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Learning History in Siouxland, Kirchner Home at the Peterson Heritage Park, Peterson

14 Sep
The home of J.A. Kirchner, an early settler in the Peterson, Iowa area see at the now Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always enjoy learning a bit more history about the Siouxland area. Most of the region was first explored and somewhat settled in the early 1800’s with more folk following during midcentury and the latter portion beginning in the 1850’s. Peterson, Iowa was first settled around 1856 with a small fort being build in 1862 because of the Dakota Indian War. One of the first people to build a frame house was J.A. Kirchner who settled in the area was a farmer. Local historian and farmer Michael Hyde gives tours of the home and history about Kirchner and other early settlers who called Clay County home. The home had many of the “modern day” conveniences for its time period and more luxurious than living in a lean-to or sod house.

Local historian Michael Hyde talks about the J.A. Kirchner home that is now a museum and its owner who was an early settler in the area. The home is in what is now the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Local historian Michael Hyde talks about the J.A. Kirchner home that is now a museum and its owner who was an early settler in the area. The home is in what is now the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always find it fascinating and interesting to see what modern appliances and other items were available in another century. People living in comfort that today some folk might shake their heads at and not understand. But life is what you make of it and some people fare better than others which is sad. But one can learn to appreciate what is available now as compared to 100 years or more ago and what seems like hardship now may not have been then.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A comfortable bed at the time seen at the J.A Kirchner museum home at the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Rope was used in place of bed springs two centerues ago for early settlers seen at the J.A Kirchner museum home at the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Bedroom and its furnishings seen at the J.A Kirchner museum home at the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The dining room of the J.A Kirchner museum home at the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A kitchen with modern appliances for the time seen at the J.A. Kirchner museum home at the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)at the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Churning creme to make butter while seated at a kitchen windown seen at the J.A Kirchner museum home at the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)at the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Entertainment of an earlier century found at the J.A Kirchner museum home at the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Children of early settlers seen in the J.A Kirchner museum home at the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Early settlers in Peterson, Iowa seen at the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Affirming One’s Faith in Siouxland, Pilgrimage of the Cross, Sioux Rapids

8 Sep
Fr. Doug Klein, pastor of Christ the King church in Sioux Center, Iowa (of the Sioux City Diocese) before the start of the day’s 24 miles of a 100 mile pilgrimage, Thursday, July 29, 2021 leaving from Sioux Rapids, Iowa. They carry the corpus from the Sacred Heart Church of Laurens, Iowa. With fewer priests available in the diocese to oversee services and duties and diminishing number of members attending the outlying parish churches, the Ministry 2025 Pastoral Plan called for creating a number of cluster parishes to serve the faithful. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Fr. Doug Klein, center, pastor of Christ the King church in Sioux Center, Iowa (of the Sioux City Diocese) says a prayer with parish members Dave Klein, Janet Klein, Vickie Ryan, Robyn Van Venrooij and Maria Cartelan before beginning their 24-mile walk of a 100 mile pilgrimage Thursday, July 29, 2021 through rural Buena Vista county at St. Josephs’s Church in Sioux Rapids, Iowa. With the newly constructed Christ the King church completed, the 5-day parish pilgrimage began in Mallard and will end in Sioux Center. Fr. Klein gathered various sacrosanct items from each church in the parish, such as the corpus from Sacred Heart Church of Laurens, seen on the cross, to be used at the newly constructed parish church. They will carry the corpus from the Sacred Heart Church of Laurens, Iowa. With fewer priests available in the diocese to oversee services and duties and diminishing number of members attending the outlying parish churches, the Ministry 2025 Pastoral Plan called for creating a number of cluster parishes to serve the faithful. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The faith landscape of Siouxland as of other places across the U.S. has been changing in the last few years. While many folk continue to say they are believers in Jesus Christ and an afterlife, the attendance to formal institutions has been dwindling, not only for the Catholic faith, but Protestants, Methodists and other established religious orders. All have had their troubles with problematic faith leaders erring in their own lives and causing pain amongst the faithful.

The Diocese of Sioux City (Iowa) has been readjusting its “deployment” of personnel or priests the last number of years as attendance has dwindled along with men willing to heed the call of God and serve as ordained priests. So the diocese has been consolidating its parishes with one community serving as a hub for an area and is closing some of the smaller, less or least attended churches within its area of coverage.

Which then makes it most remarkable that a new church has been built for the Diocese to minister to the faithful in an area that is predominantly Reformed Dutch. With the closing of some of the smaller communities places of worship the priest for Christ the King church, Fr. Doug Klein, put together a pilgrimage that started and passed through a number of the areas now covered by the new church but will lose its own house of worship. Fr. Klein gathered artifacts from the various communities and made the almost 100 mile walk to the new church along with parishioners to show the commitment to faith and the continuing idea of community in one’s faith.

