Archive for February 2nd, 2012

The Groundhog as Weather Prophet

February 2, 2012


Groundhog Produces Conclusive Evidence of His Ability as Prophet.

Thursday of last week was groundhog day, and for winter it was one of the most perfect days we have had this season. The air was warm and balmy, the sun shone brightly, and his procine majesty had not the slightest difficulty in distinguishing his shadow. The next two or three days following were also ideal ones, and we fear that some of our people so far forgot themselves as to make remarks fraught with levity and volatility, thus exasperating the groundhog custodian of the weather.

Jealous of his time-honored perogatives, and incensed at the aspersions cast upon his good name, the groundhog lost all patience Sunday and sent down a blast straight from the head-quarters of old Boreas. Sleet and snow, with plenty of wind for musical accompaniment, made things mighty interesting all day. Trains were late, wires were down, and while the roads were not blockaded, traffic was hard and impeded. The blizzard was general, but did not last longer than one day.

It was sufficient to instill a wholesome respect for the groundhog.

Adams County Free Press (Corning, Iowa) Feb 8, 1911


As the weather forecast as indicated by the conditions on Groundhog Day is often rather rudely shattered by subsequent developments, we have thought it worth while to look into this matter with a view to ascertaining how the proposition has worked out in years gone by. While, of course, there is no scientific basis for the tradition associated with the groundhog it is quite a robust theory tliat holds to the view that if the sun is shining on February 2nd (Candlemas Day) and the groundhog can see his shadow when he comes out of his burrow, the weather will be cold and stormy; in short, that six weeks more of winter will follow. On the other hand, if the day is cloudy and he does not see his shadow, he remains out in anticipation of warmer weather and an early spring.

Whatever of coincidence might be revealed by an examination of a longer period is not known but it is certainly not very striking for the following tabulation:

In conclusion we think it can be said that even the most ardent admirer of the groundhog forecast must admit that it is not only unreliable but that, based on the evidence of the last eleven years, it has several times shown a strong reversal of form.


Title: Saward’s Annual: A Standard Statistical Review of the Coal Trade
Editor: Frederick William Saward
Publisher: Frederick W. Saward, 1921
Page 187 (google book link)


Previous Posts:

The Badger on Candlemas Day


Mr. Groundhog

Capt. Farrar’s Famous Groundhog Oration

February 2, 2012

Image from Historical Collections of Ohio, Vol. 1 – by Henry Howe ©1888

Farrar’s Groundhog Speech.

We have been asked for information concerning Captain Farrar’s famous groundhog oration, In reply we reprint the following from the pen of a writer in Cambridge, Ohio, who contributed the readable account to a recent daily publication:

Each groundhog day. whether the sun shines or not, brings back to the citizens of Cambridge, Ohio the old story of how “Groundhog” Farrar got his nickname.

Captain William H. Farrar, at one time a leading lawyer in Eastern Ohio, banker, philanthropist and several times Mayor of Cambridge, was sent to the Legislature back in the seventies by the Republicans of Guernsey County. He was expected to make his mark as a law maker, as he had ability and was an eloquent speaker. The following incident, whatever else he said or did while a member of the lower House, gave him newspaper notoriety from one end of the land to the other:

One of the biennial sessions of the Buckeye Legislature, somewhere around 1884-87, was noted for what it did not do. There seemed to be no leader of either party, and, in fact, there seemed to be no laws needed, few changes in the existing laws and the members, both of the Senate and House of Representatives, were equal to the occasion and loafed most of the time.

One day, while the members of the House were sitting around waiting for some one to ‘do something’ or move the usual adjournment, Captain Farrar arose and said:

“Mr. Speaker, I have a resolution which I wish to offer and I ask as a personal favor from my colleagues that I be allowed to make some remarks before submitting the measure.”

The voice from old Guernsey was like a bolt from a clear sky. Weeks had passed without a set speech on any subject and the eagerness of the members to ‘hear something’ and to finally get to vote on a measure was expressed by many of them, and the Speaker himself waived any objection.

Captain Farrar began by setting forth the duty of the members of the body. He told of how each man was violating the trust put in him by his own people. He declared that the state of Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, Chase, Ewing, Hayes, Tom Corwin and a hundred other brilliant men was being made ridiculous by the House of Representatives, and the people who sent them to the Statehouse were disgusted. He then gave a history o’f the state in its territorial days; the settlement at Marietta,; the admission of Ohio to the Union in 1803; the part the Buckeye State had taken in national politics and what she had done in the War of the Rebellion. By this time he had spoken almost four hours, and as he sat down he asked leave to continue the following day.

Members approached him after his long speech and asked him what his object was. He only informed them that he would not discuss his speech.

The following day found every member in his seat. The newspapers had printed long accounts of the splendid flow of oratory, and this drew a crowd to the galleries. No one knew what the Guernsey member had up his sleeve, but they felt that something was going to happen. The Captain arose promptly, and, picking up his historical talk of the day before, issued forth such a flow of oratory as had seldom been heard in the Capitol. His eloquence caused profound silence, and there were no interruptions from ‘the other side.’

The second day’s session was brought to an end and the members were as much at sea as on the previous day. There was eloquence, but no argument. What was Farrar driving at? Were the Supreme Court members to be impeached? Was there treason somewhere? * No one knew. There was no question brought up which could call forth a denial from his opponents. There was a great mystery, and no one could fathom it

That night party leaders were summoned from Cincinnati, from Cleveland, Dayton and Toledo. A delegation from Cambridge was hurried to Columbus to find out what was going to happen. Their representative had talked for two days and had not finished!

The third day found a great crowd in the Assembly Hall. The Senate met and immediately adjourned. The members crowded into the House. The galleries were packed almost to suffocation, and Captain Farrar arose.

Several long, uninteresting decisions by the Supreme Court were read; long lists of prices of coal, wool, wheat, etc., were read. War stories were told and sketches were given of illustrious Americans. Weakened by the awful strain and so hoarse he could scarcely speak, he stopped for a moment, then, taking his bill from his inside coat pocket, concluded as follows:

“And now, Mr. Speaker, having covered the points I think necessary, I submit, for an immediate vote of the House, a bill which urges that Groundhog Day be set back from February 2d to January 2d, so that we may have an earlier spring.”


Title: Ohio archaeological and historical quarterly, Volume 12
Author: Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society
Publisher: Published for the Society by A.H. Smythe, 1903
Pages 331-333 (google book link)