CLAUS HOLTZ DIED IN THE BLIZZARD OF 1888
125 YEARS AGO
BY JIM HANSEN
According to the Jan. 20, 1888 Walnut Bureau, Jan. 13 & 14 “were days of almost unparalleled severity. The wind blew a gale from the northwest, whirling and drifting the rapidly falling snow, making pedesterianism and travel almost impossible.”
Nebraska and South Dakota received the brunt of that epic storm. With a morning temperature of about 30º, children walked to their respective country schools with no concern about the weather. By mid-afternoon, the wind howled and the temperature fell to almost zero and dropped to more than -30º overnight.
The storm would be referred to as the “School Children’s Blizzard.” Many students remained at school for two days and nights under the watchful eye of the teacher. Many perished on their way home from school. An estimated 230 people died.
Claus and Elsbe Holtz lived in South Dakota with their children Hatta, Fred, Herman, and Ernest. Claus went on horseback for medicine that fateful day only to freeze to death during his journey. The family later moved to the Walnut and Avoca areas. Holtz descendants still live in Walnut on this 125th anniversary of that horrible storm.