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Hobnobbing with Fellow Wizards (photographers) from around Siouxland, Gene Leahy Mall, Omaha, NE

20 Sep

A water pool and art installation seen during a Rockbrook Camera photo walk at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Instructors and photo enthusiasts enjoy a night out photographing during a Rockbrook Camera photo walk at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As much as I like to get out and travel to various points in and around Siouxland, and points outside of the Siouxland region during solo trips, it is also fun to sometimes hang out with fellow photography enthusiasts, chatting and learning from others.

A recent outing in Omaha, NE at the Gene Leahy Mall, brought together a collection of photographers through a photo walkabout sponsored by the Rockbrook Camera photo club. Everyone’s mission was to make an interesting photo within the confines of the mall, which has recently been redone by the city, and those were later shared amongst the participants. A couple of instructors from Rockbrook were on hand to answer questions and guide the group through the 2-hour session.

Photo enthusiasts enjoy a night out photographing during a Rockbrook Camera photo walk at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Downtown Omaha in the background during a Rockbrook Camera photo walk at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Contrasting shapes seen during a Rockbrook Camera photo walk at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The friendly group wandered about checking out various angles and designs provided by surrounding buildings and artwork within the mall area. When a collection of photographers assemble in the same setting I am always amazed at the various subjects of interest and different interpretations achieved by different individuals. When I previously taught a Photo Safari class at a local community college the most fun was seeing all the images at the end of the 6-week session and listening to those in the class amazed at how people saw the same situations and subjects, but created varying images that represented the individuals interpretations.

A scene during the Rockbrook Camera photo walk at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Jerred Zegelis of Rockbrook Camera, one of two instructors for a photo walk at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A little girl enjoyed a water pool and photo enthusiasts took advantage of her getting wet as her mom watched during a Rockbrook Camera photo walk at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As I would always tell students when out shooting with them on the Safari photo trips that I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a day than making photographs. It’s still true, and the Siouxland and surrounding region still provide much material to explore and share.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Downtown Omaha is seen in the background during a photo walkabout outing by Rockbrook Camera at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some ducks know a good thing as they are fed in a small lagoon area seen during a Rockbrook Camera photo walk at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating History and Tradition in Siouxland, Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska’s 156th Annual Homecoming Celebration, Winnebago, NE

10 Sep

Dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in the Grand Entry during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. The powwow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in the Grand Entry during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. The powwow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in the Grand Entry during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. The powwow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One annual event I look forward to while traipsing around Siouxland is the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska’s Homecoming celebration which has been annually celebrated since the tribe’s Chief Little 7Priest and his warriors returned home from serving with the U.S. Calvary in the 1860’s. Since that time many of the tribe’s members have served and continue serving in the U.S. military. And the homecoming celebration honors those veterans current and past.

It is also a time when tribal members and other tribes can “show off” their regalia and dancing skills as many contest are held throughout the 4-day event which is a chance for non native individuals to meet and learn about their Native neighbors. And where members of the various tribes pass on their traditions to their younger children and relations always remembering the reason why they celebrate.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in the Grand Entry during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. The powwow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in the Grand Entry during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. The powwow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in an intertribal dance during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. The powwow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in an intertribal dance during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. The powwow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in the Grand Entry during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. The powwow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebrates its 156th Pow Wow celebration at Veterans Memorial Park Pow Wow grounds in Winnebago, NE Sunday, July 31, 2022. The pow wow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in the Grand Entry during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. The powwow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in the Grand Entry during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. The powwow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in the Grand Entry during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. The powwow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in the Grand Entry during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. The powwow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in the Grand Entry during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. The powwow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in the Grand Entry during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. The powwow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in the Grand Entry during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. The powwow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing History Re-enacted in Siouxland, Canton Civil War Days, Canton, SD

8 Sep

Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Recently I attended a Civil War battle re-enactment in Siouxland of the Champion Hill battle that took place outside of Vicksburg, MS in 1863. Interestingly enough the family that hosted this event had a great grandfather or great, great grandfather who actually fought in this particular battle and was part of an Illinois regiment that fought for the North during the Civil War. Sometimes listening to speakers and commentators speaking through a loud system one does not always hear correctly. And this was the first year this event was held.

Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

From news accounts I read, a local from the area of Canton had become interested in Civil War re-enactments and attended some in the past out of state. But with the last couple of years or so being skewed by the Covid pandemic and possibly not wanting to travel so far, this individual began investigating whether or not such a re-enactment of an actual event could take place in Canton. There were some accounts about this being possibly controversial, only because at the time of the Civil War, the Dakota Territory was still just that, a territory and not yet divided into two individual states.

Re-enactors portraying Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas discuss issues of the day during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An audience listens as re-enactors portraying Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas discuss issues of the day during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This re-enactor from Missouri talks about his interest in the Civil War history when in 2005 wasinvited to participate in a staged battle and has stayed involved participating in many staged events throughout the county, the latest at the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Confederate Army encampment seen during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

During the re-enactment two “gentlemen” dressed in period attire spoke about the war and added many factoids and bits and pieces of the war between the states. I am not certain where these gents haled from or their background, but they were knowledgeable. Nor did they sugar coat or try “rewriting” history but said through all written declarations about the South and its secession it was all about the slavery. And the ability of the southern land owners to continue reaping benefits and profits from enforced slavery to plant and harvest crops. The men also talked about the toll of the war on communities and the men who fought. They recited facts and figures of desertions from men for the South and the North who became disenfranchised with the fighting that dragged on for years which was much different than what many were told at the outset. That the war would be over in a short time. Much like the bravado evidenced in the movie “Gone with the Wind”. But reality was much different and much crueler.

A Union Army encampment seen during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An audience takes a seat along a farm field road to watch the staged Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John (seen in blue tee shirt) and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A smoke ring created after firing a canon as Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I found the running commentary helpful in putting facts and fiction and other accounts into perspective. One can always take what is said with a grain of salt. And today, so many “learned” folk try to rewrite history to serve their own purpose. Many politicians of all stripes and parties. Shameless. It seems sometimes that ethics and honor doesn’t really matter anymore. But it was an interesting glimpse into the past of this country and in talking with a few of those participating in the battle, all have a genuine interest in the history and portraying it honestly, traveling from eight different states to attend. History never changes, it’s just the interpretation.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Documenting the Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Documenting the Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An audience takes a seat along a farm field road to watch the staged Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Reliving History in Siouxland, Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park, Ft. Calhoun, NE

23 Aug

A canon is fired during the Living History event at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, NE Saturday, August 6, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I enjoy visiting historical sites within and near the Siouxland region. Some of which have folk with a keen interest in portraying historical figures with knowledge of the area and are happy to share that knowledge with visitors. On a very hot, muggy August day I took a trip to Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Nebraska to again check out a living history day.

An re-enactor officer explains what life is like in the army during a Living History event at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, NE Saturday, August 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Trying to stay cool in a fort barracks on a very hot and sultry day during a Living History event at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, NE Saturday, August 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A re-enactor talks about available medical tools, and explained that horse hair was used during the 1800’s as sutures and explains it has been found only slightly less effective and strong as today’s modern suture material.

I had met some of these folk previously on a visit a few years ago and so it was fun to catch up a bit and see how they were getting on, but also to listen as they told “their stories” which reflects the early frontier life on the plains as this fort represents one of the first outlying defenses of a new nation pushing westward and various other folk with occupations that were supportive of the troops stationed at the fort but not employed by the military as personnel.

This particular day though there were few visitors and I would imagine that heat, with possible highs near 100, kept people away either staying indoors or checking out various water parks or river areas where one could stay cool. But fewer people meant more time to chat with these folk and learn more about the history they had to tell.

