hoppers would eat holes in the clothes or bedding and crawl under and continue to eat the plants
Gathered dry hay and coarse litter and started smudge fires. Didn’t work.
Some went rushing through their fields with whips and cloths, to frighten the hoppers but that didn’t work either.
The grasshoppers remained two days and disappeared as mysteriously as they came.


About the noon hour they arose as if in answer to a command, and darkening the sun as on the day they came, flew toward the south.

Natural inclination to visit neighbors, talk over the terrible visitation and learn the extent of the grasshopper raid.
In the cool of the evening we started on such a visit to a neighbor. [end of 1st day]

Drive very slow as the great swarms of hoppers which continually raised from the ground as the team proceeded making it impossible to go faster than a slow walk.

This neighbor was a man of a deep religious nature, had helped to organize a church, was superintendent of the Sabbath school and until a schoolhouse was erected his house had been used for religious services of various kinds.

He and his family took great pleasure in gardening and were very proud of their garden, superior to any in the community.

We were met with such blasphemy and cursing because of the destruction wrought by grasshoppers as to make the blood run cold and very soon all thought of a friendly visit was abandoned and the team headed homeward.

This neighbor lived for a quarter of a century or more in our midst, loved, honored and esteemed, no one more implicitly trusted both in public and private matters and yet he never resumed his former church relations or had further connection with a church organization.

The pastor of the church called a meeting of the members of the church to pray for their brother, but the pastor himself forgetting the call, went fishing and the meeting was not held.

Wood River Valley - The small crops of wheat and oats harvested.
About 2 P.M., on the bluffs north of Wood River, sun had a hazy appearance and suddenly grasshoppers by the millions covered the ground.

The hoppers gathered in the corn fields till the stalks bent to the ground beneath them and the sound of their feasting was like unto a herd of cattle in a corn field.

No noticeable destruction of native grasses and plants and of leaves on native trees but the destruction of cultivated plants and cultivated trees and shrubs was complete.

Small fields of crops were entirely destroyed, while a large field of corn--a half section or a section in a body--was often only injured by them for a comparatively short distance on the outer edges, the center portion of the field being uninjured.

Onions - Not only corn but some lost of their onion crop, for the hoppers not only ate the onions but dug holes to get the last morsel of the roots of the onions.


Onions from "black seed" had been found to be a profitable crop, notwithstanding the large expense of the seed.
The onions grew best on sod breaking, and as there were no weeds in those early days there was little labor in making the crop.


Such onions grew to good size and sold readily for $1 a bushel.

Early potatoes made a fair crop in the year 1874, although the hoppers destroyed all the tops.
Such potatoes were good eating but did not keep well during the winter.

These hoppers came from the north, remained over night and about noon the next day disappeared towards the south as suddenly and mysteriously as they came.

These hoppers which came in the year 1874 laid no eggs,

August, 1875
Hoppers returned from the South. Many believed these were descendents of the 1874 hoppers, hatched farther south and returning to the home of their parents

Corn was far enough advanced that kernels had formed at the butt end of the ear.
Destroyed the silk on the ears, thus preventing further fertilization of the corn.
All corn harvested that year was ears having one or two inches of kernels on the butt end.

Laid millions of eggs - in the hardest of ground, traveled roads across the prairie.

The hoppers would dig a hole about one inch in depth and deposit from forty to sixty eggs in a sort of egg-shaped sack glued firmly together and shaped like the end of a finger

April, 1876 –

Eggs began to hatch, the ground was literally alive with little black hoppers.

Instinct seemed to lead them to gather and feed on the fields of wheat and oats.

Every possible effort was made to destroy them

Just when it appeared that every cultivated plant would be destroyed the destruction of all crops would be complete, there came late in May a three days' storm, rain and snow, freezing temperature, and as all prairie had been burned over there was no protection for the young and tender hopper and all perished


Carloads and trainloads of food and clothing contributed by people of the eastern states
Went to settlers in Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas

Granges organized in Buffalo County in 1875.
During the grasshopper invasion the officers of the State Grange were active in shipping many carloads of grain both for seed and as feed for farm teams out into the state for the relief of drought sufferers.

Grain (for seed purposes) was purchased at grain elevators, a mixture of the different varieties of wheat, oats and the like, and without being cleaned as it came from the threshing machine and containing many kinds of noxious weed seed

Shipped to the needy in all the newer portions of the state, thus seeding, for all time to come, thousands of newly opened farms with such noxious weeds.

No doubt the weed seeds, like the West Nile virus now, would have gotten here sooner or later anyway.

Misc. - Odd Names



Mr. Shovel Laura Oyster
Andrew Jackson Alpharettaa (al far etta) Beenblossom
Linus Higgins Arethuse
Christ (Kris t) Johnson (born in Norway)  Orpha
H. A.   (no last name)  Deona


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Revised: 05/03/2018