From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Mr. Crawford Remembered

And a vintage sign removed...


This photo was taken in 2006.

Mr. Crawford's parents had operated a little country store in our neighborhood at one time, and Mr. Crawford inherited the property. One day, he quit his bank job in town and moved into the store building.  He lived a very simple life there, without running water or electricity. In the yard around the old store, he had lots of little gardening spots where he grew grapes and flowers and heirloom tomatoes.

During those years, I worked part-time in another little country store in the neighborhood (also now closed), and Mr. Crawford came to the store every now and then to eat a sandwich and visit with anyone who was there. I passed along to him a big stack of old Organic Gardening magazines that my brother-in-law had given me, and he read (studied!) them cover-to-cover and loved to discuss the gardening ideas in them.

Then Mr. Crawford moved away. He said that he couldn't take the stench of the big new chicken barn across the creek any longer. About that same time, I started working in town. So our paths didn't cross anymore, and I don't believe I ever saw Mr. Crawford again. He passed away last Christmas. I read about it in the newspaper.


Not long after his death, someone removed the Pepsi-Cola sign from the old store building. Maybe the sign was kept by a family member -- I hope so. Or maybe someone took it for their private collection, or maybe, since it was a metal sign, it ended up at a salvage yard. Whatever the case, I doubt it will be seen again by the general public.

I still see the little store building as I drive down the road to and from my home, and it always makes me think of Mr. Crawford. He was kindly and intelligent, and I'm sorry that he's gone on.

Monday, November 04, 2013

The Little Graveyard on the Ridge

"Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust."


Perhaps a quarter mile off the road, a small country graveyard sits at the top of a little ridge. When I spotted that old family cemetery not long after we moved here, I decided that, "one of these days," I was going to walk through it. But time flew by, as it does, and so it was five years later, when I finally stopped one day at the house below the cemetery and asked permission to visit.

The silver-haired lady who answered my knock was pleased about my interest in the graveyard. She walked to the pasture gate with me, showed me the least "washed-out" route to take up the hillside, and cautioned my sidekicks, Keely and Isaac, to beware the poison ivy around the graveyard fence.

We bounced up the hill on a trail that was obviously more traveled by cattle than vehicles. As we pulled up to the cemetery, I saw immediately that it was well-maintained and very tidy.  An overgrowth of vines had made the fence into a solid wall of tangled foliage, but the grass inside was neatly cut, and the gate was in good repair. No graves were embarrassed by fallen headstones or weatherbeaten artificial flowers.

Photographs by Melissa Wiesse.
Many of the surnames on the stones were from a half-dozen families. I recognized some names as possible ancestors of families who still lived in Christian County. The dates on the stones spanned nearly two centuries, from a birth in 1778 to a death in l971.  Many of the tombstones stated that the loved one was "Asleep in Jesus." One man was a Confederate soldier. Another was born in County Down, Ireland. In all, there were 50 or 60 graves.

I decided that the cemetery was officially established in the 1860s or 1870s. Perhaps there were already unmarked family graves there when the first graves with tombstones were made. Looking over the cemetery fence from the hillside, I tried to imagine the valley when the blacktop road was a dirt trail, the fences were made of split rail, and the log cabins were marked by plumes of smoke. Surely the cemetery's site was chosen for its fine view in addition to its high-and-dry location.

Photo by Tony Alter.
A majestic old oak grew in one corner. The ground under it was covered with acorns and early-fallen leaves. A half-dozen squirrels were shocked, just shocked, when we interrupted their nut harvest with our presence.

Near the center of the cemetery, a huge stump bore witness to another tree that once grew there. It was a good six feet in diameter at its widest point. This estimate was provided by Keely who stretched out full length across it. At one time, this giant's branches must have shaded most of the little cemetery.

Keely and Isaac were impatient to return to modern life well before I finished reading the stones. When we finally drove back down the hill and closed the gate to the pasture, the little lady came out to talk again. She had been waiting for us. "Did you see anyone you knew up there?" she wanted to know.

