WANDERINGS FROM YOUR PRESIDENT
BY GAYLE STUART
Everyone has a photographic memory. Some don’t have film.
We all think we have a good memory until we get asked to write things down. I have been encouraging members to write down our stories and I’m sure all of us are having some problems remembering the details about our own lives. These stories do not have to be long, but give details of happenings. I know that I have mentioned this now several times and I know people are busy, but we have received only 5 stories so far. There is one in the newsletter again this time.
Have you ever thought about what kind of roads our ancestors would have traveled on to get to the Midwest from the east coast? Most of our ancestors would have probably come through New York, Castle Garden or Ellis Island. There are other ports also if you have not found them coming into the United States. How did they get here? I know that my Danish family came by train to St. Cloud, Minnesota and then by wagon to the area around Little Falls where they lived. (In the story that my grandfather had written down, he mentions that it took them a week to go from Milwaukee to St. Paul.) He turned 11 years old at that time, June 1, 1874. From St. Paul to St. Cloud took 2 days. (Now you can drive that distance in about 45 minutes.) Grandpa mentions that, on the second day, it rained and the wagons got stuck in the mud up to the axles.
Roads may have been built along Indian trails. Think of the brush and rocks that would have had to be moved. Roads were not paved and most were just dirt to begin with. We complain about how rough some of our roads are now, but enjoy some very nice ones too. How did my family know which road they were to take? I’m sure there were crude maps for some of the people, but not for your common every day travelers. Now we have GPS in our cars to help us get lost.
Bob Greenwall has an article in this newsletter about early roads across Iowa. On the map that we had enlarged, the highways do not have numbers but names. For example, from Walnut to Avoca, the road was part of the Detroit-Lincoln-Denver Highway. At the last meeting, others were mentioned.
I hope everyone is enjoying the nicer weather and that you have a good spring.