Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Die Familie Redlingshafer No. 1a: John W. Rosa

By Frank D. Myers

Born 4 July 1857, probably at Pekin, Tazewell County, Illinois
Married Sarah Minerva Chynoweth 6 May 1891
Warren Township, Lucas County, Iowa
Died 4 January 1949, Benton Township, Lucas County, Iowa
Children: George Edward Rosa; Dorothy M. (Rosa) Elson

John W. Rosa, eldest surviving child of John W. and Anna Margaret (Redlingshafer) Rosa, was born 4 July 1857. His obituary gives Bureau County, Illinois, as the place. John, however, said that he was born in St. Louis, according to an oral biography transcribed several years before his death. And to confuse the issue farther, there are good reasons to believe that he actually was born at Pekin in Tazewell County, Illinois.

Whatever the case, when the 1860 federal census enumerator called at the John "Rosy" home in what now is the ghost village of Hollowayville, Bureau County, Illinois, on 20 June of that year, his parents were operating a grocery store and John was 2 years old. His maternal aunt and uncle Anna Maria (Redlingshafer) Banschbach, her husband, Martin, and their family were living nearby.

According to John's obituary, he came to Chariton when he was 8 years old, during the spring of 1865; and was 10 years old when his father died in Chariton of typhoid fever during 1867. John's younger brother, Adam, said the family traveled by rail from Illinois, crossed the Mississippi River on a ferry, then continued the trip by train from Burlington to Eddyville on the Des Moines River --- the end of the line at the time. From Eddyville, the Rosas traveled by stage coach to Chariton.

A year after John Rosa Sr. died, Anna Margaret married Joachim Wulf and the new family moved to a farm in Benton Township, near those of her brothers, John G. and George W. Redlingshafer, and sister, Margaret Anna (Redlingshafer) Hupp. Always a provident women, she had purchased the farm just after John Rosa Sr.'s death. When the 1870 census of Benton Township was taken, however, John was not enumerated as a member of his family's household. At age 13, he may have been visiting or working elsewhere at the time.

John would have begun his education in Chariton, but enrolled in the Gartin School (Washington No. 6) about a mile southwest of his new home, after moving to the country.

By 1880, John was farming full-time and at age 22 living independently. The John W. Rosa farm, until it was sold by his descendants, consisted of two 80-acre tracts, 80 acres in Section 17 on the north side of the road and 80 acres in Section 20 on the south side of the road. Lucas County land records show that he purchased the north 80 from Joseph Gassner on 12 June 1879 (Lucas County Deed Book X, Page 493).

According to his obituary, John "was converted at the age of 16 (during 1873 or 1874) and became a member of the United Brethren Church."

There does not appear to have been a church of any sort in the neighborhood when the extended Redlingshafer family settled in Benton Township, but a United Brethren in Christ class had been organized 15 October 1859 at New York, several miles south in Wayne County. A mission of this class was organized in the Wolf Creek neighborhood and took its name, Gartin Class, from the school where services generally were held. It was served by itinerant preachers, and Hiram and Phoebe Benton reportedly were the first. It probably was within this class that John was converted and he remained an active United Brethren until his death.

During 1889, a church was built on the west side of what now is Highway 14, about a half mile west of John's farm. Named Otterbein after a founder of the United Brethren in Christ denomination, the church was built under the trusteeship of John Rosa, John G. Redlingshafer (his uncle) and J.P. Sellers (a neighbor in the Wolf Creek neighborhood).

John's younger brother and sister both married during 1887, but John passed his 30th birthday on the 4th of July 1887 single and apparently in no hurry to wed.

