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Enjoying History in Siouxland, Without Knowing it, rural South Dakota, Beresford

20 May

Older barns in disrepair seen Friday, April 8, 2022 in rural South Dakota, located south of Beresford, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When I traverse various parts of Siouxland while driving about I find that I see fewer and fewer older wooden barn. The rustic look, even in disrepair, hail to an era that has for the most part passed. Farmers or those farming ( industrial operations) no longer erect the wooden structures that at one time housed animals, harvested crops and machinery. As the bigger is better mantra continues to envelope America and it’s ideal of business the small farmer also has disappeared and the structures now that house equipment is metal or fiberglass. More cost effective, less maintenance and all of those things that attribute to the bottom line.

But I miss seeing the structures. And most times I happen upon them at the wrong time of day while out driving around. Maybe seeing them in passing. Sometimes stopping, sometimes not, depending on if I am time constrained to arrive someplace.

Two older barns seen Friday, April 8, 2022 in rural South Dakota, located south of Beresford, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The rustic nature appeals to my visual sense, but the use and disuse and decay speaks to another passing of an era where form and factor are no longer valued. That thought could be addressed to a lot of areas and state of affairs these days. When at a small time museum a few years ago a docent was showing school children and older wall phone which had the spin knob to wind it up and get a connection along with the ear piece held to one’s head and the extended speaker you had to lean into to speak with the operator, as well as the desk top model with the rotary dial.

The children had no idea what the two items were, and were quite astonished when they learned that what they carried in their pockets and took for granted was large, non moveable and didn’t have a screen. Advances in technology is marvelous with many wonderful inventions, but sometimes I wonder at what loss does this occur without the accompanying history that brought the state of humanity to this next level of achievement and the effort to get there.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An older barn in disrepair seen Friday, April 8, 2022 in rural South Dakota, located south of Beresford, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing a Historical Landmark in Siouxland, Garfield Township Hall, Beresford, SD

28 Apr
The former Garfield Township Hall seen Friday, April 8, 2022 in rural South Dakota, located south of Beresford, SD. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004 the hall was built sometime around 1908. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Bits and pieces of history are scattered throughout Siouxland, probably like many other places, and little recognized by most people, even those living in the area. Passed by and seen as some old building, maybe past its prime. The Garfield Township Hall is a historic place that served its purpose earlier in another century.

According to a Wikipedia account the township of Garfield was established in 1880. It was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. And currently it appears that someone or group is trying to give it a little TLC.

The former Garfield Township Hall seen Friday, April 8, 2022 in rural South Dakota, located south of Beresford, SD. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004 the hall was built sometime around 1908. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Township halls in earlier days was a place for pioneers and locals to conduct business in the area. At the time the region of Dakota Territory was being settled and developing from early trading posts and forts along the Missouri River. It is reported the hall was constructed sometime in 1908. It served as a polling place, a theater, a local government office, and a public meeting space. The Wiki report states that in 1936, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) added a basement and renovated the building’s facade to its present appearance. The Garfield Township Hall is one of the few remaining buildings of historic note that is still standing.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The former Garfield Township Hall seen Friday, April 8, 2022 in rural South Dakota, located south of Beresford, SD. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004 the hall was built sometime around 1908. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing Changes in Siouxland, Joslyn Museum, Omaha, NE

31 Mar
Construction is underway for an addition at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, March 24, 2022. The museum will be closed until sometime in 2024 according to its website. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Changes are underway at an art museum in Omaha, NE, The Joslyn Museum. The collection of artwork there is amazing to see as are the various traveling exhibits the museum brings to share with its visitors. Traveling throughout Siouxland one has an opportunity to enjoy world class art in a number of places, and sometimes those places need a refresh to adjust to a new era and planning for their own future.

Construction is underway for an addition at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, March 24, 2022. The museum will be closed until sometime in 2024 according to its website. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A small school group checks out a glass exhibit by artist David Gilhooly at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, March 24, 2022. The museum will close until sometime in 2024 according to its website as an addition is added. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Construction is seen underway for an addition from inside the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, March 24, 2022. The museum will be closed until sometime in 2024 according to its website. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Myself and some friends were not alone the particular day we visited. School groups, families and other small groups and individuals moved about the exhibit rooms enjoying the art and sculpted pieces on display. A nice to see scenes depicted centuries ago by famous, and maybe not so famous artists but all worth the time to view, maybe sit and contemplate what the is there. In a museum time becomes somewhat irrelevant and for good reason. There is no need to hurry, but better to linger and savor and enjoy the beauty before one’s eyes.

