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necessary for fear of snakes and often the grasses were so tall that one could become disorientated- particularly if the sky were overcast. Anyhow, it takes little imagi- nation to visualize how a fire would rage in this setting- with spheres of flame reaching 30-35 feet high- par- ticularly if there had been a killing frost and the grasses were dry.

The young children and the wife were quickly overcome and killed while Mr Schweringen, although severely burned, survived and somehow stumbled and crawled to the Hoover farm which was somewhat over a mile away. No one seems to know where the Hoover farm actually was- some thought is that it was on top of the hill in Sec 4 where Fred McCoy lives currently. Others say they doubt this selection. In 1883 there was a farmstead on J.E. Hoover property and this farmstead sat on the south side of Dry Creek in the NW/NE of Sec 4. This would be another strong half mile north of the Fred Mc-Coy place, or a little over a mile from the site of the deaths of the rest of the family. One has to assume that the Hoover farm would have been surrounded by the same fire but Mr Hoover, being more familiar with the destruction of prairie fires, probably had a fir e break plowed around his building site.

These fire breaks were made by plowing three or four furrows around the area to be protected: then four or so rods further out (65-70 feet) plow three or four more furrows circling the area to be protected. Then the area between these two circles was control burned when the conditions were right and one would have an area that the flames could not jump across, although one had to be aware of the cinders, etc. that would be air borne and start the flames on the protected area.

The following spring, 1861, a farmer came across only the skull of a child in the southwest quarter of Sec 10 and is reported to have buried it where it was found and this exact site has been lost. Why this burial was conducted like this can only be pondered at this late date. Two theories have been advanced to explain why the skull of this child would have been found away from the other bodies of her family. Theory one is that it must have been the next morning before the neighbors could get to the site of the tragedy and speculation is that coyotes, during the night, had consumed all the body except the skull after having drug the small body away from the site of death. Another opinion is that one of the girls was able to run away from the fire but was soon overcome because of the fatigue of running through the tall prairie grasses and fire consumed a large portion of her small body. A third conjecture would be to combine these two perceptions when the little girl ran away for some distance, was overpowered by the smoke, heat and flame and died; then later, be it that eve- ning or some few days later, some animal, be it coyotes or dogs, con- sumed the body and left only the skull.

Also there are two different reports regarding the lives of the horses. One is that the animals were killed in the fire and are bur- ied where they fell. The other is that the horses had fled and were found a long way away. The "official" reports state that one died in the harness and the other was severely burned, but near- by, and had to be destroyed.

The bodies of Mother Schweringen and three (some reports say two) of the children were taken to the Sheffield cemetery and buried and a few days later Father died and was buried with the nucleus of his family.

Sheffield Cemetery is located in the very northwest corner of Sec 32 of Howard Twp- about four to four and a half miles north and west of the death scene. In 1860-1861 there was no Pleasant Grove Cemetery; with the church having been founded in 1873, built in 1874 with an expansion in 1877 for a cemetery. Also, some wonder why the Brouhard Cemetery that sat on top of a hill in the north portion of Sec 5 of Milford

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© 2012 Mark Christian
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