Tag Archives: rural america

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©)

Visiting a Small Siouxland Community, Bancroft, NE

26 Sep

The community of Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When I get out and about I like visiting small towns in Siouxland. Getting a chance to stop and walk about and see what is there. Although the times I visit may not be ideal in that if it’s a weekend, there may not be much activity. And generally speaking, in small towns these days activity is limited unless there is a community-wide event occurring.

The John G Neihardt Nebraska state historic site is located in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The community of Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Then there is the matter of taste. I like finding what I consider interesting subjects to photograph which does not reflect the nature or character of some places I visit. But visually it appeals to me whether it’s a doorway with peeling paint, brick structures built in the mid to late 1800’s or some other quirky attribute that is what I gravitate to photograph.

The community of Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And I have found visiting a number of these smaller communities these days they all generally have grain elevators anchoring one end of the downtown. A tribute to the agricultural industry that is important to so many Siouxland communities in Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota. And sadly businesses that may have thrived for a period of time but run their course.

The community of Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But exploring the area one lives in is an interesting pursuit I believe and knowing and understanding a bit more about one’s community is not a bad thing. Plus so many times one meets people that makes it all worthwhile and helps in appreciating what one finds.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The community of Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The community of Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The community of Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing Country in Siouxland, rural Clay County

11 Aug

A meadow situated along a country road in rural Clay County, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Recently on my way to an event to photograph I passed through some Siouxland countryside in rural Clay County. It had been a while since I was able to just drive about on backroads in this region, many of which I have not driven reminding me that I need to do more of that. Bucolic scenes, meadows, corn and soybean fields, grazing animals and dust with heat. While a fan of most of the former part of that string of words, that latter can be overcome with water and a vehicle’s AC system. It’s just nice to get out, enjoy a little peace and solitude and be, without any expectations.

Thinking of the words to a Simon and Garfunkel song: “Slow down, you move too fast, You got to make the morning last, Just kicking down the cobblestones, Looking for fun and feeling groovy.” My fun is taking pictures and listening to some jazz as I drive about the backroads. Just enjoying without a destination, as long as I can find my way back to a main road and then home.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A country road winds through rural scenes in Clay County, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Round hay bales dot a rural scene in Clay County, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Finding History While Wandering in Siouxland, Rural South Dakota

21 Apr

Older tomb stones in an unnamed cemetery in rural South Dakota Tuesday, April 2, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes while driving around Siouxland I will stumble upon something I haven’t seen before and I always find that exciting. Although it doesn’t mean it’s something not known to others. I recently came upon an older, possibly pioneer cemetery in rural South Dakota. The older tombstones gave that impression, yet there were newer stones there as well so it’s still hallowed ground that continues in use.

A fence line bordering an unnamed cemetery in rural South Dakota Tuesday, April 2, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Older grave markers in an unnamed cemetery in rural South Dakota Tuesday, April 2, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I couldn’t find a name along the fence line for the cemetery and was then not able to do any research online as to its origins and who exactly may have settled in the area originally farming what was probably then part of the Dakota Territories. Given its location on a secondary road the settlers and this cemetery sat far from civilization. In a way it still does. But the plot of land is tended and that shows respect for those who have passed from this earth by those whose time has not come to follow. I can only suppose that it is descendants who continue to use this cemetery and care for those relatives who have left this earth, holding on to a dream of a new and better life.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An unnamed cemetery in rural South Dakota Tuesday, April 2, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Spring Slowly emerges in Siouxland, Rural South Dakota

13 Apr

Flood water still fills a field bordering a main roadway in rural South Dakota Tuesday, April 2, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Finally it seems spring is beginning to flirt with the Siouxland area, some days of sunshine and cloud play with light over the landscape. But that doesn’t mean the area has rid itself entirely of winter or the leftover of bad weather that combined into too much water, liquid and frozen, that overran much Siouxland and others areas bordering it.

One main roadway is still closed because of flood water in rural South Dakota Tuesday, April 2, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Still, it is nice to see sunshine and the light and shadow play that comes with clouds passing through, showing glimpses of what may yet be.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Light play from the sun and moving clouds on a farm stead in rural South Dakota Tuesday, April 2, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Looking for the Green in Siouxland, Rural Iowa

3 Apr

As the temperatures in the Siouxland region continue to rise, albeit slowly, I look forward to once again getting into my vehicle and driving about. Seeking whatever is over the next rise or pausing to enjoy the scene just outside my windshield.

Rural Plymouth County, Iowa, Monday, May 25, 2015. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Blue skies will return and the grass and surrounding countryside will begin to green up, leaving behind that barren winter look.

Near Smithland, Iowa rural Woodbury County Thursday, May 28, 2015. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Having grown up in the country, I enjoy tooling down a country road, be it gravel or black top. Not driving especially fast so that I can enjoy what I see and the quiet one generally finds in the country. Stop and listen, and you might hear birds, the wind, crickets, if it’s nearer dusk or evening and what some might call the sound of silence. Well, maybe to a city dweller.

Rural Plymouth County, Iowa, Monday, May 25, 2015. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The view can be expansive, even in the Midwest like in Siouxland, or a closer view of a country scene. While the photos themselves can’t relate all of the experience like freshly mowed alfalfa in a field, a nearby stockyard or the damp smell created by newly plowed earth or after a fresh rain, they can set up the experience to which a viewer if they so desire, then makes an effort to experience the same themselves.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Rural Plymouth County, Iowa, Monday, May 25, 2015. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Looking to Backroads in Siouxland, Rural Clay County

25 Jan

As January heads towards the end of the month and the next wave of cold with teens and below zero readings popping up on weather prognosticators radar I start daydreaming of “warmer” days ahead, 40’s and 50’s are good, and hitting the road looking for images throughout Siouxland and areas surrounding it. I travel a number of the roads numerous times but never seem to tire of seeing familiar places and never of new places. So many places to explore, and such limited time. The next hill, summit and bend or curve in the road can be a splendid surprise. And I am hoping this year delivers in many ways.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A country road runs through rural Clay County, Iowa Saturday Oct. 8, 2016. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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