Thursday, October 13, 2011

On tour with the Foxes

Bob and Pat Dietlein and Roberta Tuller (from left) look out across land originally settled by their ancestor, Levi Fox Sr. in Benton Township.

It's been a busy week, complicated by an early-morning Internet outage Wednesday that disrupted da blog as well as  other aspects of a perfectly organized life (if you believe "organized," I have shares of Papago Chief Mining Co. stock left behind by Great-great-granddad that you might be interested in).

The high point has been a reunion possible only in the 21st century. My friend Roberta flew in from Los Angeles late Tuesday afternoon, arriving in Chariton at about the same time as other friends, Pat and Bob, after a two-day drive up from Birmingham. All are now enjoying the amenities of Dual Gables and the reunion will continue into Friday.

Pat and Roberta are distant cousins to each other, descendants of Levi Fox Sr., who settled in Benton Township during the 1850s. They had never met, face to face at least. Nor had Roberta, a California native, ever set foot in Iowa before. Pat and Bob visited Lucas County a couple of years ago, but I had to drive back to Mason City before they got here and missed them that time. So I had never met either. We've all spent years, however, corresponding  via e-mail about their families and other things --- and talking on the telephone.

Anyhow, we set out Wednesday morning, stopping first at Salem Cemetery, where three of Roberta's grandparents (some generations removed) are buried: John N. Fox and Josiah and Sarah (Pitts) Smith.

From there, we drove down the New York Road to a spot near the Wayne County line and turned east on an overgrown "B" road alongside the land where Levi Fox Sr. lived for 20 years, until his death during 1877.

Pat and Roberta collected a few bits and pieces of roadside plants to take home.

It didn't seem like a good idea to drive down the hill into the Lost Branch Creek valley, where a Missouri crossing years ago replaced the bridge, so we just stood there for a long time admiring the view in all directions from the point where prairie and woodland met.

By that time, most of the morning was gone so we drove on to Honey Creek Resort for lunch on the terrace overlooking Lake Rathbun --- a beautiful experience on a mild October day (and the food and service were extraordinarily good, too).

Then, we reversed course to visit Missouri (Fox) Clowser and her family at the Confidence Cemetery; then on to the New York Cemetery to spend some quality time with Levi Fox Sr., his second wife (Pat's ancestor), Sarah Teas, and other family members.

In the evening, we drove down to Corydon --- the other county seat town that played a part in all of these ancestral lives --- for supper at Ludlow's, where Pat and I (but not necessarily Bob and Roberta) enjoyed the fried chicken gizzards. Pat (a native Alabaman) and I were enjoying ourselves comparing notes on how our grandmothers used to kill and dress chickens and clean gizzards when the others made us stop. Bob (a native of New York City) and Roberta (a city girl) for some reason didn't find the conversation as entertaining as we did.

More touring today, which I enjoy --- I was a tour guide in a previous incarnation. Probably no more chicken gizzards, however.

Fox Cousins Roberta and Pat recreate the clasped-hands symbol on the tombstone of their ancestor, Levi Fox Jr., in the New York Cemetery.

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