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Revisiting the General Dodge House near Siouxland, Council Bluffs

12 Sep

I have been visiting Council Bluffs which is south of Siouxland a few times in the last couple of years. Recently I spent some time showing a fellow photo enthusiast a few spots in the area and one I like to visit is the Dodge House, former residence of one General Grenville Mellen Dodge who made his fortune by the age of 40, resided in Council Bluffs after serving the North during the Civil War, helped build and push the expansion of the railroad system west, served in Congress representing western Iowa, became a banker and a financier.

General Grenville Mellen Dodge House museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A portrait of General Grenville Mellen Dodge as an older man hangs in the museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A portrait of General Grenville Mellen Dodge sits on a mantel in museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dodge was an engineer by trade and had gone west, to Illinois, to pursue his craft and at the time worked for the Illinois Central Railroad. Dodge scouted and surveyed land for a possible rail route from Illinois to western Iowa, at the edge of what is now Council Bluffs. The home he built for himself and his family after serving during the war and as he entered political life and then worked again on behalf of the railroad was grandiose for its time.

A formal dining room where General Grenville Mellen Dodge and his wife, Annie, entertained guests, now a museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A sitting room/parlour in the General Grenville Mellen Dodge House museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Vivistors are given a tour by docents with plenty of information at their fingertips to help put into perspective the life this man led and the accomplishments he achieved.

Visitors stop to take a photograph before entering the General Grenville Mellen Dodge House museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visitors get an introduction in the hall entryway to the General Grenville Mellen Dodge House museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Next door to the Dodge House Museum is the Beresheim residence, which was owned by a partner in the bank of which dodge was affiliated. A docent remarked that one of the owners did not like having to back his car out of his garage so he simply installed a round table, much like a record turntable, and would pull in, then step out and give it a twirl to turn the car and point it towards the door.

A peek inside a garage with a vehicle turntable near the General Grenville Mellen Dodge House museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A docent, right, explains the use of a vehicle turntable to visitors in a garage located near General Grenville Mellen Dodge House museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The home and its furnishings which are period and not necessarily any of the family’s items is located in a historic district of town which still retains it brick streets and only 2-3 blocks from the downtown area, an easy jaunt for Dodge to attend to his businesses downtown. It’s also a nice way to spend part of a day, revisiting history and retracing steps that people of another century have walked and participated in life.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Located in a historic neighborhood with brick streets, the General Grenville Mellen Dodge House museum is located in Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

An original piece to the home of General Grenville Mellen Dodge, the clock was purchased from a well known maker in the East, Simon Willard, and now is on display in the museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A work study used by General Grenville Mellen Dodge when he lived in his home, now a museum, in Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

National Old Time Music Fest in Siouxland, Le Mars Part 1

10 Sep

Again this year the National Old Time Music Festival stopped by in Le Mars, Iowa for a week of traditional music that covers a lot or area. And of course people from all over attended both as musicians playing and people attending to listen. It’s a joy that such an event takes place in Siouxland and fun to hear the various styles of music performed by a variety of people.

 

The day I attended midweek saw fewer people attending than I remember when I last visited in 2015. But the audience still enjoyed what they saw and the performers who entertained them.

Laurie Miller, left, of Berkeley, CA, Cynthia DeMarco, center, of Boone, and Teressa Franklin of Wood River, NE performing at the 43rd annual National Old Time Music Festival at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in Le Mars, Iowa Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Nancy and Allen Jenson of Heron Lake, MN, center left and right, perform and are accompanied by Mike Rysdal, seated left, Sioux City, Cozette Hemen, Alcester, SD, far right, and Terry Durr, Le Mars, seated back right at the 43rd annual National Old Time Music Festival at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in Le Mars, Iowa Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visitors listen to Wee Willie, right, perform with some friends at the 43rd annual National Old Time Music Festival at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in Le Mars, Iowa Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And I had heard that the entire production of the festival may make a permanent move to Fremont, NE. Bob and Sheila Everhart began the festival a couple of decades ago keeping alive the tradition of playing live old time music.

There were so many performers that I will visit some more of them in the next few days, enjoying hearing live music waft over an open area on a nice summer’s day with some good folk who sat back and enjoyed.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Learning History in Siouxland, Sheldon

4 Sep

A number of communities in Siouxland have a museum. Sheldon‘s Prairie Museum is located in a former Carnegie Library building which is as beautiful today as it was when originally built.