I told her that I had recognized some of the family names, and she said that most of the people in the cemetery were from her husband's family. Had I seen this gravestone and that one? One young fellow had commited suicide after World War I. Her husband's mother was the young woman buried with twin babies. Another man and his wife had lived in a big log house that she remembered from childhood. She knew the life story beneath each headstone.

I commented on the huge tree stump, and she told me that it had been another oak tree. It had fallen in the cemetery during a windstorm, but her son had cleaned it up. Then she began to talk about her great fear -- would the cemetery be cared for in future years? Her son, in his late fifties, did all the upkeep. It seemed he was the main person who was interested. Though most of the graves "belonged" to families who still lived in the county, no one else helped with the maintenance. She had buried her husband in town a few years ago because she feared his grave wouldn't be tended up on the hillside.

Photo by Justin A. Wilcox
The thought of brambles and trees taking over the graveyard grieved this lady. I was touched by her desire to honor the graves of her husband's people. Talking to her was a memorable and moving experience. Most of my visits to old graveyards don't include the opportunity to speak with someone who has a personal connection to the people buried there.

When I got home that day, I wrote a short account of my visit to the cemetery on the ridge. A few days ago, I stumbled upon that little story in some old computer files, and I thought that the things I had written still spoke to my heart. I decided to edit it a little and share it. That's the story behind this story.

Related photos on Flickr:
Squirrels in cemeteries
Gravestone details
Historic cemeteries

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Video about the Rose Church

Community of Rose, Nebraska


Here's a short video about the church I attended during most of my growing-up years. I went to Sunday School and Vacation Bible School in the basement, played on the swings in the church yard, and took piano lessons in the parsonage. I know the people who talk about the church in the video. They are the parents of my childhood church friends.

It's so good to see that the Rose community is working together to preserve the little church!

I know that I have a few photos of the Rose Church that I took while visiting up there in 2002, but apparently I've never scanned them. The photo below shows the Rose Cemetery, right across the road from the church. Like the church, it has served the people of Rose for many years, and it continues to play an important role in the community.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Railroad Building, 1875

Old engraving


I found this image of railroad building in America, Our Country by Smith Burnham and Theodore H. Jack, published by the John C. Winston Company of Philadelphia in 1934. I searched but couldn't find any copyright renewal for this title, so I decided the image was in the public domain now (as well as already being in the public domain when included in this book.)

(Large image: 736 KB)

After doing all that research on the copyright, I drug the picture into a Google image search and learned that there's a zillion copies of it on the internet already. I should have googled it first!

Originally, the image was a wood engraving by Alfred Rudolph Waud (1828-1891,) printed in Harpers Weekly on July 17, 1875. Images like this helped eastern readers imagine the West and the challenge of railroad building.

The Library of Congress describes the scene as a "...large work crew laying tracks for railroad, several covered wagons and other carts and wagons, work camp in the distance, and some soldiers and Natives resting in the foreground." My husband says that if anyone lived in those house-cars, it was the bosses.

Beaumont, Kansas: Railroad Town

A ghost town full of history


Beaumont's wooden water tower held
50,000 gallons of water!
Trains don't pass through Beaumont, Kansas, anymore. After it lost the trains, the little town died, bit by bit, and today, it is a genuine ghost town.  But in the days of steam engines, Beaumont was an important stop on the St. Louis, Wichita & Western Railway. Every train clanked and chuffed to a stop in front of the water tower. The steam engines' boilers had to be refilled, and Beaumont was the place to do it.

Beaumont was created by and for the railroad. The tracks were installed as far as Beaumont in about 1879. The train depot was the first building in town, followed by a general store. In 1880, a post office was established and the Summit Hotel was built. The water tower was built in 1885 (supplying water to the hotel as well as the trains,) and a roundhouse was built in 1890.

 A spur of the railroad ran from Beaumont south to Arkansas City ("Ark City") and into Oklahoma, and the main rail line ran from St. Louis to Wichita and westward.

