Tag Archives: history

History surrounds Siouxland, Fort Omaha, Omaha, NE

21 Feb

A former departmental headquarters of historic Fort Omaha in the late 1800’s, now the Metropolitan Community College media and library center, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Siouxland region and parts surrounding Siouxland are steeped in history. As hard as it is to remember sometimes that Iowa, Nebraska, both Dakotas and other midwest and western states were at one time open territory and prairie before the land rush that brought settlers and others who “tamed the land”. Previously populated by Native American Tribes that followed the buffalo and other seasonal practices involving roaming a large swatch of land.

A sign post with history about historic Fort Omaha, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A large part of the college is still open as it was during the days the fort was in use, primarily as parade grounds or muster grounds for troops located or passing through to other outposts.

History of the Omaha barracks and parade grounds at historic Fort Omaha, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The parade grounds at historic Fort Omaha, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As warmer weather approaches it will be nice to be able to spend more time learning about area history as opposed to rushing back to a warm vehicle out of the cold. And seeing what other gems are about Siouxland.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Part of the parade grounds at historic Fort Omaha, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Revisiting History around Siouxland, General Crook, Omaha, NE

15 Feb

Cabin fever is working on my wanderlust to begin exploring Siouxland area again without slipping and sliding to and from a destination. Although it’s only February and already the warm weather temps that have graced the region recently will depart a short bit as a bitter winter front and some snow moves into the area again.

The Douglas County Historical Society chronicles the history of General George Crook’s home at historic Fort Omaha, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

Recently visiting the Omaha area I checked out but didn’t stop into see General Crook’s museum home at Fort Omaha in Omaha, Nebraska. It’s a glimpse into a time frame in the early frontier days as the west was being”tamed” for settlers heading in that direction. General George Crook was commandant of Fort Omaha and was responsible for patrolling and keeping safe a region that included Iowa, Nebraska, parts of Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. His home is a well preserved specimen and fun to look into the past and see what life was like on the prairie for a higher ranking officer. There are a number of homes along that ridge top that housed officers of the fort while the enlisted men bunked in larger housing facilities down the hill.

General George Crook was commander at historic Fort Omaha during the early frontier days, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A plague gives a history about General George Crook’s home at historic Fort Omaha, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

The warmer days makes it easier to get out and about again but patience for the return of some greenery will probably be a few more weeks coming as winter lingers and Mother nature teases us about the coming spring.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A garden spot now dormant behind the General George Crook home museum at historic Fort Omaha, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Old Glory hangs on the front porch of the General George Crook home museum at historic Fort Omaha, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

A Walking Piece of History in Siouxland, the Meridian Bridge, Yankton, SD

11 Dec

in Yankton, South Dakota Friday Nov. 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always find it nice when local communities help visitors learn a bit more history about itself and its residents. Various Siouxland communities do this and Yankton, SD recently installed signage at the Meridian Bridge, previously a double decker vehicle bridge, now a pedestrian walkway over the Missouri River.

A sculpted art piece at the foot of the pedestrian Meridian Bridge in Yankton, South Dakota Friday Nov. 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Meridian Bridge was formerly a double decker vehicle bridge but is now a pedestrian walkway over the Missouri River in Yankton, South Dakota Friday Nov. 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Of course not all “residents” appreciate the signage or the history, but just enjoy the structure itself.

Pidgeons take a short flight before returning to a resting spot on the Meridian Bridge in Yankton, South Dakota Friday Nov. 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Pidgeons find a resting spot on the Meridian Bridge in Yankton, South Dakota Friday Nov. 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A short walk from the downtown area of Yankton and some eateries, a nice walk is always pleasant and doesn’t hurt the appetite either.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A sign posting at the Meridan Bridge gives a visitor a little background about the area and the Missouri River seen in Yankton, South Dakota Friday Nov. 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A sign posted at the Meridian Bridge gives a little background about an earlier politician seen in Yankton, South Dakota Friday Nov. 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Holiday Season Begins in Siouxland at the O’Connor House, Homer, NE

27 Nov

Decorated for the Christmas season, the O’Connor House, built in the 1870’s by Cornelus O’Connor and situated near Homer, NE Sunday Nov. 10, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Decorated for the Christmas season, the O’Connor House, built in the 1870’s by Cornelus O’Connor and situated near Homer, NE Sunday Nov. 10, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The holiday season in Siouxland has begun as a number of small town museums and places have put up their Christmas decorations for visitors to once again stop by and enjoy a bygone era at the O’Connor House in Homer, NE. And nothing says holiday to me than seeing a plate of Gingerbread cookies, even though adults were not allowed, as they were made the children only, not including those young at heart either. An annual event, different people or organizations help sponsor the various decorated rooms of the O’Connor House, home to an early settler of the area.

Decorated for the Christmas season, the O’Connor House, built in the 1870’s by Cornelus O’Connor and situated near Homer, NE Sunday Nov. 10, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Decorated for the Christmas season, the O’Connor House, built in the 1870’s by Cornelus O’Connor and situated near Homer, NE Sunday Nov. 10, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A volunteer gives a history of this room decorated for the Christmas season at the O’Connor House, built in the 1870’s by Cornelus O’Connor and situated near Homer, NE Sunday Nov. 10, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Volunteers staff the various rooms to give visitors a bit of history of the house and the family that lived there, a sort of controlled chaos as dozens of folk pass through to enjoy the holiday spirit and decorations and revisit or visit for the first time a bit of local history.

