Tag Archives: history

Enjoying a Small Town, Pisgah

12 Jun

A main street running through downtown Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

I am endlessly fascinated when visiting small towns in Siouxland. And am always surprised at what one might find in them, as well as the folk one meets. Walking around, taking my time, something students of mine for my Photo Safari classes know all too well, in good and inclement weather. Recently while in Pisgah the class met a couple who runs a bed and breakfast there. I had no idea.

A 104 year old former hotel is now the Loess Hills Bed and Breadfast located in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

They also have access to a small museum with local history. Class photos of people who graduated from the area in the 1930’s, although there are no longer any schools in the small community. The sleepy little town is a starting point for exploring the Loess Hills in western Iowa where hiking and meandering roads allow one to explore the countryside and surrounding area.

A photograph of 1932 graduates from the Pisgah High School that no longer exists hangs in a small museum, formerly a barbershop, in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A photograph of 1938 graduates from the Pisgah High School that no longer exists hangs in a small museum, formerly a barbershop, in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

David Chlupacek, left, shows visitors inside of a former barbershop and now museum that sits across from a 104 year old hotel, now the Loess Hills Bed and Breakfast he and his wife run in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s these meetings and a chance to learn about the a local area I always find fascinating, even with newly transplanted residents such as David Chlupacek and his wife, who have lived there maybe 10-12 years. Getting a sense of what was once a vibrant small town now a bit more quiet and circumspect about its future.

Photographs and other items are found in a small museum, formerly a barbershop, in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

David Chlupacek, right, talks with a visitor standing in front of a former barbershop and now museum in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

A sometimes pass through point for an Iowa tradition of bike riding, RAGBRAI, where small communities grow into overnight metropolises. But not the day we visited. But because of the visitors headed to the Loess Hills State Park the town retains one decent eatery and a place to relax and enjoy small town America with lunch and a short rest before pursuing other places to visit.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Old Home Fill-er Up and “Keep on Truckin” Cafe was made famous in a song by C.W. McCall is located in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Photographs hang in a small museum, formerly a barbershop, in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

Light and Shadow in Siouxland, Yankton, SD

10 Jun

The Mead Cultural Education Center, a former mental institution for women, now houses the Dakota Territorial Museum under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always enjoy a good light and shadow display no matter how fleeting or seemingly impossible it might appear to be. The interplay and ying and yang of the two opposites can create interesting images and on especially sunny days, the possibilities are endless.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Mead Cultural Education Center is undergoing a restoration before competing exhibits of the Dakota Territorial Museum and other historical artifacts under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The exterior of the Mead Cultural Education Center is graced with many columns that adorned architecture of the period. It formerly was a mental institution for women and now houses area historical content and the Dakota Territorial Museum under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

History Around Siouxland, the Squirrel Cage Jail, Council Bluffs

31 May

The former jail for Pottawatamie County and now a museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Unique history tidbits can be found in Council Bluffs, Iowa Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There are always bits of oddities of sorts in history. And probably more that will become history as today fades into yesterday. But in Siouxland one such interesting footnote is a former jail in Council Bluffs. The Squirrel Cage Jail. It is found in a small museum in the downtown area and it was only one of 18 ever built and only three now remain, all museums. I have never timed my excursion to that community allowing me an opportunity to take a look inside, but I feel I need to. The jail cells revolved and allowed the insertion and extraction of prisoners from one point of entry and the cells revolved like using a “lazy Susan” situated on a kitchen table.

A horse statue recalling law enforcement history sits near the old county jail in downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The downtown area is an interesting site to visit and also contains a nice park downtown and is a pleasant walk with various restaurants tucked away. The community in its early days also had its own Hay Market used by local farmers and ranchers. Not far from the downtown area and the jail museum is the Dodge House, a museum of one General Grenville M. Dodge who served the Union Army during the Civil War and later became a builder of railroad lines heading West.

A walkway leading to General Dodge’ House museum near the downtown area in Council Bluffs, Iowa Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It is situated in a historic district that still retains brick stone streets and many flowering trees along the boulevards. a very pleasant walk on a spring day or any day unless the temps are soaring into the 90’s with 80% humidity. But then that is just an excuse to find an ice cream shop and cool off and enjoy the day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Trees are blossoming during a spring day in a historic district near downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Exploring the Past in Siouxland, Mead Cultural Education Center, Yankton, SD

21 May

The Mead Cultural Education Center, a former mental institution for women, now houses the Dakota Territorial Museum under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Exploring history in Siouxland can be a fun exercise and the chance to learn about the region and see something I have not encountered previously. Recently I visited the Mead Cultural Education Center with some photography students from a Lifelong Learning class. It’s a grand old building and previously as an asylum for women who were considered insane and whose families did not want them living at home.

A grand marble staircase greets visitors as they enter the Mead Cultural Education Center, a former mental institution for women, which now houses the Dakota Territorial Museum under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Mead Cultural Education Center was a former women’s mental institution and will now house the Dakota Territorial Museum and other historical artifacts after a renovation under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Yankton County Historical Society is housed in the facility and plans over a period of time will include a number of historical exhibits about the area including the Dakota Territorial Museum that was located in another area of Yankton.

Currently an exhibit of the Lewis and Clark Expedition is up and running with a fairly extensive look at that group’s trip through the local area.

The Mead Cultural Education Center, a former mental institution for women, showcases the history of the Lewis and Clark Expedition and now houses the Dakota Territorial Museum under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Mead Cultural Education Center, a former mental institution for women, showcases the history of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in a unique way and also houses the Dakota Territorial Museum under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Some displays with area history is set up on the ground floor of he Mead Cultural Education Center, a former women’s mental institution and will house the Dakota Territorial Museum under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Some displays with area history is set up on the ground floor of he Mead Cultural Education Center, a former women’s mental institution and will house the Dakota Territorial Museum under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But while the class was there the group got a look in yet unfinished areas where future exhibits will be showcased and other offices housing various local organizations will be located as well as seeing some stored historical items waiting for space to be displayed.