Signage outside the barracks seen during a Living History event at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, NE Saturday, August 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visitors check out one of the open buildings at the fort barracks during a Living History event at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, NE Saturday, August 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A re-enactor takes a smoke break during a Living History event at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, NE Saturday, August 6, 2022. The gentleman said he enjoys participating because it is generally quiet with a few visitors stopping by. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A re-enactor stays cooler in the shade of the fort barracks during a Living History event at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, NE Saturday, August 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It was a nice day for what it was, but with searing temperatures and little breeze, spending time in the sunshine for a couple of hours was plenty of time. Unlike the 4th of July Living History event at the park, there is not as much pomp and circumstance and once one has seen and heard a canon fire, not much more needs to be said.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A re-enactor checks in with a fellow participant during a Living History event at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, NE Saturday, August 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A re-enactor spins yarn during a Living History event at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, NE Saturday, August 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An enlisted man can always find something to do seen during a Living History event at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, NE Saturday, August 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An enlisted re-enactor awaits visitors to talk about the soldiers bunk accommodations during a Living History event at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, NE Saturday, August 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The parade grounds inside the fort barracks seen at a Living History event at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, NE Saturday, August 6, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A cabin outside the perimeter of the fort barracks during a Living History event at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, NE Saturday, August 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visitors walk past a picketed garden area during a Living History event at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, NE Saturday, August 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A detail heads out to fire a cannon during a Living History event at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, NE Saturday, August 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Cannoneers prepare to fire during a Living History event at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, NE Saturday, August 6, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Cannoneers hold their position after firing during a Living History event at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, NE Saturday, August 6, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Fair Time in Siouxland, Woodbury County Fair, Moville

15 Aug

A show pig appears to be looking for a way out as its owner participates in a 4-H/FFA judging event at the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Rural Iowa in Siouxland would never be complete without a county fair in the summertime. Or elsewhere in other states for that matter. As a child I spent a few summers participating in 4-H events with projects and remember some fondly, and others that may not have gone as expected. And fairs have a long history, originally beginning in England as a sort of religious celebration according to some online sites.

According to a history site the first county fair in the U.S. took place in Pittsfield, Massachusetts in 1807. Sheep farmer Elkanah Watson wanted to promote better farming practices and held a sheep shearing demonstration and contest. Probably happy with its success, Watson began developing agricultural fairs that included contests and activities for the whole family.

While trying to maintain control of their animal entries, 4-H/FFA members of various county clubs also need to stay focused on the event judge during a competition at the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A 4-H/FFA member preps his sheep for showing at the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And in Iowa according to another site it was in 1841 that an exhibition was held exhibiting a particular cattle breed. An Agricultural Society created an event to show off cattle of the Durham breed, the first such exhibition west of the Mississippi River. In 1855 the Agricultural Society created the Lee County Fair in Lee County and thus began county fairs. And others in most states with agriculture began their own fairs. It was a chance for “country folk” to get a day off and maybe show off some of their livestock or produce they had grown. And fairs have changed over time, adding carnivals, and two youth groups, 4-H and FFA (Future Farmers of American) were started to offer young people interested in agriculture and farm type living than now includes organic a space and place to pursue those interests.

A bunny “exhibit” for a 4_h member a at the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Animal owners like the 4-H member and owner of this rabbit puts an ice water bottle in the cage to help keep the animal cool during sweltering temperatures during the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022. Large fans were also deployed throughout the barn areas to keep the air moving during the fair. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visitors enjoy the rabbit exhibits of 4-H/FFA members at the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

For 4-H and FFA members the county fairs are the place to show off their work for the year and compete with like-minded individuals and maybe go to their state’s fair to compete amongst their peers, the “championship games” equivalent to sporting events. And these days 4-H clubs are not limited to only “kids in the country” like when I was growing up, and the various activities and kinds of projects has greatly expanded beyond just animals. Although some members whose parents might own small acreage can raise rabbits, chickens, goats or lamps as well as other types of projects that might include nutrition, photography, art, explanatory projects involving building or cooking.

