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Learning History Outside of Siouxland, the Waterman Area Heritage Society, Waterman, IL

16 Sep

Travel can always be an educational experience. If one decides to do that. I came upon a small town museum that packed a lot of local history within its walls and two women who were happy to share it. The Waterman, IL, Area Heritage Society had only a few large displays but tons of stuff to peruse.

A local barbershop is created in the Waterman Area Heritage Society in Waterman, Illinois August 31, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While taking a few photographs and browsing artifacts, the two volunteers began telling me about the area and sharing stories of their growing up. The museum had quite a collection of “antique” phones, mostly rotary dial but also some push button ones, which they remarked that school children can not imagine using. Let along hearing stories about country “party lines” where maybe 10 families used the same line to talk with another and others and at times had to be vigilant about that one busy body who liked to listen in on other’s conversations.

Volunteers share a funny story about local history in the Waterman Area Heritage Society in Waterman, Illinois August 31, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I was lucky as well in that I happened upon the small museum with 10 minutes left before it closed. So I didn’t spend a lot of time perusing items on display but did learn about an area family that built a scale replica of a ship that was placed over a vehicle and the family traveled the United States participating in various parades.

A tribute to the Eakle Family that traveled and participated in many municipality parades across the country during the 20th Century seen in the Waterman Area Heritage Society in Waterman, Illinois August 31, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Recorded history via a photograph in the Waterman Area Heritage Society in Waterman, Illinois August 31, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One item of note the volunteers pointed out were broaches that were created in probably the 19th Century. I had seen something similar at another museum I was visited and the broaches were made with human hair collected over a period of time and probably done over the winter months when going outside might not have been an option then as streets snow removal was probably not what it is today.

Fine craftsmanship broach pins done with human hair seen in the Waterman Area Heritage Society in Waterman, Illinois August 31, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

So many small museums, so little time, but serendipity can be one’s friend if a person does nothing more than simply look and push open a door to see what lies on the other side.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Items of note on display in the Waterman Area Heritage Society in Waterman, Illinois August 31, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Graduates of a former community school seen in the Waterman Area Heritage Society in Waterman, Illinois August 31, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating an Anniversary in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

4 Sep

Chlldren learn about tin smithing as Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebrates its 22nd year as an official state park, beginning its operation in 1997 and located in North Sioux City, South Dakota Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019 . (photo by Jerry Mennenga©)

Recently the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in Siouxland celebrated its 22nd anniversary of its inception and growth its achieved as a local state park. It hosted activities and tours through its many buildings that reflect area history of early pioneer days and one family’s legacy which became the park.

A threshing bee demonstration as Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebrates its 22nd year as an official state park, beginning its operation in 1997 and located in North Sioux City, South Dakota Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019 . (photo by Jerry Mennenga©)

 

Visitors check out various activities like threshing as Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebrates its 22nd year as an official state park, beginning its operation in 1997 and located in North Sioux City, South Dakota Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019 . (photo by Jerry Mennenga©)

 

Various displays show early 20th century know-how as Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebrates its 22nd year as an official state park, beginning its operation in 1997 and located in North Sioux City, South Dakota Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019 . (photo by Jerry Mennenga©)

The park is just a nice place to go for a walk either a short one through the historical homestead or a longer one that runs in part along the Missouri River and through a cottonwood forest. The park has made itself a much beloved community member with continuous activities for families and children and hosting events throughout the year. And in three years time the celebration might be a blow out event at 25 years old and still going strong.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Scouts try their hand at baking items inside of cast iron pots as Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebrates its 22nd year as an official state park, beginning its operation in 1997 and located in North Sioux City, South Dakota Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019 . (photo by Jerry Mennenga©)

 

A homestead cabin at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve which celebrates its 22nd year as an official state park, beginning its operation in 1997 and located in North Sioux City, South Dakota Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019 . (photo by Jerry Mennenga©)

 