The Sheldon Prairie Museum in Sheldon, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Sheldon Prairie Museum was a former Carnegie Library in Sheldon, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Most of the museums I visit contain local history, photos of past residents and early pioneers as well as yearbooks of now closed schools if they are small communities who have seen their school districts consolidate with other nearby communities as small towns have gotten smaller.

I found the Prairie Museum unusual in the sense that it showcased some hard, not very nice history as well as the usual past. One display case talks about Mrs. Burnice Geiger, a daughter of a bank president of the Sheldon National Bank which residents learned in the late 1950’s and early ’60’s that Mrs. Geiger had been embezzling funds for many, many years, totaling a little over $2 million.

A display in the Sheldon Prairie Museum tells the story of a woman who embezzled money from a local bank in Sheldon, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And in the mid 1920’s another not so savory piece of history involved a Klan Konklave which is some still prevalent in parts of the United States. But since Iowa fought on the side of the Union during the Civil War locals were astonished that such an event could happen in their midst.

A display in the Sheldon Prairie Museum tells the dark history of a Ku Lux Klan enclave that occurred in Sheldon, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The story of a Ku Klux Klan Konclave appears in an exhibit in the Sheldon Prairie Museum in Sheldon, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The museum has happier pieces of history and volunteers that help inform a visitor about various exhibits. One small room in the museum is pretty much the same as when a family occupied their home, the furniture still intact and original except for some reupholstering. Giving viewers a look backward into time at actual local residents.

Volunteer JoAnn DenBeste gives some background on exhibits at the Sheldon Prairie Museum in Sheldon, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The photo represents the look inside a Sheldon home in 1937, and the furniture in the photo is now at the Sheldon Prairie Museum in Sheldon, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The furniture in the exhibit remained the same as it was in a home in 1937 and except for some upholstery work and repairs is now an exhibit in the Sheldon Prairie Museum in Sheldon, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Museums such as Prairie Museum help a visitor understand a community and give a better insight of history, good or bad, that residents encountered. Making a visit more meaningful and receiving a better understanding of times past.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A variety of exhibits can be found in the Sheldon Prairie Museum in Sheldon, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Earlier residents of Sheldon, Iowa, now on display at the Sheldon Prairie Museum in Sheldon, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A photograph of early Sheldon residents, and survivors of the American Civil War, now on display at the Sheldon Prairie Museum in Sheldon, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A look into Nature in Siouxland, Alex Wiles at the Betty Strong Encounter Center

2 Sep

Photographer Alex Wiles talks about his Flood Plain Project involving the Missouri River at the Betty Strong Encounter Center in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Alex Wiles is a very accomplished photographer and spent part of a recent Sunday in Siouxland at the Betty Strong Encounter Center sharing his passion of photography which he uses to help illuminate the need for conservation. He has traveled the world seeking to shine a lot on endangered species and share that knowledge with others.

Photographs by Alex Wiles fill an exhibit space as attendees listen how he photographed the animals for his Flood Plain Project involving the Missouri River while giving a demonstration at the Betty Strong Encounter Center in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Photographer Alex Wiles gives a demonstration to attendees about how he photographed the animals for his Flood Plain Project involving the Missouri River at the Betty Strong Encounter Center in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Wiles not only explained his project about the Flood Plain, but had also set up a demonstration to share with photographers attending the talk how he goes about photographing these creatures. Working as a freelance photographer and from some grants, he is a bare-boned, simple equipment photographer focused on results and not name brand gear. It was refreshing to see such work being done with minimal dollars invested. Although in recent years third party photography brands have produced some gear that rivals some of the larger known brands but don’t break the bank. So if it’s damaged in the field, it’s easy enough to replace. Although having done freelance work for a few years one tries not to damage gear in the field.

