In his 1900 publication "Northwestern Indiana," pioneer Timothy H. Ball wrote the following: "Lake County has a weather record kept with more or less fullness of detail from 1835 up to 1900. It may be that other counties in the State have such records; perhaps they have not. This record in Lake County was commenced by Solon Robinson [founder of Crown Point]; it has been kept up by members of the Ball Family and by Rev. H. Wason of Lake Prairie, until now. Whether it will be continued after 1900 ends is uncertain."
Many hot summers similar in temperature to 1995 were recorded in the last century. No doubt the early pioneers tried hard to keep going in the extreme heat, clearing the land, building their homes, and working in the fields.
Their refuge could have been a cool stream, a fruit cellar, or perhaps the shade of a big oak tree. Of course, a "heat index" was never heard of, but they did have mercury thermometers to record the temperatures through the years.
Weather records from 100 years ago show a similarity to those of 1995.
1895 -- January started out to be very mild, but toward the end of the month there were bitter cold days and deep snow drifts, with the mercury several times below zero.
February was another cold month, with show and drifts.
March was a pleasant month, with robins and larks sighted on Mar. 25. The 29th was a very hot day, with mercury up to 82 degrees!
April: a warm month, with many flowers blooming by the 14th, and a lot of grass for feed in the marshes.
On May 1 the temperature was at 84 degrees at noon, "a glorious May Day." It was a remarkable season for the growth of vegetation until the 21st, when there was a very heavy frost, with some of the potato vines killed into the very ground. They had grown rapidly and were tender.
The month of June was very hot, and there were some showers.
From the 1st to the 5th of July, the report says that the days were full of "smoky air," and again, toward the end of the month, the smoky air returned for a few days.
In August of 1895 showers were reported across the north and central parts of the county, but the south part was dry and dusty until Aug. 24. There was a general rain on Aug. 26, and showers continued the rest of the month.
September: On the 7th it was reported that the air was cool in the groves, but the temperature changed fast, cool and then hot. Sept. 18 was one of the hottest nights of the summer; on the whole, September was a hot or warm month. In New York September was the hottest time of the year recorded by the Weather Bureau; 96 degrees at 2 p.m.; 92 degrees at Rochester, 103 in Massachusetts, and 105 in Vermont. It was the hottest September in Iowa for twenty years.
"There have now been, in 1895, five hot months, unusually hot for Indiana," it was recorded.
In October the flowers were still bright, with some late beans in blossom until Oct. 9, when there was a killing frost on Prospect Ridge in Crown Point. On Oct. 22 wild geese passed over Crown Point, going south, but some of the robins were still around.
"On Oct. 31, about 5 a.m. an earthquake shock was felt in Crown Point; at 9 a.m. the temperature was 40 degrees, at 3 p.m., 44 degrees. A strange sensation was produced by the cloudy air in the afternoon, as though some convulsion in nature had happened or would happen. The result, perhaps, of the earthquake."
There were many changes in November of 1895, Indian Summer and Squaw Winter, with snow, ice, sleighing and thaws. Winter fully arrived on Nov. 19. Back in 1842, Ball wrote, winter showed up in Lake County on Nov. 17.
December was reported to be a mild month, not very cold, with part of the month very wet. On Dec. 18 and 19, there were heavy rains and on the 20th, "not such a fall of water for years." The wet weather continued, and on Christmas Eve the temperature was 44. Pansies were still in blossom, and on Christmas Day everything was green, with the grass like spring. (A week later the mercury showed 10 below zero.)
Though it was another hot summer, Rev. Ball wrote: "It was a quite dry spring, no severe storms in the summer, this makes three successive quite dry, and, for out-of-door work and enjoyment, very pleasant summers."
He also wrote that the short extracts from the reports were only a small part of the full weather record, which would fill quite a volume.
These records were taken from Ball's "Northwestern Indiana," published in 1900. Inside the cover of the Old Timer's copy of this publication is written the following: "In Memory of Maria Louise Von Hollen, [Mrs. Heins] and Henrietta Ball, once school girls at Cedar Lake, this book is donated to this school [Armour School at Cedar Lake] by Mrs. H. Von Hollen and Rev. T.H. Ball." On another page is written "Armour School, No 86, District 4."
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