Gene Bartels drives the tractor as Fr. Doug Klein, pastor of Christ the King church in Sioux Center, Iowa (of the Sioux City Diocese) and parish members Dave Klein, Janet Klein, Vickie Ryan, Paola Rivera and Maria Cartelan leave Sioux Rapids, Iowa to begin their walk of 24 miles of a 100 mile pilgrimage Thursday, July 29, 2021 through rural Buena Vista county. They carry the corpus from the Sacred Heart Church of Laurens, Iowa. With fewer priests available in the diocese to oversee services and duties and diminishing number of members attending the outlying parish churches, the Ministry 2025 Pastoral Plan called for creating a number of cluster parishes to serve the faithful. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Gene Bartels drives the tractor as Fr. Doug Klein, pastor of Christ the King church in Sioux Center, Iowa (of the Sioux City Diocese) and parish members Dave Klein, Janet Klein, Vickie Ryan, Paola Rivera and Maria Cartelan walk 24 miles of a 100 mile pilgrimage Thursday, July 29, 2021 through rural Buena Vista county. They carry the corpus from the Sacred Heart Church of Laurens, Iowa. With fewer priests available in the diocese to oversee services and duties and diminishing number of members attending the outlying parish churches, the Ministry 2025 Pastoral Plan called for creating a number of cluster parishes to serve the faithful. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There is debate about the loss of faith in the U.S. and how godless it has become. But it seems the loss of faith is more directed to those overseeing the flock and some of those individuals loss of direction for personal gain or need of power and the feeling of importance, rather than actually ministering to the needy. And any judgement that might come from any for or against the idea of faith, will ultimately be decided on that one day for what some evangelicals call the “end of days”. And for those who truly believe, the only important judgement comes from the Trinity and not a self-appointed judge among the many now living on earth.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Gene Bartels drives the tractor as Fr. Doug Klein, pastor of Christ the King church in Sioux Center, Iowa (of the Sioux City Diocese) and parish members Dave Klein, Janet Klein, Vickie Ryan, Paola Rivera and Maria Cartelan walk 24 miles of a 100 mile pilgrimage Thursday, July 29, 2021 through rural Buena Vista county. They carry the corpus from the Sacred Heart Church of Laurens, Iowa. With fewer priests available in the diocese to oversee services and duties and diminishing number of members attending the outlying parish churches, the Ministry 2025 Pastoral Plan called for creating a number of cluster parishes to serve the faithful. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Gene Bartels drives the tractor as Fr. Doug Klein, pastor of Christ the King church in Sioux Center, Iowa (of the Sioux City Diocese) and parish members Dave Klein, Janet Klein, Vickie Ryan, Paola Rivera and Maria Cartelan walk 24 miles of a 100 mile pilgrimage Thursday, July 29, 2021 through rural Buena Vista county. They carry the corpus from the Sacred Heart Church of Laurens, Iowa. With fewer priests available in the diocese to oversee services and duties and diminishing number of members attending the outlying parish churches, the Ministry 2025 Pastoral Plan called for creating a number of cluster parishes to serve the faithful. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Gene Bartels drives the tractor as Fr. Doug Klein, pastor of Christ the King church in Sioux Center, Iowa (of the Sioux City Diocese) and parish members Dave Klein, Janet Klein, Vickie Ryan, Paola Rivera and Maria Cartelan walk 24 miles of a 100 mile pilgrimage Thursday, July 29, 2021 through rural Buena Vista county. They carry the corpus from the Sacred Heart Church of Laurens, Iowa. With fewer priests available in the diocese to oversee services and duties and diminishing number of members attending the outlying parish churches, the Ministry 2025 Pastoral Plan called for creating a number of cluster parishes to serve the faithful. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Moonlight Express in Siouxland, Rural Iowa

31 Aug
A recent full moon rises over a hill top in rural Plymouth County near Le Mars, Iowa Satuday, Aug. 21 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes while driving about Siouxland, one gets lucky and sees an image right before one’s eyes and you do the best to take advantage of it. While returning from a photo shoot earlier in the evening, which was held indoors, I didn’t realize there was a full moon that evening. And my surprise as I was driving home to see this huge, round ball above the distant landscape. I needed to get home to begin processing and doing post production on the work I had already photographed, but then realized stopping to photograph this scene wouldn’t significantly add more time.

