Chapter 1987, age 44-45, Part 2 of 3

Glen Kenyon Pierce, remembered on 4 June 1987
At left, a circa 1940 photograph of my grandfather, Glen Kenyon Pierce, about 50 years old, born one hundred years ago, on 4 June 1887, in rural Jacksonville, Chickasaw County, Iowa.

Jane learns to play the English Recorder
During early to mid February, Donna and I had on several occasions discussed buying Jane an English recorder and teaching her to play the musical scale. On Donna’s way home from work on February 20, she stopped at Four Winds Music Store and bought Jane an English recorder for $7.50 and a beginner’s music book.
Jane showed considerable enthusiasm at learning to play her recorder so we coached her a little every day. A month later, Jane had progressed far enough with her music and was still showing an interest in playing, so we set her up with music lessons. Her first private lesson was on Saturday, March 14, with Sharon. Sharon, a Elementary School music teacher in her 40s, gave Jane lessons in her home. Sharon explained early training procedures, so we could continue practicing effectively at home. Then for twenty minutes, Sharon and Jane practiced rhythmically tapping their hands, the proper method to hold the recorder, how to hold her fingers to form a ‘b’ note then rhythmically ‘tooting’ the ‘b’ note. When Jane learned a series of prescribed lessons, she was to be brought back for her next instruction.

Jane returned to Sharon for lessons in April, May and June, each time having shown great improvement over her previous visit. Meanwhile, Donna spent about 15 minutes a day with Jane assisting as she practiced fingering notes and playing her beginner’s scales. By mid June, Jane was playing songs like Hot Cross Buns, and Mary Had A  Little Lamb, which was exceptional for a three year seven month old preschooler!  8-)

Donna’s job at True Value Hardware
About one and a half years passed since Donna was hired as a bookkeeper at True Value Hardware store. Although she attended college and became a teacher with a California Secondary School Teaching License, she had never found a teaching position in Education. For the last fifteen years she worked in the bookkeeping and accounting departments of several different companies.

True Value Hardware is rather large for a hardware store, with 8500 square feet retail floor space, six full time and four part time employees. The store has a full line of hardware, plumbing, electrical, paint, pant sundries, hand tools, as well as an adequate line of house wares, small appliances and seasonal lawn and garden merchandise.

When Donna was hired, True Value was doing its bookkeeping in handwritten ledger books. Soon, Wayne, the owner, realized how much computer experience Donna had, so he bought a 286 IBM desk top computer, printer, etc., to convert the bookkeeping from handwritten to computerized records. Donna ‘brought the office into the Twentieth Century,’ buying, installing, and configuring the Peachtree Accounting software program to operate with their bookkeeping system and entering the data files to bring the records up to date.

The company needed to hire a part time girl for several months to help keypunch the account data in at night. Donna told our neighbor, Arlene, that the job was opened. After her  interview, Arlene was given the job and Donna trained her in what she was to do.

[At right, a 1987 photograph of Donna standing beside the driveway in our homesite.]

Since Donna spends most of her time working alone in the office, she has the benefit of pretty much setting her own hours. She was given a store key and can start work before the store opens, as is required when doing the monthly book closings. She takes the daily receipts to the bank and during slow periods helps work on merchandise displays. At times, she is called to the sales floor to either wait on customers or handle the cash register

Donna began her employment at True Value at a wage of $5.50 per hour, after thirty days training, her pay was increased 50¢ to $6.00 per hour. Now, after two ‘cost of living’ increases she is earning $6.55 per hour. For comparison, the sales floor personnel earn wages ranging from $4.00 to $5.95 per hour, however, Donna is still earning about $2.00 per hour less than she did working at Landy Packing Company. Although she earns less on a hourly basis, she does get a lot of overtime which goes a long way to making up for the pay differential. Besides working a half day every other Sunday, Donna  usually put in about two hours overtime (at one and half times regular pay) each week.

Installing a split rail yard fence
Beginning in early June, and finishing around the end of the month, we spend our weekends and some evenings installing a commercially made, two rail split-rail fence. The fence was set along the two hundred feet of driveway bordering the upper yard from the yard gate, around a semi circle to the garage.  It had been a few years since we’d installed the perimeter fence posts around the yard, so our renewed post hole digging sessions brought back old memories and sore muscles. Compounding the problem, we had a swarm of pesky Summer  gnats that flew into our eyes, ears and mouths with regularity.

When installed, the fence looked very nice and we realized we should have put it in earlier.  The rustic split rail style fits right in with our wooded surroundings, making the yard  look all that much more peaceful, serene and at one with nature, like the home of a National Park Forest Ranger.

[Photograph above, a 1987 summer morning at Nightstar*. Our upper front yard bordered by the newly installed split rail fence. We installed the fence by digging in a post or two each morning before work and maybe 3-4 per weekend day for about two weeks.
As of 1987, its been about 14 years since we decided to move out of California, 10 years since we bought the 39 acre property and 8 years since we became residents.]

At 3 years old, Jane begins reading
All the work Donna, Jane and I have been doing to teach Jane her alphabet and simple words has begun to pay off. On the morning of June 18, when Jane and I sat down to read from her book, Tom The TV Cat, Jane announced,
‘I can read the book to you, an’ mommy didn’t tell me how.’
Somewhat taken back, and surprised by Jane’s statement, I replied,
‘Ohh? You can? Well, what are you going to read to me?’

Jane placed her finger beneath a line in the open book and read, ‘He did mouse work.’ My head jerked sideways toward Jane, with full realization that this was the first time she had ever initiated reading aloud. Jane began reading sentences at three years seven months of age, approximately six months after learning the alphabet!  :-)

As the months passed, Jane and I read more children’s books together than it would be practical to list here. Some of the titles, however, included: Other People-Other Homes, Safety First-Home, Safety First-Fire, Continents, Oceans, Volcanoes, Deserts, Pioneers, West Indies, Japan, Ireland, I Like Kindergarten, Beavers

Music [midi: Labyrinth Melody]

A dream about gathering family signatures
During late June, I began collecting autographs of family members[1].
In order to extract ancestral signatures, our original documents were photocopied. Liquid paper was then used to blot out all other words near the ancestors name, in this way we ended up with a ‘clean’ signature. The signature was then cut out and pasted to a sheet of white paper and photocopied onto a piece of fine quality linen paper. This copy was cut out and placed inside a Show Guard postage stamp mount for storage.

