Tag Archives: history

Visiting the Netherworlds in Siouxland, Durham Museum, Omaha, NE

20 Jun
A visitor watches film clips of director James Cameron seen in the “Challenging the Deep” exhibit at the Durham Museum Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Even though I live in Siouxland, a region that is part of what is affectionately or not affectionately known as flyover country, there are a number of museums, large and small, which one can visit and enjoy traveling exhibits, both visually and educationally stimulating.

Currently at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE is the exhibit James Cameron — Challenging the Deep. Film director Cameron put together various crews to explore the worlds under the sea including the Titanic and the battleship Bismark allowing Cameron to share his passion and interest with the deep ocean by creating an immersive exhibit using large video screen displays to show visitors what he and others saw beneath the ocean depth, in some place 10,000 meters deep, or almost 10.5 Empire State buildings stacking on top of one another.

A visitor watches a film of deep sea exploration from film director James Cameron at the “Challenging the Deep” exhibit at the Durham Museum Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
An informative and elaborate set sets the stage for the James Cameron “Challenging the Deep” exhibit at the Durham Museum Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Costumes from the movie “Titanic” seen juxtaposed with film of the actual Titanic that director James Cameron filmed during a deep sea exploration and seen at the “Challenging the Deep” exhibit at the Durham Museum Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There is a model of the Titanic as it appears underwater on display that is seen in some of the videos showing the exploration of the ship that Cameron and others recorded. The director’s fascination with the deep ocean evidently started when he was a young child and he nurtured that desire to explore as he followed his career path as a film director. Some of the problem solving in filming movies, such as the Abyss, helped Cameron realize what might be possible as he collaborated with experts in the field of under water exploration.

A mock version of the “Titanic” on display at the James Cameron “Challenging the Deep” exhibit at the Durham Museum Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Informational panels explain that director James Cameron held a long fascination since childhood about the sea and is told in the “Challenging the Deep” exhibit at the Durham Museum Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Items on display used in filming some of the deep sea exploration seen at the James Cameron “Challenging the Deep” exhibit at the Durham Museum Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Through the use of underwater recording technology and deep ocean submersible vessels Cameron and others explore the deep, and film themselves exploring the deep which gives the exhibit viewer an idea of how this was all made possible at such incredible depths, with Cameron narrating what is being seen and how it was made possible.

And the exhibit in some ways becomes more interesting by the fact that its entire area is bathed in deep blue light or blackness, resembling what the various individuals must have encountered themselves as they dove deep to explore areas of the ocean not seen by many but now accessible to all through this exhibition.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An informative and elaborate set sets the stage for the James Cameron “Challenging the Deep” exhibit at the Durham Museum Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Visitors watch film of deep sea exploration from film director James Cameron at the “Challenging the Deep” exhibit at the Durham Museum Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Revisiting History in Siouxland, Heritage Village, Sioux Center

14 Jun
Earthen mound prairie house at the Heritage Village in Sioux Center, Iowa Monday, March 29, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

From time to time while driving about Siouxland I like to revisit places, even if it’s off-peak for any activity that might be going on. The Heritage Village in Sioux Center is one such place. A small replica village that celebrates the history of the early settlers and the agricultural aspect of the Midwest. The place has a different look during different seasons, even without the activity of its fall festival celebration.

Inside the earthen mound prairie house at the Heritage Village in Sioux Center, Iowa Monday, March 29, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Inside the earthen mound prairie house at the Heritage Village in Sioux Center, Iowa Monday, March 29, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Early settlers traveled very light, or as light as they could if going west by wagon and any other means of transportation. Some of the early plains settlers lived in sod houses. The wall thick with cutouts for windows, the small abodes kept folk cool in the heat of summer and warm in winter. But with very little room to move about, it’s safe to assume most activity, weather dependent, took place outdoors. And in those days I am sure there was no lack of work to survive and hopefully to also enjoy themselves in simple pleasures, like a nice day with sunshine, light breeze and a decent temperature.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Inside the earthen mound prairie house at the Heritage Village in Sioux Center, Iowa Monday, March 29, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying the Light in Siouxland, Heritage Village, Sioux Center

1 May
Heritage Village in Sioux Center, Iowa Monday, March 29, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes when I am cruising about Siouxland without any objective in mind, I just enjoy the light that I come across. To me it seems early spring and then again fall, when the sun is slowly changing its position relative to the earth, I find the play of light in the mornings and again afternoons just a bit different. Strong light without being overly harsh as it will become as seasons move toward summer. Light play and shadows created are intriguing, at least to me. Shapes, designs, patterns, repetitions and such can be endlessly fascinating.