If a locomotive needed service, it was moved into the Beaumont roundhouse, and a fresh locomotive was moved out and attached to the train. Up to 90 men worked at the roundhouse, servicing train engines and cars. Inside the roundhouse, the locomotives were parked on a giant turntable. The turntable moved the locomotives aside for work or storage and returned them to the tracks when it was time for them to leave.

Across the tracks from the roundhouse and depot, the Summit Hotel welcomed any travelers who needed a hot meal or a room for the night. The trains brought a lot of traffic to and through Beaumont. Homesteaders came west on the trains to settle in the area, and cattle from the Flint Hills were driven to Beaumont, loaded onto the train, and sent east. And there were many other travelers and freight going in both directions. The rails were modern transportation at its best.

The Beaumont Hotel today. I am not sure if the structure
still contains elements of the original Summit Hotel.
The hotel would be at far left in this photo, across the road
from the old store buildings, if I had been able to include it all.

Steam engines were used on the St Louis, Wichita & Western Railway through the early 1950s. In a curious overlap of transportation technology, the hotel added a grass airstrip during that same decade. A customer of the hotel liked to fly from Wichita to Beaumont in his small plane. It was dangerous for local drivers when he dropped out of the sky onto the road, so the airstrip kept everyone safe and happy. After he landed, he taxied into Beaumont, just like any other vehicle. (Keep in mind that Wichita, just 50 miles away, has been a manufacturing center for small planes for many years.)

My sister and I stopped at Beaumont and looked around last summer when we went out to Kansas last summer to visit my brother. These pictures are from that visit. (I admit that I'm "one of those tourists" who is always taking photos of the historic markers.)


Welcome to Beaumont
Story of the landing strip

Historic info about the tower
Hotel renovation in the 1990s

The water tower is listed on the
National Register of Historic Places.
Maybe the pipe was hooked to a
big hose to put water in the boilers?


I haven't come across any information about when the roundhouse ceased operation, but as a casual explorer, I saw no remaining trace of it. A hundred yards of train tracks still lie in front of the water tower, but the rail line was discontinued around 30 years ago.

The airstrip is still there, and the Beaumont Hotel holds a monthly "Fly-In" for small planes. They also hold monthly bike-ins for motorcyclists. They have a  formal dining room as well as the 50s-style cafe pictured below. And they have the great outdoors as well, so they can host all sorts of events. But I think staying at the hotel would be a nice get-away anytime. And if I ever do stay there, I hope the biggest event while I'm in Beaumont will be the tremendous peace and quiet we saw, felt, and enjoyed during this visit.



Tracks that go nowhere
Inside the hotel's restaurant

The Beaumont Hotel lobby has rustic wood furniture and accents.

Hotel boardwalk
The only ghost I saw.
Big shady lawn north of the hotel
Old store buildings
across from the hotel
I always hate to see
an abandoned church.
This handsome little building
may have been the post office.
More about Beaumont:


5 Feb 2014
Scott Shogren of Wichita, Kansas, shared this link to a 1905 map that shows the location of the Beaumont roundhouse. Thanks, Scott!

http://www.historicmapworks.com/Map/US/499092/Union+Township++Cassoday++Beaumont++Page+073+++Right/

The map also shows the location of the hotel and the water tank so I'm able to orient myself from those. The roundhouse was located a couple of blocks east of the hotel, on the north side of the tracks. Livestock pens were located just west of the hotel also on the north side of the tracks.

Scott added, "I remember the Frisco trains. They really sped through that part tracks line."

Monday, October 07, 2013

Two Ordinary Patriots

Samuel Mapes (1735-1820) and Smith Mapes (1756-1830)


In 1775, just a few weeks after the Battle of Lexington and Concord,  Samuel Mapes and his 19-year-old son Smith Mapes signed the Revolutionary Pledge* in Ulster County, New York. Shortly thereafter, Smith and Samuel and dozens of their neighbors joined McClaughry's Regiment (the Second or "South-end" Regiment of the Ulster County militia.) As their signing of the Pledge expressed, they were "greatly alarmed at the avowed design of the Ministry to raise a revenue in America, and shocked by the bloody scene now acting in Massachusetts Bay..."

