Tag Archives: history

Forgotten Small Towns in Siouxland, Arcola, rural Monona County

10 Nov
Arcola was an early town in rural Monona County, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. A historical reference states there was a post office there in Kenebee Township from 1861- 1887. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

History is a funny thing. Some things are never forgotten, and then others are never remembered but for sign posts. In Siouxland apparently as well as other places in Iowa there are a number of early towns of which little is known.

Arcola was an early town in rural Monona County, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. A historical reference states there was a post office there in Kenebee Township from 1861- 1887. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A hillside near where Arcola was situated, an early town in rural Monona County, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. A historical reference states there was a post office there in Kenebee Township from 1861- 1887. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The only reference I could find doing a little searching online is that once a post office was in a township where Arcola was located from 1861-1187. The town came in to existence prior to the start of the Civil War and lasted for a short bit after the war between the states.

The countryside around the posted sign is hilly, part of the Loess Hills region in western Iowa and only happenstance while driving by allowed me to even catch sight of the sign. Now the area is wooded, with some surrounding farmland and a winding road that drifts off like a trail may have in those days when the state was in its infancy.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Arcola was an early town in rural Monona County, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. A historical reference states there was a post office there in Kenebee Township from 1861- 1887. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Fun House’s History in Siouxland, Arnolds Park Fun House Museum, Arnolds Park

3 Sep

A look at the history of the Fun House near Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes when I come across museums or revisit places in Siouxland I feel a little sad because I will never have the chance to experience what something in the past was like or remember the sounds emanating from a place as people enjoy themselves. I have my own memories of similar places, but it’s never really the same.

Historic photos of Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Historic photos of Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some stories I have read about the long history of Arnolds Park Amusement Park and various aspects of it sound intriguing. From music venues to eateries, former sailing vessels and quaint cabins. A place built to delight locals and other visitors as well.

A look at the history of the Fun House near Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A look at the history of the Fun House near Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The museum is a not a large place and as I have revisited it more and varied items keep appearing. I can well imagine many families have history and memories of their visits, the changes and joys and delights of vacations spent at the lakes.

A look at the history of the Fun House near Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A look at the history of the Fun House near Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The items on display may seem quaint or a little kitchy but in context relate the history the small museum tries to share. Then one’s imagination takes over and a former visitor can relive memories and a new visitor can only imagine ones.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

at a museum with history of the Fun House near Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Restoring History in Siouxland, Sanborn

10 Aug

A convertible Landau Phaeton car on display at the Yesterday Memories truck museum created by the Vander Haag family and located in Sanborn, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always find it amazing when I come across a museum in Siouxland that is quite unexpected. A local camera club friend had one time mentioned an automotive museum he had visited. I personally am not a car guy, and so looking at muscle guys or rebuilt cars does not pique my interest. But another friend and I stopped by the Yesterday Memories museum on our return trip from visiting the Iowa lakes region recently. And it was surprising to say the least finding hundreds of combustible vehicles and possibly hundreds more of other items celebrating history and all collected by a local couple who wanted to share this with the public.

Various neon signs calling attention to products as well as other advertisements on display at the Yesterday Memories truck museum created by the Vander Haag family and located in Sanborn, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A 1925 12-passenger tourist bus used in Yellowstone National Park on display at the Yesterday Memories truck museum created by the Vander Haag family and located in Sanborn, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Different variety and vintage trucks sit inside a display building at the Yesterday Memories truck museum created by the Vander Haag family and located in Sanborn, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Once inside it seemed the endless rows of vehicles continued on forever, each restored with some informational pieces about them. The Vander Haag family began collecting these items 80 some years ago according to their website, and the elder Vander Haag started business which was formerly known as a junk yard (salvage yard) that eventually morphed into a automotive and trucks part store that ended solely as a truck automotive parts business. The museum also shows a glimpse of life from the ’40’s and ’50’s and another room has cases of items from toys to house hold appliances invented and used over the ensuing years. One could easily spend three hours alone looking at the cases.

A display depicting a family’s kitchen era 1920’s through the 1940’s seen at the Yesterday Memories truck museum created by the Vander Haag family and located in Sanborn, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A display depicting a former barbershop seen at the Yesterday Memories truck museum created by the Vander Haag family and located in Sanborn, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A fire engine red “Chief’s” car on display at the Yesterday Memories truck museum created by the Vander Haag family and located in Sanborn, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But the true gem of the museum is the collection of trucks and early automobiles. Including an opera car to travel to performances in style.