Heritage Village in Sioux Center, Iowa Monday, March 29, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The images themselves can be somewhat like cotton candy, in that they look nice, kind of cool, sometimes, but like the cotton candy, without any meaningful nutrition or value, other than how it looks. But sometimes, that is enough.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Heritage Village in Sioux Center, Iowa Monday, March 29, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating History in Siouxland, Old County Courthouse, Sioux Falls, SD

19 Apr
Background history of the Sioux Falls Municipal band is on display in an exhibit in the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

No matter where I might travel in Siouxland, history is always a draw for me, and learning a little bit more about a place or the people. Such was the case again in Sioux Falls at the Old County Courthouse Museum where a display of the history of the municipal band was on display.

A photograph of the Sioux Falls Municipal band is on display in an exhibit in the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
“Uniforms” of the Sioux Falls Municipal band is on display in an exhibit in the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I admit I have never heard this particular band play, even in its current iteration. Many times over the years various “organizations” and groups change. It’s only natural. But I can imagine hearing them play during a summer evening, music wafting out from a bandstand and people relaxed and enjoying a musical treat. It happens every summer in Sioux City when a local group performs 8 Sundays over the summer in a local park.

It is a very nice way to spend an evening, somewhat harkening back to remembrances of a certain era that evokes the play “Our Town“by Thorton Wilder about an imaginary place of innocence during an early Americana period.

Historical displays like this remind people of a snapshot in time about a place and the people. In this case hopefully happy memories to those familiar with the municipal band and a time when their only concern was hearing the music.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A photograph of concert, possibly summer, of the Sioux Falls Municipal band is on display in an exhibit in the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A portrait of an earlier Sioux Falls Municipal Band is on display in an exhibit in the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Some instruments used for the Sioux Falls Municipal band is on display in an exhibit in the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Feeling the Jailhouse Blues in Siouxland, The Squirrel Cage, Council Bluffs

13 Apr
Jail quarters for a prisoner at the former Squirrel Cage jail, now a museum, was built in 1885 and operated until 1969 as the Pottawattamie County Jail in downtown in Council Bluffs, Iowa Saturday, July 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The thought of sitting in jail at any time, in Siouxland or anywhere is not very appealing. And probably isn’t to most people. Considering what jail conditions were like in earlier centuries here in the U.S. and elsewhere, most were not very accommodating. I would guess mostly by design. The merits of one being in jail I will leave for others to discuss at length.

One such jail was the former Squirrel Cage located in Council Bluffs. Formerly the Pottawatamie County jail from 1885 to 1969. It was a circular setup where jailers stood in the center on one of the three floors and the jail cells rotated about allowing access to those inmates needed for trial or other purposes.

The former Squirrel Cage jail, now a museum, was built in 1885 and operated until 1969 as the Pottawattamie County Jail indowntown in Council Bluffs, Iowa Saturday, July 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Jail quarters for a prisoner and a common area for them as well in the former Squirrel Cage jail, now a museum, was built in 1885 and operated until 1969 as the Pottawattamie County Jail in downtown in Council Bluffs, Iowa Saturday, July 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Jail quarters for a prisoner at the former Squirrel Cage jail, now a museum, was built in 1885 and operated until 1969 as the Pottawattamie County Jail in downtown in Council Bluffs, Iowa Saturday, July 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Heavy bars and uncomfortable bunks. Jails are not hotels or motels. Even the cheaper of the latter have normally better accommodations. But the design of this one of 18 ever built was for the benefit of the jailer who oversaw the prisoners spending time there.