Militia Men


Ulster County, today. Photo by Doug Kerr.
Samuel Mapes was a farmer, and it is likely that Smith, his oldest son assisted in the farm work. Joining the local militia probably seemed more practical than joining the newly-formed Continental Army. Samuel had a large family to provide for.

But even militia men were called into the army as needed. "The militia was virtually State troops. They could be called upon for service in the army by the proper authorities at any time, and in such cases the colonel of a regiment was ordered to furnish a certain number of troops for a certain purpose, and the men were drafted from the whole number, and they in fact became as regular troops or the line of the army, after they were so drafted, for the time being." (History of the Town of Marlborough, Ulster County, New York, by C. M. Woolsey, page 107. Published 1908) And so various elements of the Ulster County Militia fought at Long Island, Saratoga, and other battles outside their home county.

Defending the County


The defense of the small frontier settlements in the western part of Ulster county was a huge problem. "The mountains in the west of Ulster pierced by the two branches of the Delaware, the Esopus and the Rondout, were peculiarly open to attack by such a foe as an Indian with the knowledge of a woodman and the cunning of a savage." (Olde Ulster : an historical and genealogical magazine. Vol 3, No.1, page 18, published 1907.) The Indian attacks were orchestrated by Torries and British, who sometimes disguised themselves as Indians and joined in the destruction.

In early 1777, a detachment from the Ulster County militia marched "under alarm" with Lt. Col. Newkirk to the frontier settlement of Peanpack in western Ulster County to combat an attack of this sort. Samuel Mapes was in the group of men. Another detachment, also in 1777 and also under alarm, was led by Major Phillips. Smith Mapes was in that group. (Revolutionary War Rolls of New York, viewed at Fold3.com.)

Meanwhile, the Patriots struggled with the British for control of rivers. Ulster County, a large region with the Hudson River forming its entire eastern border, saw a great deal of military action during the Revolution. Many militia men enlisted multiple times, serving when called, going to battle in their everyday work clothes, carrying whatever provisions, ammunition, and weaponry they possessed.

Kingston in Ulster County, at that time the state capital, was burned by the British during the war. And a British general justified his burning of Esopus, an Ulster County town along the Hudson's west banks, as entirely necessary because of the rebellious rascals who lived there.
On the 17th of October, 1777, General John Vaughan of the British Army, thus reported to his commanding officer upon his vandal deed of the preceding day: "I have the honor to inform you that on the Evening of the 15th instant I arrived off Esopus: finding that the Rebels had thrown up Works and had made every Disposition to annoy us, and cut off our Communication, I judged it necessary to attack them, the Wind being at that Time so much against us that we could make no Way. I accordingly landed the Troops, attacked their Batteries, drove them from their Works, spiked and destroyed their Guns. Esopus being a Nursery for almost every Villain in the Country, I judged it necessary to proceed to that Town. On our approach they were drawn up with Cannon which we took and drove them out of the Place. On our entering the Town they fired from their Houses, which induced me to reduce the Place to Ashes, which I accordingly did, not leaving a House. We found a considerable Quanity of Stores of all kinds, which shared the same Fate. (Olde Ulster: an historical and genealogical magazine, Vol. 1, No. 2, page 33, published in 1905)

These are just a few examples of the sort of fighting that took place in Ulster County. A third of all battles of the Revolution were fought in New York (New York Military Records at FamilySearch.) The regiments of the Ulster County militia did their part at home and away. I am confident that those militia men fought with a keen sense of vengeance for the outrages committed in their homeland and the losses suffered by their families and friends.

British cannon above the Hudson River.
Photo by Michael Francis Studios

After the War


Sources do not agree about the date that Samuel and his family moved to Blooming Grove (then in Ulster County, but now in Orange), but it seems clear that around the time that the Revolution ended, he moved to Howell's Depot.
He had more sons than land, and in order to provide a farm for as many of them as were content to remain in Orange County, he removed from Blooming Grove to the locality now known as Howell's Depot, then chiefly an unbroken wilderness, and purchased a mile square, or 640 acres of land, upon which he settled, and with the aid of his sons brought under cultivation.