Photographer Alex Wiles explains to attendees how he photographs animals for his Flood Plain Project involving the Missouri River at the Betty Strong Encounter Center in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And it’s nice to see someone pursue their passion attempt to make a difference, and share that and their knowledge with others along the way.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Photographer Alex Wiles explains to attendees how he photographed some of the animals for his Flood Plain Project involving the Missouri River at the Betty Strong Encounter Center in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Siouxland Man’s Passion, Lloyd Baker in Ashton

31 Aug

Resident Lloyd Baker drives three of his restored tractors in the parade at the Ashton, Iowa Town and Country Festival Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s always interesting to find someone passionate about a hobby. And hobbies can encompass almost anything. Siouxland resident Lloyd Baker’s hobby is a little large, and not something that easily fits into a desk drawer, like say a stamp or coin collection. Mr. Baker likes to restore early era farm tractors. Formerly working at an farm implement dealer in Sheldon, after retiring Baker couldn’t stop. During the recent Ashton Town and Country Fair I came upon his wife and she said her husband loves his John Deere tractors and spends many hours getting them running and restoring some of them.

A local resident, Lloyd baker, finds and restores, for the most part, older tractors, especially John Deeres and has his “office” and repair shop in the Ashton, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A local resident, Lloyd Baker, finds and restores, for the most part, older tractors, especially John Deeres and has his “office” and repair shop in the Ashton, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And walking about his shop in Ashton Baker seems to have enough tractors to continue his fashion for many years to come. Enjoying something as he restores part of an American past which celebrates agriculture and farming and the changes that occurred in an industry that benefits so many.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A local resident , Lloyd Baker, finds and restores, for the most part, older tractors, especially John Deeres and has his “office” and repair shop in the Ashton, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

History on Display in Siouxland, DeBoer Grocery Museum, Ashton

25 Aug

A little museum in Siouxland, the DeBoer Grocery Museum in Ashland, has been a place I have wanted to visit for some time, but never caught it open. But recently attending a Town and Country celebration I got my chance.

A local museum situated downtown in Ashton, Iowa Saturday Nov. 5, 2016. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The De Boer Grocery Museum was an actual grocery store in Ashton, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The store was a working grocery until the 1960’s or ’70’s I believe. That was one question I did not get answered while I was there. But the place is full of historical items with more behind it and a small house next door where the owners lived.

in the Ashton, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A baptismal font from the former St. Mary’s Church in the Ashton, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018, which was used for all baptisms from 1900 until 1972 when a newer church was built seen in the De Boer Grocery Museum. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Photos of men from the Ashton, Iowa area that served in previous world wars, seen in the De Boer Grocery Museum Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An attached building has many farming items used pre, and probably post 19th century until Deere made available bigger pieces of equipment. I find that one can never encounter too much history, to learn about residents in an area and what life was like for them, even if at times it is presented in a more positive light than it probably was.

And even though technology has made life somewhat easier, at times it is no less hard as those who lived, died and celebrated life, good or ill, in the previous centuries. It’s what people do. And I am glad that it is remembered, even if in a small museum that is only open every now and again. The information is there, it’s up to the individual to seek it out and learn from it, or at least imbibe it.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A prairie sod breaking plow circa 1918 used before a “regular” plow could be employed to begin farming on prairie land seen at the De Boer Grocery Museum in the Ashton, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A replica steam engine 1/4 the size of an original that would have been used for threshing grain early 1900’s seen at the De Boer Grocery Museum in the Ashton, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Early farming implements and tools see at the De Boer Grocery Museum annex in the Ashton, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

An early agricultural photo seen at the De Boer Grocery Museum in the Ashton, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A Van Brunt grain seeder circa 1890’s seen at the De Boer Grocery Museum in the Ashton, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying What’s there in Siouxland, Dakota Territorial Museum, Yankton

23 Aug

Some days when one is out Murphy takes you for a spin. I was in Yankton, SD checking out an annual community celebration and decided to swing past the Dakota Territorial Museum. And it was closed. Ahhhhhhh. I was disappointed, since the hand written make-shift sign on the door seemed a little hurried, I guess something had happened. Some other people seemed disappointed along with me as they came back from the museum as well. I walked around the grounds and decided maybe it was okay this time to just look and make a couple photographs and be happy with that. And I did. Different time of year, different sunlight, or lack there of and a different look at what I was seeing.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A luggage wagon that is part of a railroad depot display at the Dakota Territorial Museum in Yankton, SD Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Part of a railroad depot display at the Dakota Territorial Museum in Yankton, SD Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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