The nip of fall is in the air and off on the horizon the darkening clouds gather, plotting cataclysmic hailstorms, squalls, and blizzards. Yes, my friends, winter storm season is upon us. The lazy debauch of summer with its sickening golden hue is a mere memory. Nights are lengthening, flowers are dying, and rodents are scurrying for their rodent holes. Oh, happy day!
Along with the triumphal changing of the seasons, a sensational true story--a most fulfilling scrap of history, a 16 oz ribeye of knowledge--arrived on COACISSW's doorstep courtesy of friend-of-the-blog GregLog. It's a tale of survival and redemption. A man of God facing the raw power of nature and emerging with three of four limbs.
It takes place in 19th Century America: a time when lonely pilgrims braved the raging snows of the high plains with nothing but a horse and their steely will for company; a time when men's brows were bushy with virility and their lips were thin with resolve; and a time when fiery-spirited settlers of the frontier cut open animals and crawled inside to survive storms in the wild. Put yourself there, dear reader. Let your mind travel back to those simpler days. Feel the itch of your woolen long johns and the weight of the knife on your belt. Test your voice: it booms with strength. Gather your eyebrows together and let the bristles connect--how bushy they are! Peer out from beneath them. Make your gaze as flinty as a bear trap. Fill your powerful lungs with crisp clean prairie air and read on, my friends, read on.
"In late August of 1860 Father Joseph Goiffon received a letter from the Vicar General requesting him to travel to St. Paul and to meet with him. Father Goiffon was disturbed by the summons because he feared that he would not be able to return to Pembina (his parish in the great survivalist state of North Dakota) before winter. He left Pembina quickly by oxcart train and arrived in St. Paul in September. The train was to return to Pembina during the first week of October. Father Goiffon thought that he would be ready to return with his friends but he was delayed. He left St. Paul a few days later and hoped to join up with the oxcart train. On November 1 he reached the Great Salt River beyond the present City of Grand Forks and spent the night with other travelers who were encamped there. They urged him to wait until the rain would stop. The winter cold was also beginning to set in. But Father Goiffon was anxious to reach his parish and went ahead by himself on the horse which he had purchased while in St. Paul. The rain turned to snow and quickly both horse and man became hopelessly lost. The horse died in the bad storm, and TO SAVE HIS OWN LIFE THE PRIEST CUT OPEN THE CARCASS AND CRAWLED INSIDE. When Father Goiffon was found he was still alive but one leg was badly frozen."
-from The Michel Houle Family of Centreville, by Bruce Houle (Croixside Press)
Again, big thanks to GregLog for sharing the above text and image.