A 1922 Ford Model T opera wagon on display at the Yesterday Memories truck museum created by the Vander Haag family and located in Sanborn, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A 1922 Ford Model T opera wagon on display at the Yesterday Memories truck museum created by the Vander Haag family and located in Sanborn, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A 1922 Ford Model T opera wagon on display at the Yesterday Memories truck museum created by the Vander Haag family and located in Sanborn, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

My friend and I barely scratched the surface exploring this space which remains on a have to return list for a day out in Siouxland. So much to explore, so little time it sometimes seems.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A display depicting a former maltshop seen at the Yesterday Memories truck museum created by the Vander Haag family and located in Sanborn, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A variety of “antique” trucks from wreck touring to grain hauling and other uses on display at the Yesterday Memories truck museum created by the Vander Haag family and located in Sanborn, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A 1914 Reo Model J chain drive vehicle with gas lights on display at the Yesterday Memories truck museum created by the Vander Haag family and located in Sanborn, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A 1912 Ford Model T truck with an auto crane in the backend on display at the Yesterday Memories truck museum created by the Vander Haag family and located in Sanborn, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A Small Town and its Swedish History in Siouxland, Oakland, NE

4 Aug

It’s fun when circumstances and happenstance combine and allows one to take a peek behind the curtain. In Siouxland I am always amazed but yet shouldn’t be surprised while finding little historical gems. Maybe not grand in the scheme of things, but this country contains many more small towns and communities than large ones, and history doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

The Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE was built in the latter part of the 1800’s and was the First Covenant Church serving this community as a focal point for many. It closed as a place of worship in 1985, eventually becoming the center with its focus on the Swedish history of the community.

The Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A look into downtown and the Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The center or museum’s director is Tom Watterstedt who was born and raised in the community and returned in later years and has worked to take an occasional in the community’s history and become a repository of most things Swedish. His ancestors and other local residents ancestors have items on display with some coming from immigrants who made that journey to America to begin a new life.

Museum curator Tom Watterstedt talks about the Swedish Heritage Center and his own family history associated with it seen in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Gowns which belonged to Tom Watterstedt’s ancestors on display at the Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Memorabilia fills the Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A coat made from a former residents best horse on display at the Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Watterstedt talked about receiving so many literature items from local residents which belonged to ancestors that he said the center was running out of storage room but was loathe to chuck them in the recycle bin. So he used he training as a florist to create artful flowers for sale to help fundraise for the center.

Artificial flowers made from Swedish books of early immigrants donated to the Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Formerly a First Covenant Church, the Swedish Heritage Center is now a museum of local Swedish history of the immigrants that made the journey to America, in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Local historical items on display at the Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As with most places during the coronavirus pandemic, the center has been closed. But with a phone call and advance notice, Watterstedt and other community members are more than willing to share their town’s history and about a small community of immigrants that helped created this country many of us call home.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Confirmation graduates of the First Convenant Church now the Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Historical photographs of Oakland, NE seen at the Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Remembering History in Siouxland, South Bottoms, Sioux City

18 Jul

A memorial that commemorates a former area of Sioux City, Iowa known as the South Bottoms is situated along the Missouri River seen Tuesday, June 16, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In Siouxland like elsewhere there was a portion of the community that settled when first arriving in the early years of the town, this was South Bottoms. People lived in this area from the latter 1800’s through the 1950’s, and were at that time living on the “other side of the tracks” or “wrong side of the tracks” as it was referred to for poorer or immigrant families. Although none of that was necessarily true. Because the Floyd River ran through the area there were some years when horrific flooding was an issue. And later, when a north-south interstate came through the area an enormous part of that community was affected.