Several days after this process was begun, I awoke during the middle of the night with an upset stomach and had a difficult time returning to sleep. I laid quietly in bed, neither awake or asleep, but in some drowsy middle ground where the mind drifts between dreams and imagination.

All of a sudden, my mind’s eye was, as it were, looking into a pool of unstill water; as the water became quiet, an image formed. The image was of my maternal grandparents, Pearl Elmer Shafer and wife, Alma Delight Kellogg, as they stood in a room signing my mother and father’s marriage license. I watched them through the pool- like, watery image, from a position above and behind them, near the ceiling.

In those brief moments that I was there observing, I overheard several quiet words spoken by the preacher, saying, ‘Here’s the pen. Sign here.’ (while pointing). My grandparents appeared solemn, their minds trying to focus on the official act of signing the license. They were totally absorbed in the emotions of the marriage of their daughter, Hazel. There was tenseness in the room, also a sense of duty, happiness and sadness.

Having signed the license, they turned their attention elsewhere. In an instant the document swirled into the watery pool toward me. In another instant, I had separated their names from the other extraneous print on the marriage license. I turned my gaze and looked  back into the pool. No more than a few seconds had elapsed for my grandparents, they were just beginning to turn away from the desk where the license laid. On the surface of the document, the ink signatures were just beginning to dry.

I looked at my grandparents through the pool, they were only a few feet distance, but walking away from the center of the room toward the door. They were totally oblivious of the potential that their act created, of my presence and concern with their signature on that piece of paper. Yet, how could they know? I was a person, whom in their time didn’t exist. I was reaching from the future, reaching back for their signatures.

The marriage license was simply a document, a contract joining two persons, complete with names, intentions, date, and the signatures of the officials and witnesses. It was a piece of paper that documented an event in space-time, but there was more, much more. In the act of signing their names they had left a personal, physical record of their individuality and the operation of their minds and, they had created a linking event in a different space- time.

I mused over the fact that photocopiers hadn’t yet been invented in 1941 when my parents were married. Then comically, I recalled that parts of rural America weren’t even electrified at that time. I grinned to myself, smug and knowing. I marveled that a ‘future person’ could seemingly reach back in time and separate the mark, movement and psychological trace of a person from an event in the distant past where the background was becoming increasingly noisy. I wondered what future technology might allow us to do and how easy it would be for people in my future to look back and extract our spoor and trace.

Startled by that realization, I opened my eyes and starred into the darkness of the bedroom, and knew you were near.
[Above, a photocopy of some of my family signatures, dating from the 1620 Mayflower Pilgrims to roughly the mid 1800s.]

They lie about us, quiet and potential
It is practically a universal human trait to remain unaware and oblivious of those human forms on which light does not yet shine, the unborn, or upon those whom lived before.
Yet, the creatures that will track us, lie amongst the soil of the garden and field, they lie quietly amongst the leaves in the trees of the forest and in the air above the sea. They are about us, without the code of our form, having not yet been called forth to rise again from the chemical environment.  They lie inert and potential as we walk, talk, write, laugh and live. Given our chromosomal code, the soil, water and air combine into life, that will, in the fullness of time, seek out the chain of life which brought forth its body from the dust.

They will know that their ancestors have created locally increased order in the energy flow. The order they left has become covered with layers of events, like the layers of an onion, enfolded, shell-like, evolving and expanding away from the core events of a specific time, moving toward increasing general disorder.
Our ancestors, the people before, are currently going about their lives in their own space-time, naive and innocent of how you and I are becoming more and more capable of stirring the technological cauldron, peeling away the layers of that metaphorical onion and calling forth their trace from our own space-time addresses.
The ocean-like currents of space-time carry flotsam and jetsam from the distant shores of history to our present. Some of the material goods, capacity for love and ideas that we throw into this ocean, from our own life experience, wash up on the shores of the future.
Family genealogists, County Historical Societies, Museum curators and archeologists are not unlike astronomers, the former looking across the spance of 4-dimensional space time to make sence of human life in the time flow, the latter looking into the depths of 3-dimensional space to make sense of aggregates with in the volume.

Grandma and Grandpa Pierce are dead, huh?’
On Friday, July 17, while Jane and I were chatting during lunch, when the subject of my parents came up. Quizzically, Jane asked, ‘Grandma and Grandpa Pierce are dead, huh?’ Stunned by her statement, I promptly advised her that they were alive and well, reminding her that she wrote them a letter. She remembered writing the letter, but then averted her eyes, looking away as if searching for more memories or a positive outcome from them. I changed the subject of our conversation, not wanting to tell her that she wrote them six months earlier and they still hadn’t answered her letter. I supposed they were angry with me over some infraction of etiquette or minor instance of moral impurity.

During early April, extremely dry weather caused me to occasionally set the lawn sprinkler up and water into the woods along our yard’s west side. The same unusually dry conditions brought official recognition that Minnesota and the upper central Midwest were experiencing the worst fire threat in ten years.
By late June 24, the St. Cloud Times was reporting:

Drought, Heat Threaten Corn Crop.
Many Central Minnesota farmers are watching their crops wither and wilt under unusually hot, rainless skies. Conditions are so bad in many rural areas in Central Minnesota that some Extension Directors and Crop Specialists are comparing this year to the dust bowl days of the 1930s… Many farmers will not be able to salvage another cutting of alfalfa…others have already began to cut and bale their oats because the crop would not produce enough grain to harvest later this summer…the next two weeks will be crucial as corn crops reach the tassling stage that gives way to pollination…”

Meanwhile, even our lawn, which I had begun to water was not growing at its normal proliferate rate. Although I enjoyed the easier and quicker mowing sessions, I didn’t like to see the lawn drying and yellowing so early in the season.
By the end of June, residents of Waite Park, a suburb of St. Cloud, were under a ‘watering ban’ and being threatened with City government ‘warnings’ that could lead to a charge of ‘petty misdemeanor’ if they were caught operating lawn or garden sprinklers!

Donna and I had noted that our dry Spring and early Summer had been almost mosquito-bite free. The super dry weather had eliminated the mosquitoes breeding and hatching habitat in our lowland and fen bog and so provided us with a pleasant, mosquito free season. We certainly enjoyed going outside to work about the yard and garden and not having to continuously swat at mosquitoes.