At some point during the next few years, however, he met Sarah Minerva Chynoweth, a native of Ohio who had grown up near Chariton and who had been teaching in rural schools since her own graduation from Mrs. Stewart's Select School in Chariton during the early 1880s. Sarah Minerva, always known as Minerva rather than Sarah --- and to those of us who were her nieces and nephews as "Auntie Rosy" --- was born 4 November 1864 in Belmont County, Ohio, and had arrived in Lucas County with her family when just six weeks old.
Minerva was the first child of Joseph Turner Chynoweth, born 17 March 1819 near Frederick, Maryland, to William and Bridget "Biddy" Turner Chynoweth (natives of England), and his second wife, Eliza Jane (Brown) Dent, born 24 May 1832 in Belmont County, Ohio, to Andrew and Elizabeth (Schooley) Brown. After earlier spouses had died, Joseph and Eliza Jane married ca. 1863, most likely in Monroe County, Ohio --- where the courthouse burned; no trace of a marriage record ever has been found. Jane had one surviving son, Cassius Marcellus Clay Dent (my great-grandfather), from her first marriage --- to George Dent, who died 16 August 1860 in Belmont County. Joseph had one son, Thomas Bentley Chynoweth, from his first marriage --- to Sarah (Calvert) Dent, who had died during 1858. Together, Joseph T. and Eliza Jane had four children: Sarah Minerva, born 4 November 1864 in Ohio; George H., born 28 August 1866 in Lucas County; and twins, Mary and Martha, born 2 March 1868 in Lucas County (Martha died at birth). Joseph T. Chynoweth was a surveyor and farmer. The family lived for a number of years just east of Chariton, near Fairview School, and then moved to a farm near Derby, in Warren Township.
John W. and Minerva may already have been planning to marry when her father died on 16 November 1890 at his Warren Township home at age 72 of heart disease.

And they were indeed married the following spring, at 5 p.m. on Wednesday the 6th of May 1891 at the Chynoweth home with the Rev. L.P. Mitchell, of the United Brethren Church, officiating. That same evening, according to John's obituary, they returned to the Benton Township farm where they were to spend their entire married life.

In honor of the occasion, Mr. and Mrs. "Joseph" Wulf issued engraved invitations to a 7 p.m. reception at their home on Thursday, May 7th, "to welcome their son and daughter."

John W. and Minerva became the parents of two children: George Edward, born 7 November 1892, and Dorothy M., born 13 August 1897. They also welcomed into their home Minerva's niece (and my grandmother), Ethel Dent, age 14, after her mother, Susan Elizabeth (Dunlap) Dent, wife of Minerva's half-brother, Cassius M.C. Dent, died on 12 February 1901 near Rock Rapids in far northwest Iowa. Ethel remained a member of the family until her marriage on 17 October 1906 to Irwin Myers.

Minerva's mother, Eliza Jane, was living with the Rosa family when she died on 31 January 1900. The Rosas also provided a final home for Minerva's sister, Mary (Mollie), who returned to Iowa terminally ill early in 1928 and died on 30 June.

The Rosas were extremely active in Otterbein United Brethren Church, where John served as Sunday school superintendent, class leader, janitor and, according to his obituary, "whever else the Lord called him to do." According to a family story, John even mortgaged 40 acres of his farm in order to make a substantial donation toward building a United Brethren in Christ church in Chariton during 1903.

John also served as president of the Lucas County Mutual Insurance Association from 1909 until 1947, when he retired because of failing health; and he also was an organizer of Lucas County Farm Bureau. He served at times as Wolf Creek correspondent for the Chariton newspapers and, according to his obituary, "never missed voting at his precinct polling place, the Myers School, once during 70 years and had voted by the time he died in 17 presidential elections."

In later years, Minerva and John built a new house on the north 80 of the family farm and turned the older home on the south 80 over to their son, George, and his family.

John died in the new house on Tuesday, 4 January 1947, age 89. Funeral services were held Thursday afternoon, 6 January, at the Miley Funeral Home in Chariton with the Rev. Clifford Carter, pastor of the Evangelical United Brethren Church, officiating. Burial followed in the Chariton Cemetery, just north of his father, mother and stepfather.

Minerva continued to live on the farm for as long as she was able, but eventually moved to the home of her daughter, Dorothy (Rosa) Elson, near Clio in Wayne County, Iowa, where she dined on 16 April 1962, age 97. She was buried beside John in the Chariton Cemetery.

Monday, April 27, 2015

When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom'd ....

I have the annoying habit of quoting at inappropriate times and places scraps of poetry that have lodged in my head under conditions both fortunate and unfortunate.

The tail end of Thanatopsis (William Cullen Bryant) is an old favorite; the introductions to Kubla Khan (Samuel Taylor Coleridge) and, for some reason, Charge of the Light Brigade (Alfred Lord Tennyson), too.

