1888, Year of the Summer Frost

1888, Year of the Summer Frost

By T. T. Fuglestad

"There was a dry period in the spring of 1888, and the wheat that was seeded was nearly withered the first of June.  We soon got a nice rain, then a heat wave that made everything grow fast.  We then also had lots of rain in June and July.  It became cold and cloudy and the grain was very late.  In the middle of August a lot of the wheat was still in bloom.  On August 12 we were notified from St. Paul that we had to watch the wheat as a frost was predicted for North Dakota on the 16th of August, so we prepared the best we could.  We put hay and straw on the northwest side of the field, Jens Bull, my neighbor, and I worked together.  Between two and three o'clock in the morning we made a fire, but it was just like a drop in a bucket.  We then went over to our neighbor, Elling Johnson Froiland, to see what he thought of the frost.  We found him in the shanty making coffee.  It was so cold he needed a fire in his stove.  He gave us coffee and something to eat.  We lit our pipes (Jens used chewing tobacco) and took time about things.  We then went out and looked at the thermometer and it showed several degrees above freezing.  We didn't realize it was hinging on the outside wall from where the kitchen stove was.  We went to our homes with best of hopes."

"In the morning the wheat was frozen over all of North Dakota and northern Minnesota.  We will remember that Sunday morning when the sun thawed the frost from the fields.  This was a new experience in this strange country.  I had fooled myself to seed twelve acres of wheat in March.  I received No. 2 grade for my wheat, enough seed for myself and others.  The greater part of my crop froze.  This was quite hard for the new beginners as they were more or less in debt.  Some threshed a little for chicken feed, others burned their fields, some plowed and some ran a roller over them that flattened down the straw, and they plowed it.  I let mine stand until spring.  Then I would burn it and harrow it in.  I plowed just 12 acres.

Source: Griggs County History 1879 - 1976 page 11

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