Visitors read about the deaths of a number of the O’Connor children at the O’Connor House, built in the 1870’s by Cornelus O’Connor and situated near Homer, NE Sunday Nov. 10, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Decorated for the Christmas season, the O’Connor House, built in the 1870’s by Cornelus O’Connor and situated near Homer, NE Sunday Nov. 10, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The family enjoyed many Christmases before the deaths of a number of the O’Connor children as they reached young adulthood. The house still retains a wood stove in the kitchen where the Gingerbread cookies and other goodies are baked. Sometimes damp wood can fill the home with a bit of smoke when the stove is first fired up at the beginning of the day. Not overwhelming, but definitely a reminder of what life might entail in the 19th century.

Still, the home is solidly built by Cornelius O’Connor himself and has a cozy feel even in the 21st century when too many of us take for granted how truly blessed we are with out modern conveniences and the chance to peek into history without actually having to live it.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A volunteer reads the history of this particular bedroom decorated for the Christmas season at the O’Connor House, built in the 1870’s by Cornelus O’Connor and situated near Homer, NE Sunday Nov. 10, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Decorated for the Christmas season, the O’Connor House, built in the 1870’s by Cornelus O’Connor and situated near Homer, NE Sunday Nov. 10, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Decorated for the Christmas season, the O’Connor House, built in the 1870’s by Cornelus O’Connor and situated near Homer, NE Sunday Nov. 10, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Historical Women in Siouxland, Ft. Atkinson State Park, Nebraska

25 Nov

Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park near  Ft. Calhoun, NE is a look at western frontier fort life as settlers and others were moving westward looking for a new or better life and the men who worked to safeguard that passage west. The fort, while not home to women in particular, was supported by women married to some of the soldiers or nearby settlers that acquired land to work and helped build communities. The park’s welcome center contains information that helps explain the times and the fort’s purpose.

The Welcome Center seen during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

“Conquering” the western frontier wasn’t only a job done by men, even though most of history would have people believe that. Men could not have accomplished as much as they claim had in fact that women were not involved. The simple fact, without women, there would be no men.

So it was fascinating and interesting to talk with women re-enactors at the Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park near Ft. Calhoun, Ne. Women in those days played the supporting role for men going West. They maintained the families and home fronts and saw to it that many basic needs were met. And in doing that also found ways that enriched their lives in small ways as well.

Marilyn Jones, center right, gives step by step instructions to a park visitor curious about the lace weaving technique she is demonstrating during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Marilyn Jones demonstrates a lace weaving technique during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Marilyn Jones demonstrates a lace weaving technique during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Women also provided a different skill set for practical means such as quilting, mending, weaving that applied to day to day life. They helped the new frontier much like the old frontier thrive. And made a rough existence a bit more palatable to men living there and raising their families. While women were not permitted on the fort grounds, they helped out in many ways that sustained fort life.

A view of the parade and mustering grounds during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visitors even got the chance to learn about the mundane tasks of frontier living such as doing laundry during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visitors even got the chance to learn about the mundane tasks of frontier living such as doing laundry during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Life must have been difficult for both sexes during those frontier days, much like it is today, although for different reasons reflecting the time period. Yet one makes do and tries to find some joy in life even in the little things. Making the best of what must have been impossible situations now and again, but still finding some joy in it all.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Weaver Donna Jones, right, talks with visitors about the 100 plus years old looms she is using for her weaving projects such as the rugs seen next to the young boys and what life was like in early frontiers day during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Park visitors take a break on benches outside of soldier quarters during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visitors talk with a re-enactor at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park during July 4 festivities at Ft. Calhoun, NE Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Families and visitors explore the grounds and an “early frontier” garden plot during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Part of the grounds area and a tribute seen during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

History Comes Alive in Siouxland, Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park, Nebraska

19 Nov

Visitors head into Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park for July 4 festivities at Ft. Calhoun, NE Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The history of Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park at Ft. Calhoun, NE Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This summer I spent part of a day reliving history at a Nebraska Historical Park in Siouxland, Ft. Atkinson, which according to one living history participant and re-enactor, was the largest fort in the U.S. during its days of use on what was then the frontier.

I find attending such places and events informative and fun. As well as fascinating because of the people who help make history come alive for us regular folk who get the chance to understand a bit more about those folk who came before us. While those volunteering their time to portray actors can’t provide all the answers, they can help people appreciate what history says about a place and possibly give us direction where to find more information about a place’s history.

Visitors assemble for a program about the creation of the United States and a firing demonstration of muskets and canon as each state’s name is read and when it entered the Union during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Part of the display and honoring of territories becoming states included musket and canon firing salutes during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Part of the display and honoring of territories becoming states included musket and canon firing salutes during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And sometimes the people who portray historical characters are themselves rascals who give a nice dimensional look to an era we can only read about now.

 

Blacksmith Tom speaks with visitors during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Two “regimental officers” talk about life at the fort in early frontier days during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visitors check out the Trading Post cabin outside of the Fort during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Photographing the Details during a Siouxland Outing

17 Nov

A dilapidated wagon sits in a field in the Loess Hills of northwest Iowa near Moorhead, Iowa Monday, Nov. 4, 2019. T(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When out and about driving around the Siouxland region, I enjoy the broad brushstrokes of landscapes and scenes. But sometimes one must look at the details of such a scene to also enjoy what is there and record. Seeing what is front of oneself is sometimes an acquired skill. To isolate visually in one’s mind then translate that into a visual image takes patience and practice. I have had lots of practice and am still practicing.

A detail image of wagon wheels during a Photo Safari outing in Cherokee, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But that’s the joy of wandering about and challenging oneself to really see what is in front of yourself. Sometimes one gets lucky. Other times, maybe not. But what’s a better way to spend a day that out taking photographs.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

looking for designs and details during a Photo Safari outing in Cherokee, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

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