With ever-returning spring, however, it's a line or two from Walt Whitman's masterwork, When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd ....

This was written by Whitman in the form of an elegy during the period of national mourning that followed the assassination of President Lincoln on April 14, 1865. You need to know that context in order to appreciate it.

I had to write an essay many moons ago in English lit analyzing Whitman's symbolism --- an unfortunate circumstance. Fortunately, the poem stuck.

The lilacs are in full bloom right now, in case you've been distracted by all those bubble-gum wrapped redbuds and haven't noticed. And they're glorious. I found these giant bushes at Yocom Park, planted many years ago By Chariton Woman's Club members who most likely dug the starts out of their own long-vanished dooryard gardens.

It's one thing to read the poem quietly to yourself; quite another to read it aloud --- like chewing a mouthful of fresh, sweet, fully ripe strawberries that have been dipped in the finest milk chocolate.

So go find yourself a lilac bush and repeat after me --- with great feeling:

When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom’d,
And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night,
I mourn’d, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.

Ever-returning spring, trinity sure to me you bring,
Lilac blooming perennial and drooping star in the west,
And thought of him I love....

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Banschbachs, Redlingshafers & Forty-Eighters...

This old photograph of a Redlingshafer aunt --- Maria Anna (Redlingshafer) Banschbach --- and her family turned up the other day to remind me that I need to assemble and organize my notes and papers, then write more about the family. 

The Banschbachs didn't live in Lucas County, having settled at DePue, a small town southwest of Chicago in Bureau County, Illinois. But four of Maria Anna's siblings did --- Anna Margaret (Redlingshafer) Rosa, John G. Redlingshafer (my great-great-grandfather), George W. Redlingshafer and Margaret Anna (Redlingshafer) Hupp. There are still enough descendants of the Lucas County four left around here --- at least in Iowa --- to fill Carpenters Hall should we ever decide to get together.

But there are fewer than you might think, in part because the second generation of this family in America seems not to have been especially interested in reproducing. Only two of 12 Hupp children married and produced descendants, for example. The Redlingshafer-Banschbach family at DePue managed to die out entirely.

In the photo, I can identify Aunt Maria Anna and her husband, Martin, as well as their youngest daughter, Lilly Belle, seated in front with the family dog. But I'm not sure about identifies of the other children. The other girls were Emma and Elizabeth Ann; the boys, George, Charles and William Henry. The boys all married, but upon departure from this earthly realm left collectively only two adopted children behind. None of the girls married --- Lilly Belle, reportedly, because of disinclination; Emma and Elizabeth Ann, reportedly, because none of their suitors lived up to their mother's expectations.

The Banschbach family was quite affluent as is kind of obvious in the photo --- and had the Lucas County Hupp family been just a little longer-lived it might have been a little richer. Elizabeth Ann Banschbach was the last of the Banschbach siblings, surviving until August of 1962. In her will, she left $10,000 to four of her Hupp first-cousins in Lucas County --- still living when she drew up the document: Lucinda, Hannah, Sara Jane and Otto. 

The three Hupp girls died during the 1950s, however, and although Otto survived until 1962, he predeceased Elizabeth Ann by four months. Because of that the Hupp bequest rolled back into the Banschbach estate and eventually went with several hundred thousand other Banschbach dollars to Oberlin College --- all of the Banschbach daughters were Oberlin graduates.

The Redlingshafers also were Forty-Eighters --- and that's something else I need to look into a little more thoroughly. 

If you're familiar with European history you'll know that a series of revolutions swept across Europe during 1848, including the German states. The Redlingshafers lived at the time in a protestant enclave west of Nuremberg in Bavaria where they had lived since the 17th century after having been booted as protestants out of their native (and Catholic) Austria.

While it's doubtful the Redlingshafers were revolutionaries themselves, they appear to have shared the ideals of those who were --- democracy, human rights, unification of the German people.

After the revolutions of 1848 were crushed, thousands of Germans emigrated to America --- some as political refugees (Davenport was at the heart of Forty-Eighter settlement in Iowa), others who shared those revolutionary ideals and simply decided to move their families to safer and more liberating places.