A 4-H/FFA member cuddles her kitten before competing in an event during the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The cat looks calm wearing its leash/bib during a 4-H/FFA competition during the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A kitten looks very sedate from all of the affection and attention during a 4-H/FFA competition at the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But county fairs also harken back to a little country nostalgia that those farming might enjoy. Collecting and exhibiting older “antique” farm tractors is now an expensive hobbies, akin to those who collect and show off model A and T cars and those muscle cars of the ’50’s and ’60’s.

Older style tractors and in some cases, “antiques” on display at the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Older farm tractors are as collectible to some folk as antique cars seen at the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And then there is the carnival side of fairs and the rides that all kids, no matter the age, still enjoy and look forward too.

A county fair wouldn’t be complete without carnival rides see at the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A county fair wouldn’t be complete without carnival rides see at the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A county fair wouldn’t be complete without carnival rides see at the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some of the events are a bit fun-filled for the kids as in a pie eating contest that was more whip cream slurping than actual pie eating. And though I didn’t watch all of it, a few of the younger ones seemed a bit unsure if inhaling all of that topping was actually going to stay put. And no “spill buckets”.

Happy about winning the age division pie eating, well whip cream slurping contest, during the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Standing nonchalantly after winning the age division pie eating, well whip cream slurping contest, while a volunteer holds another contestant’s pigtails to keep them clear of the whip cream during the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Fair Queen makes sure this particular contestant gets plenty of whip cream to slurp during a “pie eating” contest at the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In the end though, for those that compete at the county fair, bringing home a blue ribbon or best of show or even a championship trophy still tops the list of accomplishments.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Showing off some “fancy booties” a prize winning goat entry for a 4-H/FFA member is held for a commemorative photo in the winners circle at the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Encountering a Jurassic Experience, the Scraposaurs, Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, Sioux City

1 Aug

The Wooly Rhino was built with salvaged steel and covered in hair plugs and is one of various “prehistoric animals” are represented by the traveling Scraposaurs exhibit now at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Sioux City, Iowa seen Wednesday, June 22, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes it’s nice not to have to travel too far in Siouxland to find an interesting exhibit to check out. A traveling exhibit currently at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Sioux City consists of recycled Jurassic critters, or creatures from an earlier age. Artist Dale Lewis created whimsical creatures out of recycled metal bits and pieces. Although pieces might not be the best description for some of these towering creatures.

The pterodactyl is built from a variety of stainless steel screening material with forks for teeth while the chicks are made from former steel farm equipment and part of a traveling Scraposaurs exhibit now at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Sioux City, Iowa seen Wednesday, June 22, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The pterodactyl is built from a variety of stainless steel screening material with forks for teeth and is part of a traveling Scraposaurs exhibit now at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Sioux City, Iowa seen Wednesday, June 22, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The artist’s inspiration for “Dino” the dog was the TV cartoon “The Flintstones” and is one of a variety of various “prehistoric animals” built from scrap material are represented by the traveling Scraposaurs exhibit now at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Sioux City, Iowa seen Wednesday, June 22, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Lewis harkens from Minnesota so this may be a way to spend cold winter days as he created these creatures from various metal materials. The exhibit is slated to be on site until April of 2023. So it will be interesting with a heavy winter snow to see these creatures peeking out from under snow drifts. Maybe experiencing another ice age that their forebears endured and were lost in so many centuries ago.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The “Thing” is one of many creatures built from a variety of scrap material various “prehistoric animals” are represented by the traveling Scraposaurs exhibit now at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Sioux City, Iowa seen Wednesday, June 22, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A bison statue is flanked by one of several scrap built “prehistoric animals” are represented by the traveling Scraposaurs exhibit now at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Sioux City, Iowa seen Wednesday, June 22, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The artist, Dale Lewis, “signed” his name on one of the “prehistoric animals” are represented in the traveling Scraposaurs exhibit now at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Sioux City, Iowa seen Wednesday, June 22, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Built from a variety of scrap material various “prehistoric animals” are represented in the traveling Scraposaurs exhibit now at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Sioux City, Iowa seen Wednesday, June 22, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Learning About the “Turin Man” in Siouxland, rural Monona County