Making memories as Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebrates its 22nd year as an official state park, beginning its operation in 1997 and located in North Sioux City, South Dakota Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019 . (photo by Jerry Mennenga©)

 

Visitors head out on a hay rack ride as Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebrates its 22nd year as an official state park, beginning its operation in 1997 and located in North Sioux City, South Dakota Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019 . (photo by Jerry Mennenga©)

Poetry and Literature in Siouxland of John G. Neihardt, Bancroft, NE

2 Sep

Poetry is one form of literature I never really embraced and have read sporadically. Even in college where I was probably more exposed to poetry through courses there, it was something that never gave me pause and made me take a second look. But that doesn’t mean it’s something that doesn’t resonate with many of folk and I had forgotten about an early 20th century writer who lived in Siouxland that is renowned for his poetry and early ventures at bridging divides with local Native Americans.

Inside the John G Neihardt Day welcome center at the Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The John G. Neihardt Center is located in Bancroft, NE and celebrates the author’s life and life’s work he did through literature and his friendships with local Native Americans. The Center’s website states:”

But Neihardt himself pointed to a “fever dream” he had at this age, in which he saw himself floating through space and felt the presence of a “spirit brother,” as the event that determined his life work as a poet and inspired the content of that work.

Neihardt graduated from Wayne Normal College at 16 and taught country school for a short time. He’d been writing poetry since age 12 and, upon moving to Bancroft in 1900, turned to that vocation, working also as an owner-editor of the Bancroft Blade, and as a clerk for a trader on the Omaha Reservation.

His acquaintance with the Omaha and Winnebago Indians led him to an interest in the Sioux, their customs and traditions. He traveled the plains and lived the land first hand.”

Inside the John G Neihardt Day welcome center at the Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Inside the John G Neihardt Day welcome center at the Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Neihardt wrote books and poetry reflecting his knowledge of his Native friends and a kindred spirit they shared and time spent together. Impressing early Nebraskan state officials and legislators that Neihardt became the state’s poet laureate at one point, in 1921. As mentioned at a number of online sites for people interested in exploring his life and writings more thoroughly, Neihardt authored the book “Black Elk Speaks,”  interviews he did with the Lakota chief Black Elk in which the chief shared his knowledge of oral history and the cultures of Native Americans.

The John G Neihardt Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The John G Neihardt Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

These little gems of places tucked away in Siouxland still amaze me and I keep hoping to find more of them as I continue to wander about. While I may never truly appreciate the genre of poetry, I can appreciate the dedication Neihardt gave to his life’s works in helping foster a better understanding between two cultures.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Inside the John G Neihardt Day welcome center at the Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Inside the John G Neihardt Day welcome center at the Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Inside the John G Neihardt Day welcome center at the Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Pathways of understanding and turmoil in a prayer garden site at the John G Neihardt Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

History in Siouxland, Kirchner Park Museum, Peterson

23 Aug

The Christian Kirchner house seen on the grounds of the Kirchner Park Museum complex in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes timing is everything as one drives about Siouxland checking out what lies over the next hill. A few times I have driven through Peterson and each time I was never lucky enough to find the Kirchner Park Museum open. Only to learn later that it’s by an appointment situation and entails a little more planning on my part next time. The home is of a pioneer who settled the area and built one of the firsts, if not the first, wood frame house. A small museum next door houses various artifacts and farming implements as far as I know. There is even a one-room school house situated on the grounds, all of which most likely holds interesting history of the area, and someday, I hope to learn what some of that history is. And better plan my next trip there.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A look inside one room of the Christian Kirchner house on the grounds of the Kirchner Park Museum complex in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The porch area of the Kirchner Farm Machinery Museum on the grounds of the Kirchner Park Museum complex in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Rock Forest Schoolhouse on the grounds of the Kirchner Park Museum complex in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing details in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve

17 Aug

Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebrates its 22nd year as an official state park, beginning its operation in 1997 and located in North Sioux City, South Dakota Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019 . (photo by Jerry Mennenga©)

