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 coming.

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.


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 © 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