Tag Archives: westward expansion

Depicting History in Siouxland, Courage Park in Omaha, NE

7 Apr
A number of statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. According to a website by First National Bank, “Installed in 2005 and 2009, Sculptors Blair Buswell of Highland, Utah, and Ed Fraughton of South Jordan, Utah, created Pioneer Courage with four pioneer families and their covered wagons departing westward from Omaha.” (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While visiting in Omaha, NE just south of Siouxland I came across a park I had not seen before. Friends and I were exploring parts of the city we had not previously walked about and so it was a pleasant surprise to find this homage paid to those settlers that set out for the “new frontier” and a life apart from what they had known. Because this sculpture garden was created a few years ago it does not take into account current perceptions of events as “white immigrants” flooded the western plains obtained through the Louisiana Purchase and after the exploratory visit by Lewis and Clark’s expedition to map the newly obtained land.

A number of statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A number of statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While the westward expansion opened up new territories to current United States residents and immigrants, it also began a long history of a not so good relationship with Native American residents who had inhabited the land for many generations and millennia. Whether or not another downtown park will address that issue for future generations is for current and future residents of the Omaha community to address. The park though is a nice break within all of the cement buildings that surround this island oasis which probably looks more inviting for lunch time breaks during spring, summer and fall lunch times for surrounding employees working in the area.

A number of statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A passerby checks out statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A number of statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Still, for a photo expedition exploring a community it was a nice find on a rather pleasant early spring day. I always enjoy history, and realize that most times the history presented comes from a single source with possibly a single point of view. The park shows the fortitude and gumption of those early settlers who went west to find a new life and beginning for themselves, much like today’s modern immigrants and residents who can more easily, at times, travel the many miles to find a new life. Each era has its own obstacles and problems, which sadly never seems to have an easy solution. And it seems that those searching for a better life for themselves and their families, away from starvation (Irish), persecution (Quakers) and other life strifes such as war ( any number of countries) the desires, needs and wants have not changed, only perspective and “characters” of those now in need. Travel today is almost instantaneous when compared to that of a couple centuries ago. And these days there seems to be more NIMBY’s than those willing to offer a hand. I sometimes muse what might have happened and how my own and others futures looked much different had Native Americans then rebuffed the Quakers and other European settlers and conquerors who first set foot on this land. Rather than sharing a first Thanksgiving, there might not have been any history written about those lost souls who traveled the sea to seek a better life. No word ever returning to those distant shores. The strife, famine and others ills of centuries past have never ceased, nor likely seem to, and until as it’s said, the root of those evils or calamities are addressed, people will leave their homeland in search of a better life somewhere else where they think it might be safe. But the chance of those underlying problems being addressed seem of little concern to those making important decisions.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa


A number of statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A number of statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A number of statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Statues in Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021 depict settlers moving westward during the westward expansion in the 1800’s after the Louisiana Purchase. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A number of statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Westward Ho, Siouxland, Mormon Trail Center Historic Winter Quarters, Omaha, NE

12 May

The Morman Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters tells the story of the Mormon people after they left Nauvoo, IL and headed west eventually reaching Utah and the gives an accounting of the people and the journey to their selected sacred site, Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On a recent visit to Omaha, NE I came across the Mormon Trail Center, Historic Winter Quarters museum that tells the tale of the Mormons westward travels from Nauvoo, IL when residents there forced them to leave and look elsewhere to settle. I am always amazed at the pockets of history around and near Siouxland, although I shouldn’t be. At one time Iowa and the region was just a prairie and part of that westward expansion. Mormon missionaries guide you through the museum and exhibits helping you to understand their tale of reaching Utah and Salt Lake City which would become their mecca and a place of religious tolerance.

Sister Millet, 2nd from the right and Sister Price, right, are part of a group of Mormon missionaries doing their service by giving tours to those visiting the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters, Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A bust of Joseph Smith on display at the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters, Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Omaha, NE. The photograph in the background shows the Mormon temple built at Nauvoo, IL because the Mormons were forced to leave. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A painting depicting the Mormon journey west hanging in the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters, Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Like any settlers heading west the Mormon people encountered obstacles in reaching their destination. The Winter Quarters museum explains how the majority of people stayed put two to three years while Brigham Young and other leaders continued west looking for the place to settle that Young had seen in a vision. The missionaries put into context the travels along with what else was happening in the U.S. during that time period. The Kanesville settlement in what is now Council Bluffs, Iowa became a early provisions emporium which also helped outfit other settlers heading west, including a number of “49’ers” headed to California to find their reward in gold, as opposed to the Mormon’s spiritual reward.