He was a man of vigorous constitution, untiring industry, and a cheerful and jovial temperament. His land was rough and hard to cultivate, but he made the best of it, and it is related of him that when one of his old Blooming Grove neighbors once asked him what on earth he did with some of his roughest land, he replied that that which was too stony for the sheep and cattle to pasture in, he mowed to furnish hay for their winter keeping. (The Family Record: Devoted for 1897 to the SACKETT, the WEYGANT and the MAPES Families by C. H. Weygant, published by C. H. Weygant, 1897, page 46.
Samuel Mapes set aside a plot of land on his farm for a family burying ground, and he was laid to rest there in 1820, having completed a life of nearly 85 years. His wife Mary and many other Mapes descendants are buried there as well.

Smith and Rachel


New York's Revolutionary War Rolls show that Smith Mapes became a corporal, but nonetheless, he found enough time to court Rachel McKnight. They were married on February 10, 1779.

Smith and Rachel made the move to Howells with the Samuel Mapes family. By 1792, five of their children had been baptized at the Old School Baptist Church in Howell's, New York. One of the children baptized there was William Warren Mapes (William Warrington Mapes), my 3rd-great grandfather.

Sometime in the next few years, Smith and Rachel Mapes left Howells and moved about 200 miles west to the Finger Lakes area of New York where they were admitted by baptism to the First Baptist Church at Benton Center, Yates County in 1800. (Early Settlers of New York State: Their Ancestors and Descendants, Volumes I-VI, by Janet Wethy Foley. Pages 6 and 148. Originally published in 1934-1940 by Thomas J. Foley, Akron, NY.)  

Smith and Rachel spent the rest of their lives in western New York. Smith died  in 1830 at the age of 72, and Rachel died five years later. I do not know the location of their graves.
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* The Revolutionary Pledge: "Persuaded that the salvation of the rights and liberties of America depend, under God, on the firm union of its inhabitants in a vigorous prosecution of the measures necessary for its safety, and convinced of the necessity of preventing anarchy and confusion which attend a dissolution of the powers of government, We, the Freeman, Freeholders, and Inhabitants of ---, being greatly alarmed at the avowed design of the Ministry to raise a revenue in America, and shocked by the bloody scene now acting in Massachusetts Bay, do in the most solemn manner resolve never to become slaves, and do associate, under all the ties of religion, honor, and love to our country, to adopt and endeavor to carry into execution whatsoever measures may be recommended by the Continental Congress, or resolved upon by our Provincial Convention, for the purpose of preserving our constitution and of opposing the several arbitrary acts of the British Parliament, until a reconciliation beween Great Britain and America, on constitutional principles (which we most ardently desire) can be obtained, and that we will in all things follow the advice of our General Committee respecting the purposes aforesaid, the preservation of peace and good order and the safety of individuals and property."  (The History of Dutchess County, New York by S. A. Matthieu. Published in Poughkeepsie, NY, 1909. Page 95.)
- - - - - - - - - -
This article was written by Genevieve L. Netz and originally published as a blog post at http://prairiebluestem.blogspot.com/2013/10/two-ordinary-patriots.html . Copyright 2013 Genevieve L. Netz. All rights reserved. Permission is granted for attaching this article to Mapes family trees as long as this entire notice is included. Any other use requires written permission. gnetz51@gmail.com

Download a copy of this article for your family tree.


Friday, September 06, 2013

Junkyard Cat

Saved at the salvage yard



Our son had some trouble with his car, and his mechanic advised him that a used part would make the repair a lot cheaper. He couldn't take off time from his job, so I volunteered to get the part. I inquired by telephone at some salvage yards and finally found a compatible vehicle at Arrow Salvage at Nortonville, Kentucky.

"We don't take parts off cars without a deposit," the man on the phone told me. So I drove up there to make a down payment.

Nortonville is a small town in southern Hopkins County, about 45 miles from where I live in Christian County. Arrow Salvage is a few miles west of Nortonville on a small highway that winds through the hills to Dawson Springs.

