During the drought and financial hard times of 1893 and 1894, homesteaders in western Nebraska were especially hard hit. Charitable, fraternal, and religious groups appealed to their members to send food, clothing, fuel, and other supplies to their needy fellow members.
Church Howe, commander of the Nebraska Department of the Grand Army of the Republic, appealed to Union veterans to help their indigent fellow veterans in western Nebraska. Howe's appeal, published in the Nebraska State Journal of November 29, 1894, asked for aid for the "old soldiers and their families in the western part of the state" and urged that "immediate action be taken looking toward their relief."
"Many of them are in great destitution and distress for the common necessities of life and winter is so near at hand unless relief is given them at once much real suffering must follow. I therefore appeal to all those [GAR] posts located in the sections that have not been depressed by the misfortunes that have befallen our comrades in that portion of the state affected by the drouth to call special meetings, if necessary, and devise some means for raising fuel, food, and clothing to be distributed among the several posts on the frontier asking aid. When collected and ready for shipment, if reported to these headquarters, free transportation will be furnished and a careful distribution made and reported upon.
"The commander suggests that each post join with its relief corps in this great work. Hold fairs, festivals and social entertainments and ask the cooperation of all loyal people in your neighborhood outside the Grand Army. Let every post do something. If you can't fill a [box]car in your vicinity, fill a box. What are we here for?
"Appoint special committees from your most active and energetic members to make a canvass . . . . A car load of coal from each post and its friends would be most acceptable. Comrades, get to business and let us render all possible assistance to our destitute union veterans and their dependent families."