As a result, George and Doratha Redlingshafer --- he in his 60s and relatively affluent and she, mid-40s --- sold out and set sail during late 1848 or 1849 for America with their eight children ranging in age from mid-20s to less than a year. George died in 1856 at Guttenberg, having at least reached Iowa; Doratha came on west to Benton Township, Lucas County, where she died in 1881.

So that's a little bit about how we came to be here, and I'd like to learn more.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The transgender challenge ...

So good for Bruce Jenner, who came out officially last night I'm reading (didn't watch --- life is too short for television) as transgender after months of media speculation.

The oddest thing I've read about the whole business in recent days was a Washington Post blog post scolding Jenner for being a "bad" representative for the trans community because of his association with some people named Kardashian, whoever they may be.

I'd say Jenner, a former Iowa boy (he's a 1973 graduate of Graceland College, now University, down at Lamoni) who gained nationwide attention as an Olympic gold medalist in decathlon during 1976, will be a darned good representative. Jenner will continue to identify as "he" and use the name "Bruce" during transition, by the way.

And I've been a little surprised that trans public heroes of the past haven't received a little more attention. I'm a little too young to remember much about Christine Jorgensen, a trans woman and transitioning surgery pioneer who became a public figure in the early 1950s. But Jan Morris (left), a Welsh writer of stunning talent who began life as James --- now 88, alive and well --- is another matter. Somewhere around here I must still have her 1974 book "Conundrum," a personal narrative.

Another oddity of the trans experience is the difficulty people who are not trans have in coping. Even my people, reduced sometimes to the acronym LGBT, have been challenged at times, the "LGB" component being uncomfortable with and less than supportive of the "T." Fortunately, that has changed.

The most bizarre aspect of trans/non trans relations seems to involve restrooms. A trans friend of mine, some years ago, was cast out of a Lutheran church (and presumably the kingdom of God as well) after a disagreement about which restroom she should use. I mean like, what sensible person cares? Or even notices?

Heterosexual males, especially --- who already in some cases feel threatened by gay folks --- occasionally carry their insecurities to the extreme and beat trans people to death. That's why codified protections for trans people are important, too.

The challenge for those of us who aren't trans is to treat our sisters and brothers who are as we would want to be treated if we were. I believe it's called the golden rule. And if you're not man or woman enough to do that, just shut yo mouth and move along.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Andy Asell's maps: Savanna, prairie and woodland

I promised earlier in the week to pull from PowerPoint four of the maps used by Andy Asell for his "Little County on the Tallgrass Prairie" presentation Monday evening at the Lucas County Historical Society annual meeting. So here they are.

Keep in mind that three of the maps belong to Andy, not to me (or you). The map from the 1875 A.T. Andreas Illustrated Historical Atlas of the State of Iowa is in the public domain. Andy used the maps to illustrate historic vegetation patterns in the county.

The first map consists of two parts --- a base indicating vegetation patterns noted by the field surveyors who first mapped the county ca. 1847. Green represents woodland; tan, open land; brown, transitional areas. Over the top, Andy has dropped a grid of historic man-made features --- cultivated areas noted by the surveyors (tiny splotches of bright red), historic but no longer extant towns (orange squares), schools (blue dots) and cemeteries (blue crosses) in addition to roadways and the towns that still are with us.

The surveyor notes do not adequately represent the extensive oak savannas the marked the transition between woodland and prairie, so those areas are under represented on the base map. It might be noted, too, that not all of Lucas County's rural schools are located on the overlay --- although most are. There were, for example, two school buildings in the Benton Township district I know best --- Myers. What was known as "Myers School" is indicated, but the other --- Brush College --- is not.

The second map, taken from the Andreas atlas, illustrates patterns of vegetation noted by 1875 mapmakers, relying no doubt on earlier sources.

In the third map, the 1847 vegetation pattern has been dropped onto the 1875 grid to show how they related as the century progressed.

The final map results from science rather than obscrvation and is based upon soil surveys. In other words, soil samples have been used to map under what conditions Lucas County soils developed --- prairie (tan), savanna (brown) and woodland (green).

I was amazed by the extent of the savannas --- although this is not necessarily the exact pattern EuroAmerican pioneers found when they entered Lucas County since it is based upon millennia of development. Note that the big forests of Lucas County were located along White Breast and Cedar creeks; the Chariton River --- rather puny here in Lucas County close to its headwaters --- was bordered primarily by savanna.

