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Harvest of Grief: Grasshopper Plagues and Public Assistance in Minnesota, 1873-78
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Top Customer Reviews
I found out about this book doing a search on the Internet after reading "On The Banks of Plum Creek" by Laura Ingalls Wilder to my son. When Laura and her family moved to Minnesota, their crops were devestated by the "Rocky Mountain Grasshoppers" that swept over the western praries from the years 1873-1878 and caused millions of dollars in damages.
This book (Harvest of Grief) deals with the farmers' plight in Minnesota.
The 1870s were a time of change in America and it's territories. Ideals were changing and it wasn't the farmer that was the cornerstone of American society any longer, but money that proved success. With families like the Rockerfellers and the Vanderbilts, the definition of "success" was rapidly changing.
The book tells of the theories behind why the grasshoppers came and why they suddenly disappeared after 5 years, how farmers tried desperately to save their farms, often losing them to mortgage companies, and those who begged and borrowed trying to survive along with their families.
The book also tells of how they tried to get federal relief from the government and why this was difficult. Hundreds of people were in some cases left homeless with nothing more than a blanket and a sheet, without a bed to sleep in nor a floor to make one on.
Annette Atkins uses Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family as a reference several times in the book, along with others who suffered greatly during that time, when being poor and unable to pay your debts was looked on as a character flaw, the result of laziness and an unwillingness to work.
This was an excellent book and I highly recommend it.