PLAGUES AND EPIDEMICS.
Great events make fascinating history, but commonplace occurrences quite often have a greater influence on society. The total number of persons killed in World War I was a little more than 8.5 million. The war provided material for countless books. The influenza epidemic of 1918-19, coming on the heels of the war, killed more than 20 million persons worldwide, yet, apart from medical professionals and historians, few remember the epidemic.
THE GREAT CYCLONE
Source: HISTORY OF MISSOURI-ANDREW AND DE KALB COUNTIES-COPYRIGHTED 1888
The following account of the great cyclone which passed through Andrew County in June, 1881, is largely from the published account in the SAVANNAH REPORTER: A little before 5 O'clock Sunday evening, June 12, a dark, ragged, strange and foreboding looking cloud was noticed west of Bennett Lane, in the northern part of the county, which dipped toward the earth in a point at the center, and traveled westward. The point reached the ground just before crossing the road, and the wind scattered boards, rails, and agriculture implements in all directions.
The cloud, with a loud rushing noise, reached the earth, which seemed to cause an explosion, and caused the raising of a dense black smoke, rushed over fields and forests, stripping the largest trees of their branches, and tearing up smaller ones by the roots, and carrying them long distances.
The first house encountered in its path was that of Nathaniel Kellogg, six miles north of Savannah, the roof and upper story were completely demolished, a fine orchard ruined and fences swept away, the family escaped uninjured.
A Mr. Roberts, seeing the storm coming his way, sought shelter for his family. On returning, nothing was left of his home, the well bucket had been blown away, and the well, in which some 20 feet of water had previously stood was perfectly dry.
The course of the cyclone was a little south of northwest, and from the beginning until reaching the eastern boundary of Andrew County, it seemed to increase steadily in power, breadth, and fury. Six people died and many were wounded. The tornado, from Flag Springs to the point where it left the county, swept a path 80 yards wide, clearing every living thing before it, leaving the ground perfectly bare. It was the greatest storm of the kind ever experience in Northwest Missouri.
A cyclone, a few years latter, struck the county on Empire Prairie, passing into Gentry County.
THE GRASSHOPPER PLAGUE
HISTORY OF MISSOURI-ANDREW AND DE KALB COUNTIES--COPYRIGHTED 1888
Andrew County was first visited by grasshoppers-Rocky Mountain Locusts-on 8 August, 1874. They were flying in an easterly direction. They continued to pass over in clouds for several days, but enough landed to cause great uneasiness among the farmers and gardeners, who took every precaution to guard their crops against the ravages of the terrible pests. The insects did little damage that year. The grasshoppers remained long enough to deposit their eggs, which were in countless millions, and then emigrated to other fields.
The next year, around the 20th of April, the young hoppers began to appear, absolutely covering every square or fraction thereof of the earth's surface, destroying verdure of all kinds, rendering wheat, pastures, and all other fields as barren as the traveled highways.
The pests seemed to move in one direction, eastward, and exercised the utmost system in the work of destruction. Countless myriads swarmed through the air, in clouds dense enough to intercept the sun's rays for several minutes at a time. Before this relentless army of destroyers all kinds of vegetation rapidly perished, and it is said that the insects became so numerous on the railroads as to cause the locomotive wheels to slip on the iron tracks, creating great delays in the trains.
At first the farmers tried to protect their crops by destroying the insects, but, finding that a thousand made their appearance for every one killed, all such efforts were soon abandoned.
No county was ever worse afflicted with a plaque than Andrew County with the locusts, which lasted until the 20th of June, 1875. With the departure of the pests farmers replanted their corn, some as late as the 4th of July. Large quantities of vegetables were planted. Millet and Hungarian seed were sown, and, the season proving exceptionally favorable, immense quantities of all these crops were raised. Corn planted that year in July produced from 50 to 100 bushels per acre, and all kinds of vegetables were so plentiful that they brought little or no price in the markets.
In the fall, people from Kansas and Nebraska were suffering from famine, caused by grasshoppers, Andrew County "grasshoppered" as it had been, was able to respond to the call, and do its share in feeding the hungry and clothing the poor.
HISTORY OF MISSOURI-ANDREW AND DE KALB COUNTIES-COPYRIGHTED 1888
One of the most daring attempts at open robbery ever known in Northwest Missouri was made in 1867 by the notorious Melvin Bond, a well known out law and desperado, who, with six comrades as reckless and desperate as himself, made a raid on the savings bank in Savannah.
The robbery was admirably planned, the time chosen about 2 O'clock P.M., when the people of the city would least expect such an occurrence. The out laws rode boldly through the streets to the front door of the bank where, hastily dismounting, Bond, with several of his comrades, entered the building, and presenting a revolver, demanded of the cashier his money or his life.
The cashier, Judge McLain, who was standing behind the counter engaged in preparing an express package, seized a revolver and shot Bond in the arm, shattering the bone. Simultaneously Bond fired, hitting McLain in the left shoulder, severing the main artery, making a severe and dangerous wound. On of the robbers rushed around the counter to take the money, but he was met by the Judge, who, with his revolver cocked, advanced on him, causing him to retreat to the door. By this time the commotion at the bank aroused the citizens, who gathered around the building. The outlaws, thinking discretion the better part of valor, mounted their horses and rode out of town no richer than when they had entered it.
That fall, Bond killed the deputy sheriff of Nemaha County, Kansas, for which he was arrested, tried, convicted, and executed. Shortly before Bonds execution, Judge McLain went to Kansas to identify Bond. McLain was the last one to bid the doomed man good-bye on the scaffold.
The Platte Purchase
HISTORY OF ANDREW AND DE KALB COUNTIES-COPY RIGHTED 1888
Andrew County, where the Bennetts originally settled, is one of the six counties that were carved out of a section known as the "Platte Purchase."
The act of Congress, March 6, 1820, admitted Missouri as a state into the Federal Union, defined its boundaries as the State, the western line of which is described as: "Commencing at a point on parallel of latitude thirty-six degrees and thirty minutes north, where the parallel is intersected by a meridian line passing through the mouth of the Kansas River, which empties into the Missouri River, then north along the meridian line of the intersection of the parallel of latitude which passes through the rapids of the Des Moines River, making the line correspond with the Indian boundary line."
This boundary line failed to take in an extensive district of country between it and the Missouri River, and the mouth of the Kansas River, and the parallel which passes through the Des Moines Rapids, the topography of which could not have been known when Missouri was admitted. This triangular district of country was at that time the home of the Sac and Fox Indians, of Missouri, where reservations had been previously granted by solemn treaty. By moving the Indians and possessing this territory, a vast area of the richest, best timbered and watered land in the state would be opened for settlers One of the principal advantages urged in favor of acquisition was that the State would then have a natural boundary--the Missouri River-between whites and Indians.
A treaty was negotiated with the Sac and Fox Indians and was ratified by Congress in 1835.
The area quickly grew until the State Legislature created Andrew County in 1841. Andrew County was named in honor of Andrew Jackson Davis, a distinguished lawyer in St. Louis.
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