A recent full moon rises over a hill top in rural Plymouth County near Le Mars, Iowa Satuday, Aug. 21 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Many photographers plan their ventures out for certain events like a full moon. Deciding ahead of time where they should be to also incorporate some sort of foreground into the image for perspective and interest. Me, I do whatever I can to make an image interesting, most times coming upon something like a full moon by happenstance, not really planning ahead or even realizing that there is lunar activity in play. After seeing the moonrise and then thinking about stopping, the next thing that happens is a song that always pops into my head for me to hum as I contemplate the moon. Or maybe, for a certain generation, thinking about Ralph Kramden’s comment to his wife, Alice, when he feels displeasure about something, but ultimately knows she is right. And lastly, I tried a little experimentation with white balance adjustments, but ultimately went with what I started as it looked most real and natural. And just glad I didn’t hear the CCR song playing and the rest of my trip home was uneventful.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A recent full moon rises over a hill top in rural Plymouth County near Le Mars, Iowa Satuday, Aug. 21 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Slow Recovery in Siouxland, Rosalie, NE

27 Aug
A welcome sign greets visitors as they enter the small community of Rosalie, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While driving about visiting small communities in Siouxland, taking a look and realizing that some have changed in the last few years due to extensive damage caused by weather. Rosalie, NE was one of the communities affected by a storm in 2019 where a large amount of rain fell in a very short period of time causing flooding that might not otherwise have occurred. The community came into existence in the late 1800’s and was plotted in the early 1900’s, named for the daughter of a couple living among the Omaha Tribe in the area. The town began like a lot of Siouxland communities, because the railroad was building a rail line through the area.

One of the neighborhoods off of the downtown area in Rosalie, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Rosalie, NE, seen Saturday, May 22, 2021, was named for a daughter of an early settler in the the community in the late 1800’s. The town’s namesake, Rosalie, taught at a mission school located in town. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The town’s namesake taught at a mission school in the area along with her husband in the late 1800’s. “Rosalie married Edward Farley in 1880. They both taught at the mission school. In 1884 the Farleys were granted a lease on 18,000 acres of unallotted lands which became known as “Farley Pastures.” Upon the death of her father in 1888, Rosalie took over the tribal business affairs. Although she suffered greatly from inflammatory arthritis, she raised ten children and worked to improve education for all who lived in the area. She died at age 39, in 1900. Because of her great devotion to her people, it was decided to name the town in her memory.”

A main street in Rosalie, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Currently over 180 people live in Rosalie, NE seen Saturday, May 22, 2021. The community is located within the Omaha Indian Reservation and was platted in 1906 after the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad were building a line through the county the community is located within. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Small communities go through growing pains over the decades. Many of them suffered once the railroad pulled out having decided on a different hub or home base in another locale to work from which then necessitated the closure of a depot and any ancillary associated jobs. Some remodeling, minor and extensive occurs as buildings constructed one to two centuries ago need some work to keep them sound.

A former bank building in the downtown area of Rosalie, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A nice entrance passed its prime on a downtown building in Rosalie, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And as the economy shifted from small communities to larger metropolitan areas, taking with it residents and talent, these places suffer while trying to maintain the atmosphere all enjoyed and the needs of the remaining residents. And with the dwindling number of small communities and its residents the history of the place and its significance in the continuum of time is also lost. Many claim to like history, but none of us ever seem to really take the time to immerse ourselves in it to learn and maybe help gain a perspective that never crossed our mind.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A bank building in the downtown area of Rosalie, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A renovation project underway in Rosalie, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A downtown building is under going a renovation in Rosalie, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing Shapes and Angles in Siouxland, Winslow, NE

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

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

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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

Exploring Siouxland, Lyons, NE

30 Jul
Signage informs a visitor they are in Lyons, NE seen Saturday, May 22, 2021, which was founded in 1880 by one Waldo Lyons. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Driving about Siouxland gives one a sense of history as many of the smaller communities were founded in the latter part of the 1800’s driven by expansion west from families seeking a new life and the advent of the railroad crossing the country. Lyons, NE was founded in 1880 by one Waldo Lyons according to one online site. Another site those has the beginnings of Lyon starting much earlier by two brothers from Wisconsin who served in the Union army and relocated to Nebraska after the civil war. The website gives a brief history of Lyons from its inception until 1929.

A “towncrier billboard” is set in the middle of a 4-way intersection in Lyons, NE with notices posted for residents and visitors seen Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A modest city hall seen in Lyons, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Trying to fight out information about smaller communities throughout Siouxland is not always easy. Documentation is not always readily available and sometimes just a few are informed only because it’s of personal interest, possibly family history intertwined with the place they are seeking information about. The population of the community today, or from the latest census data is about 800 people.