17 Jul

Ron Butler recounts the history of Turin Hill and the discovery of the Turin Man part of a group of people who lived in the area some 6,000 years earlier at the 45th Loess Hills Prairie Seminar at a Loess Hills Wildlife Area in rural Monona County near Turin, Iowa Saturday June 4, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Recently during the Loess Hills Prairie Seminar held early June in Siouxland I learned a little history involving the “Turin Man”, discovered in 1955 by a gravel pit operator in Turin, Iowa. The operator according to a brochure was a Asa Johnston who found a skull while removing wind blown silt known as loess, from which the Loess Hills received its name and which travels from the top of northwest Iowa down to the Missouri border in the south, mostly along the Missouri River.

A view from atop Turin Hill during an outing at the 45th Loess Hills Prairie Seminar at a Loess Hills Wildlife Area in rural Monona County near Turin, Iowa Saturday June 4, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Ron Butler recounts the history of Turin Hill and the discovery of the Turin Man part of a group of people who lived in the area some 6,000 years earlier at the 45th Loess Hills Prairie Seminar at a Loess Hills Wildlife Area in rural Monona County near Turin, Iowa Saturday June 4, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Johnston discovered a skull and skeletal remains during his excavation for soil ,and later three more skulls and bodies were also discovered in near proximity. It was determined that there was a family of four buried here, probably a nomadic people, and charcoal, indicating fire usage, was found next to the body of a child. It is believed the four people were a family unit buried together, living some 6,000 years ago traversing this area before the United States was in anyone’s dreams as a New World waiting to be “discovered”.

According to the brochure about the information surrounding the find of skeletal remains, the four individuals, two adults, two children, one male and one female, were buried within proximity of one another in what is called a Flex Burial. The Turin skeletons were assigned to the Middle Archaic period based on radiocarbon dating that places them somewhere in the 2770-589 B.C. period.

Found with the skeletons was red ocher sprinkled over the bodies along with Anculosa shell beads. The discovered folk are believed to be from the Late Paleo-Indian period. Soil strata indicates Thea hunters roamed this region during the last glacial period according to the information in the “Turin Man Discovery” brochure. It states that the pattern of oral health indicated by the skeletal remains the people consumed a diet of hunting and gathering.

Also found at the site in the gravel pit were rib bones of either a mastodon or mammoth, prehistoric horse legs bones and a leg bone of an archaic camel. These bones were discovered in another area of the gravel pit and were probably from an earlier era that the human remains.

Who knew or even thought about that Life in Siouxland extended so many eons ago. One can only imagine how different the area looked compared to farm fields one sees these days.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A view from Turin Hill and Ron Butler’s recounting of the history of Turin Hill and the discovery of the Turin Man part of a group of people who lived in the area some 6,000 years earlier at the 45th Loess Hills Prairie Seminar at a Loess Hills Wildlife Area in rural Monona County near Turin, Iowa Saturday June 4, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Gene Persinger, who lives in Turin, Iowa, attends the hike where Ron Butler recounts the history of Turin Hill and the discovery of the Turin Man part of a group of people who lived in the area some 6,000 years earlier at the 45th Loess Hills Prairie Seminar at a Loess Hills Wildlife Area in rural Monona County near Turin, Iowa Saturday June 4, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Hikers leave Turin Hill after hearing Ron Butler’s recounting of the history of Turin Hill and the discovery of the Turin Man part of a group of people who lived in the area some 6,000 years earlier at the 45th Loess Hills Prairie Seminar at a Loess Hills Wildlife Area in rural Monona County near Turin, Iowa Saturday June 4, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The 45th Loess Hills Prairie Seminar at a Loess Hills Wildlife Area in rural Monona County near Onawa, Iowa Saturday June 4, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Learning About the Loess Hills in Siouxland, Sylvan Runkel State Preserve, rural Monona County

