On January 12 of 1888 meteorological conditions combined to create a massive blizzard and cold front that swept from the Dakota Territory, to Nebraska, to Minnesota. There was a drop in temperature of 18 degrees in minutes, with the wind chill making it feel as though the temperature dropped 100 degrees over the course of the day. 4-5 feet of snow fell and the wind created drifts that blocked doors, smothered cattle, and scoured some parts of the ground clear of snow entirely. The fine particles of snow that blew decreased visibility to inches.
Out in that blizzard were hundreds of people, those that were taking care of animals, going to town, children and teachers in small schoolhouses spread throughout the townships.
The Nelings family were in Foster Township, Beadle County South Dakota during 1888. Daniel Thompson Nelings’ daughter, Wilhelmina (or Willie) Nelings was a teacher in the Mitchell area.
Willie was also the mother of Thomas Nelings Swale and Jack Bracy Swale.
An excellent account of the blizzard can be found in The Children’s Blizzard.