Camille Swift, office manager for the Mead Cultural Education Center, gets animated as she gives some background during a short tour. The center also now houses the Dakota Territorial Museum under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Camille Swift, office manager for the Mead Cultural Education Center, standing in background, gives a historical account and describes the restoration of the building during a short tour. The center also houses the Dakota Territorial Museum under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Camille Swift, office manager for the Mead Cultural Education Center, not seen, gives background context and describes the current restoration project underway during a short tour. The center also houses the Dakota Territorial Museum under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Records and other historical artifacts are stored in rooms as the Mead Cultural Education Center, a former mental institution for women undergoes a restoration under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Once completed the Education Center will give a nice look into the history of the area and Yankton’s role in the history of the Dakota Territories. Yankton was the first territorial government seat when the Territories were settled but then later lost out to Pierre. It will be easy to spend a few hours learning about the past and in a space that has found new purpose for the future.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

 

Paying Respect in Siouxland, Omaha Valley Cemetery, Ponca, NE

19 May

The Omaha Valley Cemetery sits atop a couple hillsides off of Highway 77 South near Homer, NE Saturday, April 20, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As I drive about the Siouxland region I like to visit cemeteries that I come across. I find that for these rural and small town graveyards some of the earliest occupants were laid to rest in the mid to late 1800’s. Pioneers the majority of them traveling months to reach a new place and start a new life. Most likely by wagon train as the railroad system for the young country had not yet united the east and west.

The dearly departed of the Omaha Valley Cemetery have nice vistas as the cemetery sits atop a couple of hillsides off of Highway 77 South near Homer, NE Saturday, April 20, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Early settlers are buried in the Omaha Valley Cemetery which sits off of Highway 77 South near Homer, NE Saturday, April 20, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Without delving into area archives or doing an online search, I will never know the story about any of these early settlers, or even their descendants. I just like to pay my respect for the chances they took in settling what at that time was still wilderness to a point and creating a life with their blood, sweat and tears, and sometimes life.

The Omaha Valley Cemetery off of Highway 77 South near Homer, NE Saturday, April 20, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Occupying a couple of hilltops the Omaha Valley Cemetery sits off of Highway 77 South near Homer, NE Saturday, April 20, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some of the rural cemeteries reside on a hill, giving the occupants and their visitors a chance to view the countryside around them. What the photographs cannot tell visitors to my blog is the sound of the leaves rustling as the wind blows, scents arriving and leaving, birds chirping and just enjoying the day. A place to stop, ponder and reflect and say a little prayer for the departed and for friends and relatives still toiling on this earth. Just taking a moment to be still, listen to the sounds of silence and enjoy before jumping back into life and the race most of us must run.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Early burials can be found in the Omaha Valley Cemetery off of Highway 77 South near Homer, NE Saturday, April 20, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Sitting on a couple of hilltops the Omaha Valley Cemetery is off of Highway 77 South near Homer, NE Saturday, April 20, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

History in Siouxland not Always Evident, Yankton, SD

15 May

A former dairy barn near the Mead Cultural Education Center that will house the Dakota Territorial Museum and other historical artifacts of the area under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Early psychiatric institutions in many states operated farms and dairy operations to feed its “patients” and to generate money to cover the cost of running a facility for those who needed help or were beyond the ability of families to cope. The Yankton (SD) State Hospital in Siouxland began operating in 1880. Although I couldn’t find any online information there is what appears to be a dairy or livestock barn on the grounds that is no longer in use. I learned from other places I have lived that it was common practice for these farms to operate with help from the patients. This barn looks to be relatively in good condition and I wonder what stories could be learned of its past.

an inside look of a former dairy barn near the Mead Cultural Education Center that will house the Dakota Territorial Museum and other historical artifacts of the area under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In today’s society these kinds of operations are no longer needed, although it gave those patients who worked a sort of pride in helping be productive for the “community” in which they lived. Somewhere though I have read where other businesses found these institutions to be unfair competitors impinging on their own market share and were not really concerned that work was beneficial for patients confined there. So much history and sometimes so little information.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A self-portrait at a former dairy barn near the Mead Cultural Education Center that will house the Dakota Territorial Museum and other historical artifacts of the area under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Finding Bit and Pieces of History in Siouxland, Little Sioux

3 May

A placard next to Murray Hall tells some of the history of Little Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A former jail cell now sits alongside a placard with some of the history of Little Sioux City, Iowa Tueday, April 9, 2019, sitting next to Murray Hall. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s surprising sometimes the little bits and pieces of historical knowledge one can find when visiting places in Siouxland. Little Sioux is a small community in southern Siouxland. But a couple of the buildings sport dates harkening back a couple of centuries, and it’s possible the community was settled in the mid to late 1800’s

A brick house which looks like it could date from the late 1800’s sits empty in Little Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

What looks like a former general store or meeting place now houses a small museum about the area in Little Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Inside of what looks like a former general store or meeting place now houses a small museum about the area in Little Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Except for history buffs and those living in the immediate area, it’s sad to me that so much history is being lost everyday because it really has no currency for most people. And today it seems some folk are trying to “rewrite” history because they didn’t like the outcome in the first place an in a few hundred years, who will really know what the truth is. But those who are interested it’s around us in many shapes and forms and only takes a little looking to find it.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A former barbershop for sale with a building date of 1891 sits looking for a new occupant in Little Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Another former business in Little Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

An abandoned house in Little Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

 

 

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