Artwork at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, March 24, 2022. The museum will close until sometime in 2024 according to its website as an addition is added. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A family check out a painting at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, March 24, 2022. The museum will close until sometime in 2024 according to its website as an addition is added. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A visitor checks out artwork at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, March 24, 2022. The museum will close until sometime in 2024 according to its website as an addition is added. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The museum will be closing this May for a couple of years according to information on its website. And I wanted one last change to wander and browse the fine art and architectural sights within the building. A little selfishly, I enjoy visiting the museum on hot summer days. When it’s unbearable to be outdoors, the dim lighting and wonderful works to view was always a respite from the day’s oppressive nature. A sanctuary to just sit and enjoy beauty and all that is offered.

Change and the future sometimes requires one to learn patience and to anticipate what new experiences the Joslyn Museum will offer its patrons and visits in the years to come.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Construction is underway for an addition at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, March 24, 2022. The museum will be closed until sometime in 2024 according to its website. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Points of Interest in Small Towns around Siouxland, Luverne, MN

3 Mar
The Hinkly House sits on a street just outside of the downtown Luverne, MN Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When out exploring places in Siouxland and elsewhere sometimes there is not enough hours in the day. Or one visits on the wrong day. During an excursion north of Siouxland in Minnesota a museum and a former Carnegie Library caught my eye. The Hinkly House is a museum of local history, but only open a couple months out of the year and then only on Thursdays according to its website.

I’m always a sucker for history and the chance to learn a little more about a place. However this particular trip I was headed to a state park just outside of the community of Luverne, the Mounds State Park for a bit of a hike and as it turns out some views as some of the park in located on a hill. And with the drive and shorter fall days I didn’t take the time to research the area other than to just enjoy the drive and visit. Planning is always good, but spontaneity is also good at times.

The Hinkly House sits on a street just outside of the downtown Luverne, MN Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Hinkly House sits on a street just outside of the downtown Luverne, MN Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The former Carnegie Library located in Luverne now houses a music venue where lessons and performances are found, giving local folk a chance to learn and listen at the Luverne Street Music.

The Luverne Street Music is located in a former Carnegie library building in Luverne, MN Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Beyond what I read on the organization’s website not much other information was found while visiting, but it was nice to see the building continuing service, as so many former Carnegie Library Buildings do in the small communities where they were built. Still serving the public in some form or another and most times through some kind of educational function or manner.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Changing Sights Around Siouxland, Omaha, NE

20 Jan
An older office building framed with fall colors in a downtown Omaha, NE Thursday Oct. 28, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When visiting various communities in and around Siouxland it’s not often that I find changes occurring in smaller communities. Sometimes, but most often they happen in the larger metro areas.

Omaha, NE is still a growing metro area in the Midwest and new construction there as well as adaptation of older buildings into lofts and other, more current kinds of usages is ongoing.

New construction work in a downtown Omaha, NE Thursday Oct. 28, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A blend of old and new in a downtown area of Omaha, NE Thursday Oct. 28, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There is a blending of older and newer types of architectural structures seen in Omaha. Older buildings become dwarfed by newer buildings. No judgement, but it’s not surprising how “tastes” change over the years, decades, etc. And in some cases the cost to replicate or build some structures that were done one to two centuries ago would most likely be prohibitive.

And yet progress continues, as life, changes come, and sometimes go. Moving forward and hopefully not backward.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A plaza surrounded by apartments and food eateries in a downtown area of Omaha, NE Thursday Oct. 28, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A look at a downtown area in Omaha, NE Thursday Oct. 28, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Rainy Day in Siouxland and Revisiting Pioneer Courage Park, Omaha, NE

12 Jan
Detail image of one of the statues in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Thursday Oct. 28, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes when I am out and about and carrying a camera I will revisit a place I have previously photographed. Sometimes I can find images that are better, most times I look for images that are different. The Pioneer Courage Park is part of the “campus” of the First National Bank of Omaha. On a overcast day it takes on a different look different from the previous visit. Finding the raindrops on the faces of the statues gave them a different feel and made me think that possibly on their journey west those days it might have rained may have been a blessing depending on the territory the group was passing through. The Mormon Trail passed through some high desert country and rain storms may have been scarce certain times of the year.

And it’s a challenge to revisit someplace and look for a different image. Of course time of day, weather, time of year, all that plays into how a place might look and feel. And then one’s imagination takes over.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Detail image of one of the statues in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Thursday Oct. 28, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting History in Siouxland, Adams House Museum, Ponca, NE

5 Dec
A look at an earlier century of living at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Through one of the photography classes I teach at a local community college I look for destinations for the class to visit near and far within Siouxland. Besides possibly introducing the students to places locally they might not have visited before, it also puts their photographic skills to test from composition to using ISO and white balance settings to possibly trying slow shutter speeds or dragging the shutter. My reasoning is that if they are on vacation someplace, they shouldn’t be afraid of pulling out the camera and using it to document their trip or to make awe inspiring imagery to share later with family and friends.