Gathering genealogical documents
June and July were busy months, as I continued work on family, genealogical research projects.  Among the items I sent for and received were:
1) Photocopies of the Revolutionary War records of 4G-grandfather (Lieutenant, then Captain) John Anderson, from the National Archives.
2) An inventory of personal property of 3G-grandfather, James Anderson, at the time of his death and a 1855 map of the farm and surrounding area[2] where, James, and his father, John,  lived; received from the Greene County Library Historical Reading Room, Ohio.
3) The thirteen page photocopy of 2G-grandfather, Civil War veteran, (Pvt.) Harmon Anderson’s Last Will, also copies of the official death certificates for Harmon and wife, Margaret (Horney) Anderson from the Greene County Courthouse, Jefferson, Iowa.
4) Last Will of 4G grandfather’s John Anderson and Revolutionary War soldier (Pvt.) William Horney, from the Greene County Library Historical Reading Room, Ohio. John Anderson and William Horney were amongst my paternal 4G-grandparents.

General activities in genealogical research
During the previous year, Donna and I read had each several books on genealogical research.
For a couple years prior to Eulah’s death, Donna, her mother and half sister Katherine, exchanged genealogical information related to the Dorr-Roberts side of their family. Later, Don sent Donna a photocopied genealogical tree and booklet that members of his side of the family had worked on years earlier
After Eulah’s death, Donna began correspondence with several other relatives and continued accumulating genealogical data and stories on both her father’s and mother’s (the Dorr-Roberts) sides of her family. Every couple weeks, she received a page or two of information from one source or another.
Meanwhile, I was trying to organize the rapiodly growing volume of genealogical data in a way that would allow:
•  a global storage method of the information,
• simplify information transfer to the reader,
• show images of the original documents,
• show relationships between obscure family members and family lines.

My 45th birthday: a personal inventory [3]
Birthdays are good ‘life referencing days’, times to reflect and take a personal inventory.
To wit: I was born on July 25th, 1942 and am glad, if not a little surprised to have lived as long as I have.
Other than for my eyesight, which is beginning to deteriorate, and an occasional ache or stiffness first thing in the morning, I feel fine. I have been fortunate all these years to have had good health, most of my illnesses have been either colds or the flu.

Looking in the mirror, I appear to be in my late thirties, with clear blue eyes and a face without wrinkles. My brown hair has neither begun to thin or recede. About five years ago, I found two gray hairs sprouting just to the front of my right ear, they are still the only gray hairs I have.

My body is in good tone from the work I do about the yard, splitting wood in the spring and fall, mowing grass all summer and raking leaves in the fall. I currently weigh one hundred seventy nine pounds and am a few pounds overweight, the excess has settled around my waist giving me a small paunch.

I have a loving wife and daughter, both of whom I love very much We live together in a place of quiet, natural beauty, accompanied by a family of dogs, several ducks and geese, a large variety of birds and other chattering, skulking and silent creatures of the forest and swamp. Here we enjoy the seasons and the days of our lives, removed from the noise, eyesores and other disturbances of a hurried, hungry world.

I enjoy doing outdoor projects, reading, and the type of work that goes into my journals. My interests are many and varied, they grow and change with my social, economic, genealogical, science, and space-time interests.

A family birthday party
After lunch, I washed up, shaved and changed clothes. At 1:30 PM we three gathered around the kitchen table.
Donna placed a store bought, Angel Food cake, with chocolate frosting in the center of the table, then brought out a gift wrapped box and set it on the table in front of me.
Then, with Donna sitting across the table and Jane to my left, the girls happily sang the ‘Happy Birthday’ song to me. Looking about and smiling myself, I saw the family’s sparkling eyes and their beaming happy smiles. After reading my birthday card, signed by both Donna and Jane, I opened the mysterious and rather heavy gift.

Lo! Upon peeling away its gaily colored wrapping, I found several items packaged together:
1) A letter box file for the long term storage of the personal mail I receive;
2) A calligraphy set; and
3) The out of print book, Bid Time Return,[4] a romantic time travel adventure. The  movie, Somewhere In Time, which was partially responsible for my starting to keep journals, was based on the characters and plot of the book, Bid Time Return.

That evening we had a delicious supper of shish-ka-bob (meat and vegetables on a skewer, grilled), followed by a thin slice of cake and scoop of vanilla ice-cream.
I put in a birthday request for a full body massage at bed time…
And, yes, the cherry went to the birthday boy!  ;-)

 The Archive project begins
Ever since 1980, when my father and Uncle Bill got me interested in family genealogy, documents and research papers have been accumulating[5]. We always worked on different ancestral family members, not because of a desire for efficiency, but because there were so many available lines of interest we simply never duplicated each other’s work.
Every month or two, when a little more information had been tracked down, the documents or worksheet would be photocopied and sent to our other two researchers. In this way, there was a fairly steady stream of genealogical information coming and going, all of which needed processing.

I kept the data from our research on standard and recognized genealogical research forms: Family Group Records sheets, Pedigree Charts and Life Outlines. I had even sent several page, Personal Characteristics Profiles, out for aging relatives to answer regarding our shared ancestor, their parents or grandparents. All my papers were separated by individual or family groupings. At first, some of the information was entered in my Journals[6].

As the years passed, the sheer volume of paperwork and data grew to such a point that it became necessary to put considerable time effort into organizing it.

Organizing the work was more than just separating the information by individual, family or location. Each piece of information, each document had to have a source and be given the best possible presentation of its information. The problem was that the photocopied documents I had, were received in many different sizes, while the network of the family relationships and their movements were spread across space-time in apparent profuse confusion.

Since Donna had access to a quality photocopy machine at True Value Hardware, we bought a ream of archival grade linen paper for photocopy document storage. On Tuesday, July 28, I began a long process of cutting out the pertinent areas of information, from old US Census records, and taping them to white typing paper for photocopy transfer onto the archival grade, linen paper. All of the marriage, birth and death records, wills, property’s, newspaper articles were also photocopied onto linen paper.

When a research paper was written about some facet of an ancestor’s life, or an old map was copied to show a family’s route of travel, when current photographs and perigee charts were drawn, all were organized and photocopied in the best format possible for maximizing the information content and long term storage.

Beginning three days after my birthday and continuing for several years, I worked my way through nearly a full drawer of ‘raw’ paperwork  in the file cabinet, cleaning out the accumulation of my many genealogical file folders and condensing the paperwork into informational bundles. The finished pages were organized in rough chronological sequence by family and stored in about a half dozen black, spring back notebooks. These notebooks became known as ‘The Archives’.