There seems to be a little confusion about what exactly a savanna is. I (unscientifically) think of a savanna as "park-like." In other words, mature trees are scattered across the landscape in such a manner that their canopies are not closed, sunlight reaches the soil and grasses and other vegetation flourish under and around them. Prairie fires swept through savannas, but the trees --- mostly oaks --- were hardy enough to withstand the fire and flourish while lesser varieties of trees and brushy vegetation were kept in check.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Swan song at Jack Coffey Marsh

It's not clear how the swans felt about all the excitement at Coffey Marsh just north of Promise City Wednesday afternoon --- they're laid-back big birds. But the 80 or so humans present had a wonderful time.

The occasion was release of four trumpeter cygnets, all about 10 months old and three-quarters mature size, into the marsh as the Iowa Department of Natural Resources continues its effort to rebuild a native nesting but free-flying trumpeter swan population across the state. That population for the most part disappeared in the 1880s as humans destroyed its habitat and killed the birds. Wednesday's release was a joint project of the DNR and Wayne County Conservation.

I didn't catch this guy's name, but his human friend is David Hoffman, headquartered at Clear Lake, who coordinates the Iowa Trumpeter Swan Restoration Project for the DNR.

Also on hand was Bonnie Friend, Wayne County Conservation director, who coordinated local details. Wayne County Conservation initiated the idea of a release at Coffey Marsh.

Everyone present who wanted to had the opportunity to touch a swan, but some had more intimate experiences than others. This student --- several youngsters arrived with parents or grandparents and Seymour Community School sent a busload --- helps Hoffman demonstrate the swan's wingspan, up to 8 feet and more in a mature adult.

Coffey Marsh is named for Jack Coffey, of Russell, Rathbun area wildlife biologist from 1967 until his death in 1996. Development of the marsh along the South Chariton River within the Rathbun wildlife management area was his last major project. His son, Jim, was present Wednesday to say a few words, accompanied by Jack's wife, Ivalee, and a granddaughter.

The most intelligent questions, of course, were asked by the 50 or so students present. We learned, for example, that two of the cygnets released Wednesday were wild --- one captured when it flew into an enclosure and the other injured, perhaps in a collision with a power line, then nursed back to health. The other two were hatched from eggs rescued at Blank Park Zoo when flooding threatened a nest, then taken to Algona where a pen (female swan) was brooding a nestful of infertile eggs and substituted.

And that trumpeters usually build their huge nests atop muskrat lodges, creating a penthouse-like effect.

And that trumpeters generally do not pair up and breed until they are about five years old; that both pens and cobs participate in raising their young; and that while many pairs mate for life, others --- just like humans --- divorce and move along. Swans can live, all things being equal, for a quarter century or more.

Because of their size (trumpeters are the largest variety of waterfowl) and aquatic habits, predators are not as much of a threat as in-flight collisions with power lines, lead poisoning (although it is illegal to hunt waterfowl with lead shot in Iowa now, much residual lead remains in the silt of marsh ponds and it is deadly) and mold-based diseases (do not feed birds moldy bread).

After Hoffman's presentation Wednesday afternoon, the four cygnets were freed from their cages, taken into the arms of volunteers and a procession formed to water's edge (most, but not everyone, managed to keep their feet dry).

There, swans and their handlers were lined up and a human tunnel formed to the marsh pond.

Upon release, the swans headed for the water and sailed away (without looking back).

Some of the feathers on one wing of each cygnet is clipped, so they won't be able to fly until after moult during July. Remaining gray feathers, marking a bird as immature, will be replaced then by white and the swans will then be able to fly at will. By the time the are fit to fly and before moving on, it is hoped, they will have patterned Coffey Marsh and will return again and again, eventually to nest.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The view from Strong Cemetery

It's easy to understand why Thomas Lee and Mary Margaret Strong, some 160 years ago, buried their 16-month-old son, Levi Harvey, on this gentle rise where perhaps 100 scattered graves, marked and unmarked, form the cemetery that bears their surname.

That burial, most likely, took place on the 3rd day of April, 1853, and the gentle landscape is for the most part unchanged, although dotted now with ponds and trees, farm homes and barns. And the tallgrass prairie now is pasture, corn and soybean fields --- and just to the northwest, Blue Gate Farm's market gardens.