A memorial that commemorates a former area of Sioux City, Iowa known as the South Bottoms is situated along the Missouri River seen Tuesday, June 16, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It was in recent years that the city of Sioux City has made note of the former “residential” area by erecting a memorial marker with some information about the place, although there isn’t a lot of information available at the site itself, or a reference where information can be found. People living here now and those who will call Sioux City home in the future should know a little about its past. Times change, as do the places where events take place and as people come and go.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A memorial plaque shows the boundaries which commemorates a former area of Sioux City, Iowa known as the South Bottoms is situated along the Missouri River seen Tuesday, June 16, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A memorial that commemorates a former area of Sioux City, Iowa known as the South Bottoms is situated along the Missouri River seen Tuesday, June 16, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Remembering Those Serving from Siouxland, Wakefield, NE

16 Jul

A war memorial park sits just off of the downtown area in Wakefield, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Most small communities in the Siouxland region have a small veterans memorial park dedicated to those who served in the U.S. military during one of the many conflicts that the United States has been involved in. That is true of Wakefield, NE, where a small memorial is set up just off of the downtown area.

A War Memorial Park with names on bricks of service members and when they served in Wakefield, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dedicated bricks to service men and women with their names donated by families for remembrance and also in support of the park. A sign post at one end notes the various places that U.S. personnel have served.

A sign post representing many theatres of war of local residents who served at the War Memorial Park in Wakefield, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Names on bricks of service members and when they served at a War Memorial Park in Wakefield, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Ideally many believe the world to be a better place if there were no wars or conflicts and if people worked more in getting along. But history reminds us that many individuals don’t share that sentiment. Those persons for whatever reason relish in conflict, or the need of power and dominion over others. And no matter the psychological implications or pathologies ascribed to these people, their intentions and actions still get people killed. Those who serve to protect their country from foreign folk intent on harm, a remembrance is a small, small thank you for serving.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A Vietnam-era attack helicopter on display in a War Memorial Park in Wakefield, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

History and Religion in Siouxland, German City Church, Holly Springs

12 Jul

Locals have long worshipped at the historic German City Church (St. John’s Evangelical Church) near Holly Springs, Iowa Monday, June 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While not an ardent student of history, I do enjoy it and learning about places nearby where I live regionally in Siouxland. Iowa like many other midwestern states was settled by pioneers beginning in the 1800’s. Some folk settled as early as the 1830’s while others came in the 1850’s and later. The German City Church near a now small community of Holly Springs has been in service since the 1880’s. I have never attended a service or been around the church when it was open. But it is nicely maintained and cared for by its parishioners and is situated on a hilltop with a view of the surrounding valley around it.

A gravel road leads into the historic German City Church (St. John’s Evangelical Church) near Holly Springs, Iowa Monday, June 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

During the summer months the trees give the church solitude and allows one silence but for the birds to ponder those who settled the area a century or more ago and wonder about their life and the changes that have taken place since it was first built.

The historic German City Church (St. John’s Evangelical Church) Holly Springs, Iowa Monday, June 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Finding history and then spending the time to learn about it is important. All too often it seems the human race keeps repeating the same sins over and over, never learning from those who came before or teaching those who will follow that by the grace of God and a little bit of love and understanding, can go a long way in making the world a better place.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A scenic day with clouds at the historic German City Church (St. John’s Evangelical Church) near Holly Springs, Iowa Monday, June 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

History in Siouxland, the Umo`ho (Omaha) tribe, Macy, NE

14 Jun

A replica of an earth lodge of the Omaha Tribe at the scenic overlook viewing the Missouri River near Macy, NE Friday, April 25, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As restrictions relax because of the coronavirus I look forward again in getting out and about in Siouxland and learning more about the area and its history. No matter where one lives, there are always little gems that pop up and present themselves to those interested in taking a moment to stop, look and listen.

History of the Omaha Tribe can be found at the scenic overlook viewing the Missouri River near Macy, NE Friday, April 25, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

An informational plaque informs visitors about the Omaha Tribe at the scenic overlook viewing the Missouri River near Macy, NE Friday, April 25, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Taking a highway I generally don’t drive  because of its out of the way location was this time one of those gems. A scenic overview rest area overlooking the Missiouri River between the states of Nebraska and Iowa also contained information about the history of the Omaha Tribe that has been in the Siouxland area for decades.