After several months work, preparing nearly the first one hundred pages for long term storage in the Archives, we came to recognize several facts about the effort:
1) The labor involved in setting up the layout for each page: taping photographs, making boarders where necessary, and experimenting took no less than five minutes, while some took twenty minutes.
2) For every document put into the Archive, there were four to six pieces of waste paper generated, besides the ‘original’ copies we received in the mail or copied from other sources. The waste came from testing the brightness, blowing up or shrinking documents on the photocopy machine.
3) There was an unknown and uncalculated amount of work and expense involved, developing the data, i.e., researching sources, long distance telephone calls, mail, genealogy research fees, official record coping fees, etc. that went into the Archives.

Music [midi: Star Vivaldi: The Four Seasons, 04 Violin L’Estate, Op8-2]

Early morning’s sights and sounds
On the morning of August 14, at 6:45 AM, about five minutes after Donna left for work, I stepped outside the front door to sit on the front steps, look about and listen to the peaceful sounds of the morning.

A shroud of fog laid across the land, limiting visibility to about four hundred feet. Even at the relatively near distance of two hundred feet, colors dissolved into gray, while forms back in the woods faded in the early morning’s filtered light. Down by the pond, in our lower yard, the ducks and geese were standing in the grass, surrounded by fog. Several appeared to be asleep, others were preening their feathers.

A gentle breeze began to rustle amongst the upper most tree branches at the edge of the nearby woods and I noticed for the first time, that the Maple trees leaves were beginning to turn lime green. One slight gust shook a half dozen Maple leaves off a tree. I watched as they silently sliced back and forth through the air, dropping to join others on the ground, announcing the approach of Fall.

I sat very still, listening.

From somewhere back in the woods came the occasional chirp of an unseen bird, then the ‘cohoo…cohoo’ of a Mourning dove. Only once was the natural silence broken by a car passing by on the county road. The sibilant hum of its tires on the tar surface came out of the distance, drew nearer, then rapidly disappear into the background. Behind me, I could hear Jane scuffing about in the coat closet, which was located right inside the mobile home’s front door.

Although I didn’t feel it when I first sat down, there was a slight chill in the air.
My arms began to chill and I seemed to remember the temperature had been 60ºF, when I took my morning temperature readings only an hour earlier.

After reminiscing for a moment or two, I took several deep, invigorating breaths and noted a somewhat familiar faint, earthy-sweet scent. At first, the odor seemed to carry the fragrance of the woods after a summer’s rain, but there was also the pleasant smell of fresh mown grass, perhaps it came from my having mowed the front lawn the previous day.

An itch on the back of my right hand and the tell tale, high pitched whine of a mosquito in my right ear, made me involuntarily swat at the offending insect.

A moment later, Jane came out the front door to join me. Playfully, she crawled head first down the four front steps, brushing past my left knee and foot as she clambered by. Reaching the ground, she jumped to her feet and ran over to her little red wagon, turned and exclaimed, ‘I fed ducks, Daddy!’ We chatted for a few moments, whereupon, I stood, stretched and walked back into the warmth of the house. Jane skipped down our stepping stone walkway singing to herself… and another beautiful summer’s morning had began.

Donna and Jane visit her father’s family in Indiana
In early August, Donna’s father, Don drove from his home in California, to visit with relatives in Freelandville, Indiana. He had intentions of bringing his elderly father, Paul, up to visit with us, but Paul was feeling poorly and wasn’t up to traveling. Since Paul couldn’t come up here, Don asked if we could fly down to visit with them in Freelandville, he offered to pay the air fare. I wasn’t interested in going, but thought it would be a good opportunity for Donna and Jane to visit with her side side of the family.

Donna made plans at True Value Hardware, to take a few days off. Don sent the girls their airplane tickets and $200 dollars for any extra expenses they might incur.

At 4:40 AM on Saturday, August 22, we said our ‘Good byes’ in front of the garage, then Donna and Jane drove off down the driveway thus beginning their trip.

About three hours after leaving home, their flight, aboard a TWA passenger jet left Minneapolis International Airport enroute to St. Louis.  This was Jane’s first time off the ground in an airplane. Donna later reported that Jane was wide eyed with wonder at the sight of all the familiar types of things she knew, as seen from above.
Don picked the girls up in St. Louis at 9:00 AM and drove them back to his father’s farm near Freelandville. Don had his recreational vehicle set up on his father’s farm and was living in it while visiting.

[1987 photograph: Twin Cities International Airport, Jane looks out the terminal window as a 747 passenger jet is loading for flight.]

Meanwhile at home, I continued with my chores and pursuing my interests as normal, but felt an emptiness, like a great vacancy and disturbing quietness had descended through the house and across the yard.

One day while visiting in Indiana,  Donna and Jane attended a dinner party of about fifty relatives. Don had rented a hall and brought ham for all, the other families brought pot luck dishes, vegetables, etc. The day was spent with every one looking at photograph albums, talking, telling family stories, etc.  Jane played with her many cousins.

A poem I wrote on August 25th:
‘In the Summertime, the faces of their children grew up from the soil,
Their smiles echoed the faces of the ripened crops come before.
Creating small pockets of heightened order from captured energy and entrophied matter,
these they  handed out with broken limbs, past Winterfall.
And, in the Spring…
Their faces were of children grown from the soil whence they came,
Their smiles mirroring faces of children gone before.
Their many are one, their one are many.’
It goes on until the end.

Don visits in his Recreational Vehicle
About two weeks after Donna and Jane returned from their visit with family in Freelandville, Indiana, Don drove up to Minnesota to spend the period of September 10 – September 28  visiting with us.

Six days after arriving, Don suggested we all go camping or on a few day mini-vacation. I telephoned Donna at True Value Hardware and told her vacation plans were in the offing and that she should start making plans at work to get a few days off. Don and I spent about four hours that afternoon planning a nine hundred twenty nine mile trip.
[Photo at right: This image from the Internet shows the same Dodge Sportsman model Don had, but different exterior paint colors.]

Description of the RV
Earlier in the year, Don bought a used 1972 Dodge Sportsman motor home for $6,000. He put another $1500. into the RV, buying and installing a small color television, a microwave oven,  air-conditioner and having some work done on the vehicle’s drive shaft and steering. When the outfitting was done, Don quite literally had a home on wheels.

The RV measured twenty four feet long, with an eighteen foot long by eight foot wide living quarters. The exterior of the cab and the body of the aluminum RV were painted white, while a ten inch or so, green stripe ran the length of the vehicle, just below its windows.
The RV had a 2500 watt generator for emergency or ‘off road’ electrical power, but was also wired to run from AC power.

Inside the cab were two, posh swivel chairs, one for the driver the other for a  passenger.

