Samuel Aughey

Eight times between 1857 and 1875 some parts of Nebraska were visited by grasshoppers. The greatest grasshopper raid came on July 20, 21, and 22, 1874, with crops almost totally destroyed in some areas. The following spring of 1875 was cold and rainy, which froze the young brood. For the next two or three years there were some grasshoppers and the fear of more along the frontier. In response to inquiries from around the state about the possibility of another grasshopper infestation in 1877, the Daily State Journal of Lincoln on May 30, 1877, published an open letter from Samuel Aughey to Nebraska farmers. Aughey, then professor of natural sciences at the University of Nebraska, reviewed methods of battling the insects and assured his readers that there was cause for optimism.

Aughey began by pointing out the role played by natural predators such as birds and by parasites, which reduced substantially the number of locusts. Aughey believed the surviving grasshoppers could be controlled by determined human effort. “The opinions of my correspondents from various portions of the State differ a great deal as to the best methods of destroying the young ‘hoppers, but all agreeing that it can and is being done, . . . Few seem to have much confidence in crushing, except during the first week or ten days after hatching, when the young locusts cluster, and it can be done with an old broom or a light paddle.

“Some report having destroyed a large part of the locusts that had gathered near their farms by piling rows of straw, old hay and weeds around their fields and burning them after they had hatched out and begun to cluster and move in this direction. Many rely successfully on ditching, to keep off the locusts that come in from the prairie, or the farms of careless neighbors. . . .

“The catching of locusts with nets seems at this time to be the most popular method of dealing with them. Many forms of nets are used and proposed. . . . The use of crude kerosene is one of the most effectual agents that can be employed for the destruction of locusts. It can be used in any way that will bring the fumes into contact with the young locusts. . . . A few are using coal tar instead of kerosene. With crude coal oil a gallon ought to clean out or go over ten acres of ground.”

Aughey concluded, “Fortunately, it is now only a question as to which of all the methods proposed is the best, since the conviction is becoming more and more general that if the destruction of the locusts is commenced early in the season, no farmer needs to lose his crops from them.”

(March 2006)


Become a Member!

Our members make history happen.

Join Now

Other Publications

The Bachelors’ Protective Union of Kearney

When the Bachelors' Protective Union gave a gala reception for two of its newly married, former members and their brides in March of 1890, the social club for young, ...

U.S. Weather Bureau in 1890s Nebraska

The U.S. Weather Bureau was established by an act of Congress on October 1, 1890. It took over the weather service that had been established in the office of the Chief ...

Canning the Way to Victory

During American participation in World War I the U.S. Food Administration, under the direction of Herbert Hoover, launched a massive campaign to persuade Americans to ...

The Shoemaker’s Ashes

"Edward Kuehl, one of the most peculiar characters that ever lived in Omaha, or anywhere else, was found dead in his bed last night in the back room of his place of ...

Crazy Horse Surrender Ledger Foreward

Red Dog, an Oglala Lakota who lived at the Red Cloud Agency, Nebraska, 1876-77 (Nebraska State Historical Society   In the summer of 1876, following the ...

Darryl F. Zanuck

Darryl F. Zanuck Darryl F. Zanuck (1902-1979), a native Nebraskan, produced some of Hollywood's most important and controversial films. He helped found 20th Century Fox ...

The Burlington’s Profitable Pork Special

Nebraska railroads were much concerned with developing an adequate economy in the areas they served. The Burlington, for example, had a long history of caring for the ...

Bungalow Filling Stations

After the giant Standard Oil Company was broken into thirty-four separate companies in 1911, the newly independent Standard Oil of Nebraska dominated the state's market ...

The Bull Fight

This is the perfect time of year for a visit to the old fishin' hole. But a group of fisherfolk from Plainview discovered that this bucolic pastime sometimes has ...

Buffalo Soldiers West

African-American soldiers on the western frontier are the focus of an exhibit at the Nebraska History Museum in Lincoln. Buffalo Soldiers West, on loan from the Colorado ...

Protection for Buffalo

The extermination of the buffalo on the Plains occurred largely between 1870 and 1885. The Nebraska State Journal of Lincoln on February 1, 1874, editorialized in vain ...

Buffalo Hunting

In late October 1877 young Rolf Johnson and three friends left their homes in Phelps County, Nebraska, for a buffalo hunt in northeastern Colorado. The hunt was not very ...
About History Nebraska
History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
Explore Nebraska
Discover the real places and people of our past at these History Nebraska sites.

Upcoming Events

View our new and upcoming events to see how you can get involved.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.

History Nebraska Education

Learn more about the educational programs provided at our museums, sites, and online.

History Nebraska Programs

Learn more about the programs associated with History Nebraska.

Latest Hall of Fame Inductee

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to officially recognize prominent Nebraskans.

Listen to our Podcast

Listen to the articles and authors published in the Nebraska History Magazine with our new Nebraska History Podcast!

Nebraska Collections

History Nebraska's mission is to collect, preserve, and open our shared history to all Nebraskans.

Our YouTube Video Collection

Get a closer look at Nebraska's history through your own eyes, with our extensive video collections.

Additional Research Resources

History Nebraska Research and Reference Services help connect you to the material we collect and preserve.

Support History Nebraska
Make a cash donation to help us acquire, preserve, and interpret Nebraska’s history. Gifts to History Nebraska help leave a legacy and may help your taxes, too! Support the work of History Nebraska by donating to the History Nebraska Foundation today.

Volunteers are the heroes of History Nebraska. So much history, so little time! Your work helps us share access to Nebraska’s stories at our museums and sites, the reference room, and online.