Downtown Lyons, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Brick streets are still found in the downtown area of Lyons, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Artifacts in a window in downtown Lyons, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Many times when I am passing through or stopping in a community may not be ideal in finding local residents to chat with, or even those that might know the history of where they are living. The past is not always present on our minds during the day to day hustle and bustle we all find ourselves involved in.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Burlington Park is located near the main street running through Lyons, NE and pays homage to the history the railroad played in the community’s past, seen Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Driving in Rural Siouxland, Rural Monona County

14 Jul
A turkey vulture flies above a valley floor of the Loess Hills region in rural Monona County Wednesday, May 26, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I have not spent as much time in recent months driving in rural Siouxland as I would have liked. Work and the weather didn’t make such a drive very scenic. The spring remained brown and visually unappealing for a long time. But now with recent rains everything has begun greening up although a moderate/severe drought warning is still in effect for parts of Siouxland and elsewhere in Iowa. Low rain fall and not much snow during winter makes farming this year a bit tenuous.

Gravel roads and green scenery await any traveler driving around the Loess Hills region in rural Monona County Wednesday, May 26, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A gravel road becons a traveler driving around the Loess Hills region in rural Monona County Wednesday, May 26, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But driving the backroads in Siouxland is always nice. It’s quiet, there is no need to speed as time somewhat suspends itself as you wind around the Loess Hills scenic byway roads, enjoying the landscape and area for what is there. Nothing more, nothing less. Beauty is always in the eye of the beholder. Quiet, peaceful, a bit of solitude and maybe a day of contemplation.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Spring flowers seen while driving around the Loess Hills region in rural Monona County Wednesday, May 26, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Not all access points are gravel roads seen in the Loess Hills region in rural Monona County Wednesday, May 26, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Green hills await visitors while driving around the Loess Hills region in rural Monona County Wednesday, May 26, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting a Small Nebraska Town in Souxland, Winslow, NE

26 Jun
A train passes an entrance into the community of Winslow, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Driving about Siouxland the last number of years I come across many smaller communities whose heyday was maybe another century or two ago. When small towns are first founded, so many did so because of the railroad and the early frontier bringing people west. Winslow, NE might fit into this category.

But as time goes by demographics and situations change. Especially for the smaller communities as people leave the area, children move to larger cities looking for employment and the surround countryside changes in that many smaller farms in a farming community have fewer of them, for whatever reason. It was originally platted in 1906 and incorporated as a village in 1909. Trying to find historical information online about various places, especially small communities is not always easy, and in most cases, hard to find.

Downtwon Winslow, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A vacate building in Winslow, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A partially vacate, abandoned building in Winslow, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always have questions. But many times when I am passing through there are not all that many people out and about. And one really needs to find someone older who has a sense of history of the place. But many could probably not tell a visitor how the community began. What drew area residents there other than to work in small businesses that probably supported the local agricultural community, that is small farms. An article printed in a regional newspaper in 2019 tells the plight of this community and problems it has faced in the past. Which explains a lot to me about the state of affairs as I travel through, seeing it after an irksome flood destroyed or heavily damaged most parts of the community.

History exists for every place. But sometimes its known by only a few and those inquisitive about its existence.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Renovation is underway at a building in downtown Winslow, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Renovation is underway at a building in downtown Winslow, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Renovation is underway at a building in downtown Winslow, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying Early Morning Siouxland, rural Nebraska, Winnebago, NE

22 Jun
Two Canadian geese take off from a pond near Winnebago, NE Wednesday, June 2, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Even though I do like to sleep in when possible, I also like getting out early to drive about rural Siouxland looking for nature, or other aspects of life when the “world” is still relatively quiet. Critters can be surprisingly forgiving when they see a visitor passing through their neighborhood, and probably wonder what the heck is that person doing up so early.

An Eastern Kingbird sits on a barbed wire fence near Winnebago, NE Wednesday, June 2, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Two Redwing Blackbirds sit on fence posts in a field near Winnebago, NE Wednesday, June 2, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The light in early morning is so sweet to photograph in and creates interesting scenes via its angle to the earth’s rotation. Such early morning light becomes better as the seasons moves into fall, in that one doesn’t have to rise so early, but the light itself changes, a little softer, but still direct. Plus, one can always take a nap later to recoup that lost sleep, but one can never regain the time lost or the possibility of images that could be photographed, but never seen to start with.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A brown thrasher peeks through some brush in a field near Winnebago, NE Wednesday, June 2, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Passing Through in Siouxland, Cedar Bluffs, NE

16 Jun
Main street in Cedar Bluffs, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some days driving in Siouxland I may stop in a small community, but not spend a lot of time there. Roads pass through, and so do I. The 2010 census says there are around 230 residences in Cedar Bluffs, NE.

There are days where I am headed somewhere specific and do not want to spare the time, and other days I might drive about a bit, then make a couple of photographs of what visually appeals to me, no reflection on the community. And then see it recede in the mirror as I look for another place to stop and peek at, and ponder.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Downtown Cedar Bluffs, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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