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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©)

Visiting the Departed in Siouxland, Hancock Township Cemetery, rural Plymouth County

21 Aug

A headstone from the late 1800’s at the Hancock Township Cemetery (now known as the Bella Vista Cemetery) in Plymouth County north of Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As I continue to drive about Siouxland I continue to find locations with older cemeteries, many with grave sites of those departed who probably first settled the area, or arrived shortly thereafter. Many of these resting places also have “current” residents recently departed in the last few years.

A former family burial plot with missing headstones at the Hancock Township Cemetery (now known as the Bella Vista Cemetery) in Plymouth County north of Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Two guests check out a headstone from the late 1800’s at the Hancock Township Cemetery (now known as the Bella Vista Cemetery) in Plymouth County north of Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A caretaker I met while visiting told me that upon his last visit it seems that some headstones are missing from certain graves which is sad. He speculated that maybe a visiting relative took them with them but it leaves the grave(s) unmarked and visitors without knowing who may laying this peaceful conclave of residents. I always find that even if I do not know any of the occupants of the cemetery, I have no less respect for those who have gone before and seen this area and countryside when it was first settled by white settlers. I imagine that many a Native American had passed through living their lives as hunter/gatherers and may have traveled an extensive area of Siouxland looking for sustenance from their Creator while living off the land.

Cemeteries by their very nature are peaceful places which is one reason I like to visit them. The occupants hold no judgement of those visiting, and I no judgement of those departed. Just a quiet time to think, contemplate and wish there was more peace in the world.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A grave stone from the late 1800’s at the Hancock Township Cemetery (now known as the Bella Vista Cemetery) in Plymouth County north of Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A broken head stone at the Hancock Township Cemetery (now known as the Bella Vista Cemetery) in Plymouth County north of Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Newer grave sites at the Hancock Township Cemetery (now known as the Bella Vista Cemetery) in Plymouth County north of Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Many early burial sites in rural areas had trees planted around the headstones to shade the departed seen at the Hancock Township Cemetery (now known as the Bella Vista Cemetery) in Plymouth County north of Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A view of the surrounding rural countryside at the Hancock Township Cemetery (now known as the Bella Vista Cemetery) in Plymouth County north of Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating a Homecoming with Fireworks in Siouxland, Winnebago, NE

13 Aug

Fireworks celebrating the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska 156th Homecoming Powwow in Winnebago, NE Wednesday evening, July 27, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I recently attended a few events in Siouxland in Winnebago, NE, the beginning of the homecoming celebration of Chief Little Priest for whom the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebrates each year. Plus it was an opportunity to again try out an Olympus OMD camera operation titled Live Composite, where after making a base exposure, the camera continues to record light bursts, the fireworks, until the photographer deems enough light has been captured. The beauty of it is that one can actually see this happening in real time and finish a photo and then try again. Sometimes technology can be very beneficial and for the most part, foolproof without the guess work I would have done in the film days or with other camera system brands.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Fireworks celebrating the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska 156th Homecoming Powwow in Winnebago, NE Wednesday evening, July 27, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Fireworks celebrating the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska 156th Homecoming Powwow in Winnebago, NE Wednesday evening, July 27, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Fireworks celebrating the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska 156th Homecoming Powwow in Winnebago, NE Wednesday evening, July 27, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Fireworks celebrating the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska 156th Homecoming Powwow in Winnebago, NE Wednesday evening, July 27, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Storytelling in B&W and a Little Imagination, Durham Museum, Omaha, NE

19 Jul

A former Union Pacific railway station, a statue pf a departing passenger from days gone by seen at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, May 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes when out and about wandering Siouxland and elsewhere, one can see something that sparks a little imagination and wondering on the part of the viewer. I think Black and White imagery helps tell a story a little better at times that color.

The Durham Museum was formerly a Union Pacific railway station and its heyday was before, during and after the 1930’s and 1940’s, especially during WWII. Information at the museum along with photographs show a great movement of people during the Second World War passing through the station. And so there are some statuary that depicts some of the history of the former railway station.

A former Union Pacific railway station, a statue pf a departing passenger from days gone by while two lovers sit tight in the background seen at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, May 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When I have looked at the above the statue I wonder if this gentleman is a traveling salesman or maybe a jilted lover whose dearest’s heart was won by a new suitor seated with her in the background. And so the young takes his belongings packed into a single suitcase and leaves.