A replica of an Omaha Tribe earth lodge at the scenic overlook viewing the Missouri River near Macy, NE Friday, April 25, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A plaque contains information about the Omaha Tribe found at a scenic overlook viewing the Missouri River near Macy, NE Friday, April 25, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Learning history about places and people like the Omaha Tribe is so much different than when I was in elementary school simply because one can find more accurate, and less white-washed information concerning indigenous people than what was presented in the history books used when I was a child. The Old West and settling of these territories told from a perspective of Hollywood and a less than honest history by the government  of the U.S. at the time.

From a website of warpaths to peace pipes a timeline of the Omaha tribe:

  • 1541: Hernando De Soto, the Spanish explorer is the first European to encounter the Omaha

  • 1700: The first European reference to the Omaha tribe was made by Pierre-Charles Le Sueur

  • 1718: The French map maker Guillaume Delisle named the tribe as “The Maha, a wandering nation”, along the northern stretch of the Missouri River

  • 1801: A devastating smallpox epidemic decimates the Omaha people

  • 1802: The number of Omaha had declined to just 300 people due to sickness and warfare

  • 1803: The Louisiana Purchase

  • 1804: Jean Pierre Chouteau was appointed as the US Indian agent

  • 1804: Lewis and Clark expedition (1804 – 1806)

  • 1813: Manuel Lisa (1772 -1820) established Ft. Lisa, the most important trading post on the Missouri River, controlling trade with the Pawnee, Missouria, Otoe, and other neighbouring Indians from 1813 to 1822

  • 1831: The Treaty of Prairie du Chien in which the Omaha ceded their lands in Iowa to the United States

  • 1832: The artist George Catlin visits the Omaha tribe

  • 1836: They joined with other tribes in more treaties with the U.S. Government

  • 1837: Second great Smallpox epidemic kills many Native American Indians

  • 1837: The Council Bluff’s Agency supervised the tribe from 1837 – 1856

  • 1840’s: Series of bloody conflicts with the Sioux

  • 1854: The treaty of March 16, 1854 ceded all their lands west of the Missouri River and south of a line running due west

  • 1856: The Omaha Agency supervised the tribe from 1856 – 1876

  • 1865: On March 6, 1865, the Omaha sold part of their reservation to the United States

  • 1870’s: The buffalos had been deliberately slaughtered by the whites to the point of extinction so ending the lifestyle of the Great Plains Native Indians

  • 1876: Nebraska Agencies supervised the tribe from 1876 – 1880

  • 1887-1934: General Allotment Act (1887) began land allotment of Native Indian territory

But one needs to stop and take the time to learn about the history, as well as enjoying the natural beauty of an area while going about one’s life. So many twists and turns and speed bumps to sometimes getting to a destination. Life is all of that.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An informational plaque about the Omaha Tribe at a scenic overlook viewing the Missouri River near Macy, NE Friday, April 25, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A look at the Missouri River separating Iowa and Nebraska seen from a scenic overlook near Macy, NE Friday, April 25, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Backroads in Siouxland, rural Pottawatamie County

15 Apr

A barn in Pottawatamie County near Crescent, Iowa Friday, March 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Recently I did a bit driving some rural, country roads in Siouxland’s southern region. No other vehicles passing by for the most part it was nice to get out and breathe some fresh air and forget about current events. I am still enthralled with the older barns I find in the area, each with history of its own and all past the days of former glory.

A house or small barn on a gravel road near Loveland, Iowa Friday, March 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Siouxland region and country itself has gone through some changes when these places and others like them thrived in their heyday. Some good and others questionable. Time will tell about the end results of changes. In the meantime I just want to enjoy these relics and ponder their time in the sun and continue exploring the backroads.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Detail of a house or barn on a gravel road near Loveland, Iowa Friday, March 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying the View in Siouxland, Sioux City

26 Mar

Two geese enjoy some “box seats” while visiting the Sioux City Historic Railroad Museum in Sioux City, Iowa Friday, March 13, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes depending on the event and venue, a person, or animal can get lucky and find themselves enjoying the view from a “box seat”. These two geese at the Sioux City Railroad Museum, found the perfect spot to watch the surrounding area and look for friends dropping by. The day I visited was not busy and these two had the place to themselves and the solitude, except for their honking recognition of a passer-by, to enjoy the day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Two geese enjoy some “box seats” while visiting the Sioux City Historic Railroad Museum in Sioux City, Iowa Friday, March 13, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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