According the the Historical Society’s website:

“The design and size of the Historic Pottawattamie County Squirrel Cage Jail make it a one-of-a-kind structure.  It was one of 18 revolving (“squirrel cage”, “human rotary”, or “lazy Susan”) jails built.  It is the only three-story one ever built.   Built at a cost of about $30,000,  our unique jail has three floors of revolving pie-shaped cells inside a cage.  The front part of the building had offices for the jailer, kitchen, trustee cells, and quarters for women.

The design was the invention of William H. Brown and Benjamin F. Haugh, both of Indianapolis, Indiana.  A patent issued to them on July 12, 1881, declared, “The object of our invention is to produce a jail in which prisoners can be controlled without the necessity of personal contact between them and the jailer.”  It was to provide “maximum security with minimum jailer attention.”  As one deputy put it, “If a jailer could count … and he had a trusty he could trust … he could control the jail”.

The cell section remains much as it did in 1969 when it was closed by the county.  The signatures and dates of many of its’ infamous prisoners remain scratched in the cell walls. It remains a well restored snapshot of an interesting era of our society.Today, only 3 revolving jails remain:  a one-story structure in Gallatin, Missouri; a two-story jail in Crawfordsville, Indiana; and the unique three-story jail here.”

The former Squirrel Cage jail, now a museum, was built in 1885 and operated until 1969 as the Pottawattamie County Jail indowntown in Council Bluffs, Iowa Saturday, July 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A look down from a cell at a common area for prisoners within the jail quarters for prisoners at the former Squirrel Cage jail, now a museum, was built in 1885 and operated until 1969 as the Pottawattamie County Jail in downtown in Council Bluffs, Iowa Saturday, July 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A common area for prisoners in the background, left and jail quarters for a prisoner at the former Squirrel Cage jail, now a museum, was built in 1885 and operated until 1969 as the Pottawattamie County Jail in downtown in Council Bluffs, Iowa Saturday, July 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The jail was not built for the comfort of those spending any time. There was even an area for juvenile offenders whose living area was only slightly improved in that the jailer’s quarters and his wife were only a few foot steps away. That said, even the the jailer’s quarters within the building were not impressive for him or his wife. Reminiscent of what was seen in the movie about the book by Truman Capote, “In Cold Blood” where the prisoners were in jail cells near the jailer’s quarters.