A sculpted piece at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, May 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The sculpted piece I believe was something on display and with meaning of the times when the station was built. The directional light creates an interesting effect and definitely gives a viewer a chance to study the statue which I believe is of a railway worker, judging by the wrench in the hand.

I enjoy B&W photography and probably don’t utilize it enough when out shooting and exploring Siouxland. For me it depends on the light and how it encapsulates a subject and sets is apart from its surrounding. And I sometimes miss having a darkroom, and the ability to create an image first on film, then adding to it via the actual developing process to give and take away contrast depending on how one processed the film and with what developer was used, and finally through the printing process. Using a “hard” paper that really accentuates the light and shadows or a softer paper with more grey tones appearing. The one watched while the image appeared in the developing tray coming to life and fulfilling, hopefully, the vision one had in mind when creating the image on film.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A Union Pacific railway sign hanging at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, May 26, 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©)

Celebrating One’s History in Siouxland, Tulip Festival, Orange City

11 Jul

A dance is performed by older students generally in high school at the 81st Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa, May 20, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There are a few smaller communities in the Siouxland region that each celebrate their cultural heritage on a yearly basis. One of those being the Tulip Festival in Orange City. The entire community seems to get behind the celebration and most everyone seems to be involved, children through adults. The costumes, dances and other “cultural” activities depicted are a fun way to explore and see where a community hails from and their remembrance of those roots. And as is oft stated, pictures are worth a thousand words.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Dancers enjoy themselves performing at the 81st Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa, May 20, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The boy makes a speedy turn with the young lady as a dance is performed by older students generally in high school at the 81st Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa, May 20, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A flag bearer waves during the parade at the 81st Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa, May 20, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A dance is performed by older students generally in high school at the 81st Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa, May 20, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Looks like a challenge among the bicycle singers at the 81st Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa, May 20, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A parade participant heads to the starting point for the event at the 81st Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa, May 20, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One of the artisans hawking wares of the day typically found in early Dutch days in the parade at the 81st Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa, May 20, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A character in costume at the 81st Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa, May 20, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Various flags of the Netherlands on display during the parade at the 81st Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa, May 20, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The MOC Floyd High School marching band performs during the parade at the 81st Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa, May 20, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dancers enjoy themselves while performing at the 81st Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa, May 20, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The MOC Floyd High School marching band performs during the parade at the 81st Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa, May 20, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A dance is performed by older students generally in high school at the 81st Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa, May 20, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A local junior high school band baton twirlers perform at the 81st Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa, May 20, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Local junior High school band members perform during the parade at the 81st Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa, May 20, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)at the 81st Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa, May 20, 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©)

Sharing One’s Heritage in Siouxland, Tulip Festival, Orange City

17 Jun

Young boys “clean the streets” and themselves as per tradition during the 81st Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa, May 20, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I have attended the Tulip Festival for many years in Siouxland which occurs over a three-day period. The community of Orange City celebrates its Dutch Heritage with sometimes well over 20,000 visitors in one day. A review of the various areas of the Netherlands are represented by folk in the regalia they wear which depicts what part of the country and the status of the folk wearing the outfits.

While that is educational, one of the better parts in my opinion is the street cleaning. It can never be clean enough.

Boys place water for “cleaning the streets” during the 81st Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa, May 20, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Boys place water for “cleaning the streets” during the 81st Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa, May 20, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes it’s a near miss for the young girls who follow with brooms to sweep the street clean during the 81st Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa, May 20, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The burgermeister or mayor, walks the parade route and then declares it untidy and a “band” of boys appear and begin to pour water onto the streets and each other followed by young and girls and often their mothers sweeping to make the street/parade route presentable for visitors to enjoy the parade.

Young girls and their mothers sweep the water strewn street for the 81st Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa, May 20, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Young girls and their mothers sweep the water strewn street for the 81st Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa, May 20, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Young girls and their mothers sweep the water strewn street for the the 81st Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa, May 20, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When the streets are clean the parade begins and all is right in the world.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Young girls and their mothers sweep the water strewn street for the the 81st Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa, May 20, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Young girls and their mothers sweep the water strewn street for the the 81st Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa, May 20, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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