Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Errors and omissions found along the vacation trail


I tell people who ask what I did while on vacation that I went fishing --- in courthouse vaults and cemeteries. Some understand; others don't. I also mowed the lawn (twice), did some sight-seeing and just sat and read a lot.

But a lot of time was spent in Ottumwa, Bloomfield and Keosauqua and on the roads between. They're scenic roads, so the trips were part of the pleasure involved.

Working with helpful staff members in the clerk of district court offices in Bloomfield and Keosauqua was a pleasure, too --- as was just working in their wonderful old buildings.

Folks at the libraries maintained by the Wapello County and Davis County genealogical societies also were most helpful.

I especially enjoyed visiting with Brenda Kremer at the Eldon Public Library (a beautiful little Carnegie building that's a credit to the small town around it), which she directs. Brenda also is working with others in the community to find a place on the National Register of Historic Places for the lock-keeper's house along the old trail between Eldon and Selma.

Brenda corrected my misunderstanding about lock-keeper's house ownership. Somehow I'd gotten it into my head that the Davis County Conservation Board owned the building. Well, it doesn't. Ownership has never been separated from the farm land that surrounds it. The property had been owned by James H. Jordan and his descendants for 120 years and claimed by Trader Jim for 10 years before that --- until it was sold by the heirs of Grace (Jordan) Baldwin, his last surviving grandchild, after her death in 1968. It's still privately owned, but by a landowner interested in its conservation and future. So I've updated an earlier entry here entitled "Black Hawk's bones" to reflect that new (to me) information.

I've also fiddled with the entries entitled "Main Street Iowaville, late afternoon" and "James H. Jordan's Bones I and II" to improve accuracy. Of course I also picked up other bits and pieces of information about this area and the people who once lived in it that for better or worse I'll share here as time passes.

Brenda sent me down to Selma to talk with Rex Richardson about the Hinkle family and his memories of the Selma and Iowaville areas. Wow, what a source of information! Wish I could have spent longer with him.

Anyhow, I had a great week --- although you may have to as obsessive-compulsive about local history and genealogy as I am to understand exactly why.

2 comments:

Ed Abbey said...

I've spent quite a bit of time in the Bloomfield courthouse. I really like the architecture of it. Also, if they still give them, trips up into the bell tower provide a great view of town.

Frank D. Myers said...

No tower tour offered last week, but I did get to take a look at the grand old courtroom, since court wasn't in session; and visited the county assessor's staff in the basement behind the heavy iron grate that once guarded the entrance to the county jail.