Passanger’s side of the RV interior:
Immediately behind the cab partition, on the vehicle’s right side was a dinette table with a long ‘L’ shaped seat extending along two sides. Continuing along same side wall while going back, there was the refrigerator with over head cabinets. Next came the microwave oven sitting on a shelf top with cabinets overhead and drawers below. Just beyond the microwave oven was the rear, side entry door.  At the back of the RV next to the door was a large closet for hanging clothes. Sharing the back wall, but enclosed in a small room, was the Spartan bathroom with its toilet, sink and shower.
[The Internet images at left are from the same Dodge Sportsman model RV as Don had, except in a slightly different floor plan. The idea here is to show how we traveled and the amenities at our disposal while ‘on the road’.

Continuing around the wall from the back of the living quarters on the driver’s side: Next to the wall partition that enclosed the bathroom, one first encountered the four burner cooking stove, then a counter top working space, followed by a double sink. Located above the stove, counter and sink were cabinets for foods and utensils, while below were drawers.

Between the sink and the driver’s seat was a long bench. This bench was situated right across the central aisle from the dinette table. Above the bench was a shelf on which Don had bolted the television. The RV living quarters extended  out over the cab roof about four feet, providing a ‘bed, over-cab’ sleeping area.

There was a screened window on either side of the living quarters, which allowed passengers at the dinette, or the opposite bench, a good view of the passing terrain. The interior walls were covered with wood grain paneling, while the living quarter floors had sculptured, wall to wall carpeting of cinnamon and white fabric. The bench seats had five inch thick upholstered foam rubber cushions and bolsters. At night the seats and dinette folded down to form sleeping arrangements for six persons.

Some of the RV’s other appliances and amenities included: Aa new 12 inch color TV, 12 linear feet of overhead cabinets, privacy drapes, microwave oven, 13 lower drawers and cabinets, hot and cold running water, air conditioning and heating, a large closet   for hanging clothes, a small but complete bathroom, a 7 cubic foot gas or electric (selectable) refrigerator with freezer compartment, four burner cooking stove with oven (propane),  both a fresh water and black water holding tank.

Iowa Revisited [7]
The circular trip would take us through Iowa to visit the Nineteenth and Twentieth century homes and graves of several of my great grandparents and 2-Great grandparents. During the next forty eight hours there was a flurry of activity around the house as we not only prepared for the logistics of the trip, but put together various documents so we’d know exactly where we were going and to look for when we got there. Several long distance telephone calls were made to genealogists in Iowa, who would be looking for ancestral home locations and Nineteenth century maps, all of which we’d pick up in a couple days, as we drove through Iowa.

During mid afternoon on Friday, 18 September, at the end of her work shift, we picked Donna up at True Value Hardware. As soon as she was in the RV, we pulled out of the parking lot, drove through St.   Cloud and turned south toward Iowa.  We spent the night in a KOA Campground near the Minnesota-Iowa boarder.

Visiting the Francis A. Pierce grave
During the morning of Saturday, September 19, as we drove into Iowa, the recreational vehicle was filled with the sound of talking, the squeaks and creaks of the vehicles body, the muted roar of the tires on the road. Within me was a private, hushed silence, for we were soon to arrive at the previous home and graves of my Pierce Great grandparents, near Lawler, Chickasaw County, Iowa.

Coming over the crest of a hill, we saw the small town of Lawler, spread out in a shallow valley. My Great grandparents, Francis Albert Pierce and Lydia Amanda Sabin were buried only a mile and a half northwest of Lawler.

We drove up Benz Street to the North Lawler Cemetery and located Francis and Amanda’s grave site more or less in the center of the cemetery. The cemetery was bordered on two side by corn fields and had a patch of wood on the back side. Later in the day, we found that until 1985, the North Lawler Cemetery and two other old cemeteries had been allowed to grow wild, without any lawn care or other maintenance. That explained why the grass in the cemetery looked like a mix of herbaceous broadleaf’s and grass–until recently, weeds and saplings had grown wild obscuring the markers.

[Site of Jacksonville, Chickasaw Co., IA. Located about 1-1/4 mi north of the 19th Century, Francis A. Pierce farm. The school Glen K. Pierce attended as a child, is seen as the white structure at far left.]

Francis A. Pierce, had one of the most prominent markers of the approximately one hundred grave stones in the cemetery. The six foot high, gray granite family monument had a top that was carved to resembled four gabled roof. Lydia’s obituary said she was buried in the family plot with her first husband, Francis and indeed we found their two smaller head stones. I was sad to see that Lydia’s name was never inscribed on the larger, family monument, never-the-less, many years before her own death she’d had inscribed on her husband’s marker,


I would like to have had the time to spread a blanket on the grass in front of the Pierce family grave marker and sat for awhile. I would like to have had some quiet time alone to reach within myself and segregate my principle parts, to commune with that 12% of me that was still Francis and Amanda.

Driving back to Lawler, we asked a gas station attendant for directions to ‘old Jacksonville’ and found that another three miles north, past North Cemetery on Benz Street, then about a half mile to the west, was a place now called, ‘Five Corners.’ As the attendant explained, ‘There used to be a small town there, but now it’s just a junction where there are five gravel roads going off this way and that through the corn fields. There is some kind of a small museum and park at the crossroads. People go there for picnics, but I think it’s closed now.’

My grandfather, Glen Pierce, attended elementary school in a small school house atJacksonville.

Old Jacksonville
We drove out into the country side following the instructions given by the gas station attendant and our Iowa state map. Turning west off Benz Street, at the roads ‘T’, we followed a narrow gravel road a little less than a half mile to the top of a low hill where we came to ‘Five Corners’.

While Don parked the RV, the rest of us climbed out to stretch our legs and survey the surroundings. Between the road segments that ran NW and SW from the junction, there was a several acre triangle of land dedicated as the ‘Adolph MunsonPark’. A large sign with yellow lettering on a brown background stood facing the five cornered intersection stating, ‘Jacksonville, Iowa 1854 – 1888’

The park was bordered by a weathered, old (modern vintage) gray split rail fence. In the park stood several original buildings fromJacksonvilleand vicinity. We walked around the old buildings looking in through their windows: There was a small, turn-of-the-century general store which had become a museum filled with antiques. The log cabin was brought in from elsewhere in the county and professionally reassembled in its new home. Lastly, was the nicely whitewashed, one room school house. The school building had originally set a few hundred yards away, along the gravel road we’d just come down, but was moved into the park and set on the still intact foundation that once housed The Jacksonville Republican newspaper.