3 Jul

Hikers head out from a group that Dr. Tom Rosburg of Drake University leads in the background where he talks about native plant life as he leads a group through an area of Loess Hills prairie, the Sylvan Runkel State Preserve during the 45th Loess Hills Prairie Seminar in rural Monona County near Onawa, Iowa Saturday June 4, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Recently there was an annual Loess Hills Prairie Seminar held in SIouxland in rural Monona County at the Sylvan Runkel State Preserve. Runkel was an author of a few books about midwestern wildflowers, including those found in the Loess Hills in western Iowa near the Nebraska border with the Missouri River. I had never previously walked the trail to this particular preserve although I had driven past it numerous times and had seen a sign for it. But I think it rivals the Loess Hills State Park Overlook near the state forest a little further south. And evidently it is a birder’s paradise when it comes to finding those feathered friends.

Dr. Tom Rosburg, center back, of Drake University talks about native plant life as he leads a group through an area of Loess Hills prairie at the Sylvan Runkel State Preserve during the 45th Loess Hills Prairie Seminar in rural Monona County near Onawa, Iowa Saturday June 4, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dr. Tom Rosburg, left, of Drake University talks about native plant life as he leads a group through an area of Loess Hills prairie at the Sylvan Runkel State Preserve during the 45th Loess Hills Prairie Seminar in rural Monona County near Onawa, Iowa Saturday June 4, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This hike was lead by a professor from Drake University, Dr. Tom Rosburg, an expert in the native plants that exist in the Loess Hills, who did his Ph.D thesis about the plants native to the area. But I will admit, my feeble brain had a hard time keeping up with the scientific and horticultural names for these plants, although I had seen a number of them on hikes through various places in the Loess Hills which I previously had hiked. Rosburg has also written a few books about plant life. This area had recently had a fire prevention and restorative burn done to it so the plants were not at a stage the professor seemed to have liked for examining and talking about the various species and how to recognize them. But he and many in the entourage recognized a great deal of them. Some of those I believe were also students who were taking copious notes and were learning from the best.

Dr. Tom Rosburg, left, of Drake University talks about native plant life as he leads a group through an area of Loess Hills prairie at the Sylvan Runkel State Preserve during the 45th Loess Hills Prairie Seminar in rural Monona County near Onawa, Iowa Saturday June 4, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dr. Tom Rosburg, left, of Drake University talks about native plant life as he leads a group through an area of Loess Hills prairie at the Sylvan Runkel State Preserve during the 45th Loess Hills Prairie Seminar in rural Monona County near Onawa, Iowa Saturday June 4, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dr. Tom Rosburg, right, of Drake University talks about native plant life as he leads a group through an area of Loess Hills prairie at the Sylvan Runkel State Preserve during the 45th Loess Hills Prairie Seminar in rural Monona County near Onawa, Iowa Saturday June 4, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Remains of a recent fire burn appears Dr. Tom Rosburg of Drake University talks about native plant life as he leads a group through an area of Loess Hills prairie at the Sylvan Runkel State Preserve during the 45th Loess Hills Prairie Seminar in rural Monona County near Onawa, Iowa Saturday June 4, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I did find it fascinating and somewhat exhausting that every few steps taken a native Loess Hills plant was found and the group would stop as Dr. Rosburg explained the species, some of which are only found in this location, while others are spread throughout the Loess Hills. This all has to do with the plants’ own evolution and the kind of soil located within this particular state preserve. He explained that when doing his thesis he plotted out thousands of small areas and tracked the progress of the plants within each plot to better understand conditions and the strengths and weaknesses of each. Quite an undertaking.

