|Lucas County Fair, July 2014|
January of 1887 in the south of Iowa was living up to its classic Iowa winter reputation --- cold and snowy; good sleighing weather.
Just after dawn on one of those icy mornings, up in north Chariton, occurred a great disaster that claimed 37 lives. Here's the report from The Democrat of Jan. 13, penned by editor Samuel S. King.
A CHICKEN STORY
A lady in the north end has, or did have, a fine lot of fine chickens. One unfortunate was a little slow with its moulting business. It put the matter off until after several of the chicken shows passed upon its many excellencies and scored it away up in the nineties. Then it dropped its feathers and went into the stern realities of a business winter with nothing to protect it from the chilling blast.
The tender heart of the gentle lady was touched. She made a blanket for it, and securely covered its body herewith. She used a bright red flannel.
After all the rest of the poultry household had sung their vesper hymns and retired for the night, she put this blanketed hen on the perch with the rest.
All went well until the dawn revealed to the other chickens this red-flannel-blanketed hen, and they proceeded to betake themselves from the hen house instantly and in the utmost fright.
Two hours later the lady arose and found the one hen crowing herself hoarse on her lonely perch while thirty-seven able bodied chickens had perished in the snow drifts where they had flown in their fright.