I was a little worried about finding the salvage yard, but it had a huge sign painted on the side of an old semi trailer. Then I wasn't sure whether the sign really meant I should turn on the extremely wide road with a coal mine sign and a half-closed gate. But yes, that was the right road, and it led to the discontinued coal mine which is the site of Arrow Salvage.

Apparently when the coal mine ceased operation, the big crane and some other equipment were left in place. Arrow Salvage recycles cars, steel, aluminum, copper, and brass (according to their sign on the highway) so maybe they'll eventually pull down that machinery and recycle it.

Inside the little office, the boss was on the phone with someone who wanted parts for a car. A black and white kitten was playing around the legs of his desk. As I waited, my shoelaces caught the kitten's eye, and he attacked them vigorously. To divert his attention, I scooped him up and tried to pet him. He didn't have any patience for that, so I picked up a flyswatter and convinced him that he should play with it instead of my feet.

The boss finally terminated his phone call. "Sorry about that," he said. "Sometimes they have to tell you their life story." As he was writing the receipt for my deposit, I told him I liked his kitten.

"That cat!" he said, and told me its story. The kitten showed up on the steps of the office one day. Maybe someone gave him a little food. Anyway, the kitten decided that was his home, and he was there every day playing around the building.

Then one day, an elderly lady came to the salvage yard, and she tried to make friends with the kitten. He was feeling frisky, and he nipped her finger with his sharp little teeth, as kittens are prone to do. The lady bled a little, but the boss thought it was a minor injury. "You know how old folks bleed real easy," he told me, and I agreed that we do.

But the lady didn't take her injury so lightly. She went home and called the Health Department, and some workers drove out to the salvage yard to investigate. It made the man mad because the little kitten was innocent. He had only been playing, and he wasn't sick. They wanted to know if it was his cat. He told them, "No, but by gosh, it's going to be."

So the kitten went to the vet where it was observed for a period of time. At the end of its quarantine, the vet pronounced it healthy and gave it the vaccinations it needed, and the man paid the bill and brought his kitten back home to the salvage yard.

As I drove home, I pondered how the kitten had won the friendship of a busy man who runs a metal salvage business and doesn't take parts off cars without a deposit.

The next day, I drove back to the salvage yard to pick up the part. The sun was shining brightly, and the air was pleasantly cool. The boss and another worker had a pickup truck and trailer parked beside the office, and they were working on the truck. The kitten wasn't in the office when I paid the remaining balance for the part, so I asked about him. "He's out there in the trailer, and he's feeling real frisky this morning," the boss said.

"Feeling real frisky" meant that the kitten was climbing the slats of the trailer and reaching out to snag anything that came within range. I managed to get a couple of wild-eyed photos of him. They don't do him justice. He really is a beautiful little creature -- sleek and lithe and overflowing with the joy of life.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Nevada Sale Barn

Still in use, thanks to LMA



The sale barn in Nevada*, Missouri, sits on nine acres on the east side of town, just a block off Highway 54. I took this picture of it when I was traveling with my sister last month.

I was curious about this little sale barn, so I searched online and found photos and a description of the property in the archives of a real estate company. It appeared to be vacant at the time the photos were taken. The floor plan of the barn is exactly what I would have guessed it to be. Every sale barn I've ever visited in the American Midwest has a similar layout. 

There's a small sale arena enclosed by a high fence. The arena is surrounded on three sides by stadium-style seats for buyers and onlookers. On the opposite side of the arena, facing the seats, there are two gates: one to bring livestock into the arena, and the other to take livestock out. Between the two gates, the auctioneers face the audience from a raised box.

I don't think any auctions are held in the Nevada sale barn anymore, but the yards are still used for livestock marketing.  The property is now owned by Mo-Kan Livestock Market Inc. of Butler, Missouri (a town about 30 miles north of Nevada.)  It is a receiving station for Mo-Kan, and cattle are accepted on Wednesdays from 10 AM to 6 PM. I read on the Mo-Kan website that Mo-Kan transports cattle from the station to their Thursday auction in Butler for a fee of $3/head.