Traveling from Nauvoo, IL and heading west, a brief description of the Mormon trek heading west and through Iowa seen at the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters, Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A map showing the location of each of the camps of the Morman Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters, Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A display showing the settlement around Council Bluffs and Omaha during the Mormon trek to Utah on display at the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters, Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

History to me is always fascinating. People’s spiritual beliefs are more in common than not, it’s just that sometimes in getting to the same spiritual heaven, we find ourselves on different footpaths getting there.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Long History and Remnants near Siouxland, Fort Omaha, Omaha, NE

24 Apr

Sometimes when driving about in Siouxland or areas nearby one unexpectedly comes across a gem of history. Some of these gems are more like nuggets with a brief glimpse into what was before. I visited Fort Omaha in Omaha, NE recently and found the set up and area very representative of a previous military establishment first founded in the late 1800’s that oversaw the expansion west and supervised an area that included Wyoming, parts of Idaho, Montana, Nebraska and Iowa. Soldiers stationed here covered a vast territory and interacted with a few Native American or Indian tribes in the area. Some friendly and some not so friendly.

General Crook’s headquarters seen here was constructed in 1879 at Fort Omaha, although the fort came into being in 1868. The headquarters oversaw the territory of what is now Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah Montana and part of Idaho. Now this headquarters is a campus library and the former fort is the Metropolitan Community College center, Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The former fort is now home to the Metropolitan Community College. Many of the former fort’s buildings are still standing with some having descriptors near them informing a person of the building’s history. And walking the grounds, one can almost hear the sounds of a trumpet calling for assembly or sounding taps when the flag is retired at the end of the day.

More quarters seen at the former Fort Omaha created in 1868, now the Metropolitan Community College center, Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The former parade grounds at Fort Omaha, created in 1868, now the Metropolitan Community College center, Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s a little hard to imagine with the city of Omaha bustling about what the area must have been like two centuries previous. Only a few buildings and the rest prairie, on guard for unfriendly visitors and monitoring those hardy souls heading west to look for a new beginning. Help possibly nearby but maybe not always available. But it is nice that history and the buildings associated with it have been preserved and found a new life in a new century and helping others forge a new beginning through a community college now located there, overseeing those attending and looking at their own way forward.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A look at officer’s row at Fort Omaha where senior officers quarters were located next to one another when Fort Omaha was first established in 1868, now the Metropolitan Community College center, Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Omaha, NE. The buildings now house various departments associated with the college where department heads and professors have offices. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

In 1884 a large brick guard house for housing serious offenders of the military code were housed at Fort Omaha, now a help desk for information technology services facility for the Metropolitan Community College center, Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Fort Omaha was created in 1868 and a number of buildings were constructed to help oversee the expansion of a new nation expanding west involved in various campaigns against Native American tribes which included the Norther Cheyene, Ute, Sioux and Nez Perce. This building is now an administrative computing facility for the Metropolitan Community College center, Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

An Introduction to the Mormon Trail near Siouxland, Council Bluffs

18 Apr

During a visit in southern Siouxland I stopped at the Kanesville Tabernacle in Council Bluffs. Being pressed for time I did not go inside to tour the historical site but learned later that is was where Brigham Young was “sustained” or acknowledged as the second president and prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Another historical mormon site in located in Omaha, NE which I did visit and gave me insight as what I might find at the tabernacle. I love history, even history I may not totally understand or even agree with.  As a fictional TV character once said, “It’s better to know than not know.”

And I believe that many people are looking for the path to Heaven and redemption through Jesus, it’s just that they are following different footpaths to get there. And whatever one’s proscribed faith, history helps inform us and then leaves us to determine what we should or not believe.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The historical story of the Mormon trek from Nauvoo, IL to Slat Lake City, UT is partially told at the Kanesville Tabernacle located in Council Bluffs, Iowa Monday March 12, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The historical story of the Mormon trek from Nauvoo, IL to Slat Lake City, UT is partially told at the Kanesville Tabernacle located in Council Bluffs, Iowa Monday March 12, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The historical story of the Mormon trek from Nauvoo, IL to Slat Lake City, UT is partially told at the Kanesville Tabernacle located in Council Bluffs, Iowa Monday March 12, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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