One of North Dakota’s heroes is a young girl named Hazel Miner who died in a blizzard March 16, 1920.
Hazel, the 16 year old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William Miner, had gone to school with her younger brother Emmet (11) and sister, Myrdith (8) on Monday March 15. They drove a horse-drawn sleigh from their farmhouse 2 ½ miles north of the rural school. In the afternoon a blizzard came up and the children’s father rode his horse to the school to bring the children home.
Mr. Miner hitched the sleigh horse and then went to get his saddle horse from the school barn. In the meantime, the sleigh horse started out of the school yard and took what the children thought was the road home. Mr. Miner could not find them in the blizzard and they could not hear him call above the wind.
Instead of heading north to their home, they headed east. Mr. Miner went home and with his wife went back out to look for the children. The sleigh crossed the road and came to the gate of a farmyard which they could not enter because of a big drift. They drove a few yards further, and then the sleigh tipped over into a ravine. Though a haystack and the farmhouse were nearby, they could not see their way to shelter.
After the sleigh tipped, Hazel tried to keep the wind off the children by holding the sleigh blankets for shelter, but the wind kept blowing the blankets down. Finally, she pulled the blankets over the smaller children and lay down on top of the blanket to keep it in place and to keep the younger children warm. Hazel talked to Emmet and Myrdith through the night and told them to keep moving their feet. She punched them to keep them awake and kicked off the snow that was seeping in under the blankets.
Sometime during the night, Hazel died. When a search party found the sleigh the next morning, Emmet and Myrdith were still alive. Hazel’s love, clear thinking, and brave actions saved her brother’s and sister’s lives.
Hazel Miner’s courage was honored with a statue that stands in front of the Oliver County courthouse. The statue was commissioned by former Governor L. B. Hanna in 1936.
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