Photos above. (L)  Interior of Jacksonville school, facing front. Photograph by Robert F. Pierce taken in 1989. (R) Interior of Jacksonville school, facing rear. My mother, Hazel M. Pierce looks about. Grandfather Glen received his lower education in this room.]

I walked out into the center of the gravel intersection and oriented my 1894 Chickasaw County map. Facing due south, I looked down a gentle, long hill which rose slightly about a mile away.  Fields of tall Iowa corn grew on either side of the road for as far as the eye could see. The southern horizon was a long low ridge about two and a half miles away. Between the hill, upon which I now stood, and that ridge, lay the land on which the Pierce family lived for some thirty years during the late 19th century. Their lives, toil and emotions all played out on the land located between these two low hills.

I gulped nervously and shifted my weight while peering down the road, lost in thought, searching for the images of another time. In my mind’s eye welled up the image of a buck board with the Pierce family coming to town; then of my young, grandfather, walking and skipping homeward from elementary school, turning his head briefly to watch a grasshopper fly up. I wondered how many countless times the family members had been in town, then starting for home, passed through that very spot where I stood and saw the same land configurations and I saw.

Returning to the RV, we drove about one and a half miles south on the gravel road where we came to the northeast boarder of the 19th Century, Francis A. Pierce farm. The farm sat on the backbone of a long low hill; the land was beautiful and rich in agricultural resources. The current owners had the fields primarily planted to corn, while some acreage was in hay and some lay fallow. The farmstead buildings were near the lowest point of the property, at the northeast corner.
Extending along the road for a couple hundred feet and acting as shade and a wind break were a line of tall evergreens. Perpendicular to the road, and extending about six hundred feet was a line of old hardwood trees that protected the farmstead buildings from north and easterly winds.

[Francis A. &  Lydia (Sabin) Pierce farm. West (left) to Northwest panorama of the property owned by Francis Albert Pierce and     family from  the late 1800s. Jacksonville (Five Corners) is up the road to the right, about 1-1/2 miles.]

Stories from the Francis A. Pierce farm
I recalled reading in Francis’s obituary, that he and wife, Lydia Amanda Sabin, had carved their farm out of native prairie. Great-grandfather, Francis, and his family were the first civilized people, the first Europeans, perhaps the first humans ever to cultivate the one hundred sixty acres we were about to see.  The Francis A. Pierce family consisted of Francis and Amanda, their eldest son Francis Jr. (Frank), twin girls, Myrtle and Gertrude (Gertie) and the youngest son, my grandfather, Glen Kenyon. When Francis Sr. died in his fifties, Amanda remained on the farm raising the children. When the youngsters were grown, she sold the farm, moved locally and subsequently remarried.

Don stopped the RV at the old Pierce farmstead driveway. Donna and I climbed down and walked about seventy five feet up the driveway toward a figure who was bent over, working in the engine of a recent model car.

An older, middle aged man in his late fifties straightened up and watched us approach while frowning suspiciously. I introduced Donna and myself and told the weather beaten gentleman that I was descended from an earlier owner of the property and that if he had a few minutes to share we would like to ask some questions about the old homestead. After chatting for a few minutes, the farmer began to relax where upon he introduced himself as Harold, grandson of the man who had, in the time of Francis A. Pierce, owned an adjoining property immediately the north  of the Pierce farm[8].

The white haired, ruddy-red faced Irishman said that, the Pierce house was torn down and the current house constructed on the same site in 1924.

Harold invited us into his house where he motioned for us to sit at the kitchen table. His wife joined us and we all began chatting. During the conversation, Harold left the room for a few moments and returned with two books, a brittle scrap book and an old photograph album. When he sat the old books on the table, a silverfish darted out from the binding of the scrapbook, turned and scurried back inside for safety.

While opening the scrap book, Harold told us that ‘It was left to me by my old maid aunt who died at the age of 95, a few year ago.’

For a moment I lost track of the conversation, thinking,

‘If Harold’s aunt was 95 years old a few years ago, that means she was born perhaps 98 years ago. My grandfather, Glen K. Pierce, was born 100 years ago last June 4 (1887). So, Glen and Harold’s ‘old maid aunt’ had been only a year or two apart in age, they lived on adjoining farms, they certainly  knew one another, undoubtedly walked to school together and played together as children!’

Harold’s aunt had collected newspaper articles relating to the birth, marriage and death of many persons whom she knew from the early day in old Jacksonville. While browsing through the scrapbook, I found the Death Notice for my grandfather, Glen, dated 1958, and one for his sister Gertrude Pierce-Uglum.

Meanwhile, Harold was thumbing through the old photograph album. When he found what he was looking for, he handed me the album stating, ‘Here’s a picture of the Pierce house.’ I gulped in guarded excitement as I drew the picture’s image into memory. The photograph had been taken from atop the farm yard’s old wooden windmill, which previously stood two hundred feet southwest of the house, in the exact same location as Harold’s current windmill (built in the 1930s).

The Pierce two story, white, wood frame farmhouse had no basement, but was built on a field stone foundation. When the house was torn down in 1924, a small addition on the end of the house was salvaged and moved one hundred fifty feet west into the barnyard where it was used as a chicken coop for over half a century, before being burned in circa 1984.

During our conversations, Harold suddenly threw back his head in laughter as he recalled a story, a story told him many years ago by his now deceased aunt. Harold said (paraphrased), ‘When she was a little girl, she was over at the Pierce’s when one of the boys, (pause) Glen, climbed the wooden windmill. Then, holding onto the wooden blades, he began to rotate with the propeller. Round and round he went, upside down one minute and right side up the next.’


[Heirloom  photograph: Francis A. and Lydia (Sabin) Pierce home, ca 1923. Photo taken from the windmill tower shortly before the old house was demolished by the farms new  owners.]

Glen’s childhood deed was daring, funny and memorable. I was amazed that the story remained in memory for these last ninety years. At the same time, realizing that when I subsequently retold the story to my daughter, Jane, it would be an image evoking memory sake of her great-grandfather, Glen Pierce, for still a longer period of time.

Seeing our excitement, Harold left the kitchen again and returned with the farms old Title of Abstract. I was becoming overwhelmed by the amount and the rate at which information was being presented. I asked Harold if he’d so kind as to make photocopies of some of the papers he had shown us and if I could borrow the photo of the Pierce house.

[ca 1899 Heirloom photograph: Francis Jr. and my paternal grandfather, Glen K Pierce (standing) by ‘the Silver Maple’. (?)]