But life for those incarcerated was not to be pleasant as they were held for future trial or sentencing depending on that jurisdiction’s dictates.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Jail quarters for juvenile offenders at the former Squirrel Cage jail, now a museum, was built in 1885 and operated until 1969 as the Pottawattamie County Jail in downtown in Council Bluffs, Iowa Saturday, July 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Jail quarters for a prisoner at the former Squirrel Cage jail, now a museum, was built in 1885 and operated until 1969 as the Pottawattamie County Jail in downtown in Council Bluffs, Iowa Saturday, July 20, 2019. In the background is an entrance into the living area for the jailer on duty. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Names carved into a picnic table in the common area for prisoners at the former Squirrel Cage jail, now a museum, was built in 1885 and operated until 1969 as the Pottawattamie County Jail in downtown in Council Bluffs, Iowa Saturday, July 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Prisoner log books and other information kept on file at the former Squirrel Cage jail, now a museum, was built in 1885 and operated until 1969 as the Pottawattamie County Jail in downtown in Council Bluffs, Iowa Saturday, July 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Various notes of history are posted about the former Squirrel Cage jail, now a museum, was built in 1885 and operated until 1969 as the Pottawattamie County Jail in downtown in Council Bluffs, Iowa Saturday, July 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The doorway into the living quarters for the jailer and his family in the former Squirrel Cage jail, now a museum, was built in 1885 and operated until 1969 as the Pottawattamie County Jail in downtown in Council Bluffs, Iowa Saturday, July 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The entrance into the living quarters for the jailer and his family in the former Squirrel Cage jail, now a museum, was built in 1885 and operated until 1969 as the Pottawattamie County Jail in downtown in Council Bluffs, Iowa Saturday, July 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A barbershop and infirm area for prisoners in the living quarters for the jailer and his family in the former Squirrel Cage jail, now a museum, was built in 1885 and operated until 1969 as the Pottawattamie County Jail in downtown in Council Bluffs, Iowa Saturday, July 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A bedroom in the living quarters for the jailer and his family in the former Squirrel Cage jail, now a museum, was built in 1885 and operated until 1969 as the Pottawattamie County Jail in downtown in Council Bluffs, Iowa Saturday, July 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A living room area in the living quarters for the jailer and ihs family in the former Squirrel Cage jail, now a museum, was built in 1885 and operated until 1969 as the Pottawattamie County Jail in downtown in Council Bluffs, Iowa Saturday, July 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A small organ in the living room area in the living quarters for the jailer and his family in the former Squirrel Cage jail, now a museum, was built in 1885 and operated until 1969 as the Pottawattamie County Jail in downtown in Council Bluffs, Iowa Saturday, July 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The kitchen area in the living quarters for the jailer and his family in the former Squirrel Cage jail, now a museum, was built in 1885 and operated until 1969 as the Pottawattamie County Jail in downtown in Council Bluffs, Iowa Saturday, July 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Another view of the kitchen area in the living quarters for the jailer and his family in the former Squirrel Cage jail, now a museum, was built in 1885 and operated until 1969 as the Pottawattamie County Jail in downtown in Council Bluffs, Iowa Saturday, July 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The former Squirrel Cage jail, now a museum, was built in 1885 and operated until 1969 as the Pottawattamie County Jail indowntown in Council Bluffs, Iowa Saturday, July 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Learning History in Siouxland, Queen Bee Mill, Sioux Falls, SD

20 Mar
The history of the Queen Bee Mill, located in Falls Park, is on display in the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On a visit to the Old County Courthouse Museum in Sioux Falls, SD there was a small exhibit telling about early Sioux Falls history involving various businesses. One of those businesses involved a flour mill at a small waterfall area now known as Falls Park. The mill provided jobs and a necessary industry for food processing which everyone needed as grocery stores or general stores didn’t always stock such “packaged” items. The Queen Bee Mill stood alongside the falls, construction began in 1879 and was completed in 1881.

A flour mill used to stand where the ruins are seen in the background at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD Saturday Sept. 23, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The former turbine house for the Queen Bee Flour Mill at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Wednesday, July 27, 2016. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A plaque commemorating the Queen Bee Flour Mill on its former site, now the Falls Park in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Wednesday, July 27, 2016. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The mill operated until 1883 when owners found the water power wasn’t sufficient enough to power the mill and enable it to reach capacity. Its operation began again in 1911 and ran intermittently until 1929. From that time it served as a warehouse until a fire in 1956 destroyed most of the mill and surrounding structures.

The history of the Queen Bee Mill, located in Falls Park, is on display in the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The history of the Queen Bee Mill, located in Falls Park, is on display in the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The area is now popular as a park which people visit it and see the falls of the Big Sioux River throughout various seasons, often a destination for people shooting portraits.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Big Sioux River runs fast over the rocks at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A 21st century “Ansel Adams” creates images at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

History of Women’s Suffrage in South Dakota, Old Courthouse Museum, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

22 Feb
A history lesson about prohibition and keeping South Dakota dry in the early 20th century seems a repeat of the now push to keep the use of marijuana in any form including medicinal out of the state, seen in the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A number of historical events are currently on display at the Old Courthouse Museum in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. One of the displays talks about women’s suffrage and the fight to obtain the vote, something that continues today although it’s just not women that some individuals in power seem bent on restraining others attempt to be involved in the political process.

A history lesson about women’s suffrage and their right to vote seen in the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It seems obvious that the more people involved in a democratic process the better the society. But I guess some folk are fearful of their opinions and beliefs being “watered down” by opinions and beliefs that do not coincide with their own. So in some ways the more folk talk about a sacred process of democracy the less sacred it becomes because of paternalistic factors and beliefs that others are not as well equipped to make informed decisions. Education would seem an obvious answer, but then, who decides what that educational information should include for informing a populace?