Pierce's Pumpkin Patch, a major autumn attraction in this part of the state, is just to the northeast, north of what remains of Belinda Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), founded by some of those buried here and church home to others. The former Pleasant Prairie United Methodist Church is three-quarters of a mile as the crow flies slightly southeast; the ghost village of Belinda, a little more than a mile due south.

The cemetery remains a profoundly peaceful place, set back at the end of a quarter-mile lane that rolls in with the contours of the land from the west --- even though semi-trailers, cars and pickups on Iowa Highway 14 are visible three-quarters of a mile to the east. Walk back to the knoll where most of the graves are, and the view extends for miles to the horizon (top; the view below that includes a barn is to the southwest).

Just beyond the horizon to the west and north, the prairie dips through savanna, denser woodland and modest valleys to  English Creek --- and that must have made this high ground an ideal place to settle, perhaps during the fall of 1851, when Thomas and Margaret and their two oldest sons, James W. and John F., arrived from southeast Iowa's Jefferson County. Open prairie to break (but not clear) with plenty of woodland nearby to provide for cabins, split-rail fences and firewood.

Dan Baker, in his 1881 history of Lucas County, tells us that the Strongs were Pleasant Township's first permanent settlers that fall --- and that Levi Henry, born on the 13th of December 1851, was the first child born to new settlers in the township. His passing 16 months later, on April 2, 1853, reportedly was the township's first death, too.

The little boy's grave was marked with a small marble headstone, now eroded to the point of illegibility. But for some reason when his older brother, James, died a few years later --- on June 13, 1861, age 13 --- his grave was not. It seems likely, however, that he is buried beside Levi Harvey.


It's likely, too, that Thomas and Mary Strong were living somewhere on the quarter-section where Strong Cemetery is located at the time of little Levi Harvey's death during the spring of 1853. But the 160-acre tract had been entered during the previous year, patent dated Nov. 1, 1852, by Mary's father, William Caldwell Templeton.

William had used a military bounty land warrant for 160 acres that he most likely had purchased on the open market at a discounted rate. The warrant had been issued to Ebenezer Bodwell, of Maine, for his service as a corporal in Captain Chadwick's company, 34th Regiment, U.S. Infantry, War of 1812. Warrants like this, issued by a Congressional act dated Sept. 28, 1850, were redeemable in any place where public land was available and could be bought, sold or traded at will.

Bodwell, age 65 in 1850 and a resident of Andover, Maine, most likely had no interest at all in moving west and so had sold the warrant to a speculator who probably had collected it and many others, then headed west to the Iowa frontier --- where thousands of acres of public land were available --- then resold it at a profit, but still for less than the going rate for public land, $1.25 an acre.

Bodwell was indeed a veteran of the War of 1812 and had sustained a head wound during the Battle of Chateauguay severe enough to entitle him to a pension from 1814 onward. He fathered 13 children, however, was a deacon in the Church of Andover and lived until what then was the ripe old age of 83, dying at Andover on Nov. 4, 1868.

It's not clear that William Templeton actually lived in Lucas County, although I think it likely that he did for a time, but he is the tie that binds quite a number of those buried at Strong Cemetery in a complex web of relationship, direct and indirect. If you think about these relationships long enough --- you'll get a headache. I'll write more about them another time.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Prairie landscapes and homemade pie

Andy Asell packed an astonishing amount of information about Lucas County's historic landscape, its plants and critters, into a lively presentation Monday night during the Lucas County Historical Society's annual meeting --- so much, in fact, I couldn't even begin to report upon it. You just should have been there.

A 1992 graduate of Chariton High School, Andy works as a geographic information systems analyst for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and is a reservoir of knowledge about the tallgrass prairie, woodland and savanna landscape that greeted pioneers when they started arriving here in 1846.

I had never fully appreciated before hearing Andy speak, for example, the fact that savannas --- where trees are spaced so that their canopy is not closed, allowing grasses and other plants to flourish underneath --- were such prominent features on Lucas County's land 170 years ago. Or that my old favorite bur oaks, which evolved with fire and therefore are highly resistant to it, withstood thousands of years of prairie fires to become the dominant tree in that savanna landscape.

