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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Missouri locust plague of 1875

As I've mentioned before on this blog, Missouri had a tough time during Reconstruction, with outlawry and sectarian bitterness dividing an already divided people. Nature didn't cooperate either. In the spring of 1875, just a decade after the Civil War, there was a great plague of locusts.

Huge swarms passed overhead for days on end, descending on the fields and stripping them clean. It was said the Missouri River, which was flooding at the time and causing extra damage, ran black with dead bugs. Locals clearing the courthouse lawn in Independence filled 15 barrels with locusts. Each barrel weighed 200 poiunds!

Needless to say, some holy rollers insisted the Apocalypse had come. Others managed to keep their sense of humor, such as this illustrator for a contemporary newspaper. I lifted this public domain image from the great blog Yesteryear Once More, which has a long post on the history of locust plagues in America.


  1. Great print. Thank you for sharing.

  2. I've seen nature programs that show locust swarms and it would be a really freaky sight.

  3. That sounds really awful! I'm sure glad I wasn't there. And isn't it ridiculous how many times religious idiots have declared the world is ending? You'd figure they'd learn by now, but there's always another idiot with a "message" from God and more idiots ready to believe him.

  4. Very appropriate post, as we are expecting the 17 year cicada swarms here in the Northeast very soon. (Although it won't be anything like those legendary plagues from the 1800s.)

    1. Yeah, that's why I wrote this! Try not to get beaten up by locusts like this poor guy.

  5. I am a history junkie, though not at all a scholar! Glad I stumbled onto your blog!

  6. It is disrespectful to disparage someone's religion. Judgment comes in various ways and times to all of us. I would say most Holly Rollers will turn out on the good end of Judgment Day.


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