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Women’s suffrage seemed to occur along with keeping South Dakota dry in the early 20th century, seen in the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Walking in History’s Footsteps in Siouxland, rural Monona County

14 Feb
An older cemetery, many grave sites at the Belvidere Cemetery contain the remains of early pioneer settlers, seen in rural Monona County near Moorhead , Iowa Monday, Dec. 121, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I know I have visited a few different cemeteries in the Siouxland area. Each is unique in its own way. Each has history of early settlers who lived and died nearby, settling a part of then frontier but what is now western Iowa. And as I have speculated previously the landscape around which these souls are buried must be so different than what is seen these days. More land being farmed, no more native prairie grass waving in the wind. And more people populating what must of then been a more desolate and somewhat isolated frontier.

A sign welcomes visitors to the older Belvidere Cemetery, many grave sites here contain the remains of early pioneering settlers, seen in rural Monona County near Moorhead , Iowa Monday, Dec. 121, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A country road leads to an older cemetery. Many grave sites at the Belvidere Cemetery contain the remains of early pioneer settlers, seen in rural Monona County near Moorhead , Iowa Monday, Dec. 121, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Doing some online looking did not bring any general information about this burial site or the community of Belvidere. Names of the deceased are listed, but no cross references without further genealogical research. While not doing a lot of looking there at the cemetery itself, I have found that not many names are duplicated among the various cemeteries I have visited with earlier dates from the 19th Century. Guessing relatives did not travel far or met and married folk from a very far distance, even miles by today’s standards

This older Belvidere Cemetery, like many, sits top a hill and has grave sites containing the remains of early pioneering settlers, seen in rural Monona County near Moorhead , Iowa Monday, Dec. 121, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

These are peaceful places, a good resting place in an area that departed souls can look out from and still see the surrounding hillsides that may have graced their views during those earlier years as the area was being populated with people looking for a place west of the Mississippi. Seeking fortune, a new life or solitude, and maybe a new beginning.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An older cemetery, many of the grave sites in the Belvidere Cemetery contain the remains of early pioneering settlers, seen in rural Monona County near Moorhead , Iowa Monday, Dec. 121, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The entrance to the Belvidere Cemetery, which contains the remains of early pioneering settlers, seen in rural Monona County near Moorhead , Iowa Monday, Dec. 121, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Walking Through History in Siouxland, Old Courthouse Museum, Sioux Falls, SD

8 Feb
A former county courthouse, the Old Courthouse Museum is located in downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting and revisiting places of history is always time well spent in my book. Former places that have become museums and other places of historical record are abundant in Siouxland and enjoyable as well as educational.

A witness box in the former courtroom in what is now the Old Courthouse Museum in downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Old Courthouse Museum in Sioux Falls, SD is one such place. And like most museums the exhibits change over time with various bits of history added to its repertoire for local residents and guests to explore. And it takes a little time to explore and read and absorb the information being shared. And on a cold winter’s day, spending a little time indoors is not a bad thing.

A small courtyard with seating is a pleasant outdoor area during nicer weather seen from inside the Old Courthouse Museum in downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Built in the late 1890’s it was said to be the largest courthouse between Chicago and Denver. Of course architects and builders always want to promote their work. The building seems to have stood time well with many features still found from when footsteps first tread its floors.

A grand stairwell leads to the second floor where a courtroom awaited interested parties in the former county courthouse, the Old Courthouse Museum is located in downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I often wonder about those earlier occupants who lived and worked in an area. What their lives may have been like and what their day to day circumstances included, good and bad. Joys and heartbreak is not a new concept to any particular generation, no matter when they lived.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A former courtroom in what is now the Old Courthouse Museum in downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The story of an innocent man convicted and sentenced to death for a crime not committed seen on a plaque outside the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The story of an innocent man convicted and sentenced to death for a crime not committed seen on a plaque outside the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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©)
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