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

8 Sep

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taking a Closer Look in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

6 Sep

An insect clings to a dew covered grass stem at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Monday, July 18, 2022. This week temperatures are regularly going to hit triple digits with high humidity creating tough conditions in the Siouxland region of Iowa, South Dakota and Nebraska. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I will be the first to admit that sometimes while out traversing Siouxland I am too focused on a specific place or subject I want to photograph. Many times while visiting the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve I am looking for birds and deer or other “larger” creatures. But sometimes, slowing down and really taking a look can prove fruitful. One such encounter this summer on a kind of foggy, dewey morning had me a take a second look while walking in a meadow at the preserve.

Morning dew clings to grass stems in a meadow at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Monday, July 18, 2022. This week temperatures are regularly going to hit triple digits with high humidity creating tough conditions in the Siouxland region of Iowa, South Dakota and Nebraska. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Morning dew clings to grass stems in a meadow at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Monday, July 18, 2022. This week temperatures are regularly going to hit triple digits with high humidity creating tough conditions in the Siouxland region of Iowa, South Dakota and Nebraska. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I do not own any macro lenses. Never have. When I worked for newspapers and needed to do closeup shots of certain subjects I used a “normal” lens and added a lens extension tube. This cheap man’s version of macro. And it worked effectively enough to give me images I needed without buying yet another lens I might use only occasionally. And I could use the extension tube on different lenses thus changing my focal length as needed.

An insect clings to a dew covered grass stem at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Monday, July 18, 2022. This week temperatures are regularly going to hit triple digits with high humidity creating tough conditions in the Siouxland region of Iowa, South Dakota and Nebraska. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Morning dew clings to grass stems in a meadow at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Monday, July 18, 2022. This week temperatures are regularly going to hit triple digits with high humidity creating tough conditions in the Siouxland region of Iowa, South Dakota and Nebraska. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

If I remember I believe I spent maybe 30 or minutes trying to take these photos. I was using an extremely long telephoto lens on a monopod. I had slowed my walk to a standstill and enjoyed it immensely, not realizing so much time had passed as I tried capturing dew drops and other nature looks with the lens I had at the time.

It’s easy to overlook things sometimes. Just wish I had my cup of coffee with me.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Morning dew clings to grass stems in a meadow at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Monday, July 18, 2022. This week temperatures are regularly going to hit triple digits with high humidity creating tough conditions in the Siouxland region of Iowa, South Dakota and Nebraska. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Shhhhhh! Don’t Wake the Babies in Siouxland, Sioux City

4 Sep

Baby house sparrows call out from a bird house for food from their parents in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa, Wednesday, August 3, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I’ve noticed some noisy neighbors recently in the area and it has been a bit fun to watch and mostly listen to the little guys/gals as mom or dad flies to and fro feeding them. But I can’t figure out how all three of the baby sparrows plus an adult fit into the birdhouse.

An adult house sparrow has a mouth full of food for its nestlings in a bird house in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa, Wednesday, August 3, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An adult house sparrow has a mouth full of food for its nestlings in a bird house in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa, Wednesday, August 3, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Baby house sparrows go quiet calling out from a bird house for food from their parents in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa, Wednesday, August 3, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And I imagine at some point the little dears will be ready to fly off and just hope they make it on their life’s journey. Other neighbors, furry ones, hear the cries of “feed me” and watch longingly from afar, possibly thinking of their own meal.

Nature is what it is. But one hopes like with all living beings they get a chance, but sometimes it sees chance can be a good or bad encounter.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Baby house sparrows call out from a bird house for food from their parents in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa, Wednesday, August 3, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An adult house sparrow looks about before flying to a feeder for another batch of baby food for its nestlings in a bird house in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa, Wednesday, August 3, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting Nature in Siouxland, Frost Wilderness Wildlife Area, Vermillion, SD

2 Sep

A Cedar Waxwing sits on a branch at the Frost Wilderness wildlife management area near Vermillion, South Dakota, Thursday, July 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always like visiting new areas outdoors that I haven’t been to or seen yet. Although I have been to Frost Wilderness wildlife management area previously, I just didn’t know it. When previously visiting, there wasn’t any signage and this time I also found another entry that lets a visitor get a bit closer to the Missouri River that separates South Dakota and Nebraska. Plus I got to photograph a bird I have seen fleetingly but never long enough to make an image. Those Cedar Waxwings can be quick little birds, and prefer staying within the shelter of their surrounding trees. This time though one of them made me feel at home while other species also checked me out.

A Cedar Waxwing eyes a visitor from a branch at the Frost Wilderness wildlife management area near Vermillion, South Dakota, Thursday, July 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A juvenile bald eagle takes another pass overhead looking at a visitor and if it would be of any interest to it at the Frost Wilderness wildlife management area near Vermillion, South Dakota, Thursday, July 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An Orchard Oriole sits atop a tree at Frost Wilderness wildlife management area near Vermillion, South Dakota, Thursday, July 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Two Orchard Orioles sit atop a tree at Frost Wilderness wildlife management area near Vermillion, South Dakota, Thursday, July 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This particular wildlife area has mowed pathways which made walking much easier. And as one near the border between the two states another turnout with a pass through gate makes it easy to access the river and surrounding area. One thing though, the area appears managed more for the avid hunter than it does for the hiker and bird enthusiast. Signs are posted about the hunting availability and I would be shy to go walking early morning in the area looking for species as a visit a year or two ago I heard a very loud shot not more than 100-200 yards away. It wasn’t a shotgun, but a more robust type of rifle. Myself and some students with me made a quick beeline to our parked cars. Bullets have a way of traveling where not directed and sometimes folk don’t look beyond their target to see what lies beyond as the intent of bring down an animal occupies the senses.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An Eastern Kingbird looks about a meadow at the Frost Wilderness wildlife management area near Vermillion, South Dakota, Thursday, July 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

American White Pelicans sit on a sandbar across the Missouri River at the Frost Wilderness wildlife management area near Vermillion, South Dakota, Thursday, July 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Informational signage about the Frost Wilderness wildlife management area near Vermillion, South Dakota, Thursday, July 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Trail markings signage at the Frost Wilderness wildlife management area near Vermillion, South Dakota, Thursday, July 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Passing Moment in Siouxland Watching Nature, DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge, Missouri Valley

31 Aug

A redheaded woodpecker checks out who is also visiting the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge, July 3, 2022 near Missouri Valley, Iowa (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes when I am out in Siouxland visiting various wildlife refuges my encounters with nature and the creatures is sometimes very fleeting. Many birds are very coy about strangers and visitors who happen upon the creature’s neck of the woods. Whether walking a trail or grassy meadow, the feathered friends take note and then seem to vanish. A blink of an eye is almost a lifetime while trying to photograph them.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A Redheaded woodpecker eyeballs a visitor at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge, July 3, 2022 near Missouri Valley, Iowa (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Moments later a Redheaded woodpecker plays coy and ignores a visitor at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge, July 3, 2022 near Missouri Valley, Iowa (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Redheaded woodpecker launches itself from its perch at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge, July 3, 2022 near Missouri Valley, Iowa (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Displaying some interesting aero dynamics a Redheaded woodpecker leaves its perch at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge, July 3, 2022 near Missouri Valley, Iowa (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Redheaded woodpecker leaves its perch upon a post at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge, July 3, 2022 near Missouri Valley, Iowa (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Still Day in Siouxland, Wildlife Management Area, Salix

29 Aug

A water lily on a still pond at a Woodbury County Wildlife Management area near Snyder Bend Park Wednesday, July 13, 2022 south of Salix, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes a quiet, still day is a pleasant day in Siouxland. Enjoying the outdoors, on a cooler day with the hopes of seeing some wildlife but not really knowing what to expect. There are the days when one must look a bit more to see the beauty in the vastness, which might be one unique lily pad among the many.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Lazy Days of Summer in Siouxland, Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, NE

27 Aug

An Asian tiger yawns from the soon to become heat of the day at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, June 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This summer in Siouxland like many places has been extremely hot and dry. When I visited the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE earlier in the summer on such a day the animals reminded me that sometimes it’s okay to take a break during the heat of the day, if possible, and not over do it. Although for humans that is not always possible, as temperatures seem to become more extreme both in summer and winter maybe the human race needs to re-evaluate it’s life and needs to accommodate a climate that is not always hospitable. But that will never happen as the wheels of commerce and industry and those who wield the power will never acquiesce to such a mind set as they work from their mostly air-conditioned and more temperature controlled board rooms and offices.

But watching the animals at the zoo, they understand nature and seem to know when taking a break is a reasonable option too puruse.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Resting but always wary, a tiger lays on a cool cement floor at the start of a soon to be hot day at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, June 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Nap time for a young cheetah at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, June 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A young cheetah looks up at the sound of a noise at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, June 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A young spider monkey picks off something from another at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, June 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Two spider monkeys look out what their enclosure at the humans watching them at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, June 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Two spider monkeys look about from their enclosure at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, June 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating History and Heritage in Siouxland, Honoring Veterans, Winnebago, NE

25 Aug

Members of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska hoist American flags at dawn, one representing current and former members of the U.S. military, as they celebrate the tribe’s156th Pow Wow celebration at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Thursday, July 28, 2022. The homecoming honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Every year for the last 156 years the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska has held a “Homecoming Celebration” that other folk know as a powwow that takes place in Siouxland. I have attended the homecoming over the years and besides the pageantry that does take place with various tribal members displaying their regalia while dancing for competitions or enjoying what is an intertribal dance, the main purpose of the homecoming is honoring the veterans of the tribe and veterans in general who have served the U.S. which began when Chief Little Priest and his warriors of of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. Each day of the celebration flags are raised at dawn and the colors retired before sunset.

Members of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska hoist American flags at dawn, one representing current and former members of the U.S. military, as they celebrate the tribe’s156th Pow Wow celebration at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Thursday, July 28, 2022. The homecoming honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Members of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska hoist American flags at dawn, one representing current and former members of the U.S. military, as they celebrate the tribe’s156th Pow Wow celebration at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Thursday, July 28, 2022. The homecoming honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Members of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska hoist American flags at dawn, one representing current and former members of the U.S. military, as they celebrate the tribe’s156th Pow Wow celebration at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Thursday, July 28, 2022. The homecoming honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

After an afternoon of dancing and displaying of regalia by the various tribes who attend and participate, the colors are retired, and for both posting and removing, all veterans are asked to attend and help out with respect for those who have served and fought in wars since the 1800’s to the present day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Colors are retired for the day as the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebrates its 156th Powwow celebration at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Saturday, July 30, 2022. The homecoming honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A veteran salutes as the Colors are retired for the day as the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebrates its 156th Powwow celebration at Veterans Memorial Park Pow Wow grounds in Winnebago, NE Saturday, July 30, 2022. The homecoming honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Gustave Smith, a member of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska served as a tank operator under the command of General George S. Patton during WWII and was honored this year during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Pow Wow grounds in Winnebago, NE Sunday, July 31, 2022. The homecoming honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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©)
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