Visiting a number of places in Siouxland, then revisiting them, I am always amused to “see” something I overlooked previously on a visit. Whether that’s good or bad, and depending on what I was concentrating on something else at the time, I always rationalize that it gives me something to look forward too on a return visit. And most times it’s the small details that I overlook. The big picture is just that.  All engrossing because it’s focuses one’s attention in a big way. But the details fill in the gaps, and perhaps lend another thought to history or part of the story. Or just more questions about a period of time one can read about, but again, it’s mostly just the big picture that is painted by the words, no time or space to delve into some of the details.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Learning Local History in Siouxland, Decatur, NE

22 Jul

One can find a lot of local history at the Decatur Museum in Decatur, NE Saturday, June 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It never amazes me that little gems can be found in places with a little bit of luck and curiosity. While out driving about in Siouxland one day I ventured over the Missiouri River into Nebraska and the community of Decatur. It prides itself being the second oldest settlement in the state, dating back to 1854, and incorporated in 1856. Information found says a little over 400 people live there. The nice part, besides being located next to the Missouri River is the community’s museum.

Jane Judt, upper right and Norma Williams , center right, greet visitors and tell them about the local history located at the Decatur Museum in Decatur, NE Saturday, June 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A lot of local history can be found at the Decatur Museum in Decatur, NE Saturday, June 8, 2019. This month was about local sports history. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A lot of local history can be found at the Decatur Museum in Decatur, NE Saturday, June 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One of the museum docents, Jane Judt, explained that theme of presentations is always changing every few months, so the information provided doesn’t get stale and which I would believe encourage locals to stop by and see what historical facts are being shared. When I visited the theme was sports with a variety of memorabilia displayed.

Jane Judt talks about the history of the Decatur Museum in Decatur, NE Saturday, June 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

An upstairs room decorated as a classroom at the Decatur Museum in Decatur, NE Saturday, June 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A lot of local history can be found at the Decatur Museum in Decatur, NE Saturday, June 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But the small museum also contains nuggets of information about the early settlement days and the people who relocated to this area as folk migrated to the west looking for a fresh start and an opportunity to improve their lives. Tales told over and over again in many small communities’ museums that are found throughout the U.S. It’s the story of immigrants and people looking for a better life, a tale that reflects  many who settled in the Siouxland region.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A lot of local history can be found at the Decatur Museum in Decatur, NE Saturday, June 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A lot of local history can be found at the Decatur Museum in Decatur, NE Saturday, June 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A lot of local history can be found at the Decatur Museum in Decatur, NE Saturday, June 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Expanding History in Siouxland, The National Music Museum, Vermillion, SD

14 Jun

An expansion project for the National Music Museum on the campus of the University of South Dakota is underway in Vermillion, South Dakota Friday May 24, 2019 (PHOTO BY JERRY L MENNENGA©)

An expansion is underway for the The National Music Museum in Vermillion, SD, where there is a vast collection of musical instruments on display in Siouxland and now with the expansion more will be seen as exhibit space and restoration space grows. The museum won’t be open again until sometime in 2020. I have enjoyed a few musical celebrations in the small performance space which I understand will be enlarged as will an exhibit area to showcase more instruments the museum has acquired and a larger research facility available for those interested.

So for the time being local residents and visitors can only walk by and speculate about the progress and what might lie in store for them once the expansion project is complete.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

National Music Museum staff move items out of the facility on the campus of the University of South Dakota as an expansion project gets underway in Vermillion, South Dakota Friday May 24, 2019 (PHOTO BY JERRY L MENNENGA©)

 

An expansion project for the National Music Museum on the campus of the University of South Dakota is underway in Vermillion, South Dakota Friday May 24, 2019 (PHOTO BY JERRY L MENNENGA©)

 

The National Music Museum on the campus of the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, Friday, Dec. 12, 2014. where inside members of brass quintet play Christmas music. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

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