I gasped in shocked surprise when Harold  reached forward and simply removed the photograph from the album and handed it to me while agreeing to make photocopies of the other items I’d asked for.

When we about to leave, we’d all stepped outside when Harold told a touching story which gave an insight into the character of Great grandmother Lydia Amanda Sabin. Harold said, (paraphrased), ‘For years after my family bought the farm, Mrs. Pierce  would  stop by on occasion and ask to look at a Silver Maple that she and her husband planted when they first bought the land. The tree was on the north side of the house (gesturing over his shoulder).

I lapsed into thought for a moment, wondering if the Silver Maple was the same tree we have a in a heirloom family photograph. In the picture, son Francis Jr. (Frank) is seen seated in a chair and young Glen is standing, both are leaning against an approximately fifteen to twenty year old tree whose bark appears to be Maple. Harold continued, ‘The large, sprawling tree was damaged by severe winds during the 1970s and had to be cut down.’ As we walked back out along the driveway, I glanced back into the yard and could see all that remained of the tree was a slight, grass filled depression in the yard where the stump was removed.

That evening around 6:30 PM, we stopped at a Pizza Hut in Waverly, Iowa for a pizza and beer. As we hurried across the parking lot, a squall line passed over us and a downpour followed.

Whereas, downtown Waverly appeared deserted, Pizza Hut  was packed with college age students and young families. It had been overcast, humid and warm all day so we were all feeling a little uncomfortable and dehydrated. The smell of baking pizza crust, cheese, baking vegetables and tomato sauce set our appetites on fire. We ordered a large Super Supreme pizza with a thin crust and glasses of cold beer.

Around 9:30 PM, we pulled into a KOA Campground at Story City, a few miles north of Ames,Iowa to spend the night. Don paid the $12.50 fee for a parking space, with water, sewage and electric utilities hook ups. We were so exhausted after a full day of driving and sightseeing, that everyone was in bed by 10:00 PM and asleep shortly thereafter.

Early morning thoughts: genes, Lydia
I awoke at4:00 AM, got up for a bathroom run, then returned to my bed above the RV cab. Dim illumination from a park security lamp entered through the curtains, allowing me to make out shapes in the darkness.

Don, ‘Grandpa,’ was asleep in his sleeping bag on the cushions of the pulled out kitchenette table’s seat bench. Donna was asleep in her goose down bag on a fold down berth several feet above the table. Jane was snuggled in her goose down bag on the pull out bench seat between the sink and the driver’s seat. Other than for an occasional snore, the motor home was immersed in silence.

Instead of returning to sleep, I laid drowsily in my sleeping bag, thinking about Great-grandfather Francis, grandfather Glen, my father, Robert, and myself.
I was attempting to recognize the genetic predisposition’s, abilities and sense of order we shared. I wondered about the natural abilities that Francis used in building his house and farm. I sought the quiet strength and sense of order that led Glen into the profession of engineering and finally to his retirement fruit farm near Coloma, Michigan.

In my mind’s eye there formed small iconic images of Francis, Glen, Robert and myself. We were aligned vertically  in chronological order. I could see that there were related predisposition’s up and down the generations. To this group, were then added images of the descendants of Glen Pierce, all of whom I personally knew. The family was seen floating in pyramidal shaped family tree with Francis and Amanda at the top and our most recent generation along the base of the pyramid.

Suddenly, in my semi awake state, several of the images became animated, each displaying a similar predisposition or inherited trait. Then, one after another, shared characteristics were seen cascading down the generations like illuminated pin balls that spreading out through the widening family structure. However, as each characteristic coursed through the family, not every person was animated (or illuminated) by that particular trait. While several generations shared a trait, that trait became masked or muted for a generation, only to arise as a full blown characteristic in a later generation. The spotty way in which the characteristics were passed from one to another person, brought to mind the idea of probability cloud. Traits showed up at seemingly random locations within the related group but with greater density than they would be found in a not immediately related group.

I knew there was a large ‘genetic current’ feeding into the images from the husbands and wives who had married into this family line across the generations.

The animated images faded from my mind, only to be replaced by the realization that when we think of our ancestors as separate, non connected, individuals, we are inexplicably, but falsely, isolating one another in space-time. In reality we are not only connected, we are literally and paradoxically, one another by degree, we are very close reproduction-manifestations of an essentially immortal gene code.

A family is the leading edge of the gene mix. A family exists in a space-time location where clusters of shared genetic predisposition’s exist in their highest probability. Our genes sprout a new ‘carrier-breeder’ from materials they find in the natural  environment. We as individuals call the mobile carrier, ‘my body’. So, this body and it’s physical and socio-intellectual cerebral function becomes the individual manifestation of our genetic humanity. Those individual manifestations called, Francis, Glen, Robert, Larry and Jane all carry very, very similar recombinant characteristics– it was these blocks of similarity that I sought.

As time passed, and in the quiet, darkness of the RV, I continued thinking about the previous day’s events:
Before this trip, all that I knew about my Great grandmother Lydia Amanda Sabin-Pierce, was taken from a single photograph I had of her; the photograph showed a friendly and pleasant  looking, older, matronly woman.
When Harold _ told us that over the years, Mrs. Pierce had periodically returned to the farm to see and stand by the Silver Maple tree that she and her deceased husband, Francis planted, I knew her. I immediately understood Lydia as a loving, devoted mother, helpmate and wife. I saw a person who carried the memory of personal commitment and her first marriage to the end of her own life.

Lydia never knew, how could she, that her innocuous, private and personal pilgrimages back to the farm would be recalled a century later. The memory of her unyielding devotion and the words, ‘GONE  BUT  NOT  FORGOTTEN’ engraved on her husband’s monument, have continued to exist in that area and now with special meaning in the memories of her family. In a moment of introspection, I wondered if my idea for this sentimental trip to Iowa, derived from the same predisposition that led Lydia back to the farm and ‘their Silver Maple’, a multi generational sense of romanticism.

The Grubb home in Grand Junction
Sunday, September 20, was another busy day that started for our traveling group at6:00 AM and lasted until late that night.
During mid morning we drove into Grand Junction, Iowa.
Grand Junction was the town where my Great grandparents, George and Anna (Annie) Flora (Anderson) Grubb  lived for many years into the early decades of the 20th Century. It was here that they raised their family including my youthful grandmother, Elsie Grubb.

