The early settlers of Nebraska faced many hardships, a great number of these weather and climate related. Among the most destructive of natural disasters were the sudden prairie blizzards. The blizzard of January 12, 1888 had an immense impact on the lives of all who remembered it.
Imagine your car. Now consider the amount of gas that it requires to keep it running. Picture that your car is in the middle of rural, untamed Nebraska: there are no gas stations for miles. Multiply your car into several hundred cars, and imagine you must organize a large group of men to drive them. You will be doing your best to chase down and capture men driving another group of cars. These other men know the landscape, and their cars run on grass instead of gasoline. What’s more, their drivers hate you, and attack any gas stations that you don’t guard.
“I have recently rounded out fifty years of newspaper work in Custer County,” wrote Emerson R. Purcell in late 1942, shortly after the publication of the golden anniversary edition of his Custer County Chief of Broken Bow. In reminiscences on file at the Nebraska State Historical Society, he said: “Perhaps I can better convey to you the conditions that confronted the publishers of the pioneer days by a little of my own experience.