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Fayette County, Illinois
Weather News Stories

SUFFERING IN ILLINOIS, Feb. 14, 1837

SUFFERING IN ILLINOIS, PART II, Feb. 21, 1837

FLOODING IN FAYETTE COUNTY, Jan. 18, 1937



Suffering in Illinois.

We take the following picture of intense suffering at Vandalia, Ill. From a letter of Jan. 3d, by a Philadelphian, to the U.S. Gazette, which paper remarks that the resort to the carcass of a newly killed animal for warmth, though not without precedent, is certainly a strange mode of acquiring animal heat.
“I left Vincennes on the 22d, crossing the Wabash in a skiff Fox Bottom two miles, Little Wabash three miles & c., partly on ice and in canoes, &c., and by ox teams, & c., sleeping in hovels, &c. I arrived here last evening, and such scenes of distress and suffering as I have witnessed between Vincennes and this place, I never before witnessed in any country or climate. Even in the Canadas I never experienced such cold weather. On the prairies there is no snow, but the wind is freezing beyond description. Many of the inhabitants are cut off from their wood and mills, by ice and high water. I have seen men, women and children with their ears, fingers, &c., frozen, and many with their feet so as to make them cripples for life, one old lady who had her feet so frosted as to have the flesh cleave from the bones.
And on the night of the 22d, there were two men attempting to cross the large prairie near the Kaskaskia river, on horses, and losing their path, (and as they term it here, getting out of sight of land,) and after getting discouraged and nearly frozen, and seeing no chance of getting out of the prairie until light, they concluded the only chance they had was to kill their horses, and take out their entrails and take lodging in their carcasses while warm. They killed and prepared one of the horses, while so doing they lost the only knife they had, consequently they both had to make the best of the poor animal slain, the other tied to his foot, they both used the warmth of the horse to the best advantage; before morning one of them became lifeless, the other having a better chance, when light he was barely able to get on the nearly lifeless animal, which conveyed him to a settlement, where he is yet alive though badly frozen.
I have not time nor paper to tell you all the sufferings I have witnessed, and heard of near me in this section. There is an epidemic prevailing here to a considerable extent, which has been fatal in almost every case, called the cold plague. Several members of the legislature have died with it within a few days. If there is no change in the weather soon, what will the sufferings of the poor in this country be, who are barely covered from the storms, and the cold wind whistling between every log of their contented and apparently happy cabins? 

[The Vermont Watchman and State Journal, Montpelier, Vermont, Tuesday, February 14, 1837 - NP - Sub by FoFG]


Suffering in Illinois, Part II

One half the world but little dream what the other is enduring.  A letter in the Philadelphia Gazette, from Vandalia, Illinois, speaks in frightful terms of the suffering which the people in that region have experienced from the recent cold weather.  One would almost imagine it was the scenes of Bonnaparte's retreat from Moscow, acted over again--the rivers frozen--the air of freezing keenness, though no snow on the prairies, the mills suspended--the inhabitants about Vincennes and the Wabash dreadfully frost-bitten.  Two travellers, it related, killed their horses, and took shelter within their carcasses to obtain warmth.  The log-cabins of the poor on the prairies, remote from wood, are said to present scenes of indescribable distress.
[Connecticut Herald (New Haven, CT), February 27, 1837; transcribed by A. Newell]


Flooding in Fayette County

Half of Fayette County, Illinois was inundated as the Kaskaskia overran its banks.  Farm lands were flooded for four miles south and three miles east of Vandalia.  Boats provided the only avenue of travel in the northern and much of the eastern protion of the county.
[San Diego (CA) Union, January 18, 1937; transcribed by A. Newell]


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