Mo-Kan streams their cattle auctions and accepts bids over the internet. Of course, they also take bids from buyers who attend the sale in person, but the internet helps them offer the livestock to a wider market. The internet auctions are facilitated by LMA Auctions, an arm of the Livestock Marketing Association (LMA).

LMA has about 800 members like Mo-Kan, across the United States and Canada. The mission of LMA is stated on the homepage of the website: "We are committed to the support and protection of the local livestock auction markets. Auctions are a vital part of the livestock industry, serving producers and assuring a fair, competitive price through the auction method of selling."

If it weren't for LMA and internet auctions, the Nevada sale barn might be just another abandoned building.
- - - - -

* The people of Nevada, MO, pronounce their town's name with a "long a;" that is, the second syllable rhymes with "way."

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Sunset after Rain



An artist friend, Pam Holnback, says that no matter what you paint, it's a process of putting shapes of light and color onto the canvas. I'm not a painter, but I do notice light. As I was driving to town the other night, I was so awed by the light of the sunset reflecting on the wet highway that I pulled off the road and tried to photograph it. I like this image, but I wish it showed the driving lanes of the highway reflecting the light, instead of the shoulder. I'm not going to stand in the middle of the highway to take a picture, though!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Great Barbecue for a Purpose

 Pioneers Inc. of Hopkinsville, KY


Summer wouldn't be complete without barbecue, and I love the barbecue made by Pioneers, Inc. in Hopkinsville. Keely drives by their billboard on North Main Street as she goes to work, so she keeps me updated on their barbecue schedule -- always on Friday, but not every Friday.

Pioneers Inc. is a busy volunteer group, and barbecue is one of their fund-raising activities. The Pioneers are locally famous for delicious, homestyle food. If you ever have the good fortune to be invited to an event that they cater, you would be a fool to refuse the invitation.


The line for barbecue at the Pioneers' Smith Pavilion is always an interesting cross-section of the local population. A volunteer behind the window at left takes orders and payments. Then the customers wait a few minutes for their orders to be handed to them through the window at right.  It's not a fast process, but the line does move, and the wait is absolutely worthwhile.


The menu has a variety of sandwiches, sides, and meats for carry-out or eat-in (at the picnic tables.) I usually get a pound or two of the barbecued pork to take home. Keely and Taurus like to keep some Pioneers barbecue sauce on hand.

At work, earlier in the day that I took these pictures, an elderly lady told me that she was expecting overnight guests. She described all the work she had done to get her house ready, and I asked her if she was doing a lot of cooking, too. "No," she said. "I've already made potato salad, and I'm going to buy a pound of barbecue."

"Are you going to get some Pioneers?" I asked her. "Oh, I wish I could!  That would be so nice!" she said. "Are they cooking this weekend?" I assured her that they were, and she thanked me profusely. She even came by a few days later to thank me again.  "Thank the Pioneers, not me," I told her. That's the sort of respect that Pioneers' barbecue gets around here.

Pioneers Inc., a civic group of Christian black men, was organized in 1952. The income from their projects goes to college scholarships, Christmas gifts and food baskets for needy families, and other community projects and needs. I think of their barbecue as one more nice thing that they do for the community.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Messages from our Mennonite Neighbors

Bible verses along the roads


"Remember thy Creator in thy youth."


"Choose this day whom you will serve."
Over the past year or so, several signs with Bible verses have been posted along local roads by our Mennonite neighbors. I don't know whether the signs are a church project or individual efforts. Some of the signs are similar in size and style, so maybe they came from the same supplier.

The signs are written in English so they can be read by most people who pass by.  But actually, the Mennonites usually read the Bible in German.  Their Heilege Schrift (Holy Scriptures) is/are written in "Bible German," a form of High German that's different from the Pennsylvania Dutch they speak at home. Mennonite children learn Bible German along with English, as part of their education.

"Honor thy father and mother."
A young Mennonite neighbor lady once told me that "sometimes we look in the King James Bible" if a passage in the Mennonite Bible is hard to understand. I am not sure if she was speaking for all or just speaking for her own household.  The archaic English of the King James Version is surely as difficult as Bible German, but the Mennonites probably assign extra virtue to the KJV simply because it is old.

