The weather has always been one of the greatest factors in the alteration of human plans. It continually affects agriculture, industry, commerce and sports. Early weather reports were based on the local observation of the sky conditions, the experience and intuition of the individual who might be making the forecasts, and sometimes on the positions of the moon and the planets.
The weather was also a popular topic of conversation during the early days of Lake County, but thanks to a lack of formal communications, the weather would pass through before the pioneers read a published report. Many of those early pioneers were so interested that they prepared a daily log, recording the weather from day to day.
The following reports are taken from a few of those old logs written by the early settlers.
Rev. T.H. Ball wrote about the weather during the Old Settlers Assn. meeting on Sept. 8, 1888: "A few minutes before six o'clock last evening, with the sun of course near the horizon, a very glorious view was seen for a moment in the western sky, as that sun, ever a glorious object on which to look, shone through and upon a mass of mountain-like clouds gilding the glowing edges for a few seconds of two lofty summits that looked like mountain peaks, and then shining full through the huge mass of vapor, as though determined still to promise a sunny and pleasant morrow. After the disappearance of the sunshine a light shower came and none need wish for a pleasanter September morning than this morning of our thirteenth, annual gathering, the close of 54 years of our occupancy of this soil of Lake."
From another log: "Twelve days of delightful weather was reported for December of 1888, and it was noted that it was much like that of 1883. Roads were perfect, without dust or mud, and there was no frost in the ground to prevent plowing for those twelve days."
The weather of 100 years ago: "Jan. 25, 1889: The winter so far was very unusual, with little rain or mud, due to so much warm sunshine during those past rew months. But on Feb. 6, the temperature went sliding down to zero, and ice was cut and gathered. On Mar. 5, an early spring was heralded by the arrival of geese and ducks along the Kankakee Marsh, and the early settlers were talking about how mild the winter was, with the exception of that one cold spell during the month of March." Robins and bluebirds came early, and the landscape was decorated with flowers in abundance by the middle of April. That same month strawberries were in blossom and some corn planted.
Summer heat arrived in May 1889, with heavy rains following in June, and a strong wind blew down a barn belonging to J. Pearce, east of Plum Grove. The rains continued into July that year, with a dry spell in August. A very pleasant fall followed, with a warm December. Some farmers reported that their winter wheat grew more in December than it had in October. Christmas Day of 1889 was also warm, so warm that snakes were seen!
The first part of January 1890 was very mild, and children were seen catching tadpoles and minnows, but on the 21st of the month an intense cold came with a west wind, and temperatures dropped down to twenty six degrees below zero on the 22nd, making the iceman anxious to get started. But on the 25th, warm weather returned, the roads returned to mud, and the ice melted. It was warm most of the month of February, but on Mar. 7 the mercury returned to zero, and some ice was cut, four to six inches thick. By Apr. 23 strawberries were in blossom, and the yellow dandelions dotted the land.
On June 13, 1890, there was a severe thunderstorm in the evening, and several houses were struck by lightning. A hay barn at Shelby was also struck and burned to the ground. On Oct. 10 one settler reported that there were katy dids still alive and chirping.
"Then came a very delightful November, followed by a comfortable December. The roads at the end of that year were smooth, hard and dry, like summer roads, with little dust. The year 1890 ended with an April-like rain on the thirty-first of December; a warm delightful, gentle shower."
The weather reports of the early years in Lake County were taken from logs prepared by three well-known pioneers and their families.
The earliest one was started in 1835 by Solon Robinson, 1834 Lake County pioneer and founder of Crown Point. Some of the other information was taken from logs prepared by Rev. Timothy H. Ball, 1837 pioneer and early historian, and by Rev. Hiram Wason of Lake Prairie, who came into this area in 1857.
Return to Lowell History
Return to the "Pioneer History" A to Z Index Page