Volunteer Ken Johnson talks about the history of the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A look at an earlier century of living at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Adams House Museum is a brick home built in the early 1880’s by a local druggist named E.D. Ayers according to a printed handout presented by the museum. Volunteer Ken Johnson gave the class a quick history lesson about the house and some of the furnishings, not all of which are original but mostly period pieces to the early family that lived there.

In the early 1900’s a local farmer and his wife, Sam and Della Adams, purchased the home, and it was noted in the information handed out that only wealthier folk in those days could afford to build or purchase a brick home.

A stairwell leads to the upstairs while a doorway at left goes into a sitting parlor at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A look at an earlier century of a formal sitting parlor at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Remnants of history on display at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s always interesting to walk through a home museum. To see what appliances and other types of utensils were used during a particular time period one to two centuries ago. Various photographs about the museum showed snippets of history about the area and what it looked like before really being settled. Photographs showing the early days of a community are so totally different than what one sees today. Which is only natural, considering there are so many more folk living these days, and living longer.

A number of items within the museum were donated by area families, passed down through the generations are now on display for others to consider its place in history and a bit of reminder that actual people inhabited this house and others in the area helping create what it has become.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A look at an earlier century of living at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A small hallway seen at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A photograph on display at the Adams House museum of an earlier period in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A photograph on display at the Adams House museum of an earlier period in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A photo of the Ponca Chiefs delegation on display at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A photograph on display at the Adams House museum of an earlier period in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A historical document signed in 1896 on display at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A historical document signed in 1896 on display at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Adams House Museum, a historical place documenting life in an earlier century seen in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting a Small Town in Siouxland, Uehling, NE

22 Sep
Crossroads in downtown Uehling, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always enjoy driving around Siouxland, not always knowing what I might find. And like many other states, there are numerous small towns one might run across that somewhat appear out of nowhere, but have been in existence for decades if not a century for some of them.

A country road heads off into the distance leaving Uehling, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A wall mount dedicated to the anniversary of the community’s founding on a downtown store in Uehling, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some communities are a mere crossroad for the surrounding area. In former glory days these small communities sprung up as railroad tracks and lines were laid through the area. In earlier centuries the small town was necessary because of the distance to travel and time spent by early modes of transportation, which now with automobiles is not the issue it might have once been with horses and buggies and wagons.

Each place has a story to tell, although sometimes finding that story can be challenging. These days there is a plethora of content online, though it may not be the content one is searching for to find answers.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A visitor might assume the community was named after Theodore Uehling see in in Uehling, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A wall mural heading into empty space seen in Uehling, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing Shapes and Angles in Siouxland, Winslow, NE

5 Aug
A building displays shapes and angles in Winslow, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When exploring parts of Siouxland I enjoy seeing various types of architecture, current and older. Some buildings are in better shape than others, but all display an architect’s original thoughts in the design. Whether more functional than beauty intended, each building has some design element for a viewer to enjoy. If only through a fleeting moment as one passes by, and if one takes the time to notice.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A building displays shapes and angles in Winslow, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A building displays shapes and angles in Winslow, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Grand Architecture in Siouxland, Louis E May Museum, Fremont, NE

26 Jul
A grand estate, the Louis E. May Historical Museum is on the National Register of Historic Places in Freemont, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As I continue driving about Siouxland I surprise myself at finding unexpected pleasures like the Louis E. May Historical Museum in Fremont, NE.

Sadly, the museum is currently closed because of the pandemic, but am hoping it might be reopening this coming fall for a chance to see the interior of the former home.

The Louis E. May Historical Museum is on the National Register of Historic Places in Freemont, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The Louis E. May Historical Museum is on the National Register of Historic Places in Freemont, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It was difficult to find much information about the history of the museum and former home online. With just a brief mention about it on two official sites:

The home was built in the Italianate Revival style by Fremont’s first mayor, Theron Nye, in 1874. Nye’s son inherited the home in 1900 and remodeled the home from 1901 through 1912. The current style of the home is Georgian or Classical Revival and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is art of the Dodge County’s Historical Society. The home’s grounds are a Nebraska Arboretum Site, a grassroots membership-based nonprofit that believes environments matter and provide a better sense of place and social interactions as well as improving one’s health.

Another blogger wrote about the historical house in 2013 after a visit. I look forward to actually touring it when it reopens.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Louis E. May Historical Museum in Freemont, NE seen Saturday, May 22, 2021 was originally built in 1874 by Fremont’s first mayor, Theron Nye. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The Louis E. May Historical Museum in Freemont, NE seen Saturday, May 22, 2021, has a perennial Victorian garden and a rose garden on the grounds. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The Louis E. May Historical Museum in Freemont, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Built in 1874 by Fremont, NE’s first mayor, Theron Nye, the Louis E. May Historical Museum is now listed with the National Register of Historic Places seen Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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