But let me get back to the signs around the neighborhood. I respect our neighbors for trying to "be a good light". (A Mennonite neighbor lady, telling me how Mennonites should live, used that phrase.) But I do wish they'd put the signs on posts instead of nailing them to trees. These trees growing wild in the fence rows aren't particularly valuable, and they'll probably survive the nails, but it still bothers me. I hate to see things nailed to living trees, no matter who does the nailing.

"Repent & be converted that your sins may be blotted out."
"God will judge the world in righteousness."

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Road Trip through the Ozarks

Christian County, Kentucky, to Hickory County, Missouri


Recently, I took a few days off from the usual humdrum and made a fast trip west to visit my family. I drove to Wheatland, Missouri, and picked up my sister; then she rode along with me to Kingman County, Kansas, where we spent several days visiting with my brother and sister-in-law. Then I took my sister home again, and came back home myself. The entire trip was about 1500 miles.

Here are some of the sights from the first day, as I traveled from Hopkinsville, Kentucky, to southwest Missouri.

 This gas station in Wickliffe, Kentucky, is a familiar landmark just before the long approach through the swamps to the Ohio River bridge.

There was no traffic on the bridge over the Mississippi River, so I drove slowly, put my camera out the window, and blindly took some pictures. Most of them were out of focus and wildly tilted (not surprising,) but this one isn't too bad. The trees are growing on the extreme southern tip of Illinois. The Ohio River is on the far side of the trees and the Mississippi River is in the foreground. The two rivers come together in front of the trees and continue as the Mississippi to the ocean.

 

Much of the land in the Missouri Bootheel was cypress swampland until the 1890s. It was considered a great engineering accomplishment when nearly all the trees were cut and the swamps were drained and converted to farmland. Today, it's a very productive agricultural area, but a rich and complex ecosystem has been lost forever.


Most of the hay harvest this year in southern Missouri and southern Kansas was put into big round bales like these. We did see a few big square bales in Kansas. We speculated that they could be packed closer on a truck than round bales and that they would be more stable during transport.


In a gas station, I saw this stuffed bobcat and bird (I think it's a quail.) I don't think they'd win any taxidermy prizes, but they certainly were attention-grabbing, especially for little children.


The other end of this shop in Van Buren, Missouri, was more modern and less cluttered, but I really liked the look of this end. Van Buren always has something interesting to see. I took a few minutes off to drive around town and look at the Current River.


My next stop was at Winona, where I pulled into a gas station to study the map and plot a route across the Ozarks. I had finished my map reading and I was waiting at the stop sign to get back on Highway 60, when a woman in a Ford Explorer rear-ended my car. She was apologetic, but she didn't explain to me why she did it. My car didn't appear to be damaged, but I got her insurance information anyway. "Just in case," I told her.


I pointed my camera at the road as I went down some of the big hills. Here are two pictures that turned out all right. I'm thankful for Highway 60 which is all four-lane these days, but I always enjoy the point in the journey when I turn northward on a two-lane and head across the Ozarks toward Wheatland. I've seen some great scenery from the two-lanes in the Ozarks.

I usually go through Lebanon, but I decided to take some blacktop county roads (about 50 miles of them) and go through Buffalo instead. (This information is for those who really know their southern Missouri geography.) That's how I happened to pass through Conway, and by the way, it was the first town I'd seen in quite a while.


I finally arrived at my sister's house a little before sunset. When I opened the trunk of my car, I couldn't close it again. Once opened, the two parts of the trunk latch were misaligned and impossible to connect. So I called the woman's insurance company and made a claim that night.  (Lesson: Always get the insurance info, even if the car does not appear dented at first glance!)

For the rest of the trip, I had to fasten the trunk with a bungee-cord. We put most of our gear in the back seat because it was more convenient. When I got home again, I took the car to the body shop for an estimate, and the guys there bent it back enough to close it properly. Now, I'm just waiting for the appointment in about a week to get it fixed for good.
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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.