Dr. Tom Rosburg of Drake University talks about native plant life as he leads a group through an area of Loess Hills prairie at the Sylvan Runkel State Preserve during the 45th Loess Hills Prairie Seminar in rural Monona County near Onawa, Iowa Saturday June 4, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dr. Tom Rosburg of Drake University talks about native plant life as he leads a group through an area of Loess Hills prairie at the Sylvan Runkel State Preserve during the 45th Loess Hills Prairie Seminar in rural Monona County near Onawa, Iowa Saturday June 4, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dr. Tom Rosburg of Drake University talks about native plant life as he leads a group through an area of Loess Hills prairie at the Sylvan Runkel State Preserve during the 45th Loess Hills Prairie Seminar in rural Monona County near Onawa, Iowa Saturday June 4, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dr. Tom Rosburg of Drake University talks about native plant life as he leads a group through an area of Loess Hills prairie at the Sylvan Runkel State Preserve during the 45th Loess Hills Prairie Seminar in rural Monona County near Onawa, Iowa Saturday June 4, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But as a visual person, I was more interested in the landscape and what I was seeing and what I thought would offer some excellent sunset and possibly fall foliage later this year more intriguing. So I drifted away from the group which then gave me a “mass” for scale to incorporate into the landscape of this particular state preserve. A colorful sky with some clouds some evening will offer up some impressive imagery I believe. Now it’s trying to figure out which of those evenings that will happen.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Dr. Tom Rosburg of Drake University leads a group as he talks about native plant life as he leads a group through an area of Loess Hills prairie at the Sylvan Runkel State Preserve during the 45th Loess Hills Prairie Seminar in rural Monona County near Onawa, Iowa Saturday June 4, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dr. Tom Rosburg of Drake University leads a group as he talks about native plant life as he leads a group through an area of Loess Hills prairie at the Sylvan Runkel State Preserve during the 45th Loess Hills Prairie Seminar in rural Monona County near Onawa, Iowa Saturday June 4, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

History in Siouxland, South Jordan Cemetery, rural Monona County

21 Jun

A visit to the South Jordan Cemetery during the 45th Loess Hills Prairie Seminar at a Loess Hills Wildlife Area in rural Monona County near Turin, Iowa Saturday June 4, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Recently I attended a Loess Hills Prairie Seminar in Siouxland which is going on 40 plus years. But because of previous work commitments in past years, I have never attended one. It is fascinating the wealth of information learned during this outing. The downside is that I couldn’t be in more than one place at a time and so while able to photograph different seminar events, learning about various subjects was limited because of that pesky timeline/time warp continuum thingy.

One of the outings focused on a cemetery I have previously driven past while cruising some of the backroads in Siouxland but had never stopped. The South Jordan Cemetery is an early Negro burial site located in rural Monona County. It was recently placed on the National Register of Historic places in 2021. A long time coming. And just as recently signage about the cemetery was put up. But without attending the hike and talk the information I have found is limited to what is available online.

Recent signage posts the way to the South Jordan Cemetery during the 45th Loess Hills Prairie Seminar at a Loess Hills Wildlife Area in rural Monona County near Turin, Iowa Saturday June 4, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Off of a country gravel road the South Jordan Cemetery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2021 and was visited during the 45th Loess Hills Prairie Seminar at a Loess Hills Wildlife Area in rural Monona County near Turin, Iowa Saturday June 4, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A gravestone at the South Jordan Cemetery during the 45th Loess Hills Prairie Seminar at a Loess Hills Wildlife Area in rural Monona County near Turin, Iowa Saturday June 4, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

According to a Wikipedia account African Americans may have made their way to western Iowa using the Underground Railroad. Iowa became a state in 1846 but some believe the Underground Railroad theory is not correct because settlement in this part of the state took place after the Civil War. Of the known 20 or so burials, all but a couple are believed to be African American. Some if not all of the headstones were a bit hard to read, yet, they are there celebrating the lives of people who lived in the area prior to those of us now passing through.

I am still awed by the fact that places my feet have traversed others passed through decades if not a century or two prior. That timeline/continuum of life thingy stands the eons and knowledge that came before and will follow later is there. It’s just figuring out how to access it.