Andy used a series of maps to illustrate signification portions of his presentation, including this one (slightly out of focus because it was shot on-screen) that shows how field surveyors perceived the landscape in 1847, patterns still evident today. Those surveyors were not necessarily familiar with Iowa landscape, however, so the standards they applied to it varied --- but you can get the idea under the modern overlay of roads, towns, cemeteries and other features. Green represents timber, brown transitional areas, the occasional red spot cultivated fields --- and the rest open prairie and savanna.

I may lift a couple of his other maps later from the PowerPoint part of his presentation, downloaded on the museum laptop, for use here another time --- we'll see.

Here's a shot of part of Monday evening's audience. Please note Frank Mitchell in the dark sweater at left in the foreground. Frank is a veteran LCHS board member who decided to retire this year and earned a highly deserved round of applause for his many years of service. He has been a prime mover in our grant-writing efforts over the years, took charge of many aspects of our multi-year project to ensure the stability of Puckerbrush School for another century, lined up an incredible series of speakers for previous annual meetings and in general worked to keep the LCHS board on the straight and narrow --- we do stray now and then. We're going to miss him.

It was great, however, to welcome to the board Kylie Dittmer and Nash Cox. It seems obvious now that I should have taken a photo of these two last night, but will have to do that later. I love to run my mouth and the annual meeting is an excellent opportunity to do that. But when the mouth is running the part of my brain that says "take a photo of this" is disengaged.

Returned to the board for additional three-year terms were Ilene Church, Char Asell (Andy's mother), Jerry Pierschbacher, Adam Bahr and Lucinda Burkhalter. Current officers were given another year to serve as well: Frank D. Myers, president; Adam Bahr, vice-president; Steve Laing, treasurer; and Lucinda Burkhalter, secretary.

I also promised myself before the meeting that this year I was going to take a photo or two of the amazing variety of homemade pies that awaited guests after the meeting closed --- board members and staffers provide these pies. And then I got so busy stuffing pie into my mouth, I forgot. Maybe next year.

And thanks again this year to Skylar Hobbs and staff and the Lucas County Conservation Board for opening Pin Oak Lodge to our annual meeting. It's a great venue --- and entertains me by providing the opportunity to photograph guest speakers with wild critters ready to pounce in the background, just in case they get too long-winded.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Bleeding hearts & annual meetings

This fine specimen of Lamprocapnos spectabilis, known more commonly as bleeding heart, is located at the southwest corner of Clark's Greehouse & Gifts. I spotted it there Thursday, headed inside for a meeting, and came back between showers Sunday afternoon to take a closer look.

Omniscient Wikipedia tells us that this lovely spring bloomer is native to Siberia, northern China, Korea and Japan; and probably was introduced to English gardens ca. 1840 by Robert Fortune, a Scots botanist and plant hunter.

From England, it crossed the Atlantic with hardy pioneer gardeners and has been a staple in old-fashioned flower beds ever since.

The "bleeding" part is the droplet-shaped projection at the base of the heart-shaped flower.

The term bleeding heart sometimes is used, too, in a dismissive sort of way to describe people perceived to be too compassionate --- but that usage most likely is related to depictions in religious art of the Sacred Heart of Jesus rather than to the springtime flower. Even though the guy to whom the heart belonged originally most likely would never have suggested that one could be too compassionate.


Don't forget the Lucas County Historical Society's 50th --- yes 50th, this is our birthday year and we'll be celebrating a little later on in the summer --- annual meeting this evening in the Lodge at Pin Oak Marsh. Here's a flyer to remind you.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Appalachian Spring ...

The neighbor's ornamental cherry tree, a thorn in my side while mowing lawn because it straddles the lot line, redeemed itself by bursting into full bloom yesterday --- a mild and misty day.

And then, getting ready to come downstairs this morning, I spotted the small finely detailed figure of a pioneer woman in long dress and flowing apron fashioned from corn husks, picked up many years ago at a shop in Georgetown called Appalachian Spring. So called, I'm sure, after Aaron Copland's 1944 orchestral suite. But also because everything in the shop had been fashioned by crafts people from Appalachians.

So what else could I do this morning other than share a cherry blossom photo --- and the "Simple Gifts" theme from Copland's masterwork?