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Capt. William H. and Euphemia Arnold Gill – Larned Cemetery, Larned

William and Euphemia Gill came to Larned from Lee County, Iowa, in March 1874, at the height of the infamous grasshopper invasion.

William was born in 1827 in Ohio. The family relocated to Iowa, where William married Euphemia Arnold on October 23, 1850. The first three of their children were born before William enlisted. Tragically, Nettie died at age four.

When William enlisted in 1862, he was given the command of Co. E 19th IA with the rank of 1st Lt. However, the following year, he became ill and was sent home. Upon his honorable discharge, his rank was changed to captain. Research has not found William's illness. However, it affected him for the rest of his life.

The family took the train to Kansas. Their oldest son, William, was in charge of two carloads of equipment, including a wagon and team, a sod plow, and chickens. William, and his wife, Mary Jane, homesteaded in Walnut Township north of Larned.

The grasshoppers arrived on July 27, 1874, destroying everything in their path. The enormity is difficult to grasp. However, the Gill family did not give up. Capt. Gill had brought along some cash the families desperately needed to get them through the winter. Fortunately, spring wheat, oats, and broom corn crops were successful for the next four years, and settlers could save for the next disaster.

Times did improve for the Gill family. Aside from farming corn and wheat, William was a stockman and horse breeder. He also was the vice president of The People's Bank of Larned. Toward the end of William's life, he spent the winters in Arkansas for the mineral spring waters. Capt. Gill passed away on February 29, 1888, and Euphemia in 1904. They are buried in Larned Cemetery.

The rest of the story: Eleven days before leaving for Kansas, William married Mary Jane Pyle. Before coming to Larned, Mary had taught school in Iowa. She continued that profession in Larned and was paid $35.00 a month. This money was needed to help jumpstart their new lives in Larned. They raised three children of their own and several orphan children.[1]

[1] William E. Connelley, A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, Chicago: Lewis Publishing. Co., 1919 Volume 4 & 5

Note: "The invasion began in late July when without warning millions of grasshoppers, or Rocky Mountain locusts, descended on the prairies from the Dakotas to Texas. The insects arrived in swarms so large they blocked out the sun and sounded like a rainstorm. They ate crops out of the ground, as well as the wool from live sheep and clothing off people's backs. Paper, tree bark, and even wooden tool handles were devoured. Hoppers were reported to have been several inches deep on the ground and locomotives could not get traction because the insects made the rails too slippery."

"Kansans refused to be defeated. The settlers did their best to stop the hoppers by raking them into piles, like leaves, and burning them but these efforts were in vain because of the sheer numbers of the pests. The hoppers usually stayed from two days to a week and then left as they had come, on the wind. The areas hit the worst were where most of the settlers were new arrivals, not having had the time to establish themselves in their new homes. The needs of the newly-arrived immigrants in the western counties of Kansas were greater than the more settled eastern portion. They needed grain for their next year's crops and to feed their work animals. They also needed provisions and clothing to make it through the coming winter." [2]

[2] Grasshopper Plague of 1874 – Kansaspedia – Kansas Historical Society (

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