Elsie Grubb grew up, met Glen Kenyon Pierce while they both were attending the University of Iowa and were later married. Glen was the lad who rode the windmill propellers on his parent’s farm, the farm we visited the previous day.

The neighborhood surrounding central Grand Junction, was made up of old two story, white wood frame houses, all set back from the road on large lots. The wide streets were lined with tall, stately hardwood trees, whose branches extended out above the road to create an arching canopy.

Grand Junction had once been a bustling Midwestern town. It blossomed with the growth of agricultural production in Iowa and expansion of railroad service into the American west.

The town’s two to three block long business district consisted of a wide street with turn of the century brick buildings. Each building had its own character, all of which denoted past affluence. There were carved stone scrolls and brick designs at the top of the buildings and below the roofs. There were brick arches above windows and doorways, there were patterns created from differently shaded inlaid brick, but this was all from Grand Junctions heyday, in the latter half of the 19th Century.

The two story, brick City Hall, once the pride of Grand Junction, stood in the edge of the business district, it’s windows boarded up, it’s belfry dismantled, the bell removed.

The sidewalks through town had become grossly unleveled. Long fissures in the concrete were seen running this way and that, while weeds and grass grew wild from the cracks. Along the sidewalk, tall weeds had taken hold and grew from the tiny space between the sidewalk and the building fronts.

Several of the downtown business’s windows were boarded up, while other buildings were simply deserted and vacant. Walking along the main street through town, I saw checkered paint, fading colors, bare wood, faded and unused window shades still drawn in upper story windows, unclean gutters, weeds, and mostly empty buildings. The town was not dirty, run down or dilapidated like a city ghetto, but was honorably deteriorating with age, like an old pair of comfortable slippers that have been in service past their usefulness.

Returning to the RV, we checked an early Twentieth Century, Grand Junction street map to locate the house lot where George and  Anna lived.

A few moments later, when we turned onto Railroad Avenue, I stepped down from the motor home and walked alone. It was a mere half block walk along the sidewalk on the north side of the street before I came to a vacant lot that was filled with low weeds. Although the lot on which the Grubb house stood measured about one hundred fifty feet wide by two hundred feet deep, the family owned several consecutive lots along the street and thereby owned nearly one side of the entire block. At the back of the property and extending out perhaps a quarter mile was a cornfield.

Approaching the home site, I could feel my heart beating with anticipation. For so many decades George and Anna’s two story house had stood in the lot, but by the time I had come to visit, where the house had stood, there now existed only a large irregular square of dark soil. It was unsettling to see how all the attention, love and labor that went into making this location a prosperous home was now erased from the environment.

[Journal drawing looking along Railroad Ave. The sidewalk to the old Grubb house cane be seen where there is a long whish of brown leading to the right, from the sidewalk. The location where the front of the house stood can been seen in the rectangular geometry of brown discoloration of the soil-cut weeds.]

Standing on the public sidewalk in front of where the house had been, I looked about. Before me was the dark soil and a slight depression where a concrete sidewalk once led to the George and Annie’s front porch. Great grandmother had spent many hours of her life tending flowers along the sidewalk, immediately in front of the spot where I now stood.

I recalled something my elderly cousin, Doris Grubb-Hughes, wrote about her memories of Anna:

[Carrying forward from the previous drawing. We’ve walked down the overgrown sidewalk and stopped, turned to the right and are looking up the sidewalk, and back in time 70 years to see the family posing for their picture on the homes front steps.
Photograph above, the George E. and Anna Flora Grubb family, ca 1917. Part of extended Grubb family sitting on front steps the Grand Junction home discussed in this text.
L>R top rear: Edward Grubb (son), Elsie Grubb-Pierce (daughter), George E. Grubb Sr. (father)
L>R  middle row: Marie Heggi-Grubb (their daughter-in-law) with daughter Margaret, Anna Flora Anderson-Grubb (mother) with baby grandson (my Uncle Bill) William Pierce on lap, Glen K.  Pierce (their son-in-law, my grandfather).
Front:  Dorothy Grubb (granddaughter, who later in life was my 5th grade math teacher)]

’…Annie rose very early on summer mornings, donned stockings on arms to protect skin, and worked outside in her flowers. Along the sidewalk leading to the main walk were California poppies…always beside the steps leading to the porch were pansies…they were surely hard on neighborhood kids that might skate by on their roller skates (and damage the flowers)’

Beside me and continuing down the block in either direction was the public sidewalk overgrown with weeds and buckled after generations without repair.

I began browsing around on the property and found a narrow concrete sidewalk that was covered by three fourths inch of soil, weed detritus and grass. This length of sidewalk once led to the Grubb’s ‘back (side) porch’. Cousin Doris wrote of that porch, as she recalled 50 year old images from her younger years, ‘…I mostly remember Grandpa at home, working outside, mixing up stuff on the enclosed back porch and carrying pails of it, slightly stooped…’

My Great grandfather, George Grubb died in 1938, four years before my birth, yet between cousin Doris’ memories and my standing on that practically buried walkway, the previous half century practically collapsed in my mind’s eye.

In a flash of imagination, I saw my great grandfather, a tall, thin, balding man, who had years earlier retired from the rail road and grown old. He was backing out the porch door carrying a bucket in each hand. The porch door swung shut with a thin sounding ‘slam’ and George came down the steps, turned and walked up the  sidewalk toward and right through me…over fifty years earlier.

Grandmother, Elsie Grubb-Pierce, once told me of an event that occurred here: When referring to her father, George Grubb, Elsie said, (paraphrased), ‘He had a terrible temper. Once when he was going to spank me, I climbed out the bedroom window onto the porch roof, scooted down a trellis next to the porch support and ran over to a neighbor’s until he cooled down.’

The Grubb’s house had burned, its basement was back filled with soil. The fruit trees and flower beds the family grew and tended, the house where Grandmother Elsie Grubb-Pierce was raised were all gone now.

Donna and I walked to a nearby house to speak with several adults who’d stepped out on their side lawn. We introduced ourselves and told of my relationship with the George and Anna Grubb who had lived in the currently vacant lot next door. An elderly  gentleman in the group appraised Donna and myself before speaking. Then we learned, the people we were talking to, were members of the Hillman family who had been one of the town founders a hundred fifty years ago. Over the generations, the Hillman’s were involved in a variety of local business’.

Doing most of the talking, was the animated, ninety two year old, Mr. Hillman, who alternately leaned on his cane and waved it in the air as he spoke of the Grubb family and their house, saying,

‘I recall an instance in 1918 when one of the children died during the Flu epidemic, that the Misses, