Tag Archives: early pioneers

Pondering History in Siouxland, Grant Cemetery, rural Monona County

20 Dec
A number of the buried listed are soldiers who fought during the Civil War both in the infantry and in the cavalry located in the Grant Cemetery in rural Monona County, Iowa Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Driving about a bit recently in Siouxland I came across a sign for a Grant Cemetery in rural Monona County. Signage I have previously passed by but never stopped. This time I did.

A gravel road leading to Grant Cemetery in rural Monona County, Iowa Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I like walking around older, remote cemeteries. Maybe not remote to the residents living in the area, but for someone who lives in a town miles away this last resting place is tucked away on a hilltop and a refuge from the hustling and bustling of modern day life.

Located on a hillside the surrounding farmland must have looked much different when settlers first arrived in this part of western Iowa seen from Grant Cemetery in rural Monona County, Iowa Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The entrance off of a gravel road to the Grant Cemetery in rural Monona County, Iowa Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Grant Cemetery is now home to 24 veterans of the Civil War, and one from the Spanish American War. There are also veterans of the WWI, WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam war. The listing of the Civil War veterans include infantry and cavalry soldiers. It was quiet, with just a few birds making noise at this cemetery amongst the fields in the area. I can’t really imagine what the area might have looked like to early settlers who arrived when the land was still prairie.

A gravesite of an Iowa volunteer cavalry soldier who most likely fought during the Civil War and is buried at Grant Cemetery in rural Monona County, Iowa Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A headstone of a soldier who served during WWI buried at the Grant Cemetery in rural Monona County, Iowa Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Early settler buried at the Grant Cemetery in rural Monona County, Iowa Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A peaceful place to pass the time until Revelations reckoning. There were a number of animal prints in the fresh snow and evidence of deer, rabbit and what looked like large cat paw prints, possibly a bobcat. Places like this cemetery make me curious about these settlers’ lives, where they came from to start here again. And maybe after arriving and getting started in a new life being called away to fight a war against fellow Americans.

What appears to be a cluster of possible family members all buried close to one another near the base of a tree in the Grant Cemetery in rural Monona County, Iowa Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The sun sets on an overcast day seen from Grant Cemetery in rural Monona County, Iowa Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Like so many folk who have passed, people’s stories are lost to time, maybe even to descendants as that kind of history seems missing in today’s modern world, compared to other cultures. It’s still a place to bury loved ones but a remote place with forgotten souls who arrived in a new to make a new life that is now centuries old. Until someone stops by, walks about a bit and ponders what life must have been like for someone looking for a new place to live.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Early settlers are buried in the Grant Cemetery in rural Monona County, Iowa Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Walking Among History near Siouxland, Mormon Pioneer Cemetery in Omaha, NE

30 May

One day while driving south of the Siouxland area I headed to Omaha, NE and visited the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters.

The Morman Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters tells the story of the Mormon people after they left Nauvoo, IL and headed west eventually reaching Utah and the gives an accounting of the people and the journey to their selected sacred site, Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There was a lot of history packed into this facility, not only about the Mormon people and their journey west, but about history in general and what was going on during this time period.

Across the street is a pioneer cemetery for Mormons who ventured West, at that time Iowa and Nebraska was part of the western territory and frontier. The cemetery today a temple as well and is dedicated to those hearty souls who could not complete the physical journey to their home west in Utah. But ended their journey earlier and returned home to their heavenly Father.

A plaque commemorating the Pioneer Mormon Cemetery for those who died as they attempted to read a new promise land, and which now sits across from the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters, Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A couple visit a memorial site in the Pioneer Mormon Cemetery and which sits across from the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters, Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It sometimes gives me chills to think of others who have walked an area before from another century and the journey they were making in a land that now does not resemble that pioneer period at all.

An entrance into the Pioneer Mormon Cemetery which sits across from the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters, Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A grave marker at the Pioneer Mormon Cemetery which sits across from the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters, Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A remaining remaining grave markers in the Pioneer Mormon Cemetery for pioneering Mormons on their trek to a new promised land in Utah and which sits behind a Mormon temple and across from the Morman Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters which tells the story of the long journey west, Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

People of all faiths have at some point in history made a journey to a promised land looking forward to a better life. And some people do not reach their intended destination but are called home to their Lord to begin another journey, one of peace and joy and unfettered by any earthly concerns.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Westward Ho, Siouxland, Mormon Trail Center Historic Winter Quarters, Omaha, NE

12 May

The Morman Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters tells the story of the Mormon people after they left Nauvoo, IL and headed west eventually reaching Utah and the gives an accounting of the people and the journey to their selected sacred site, Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On a recent visit to Omaha, NE I came across the Mormon Trail Center, Historic Winter Quarters museum that tells the tale of the Mormons westward travels from Nauvoo, IL when residents there forced them to leave and look elsewhere to settle. I am always amazed at the pockets of history around and near Siouxland, although I shouldn’t be. At one time Iowa and the region was just a prairie and part of that westward expansion. Mormon missionaries guide you through the museum and exhibits helping you to understand their tale of reaching Utah and Salt Lake City which would become their mecca and a place of religious tolerance.

Sister Millet, 2nd from the right and Sister Price, right, are part of a group of Mormon missionaries doing their service by giving tours to those visiting the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters, Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A bust of Joseph Smith on display at the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters, Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Omaha, NE. The photograph in the background shows the Mormon temple built at Nauvoo, IL because the Mormons were forced to leave. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A painting depicting the Mormon journey west hanging in the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters, Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Like any settlers heading west the Mormon people encountered obstacles in reaching their destination. The Winter Quarters museum explains how the majority of people stayed put two to three years while Brigham Young and other leaders continued west looking for the place to settle that Young had seen in a vision. The missionaries put into context the travels along with what else was happening in the U.S. during that time period. The Kanesville settlement in what is now Council Bluffs, Iowa became a early provisions emporium which also helped outfit other settlers heading west, including a number of “49’ers” headed to California to find their reward in gold, as opposed to the Mormon’s spiritual reward.

Traveling from Nauvoo, IL and heading west, a brief description of the Mormon trek heading west and through Iowa seen at the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters, Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A map showing the location of each of the camps of the Morman Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters, Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A display showing the settlement around Council Bluffs and Omaha during the Mormon trek to Utah on display at the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters, Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

History to me is always fascinating. People’s spiritual beliefs are more in common than not, it’s just that sometimes in getting to the same spiritual heaven, we find ourselves on different footpaths getting there.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Little Gem in Siouxland, Calliope Village, Hawarden

17 Apr

I believe that no matter how long a person lives in an area, there are always those little gems that keep popping up and should be explored. In Siouxland there are many small towns. And it is these which created America, pioneers moving westward to start a new life. But over the 230 plus years this nation has been in existence, some of those small towns that helped create this country have ceased. But other area towns like Hawarden, Iowa, have created memorials to those bygone communities, giving credence to the saying: to know where you are going you must know where you have come from. This small town has a replica of the Calliope Village, a replica village which was the first seat of government in Sioux County, Iowa, incorporated in 1860. And it’s during the Labor Day weekend that the small village comes to life staffed with volunteers to inform visitors about a part of the history of the area. Finding these gems in our backyards is rewarding because it paints a richer picture of the area and its small effort in creating this country, reminding us of where we have been and what we have achieved. I plan to revisit this village come Fall, and enjoy what stories the volunteers have to tell about our past.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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