Jerry Mennenga
Sioux City, Iowa

A visit to the South Jordan Cemetery during the 45th Loess Hills Prairie Seminar at a Loess Hills Wildlife Area in rural Monona County near Turin, Iowa Saturday June 4, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Backcountry gravel roads to the South Jordan Cemetery during the 45th Loess Hills Prairie Seminar at a Loess Hills Wildlife Area in rural Monona County near Turin, Iowa Saturday June 4, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A visit to the South Jordan Cemetery during the 45th Loess Hills Prairie Seminar at a Loess Hills Wildlife Area in rural Monona County near Turin, Iowa Saturday June 4, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A visit to the South Jordan Cemetery during the 45th Loess Hills Prairie Seminar at a Loess Hills Wildlife Area in rural Monona County near Turin, Iowa Saturday June 4, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An aged gravestone marker at the South Jordan Cemetery during the 45th Loess Hills Prairie Seminar at a Loess Hills Wildlife Area in rural Monona County near Turin, Iowa Saturday June 4, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Learning and Understanding History in Siouxland, Nelson Mandela, The Official Exhibition, Durham Museum, Omaha, NE

19 Jun

Short films about Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela : The Official Exhibition, is his life and pursuit for a free South Africa, currently at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, May 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I wouldn’t exactly call myself a history buff, but I do like learning and attending presentations and exhibition in and around Siouxland where I can learn something new, or expand upon something I am familiar with but not necessarily know the entire story, or rest of the story as radioman Paul Harvey used to exclaim.

I recently visited the Nelson Mandela: The Officials Exhibition at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE. It is slated to finish in early July. I am aware of who Mandela is/was and mostly remember him as a person who spent a considerable amount of time in prison only because he wanted fellow South African citizens to enjoy a free life away from the “colonial rule” that Afrikaners imposed on them after the Dutch colonized the country to its benefits a large swath of the country in the 1600’s.

Photographs, artifacts and short films give a history about Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela : The Official Exhibition, is his life and pursuit for a free South Africa, currently at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, May 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Photographs, artifacts and short films give a history about Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela : The Official Exhibition, is his life and pursuit for a free South Africa, currently at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, May 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The exhibit takes a deep dive into the man’s past, history and what led him to become the leader to free his fellow citizens and help them obtain the rights so long denied them by early occupiers, often mainly by force. The reading was fascinating but also the images that accompanies the exhibit showing a young Mandela who actually spent most of his life out of public view. Firstly, hiding from those who wanted to harm him, and later, in prison, after defying the ruling administration of the country and encouraging his fellow countrymen to stand up and seek their freedom.

Nelson Mandela : The Official Exhibition, about his life and pursuit for a free South Africa, currently at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, May 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Photographs, artifacts and short films give a history about Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela : The Official Exhibition, is his life and pursuit for a free South Africa, currently at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, May 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Part of the exhibity with photographs, artifacts and short films give a history about Nelson Mandela and representation of cell blocks. Nelson Mandela : The Official Exhibition, is his life and pursuit for a free South Africa, currently at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, May 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I personally like history, more so when I learn something new and its purpose served the greater good and the “good guys” won. Some days during in recent years, I just have to wonder. Those who say they are the good guys and winning, are a bit suspect.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Photographs, artifacts and short films give a history about Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela : The Official Exhibition, is his life and pursuit for a free South Africa, currently at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, May 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Photographs, artifacts and short films give a history about Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela : The Official Exhibition, is his life and pursuit for a free South Africa, currently at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, May 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Photographs, artifacts and short films give a history about Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela : The Official Exhibition, is his life and pursuit for a free South Africa, currently at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, May 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Photograph of Nelson Mandela with Zelda la Grange, formerly a private secretary of his during he last remaining years, seen at the Nelson Mandela : The Official Exhibition, about his life and pursuit for a free South Africa, currently at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, May 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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