James B. Thompson was a brother-in-law of Territorial Governor Edward M. McCook and served as McCook’s Private Secretary. In August 1870, Thompson visited the Southern Ute Indian Agency at the request of McCook. He reported his observations in a letter.
“The agency farm has not proved a success this season, owing to the almost insuperable climate and other difficulties to be surmounted,” Thompson wrote. “A tract of eight to ten acres was planted with oats, potatoes, turnips, etc. all of which might have made an average crop but for the advent of the grasshoppers.”
“These insects devoured all the farm produce above ground in a single day. I am informed by the agent that a severe frost killed the grasshoppers the same night.”
People talked for many years after this about the year of the grasshopper invasion.
Photo courtesy Denver Public Library, Wester History Collection
Quoted text from the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs 1870