No, the attached photograph was not taken in Iowa --- but rather in Portland, Maine, on Tuesday after a late March nor'easter struck parts of New England. Whether winter is done with Iowa, enjoying spring-like conditions this week, is another matter.
But back in 1887 in Chariton, the biggest snowfall of the season was in fact recorded on March 26, when more than a foot fell, whipped by winds that drifted it across roads and railroad tracks so that on the Sunday following horse and sleigh were the only practical means of transportation.
That storm, as well as other happenings of the week, were reported on the local news page of The Chariton Democrat of Thursday, March 31. Those other happenings included the startling long-distance diagnoses of Lincoln Township farmer Milton Good (1822-1897) and a case of gross neglect on the part of Lucas constable Nick Leet. Here are the reports:
After a severe winter, almost unprecedented in Iowa history for the long season of sleighing, the latter part of February and the early part of March gave promise of a very early spring. The great depth of frost yielded to the milder weather and let go its hold producing but little mud. Country travel was scarcely interrupted at all in the change from winter to spring. March has presented excellent opportunities for getting in oats, wheat, and other small grain and a great deal of this necessary spring work has been done.
But Saturday changed the aspect of things. A leaden sky and cold northeast wind brought us probably the greatest fall of snow that has occurred at any one time during the winter, winding up Sunday with about 12 inches. Saturday's storm was a peculiar one. From noon until nine o'clock it snowed incessantly. Then it took an hour's intermission and gave place to vivid lightning for awhile, lighting up the whole heavens. Then the night settled into snowing again. Sunday morning presenting all the appearance of mid-winter and calling out the sleighs and bells in great number. A high wind prevailing during the night piled the snow in drifts and greatly interrupted railway traffic.
To farm interests the storm is disastrous. Those who were early on hand with their work and did their seeding of small grain were fortunate as the snow will do but little damage. Those who put it off will find their work retarded for two or three weeks.
With feed very scarce and stock naturally impoverished from a long winter of pinching cold the damage in this direction will be great. However, the evil effects of the storm cannot last long, at this season of the year. Warm weather and grass and growing grain will soon put a different aspect on our surroundings, and the promise of rich harvests will add new hopes to hearts almost discouraged. There's a beautiful spring-time ahead.
An old friend, Milton Good, of Lincoln township, is in trouble. Up to last week he thought he enjoyed remarkably good health. During his peaceful Sunday nap one of his daughters read in a paper the advertisement of a large-sized quack in Davenport calling himself Dr. O.G.W. Adams, Psychologic Specialist. He can cure all diseases and by Clairvoyant Diagnoss can tell by a lock of hair just what ails a person. So the nischievous youngster stole a lock of her father's hair and sent. Following is the answer he received from the celebrated "doctor," quoted verbatim:
"Thine at hand and contents noted. I find thee threatened with Paralysis Rheumatism of the Blood --- Kidneys, Liver, Head, Side, Back, Stomach, Heart Lungs and fluids of the body all affected --- and Neuralgia. Thee can be cured. It will cost thee 5 dollars for two months medicine. Registered letters, postal notes, money orders or express orders at my risk. All medicine sent by express. Write the town, county, state and nearest express office plain to avoid mistakes. In ordering medicine, return this diagnosis. No medicine sent without the money accompanying the order. /signed/ Dr. O.G.W. Adams"
Brother Good tells us he has been afraid for some time that this is what ailed him. He was in town last Saturday trying to buy a drug store and a graveyard. He will use the former for a while and have the latter in readiness.
Constable Nic Leet has been making some more beer and whisky raids on Lucas this week, and succeeded in capturing a good supply from that unhappy town.
There was one case, however, in which the officer was painfully and peculiarly unfortunate. Three full cases of beer were stowed away in the calaboose one evening for safe keeping. Later that same night the marshal stowed away in the same place three empty tramps. Behold the change that came over the goods stored in that warehouse in one short night! When morning came the conditions of the previous night had been entirely changed. The three tramps were no longer empty, but full; the three cases, not full, but empty.
Some super-critical and evil-disposed persons say it was another case of "gross Nicleet."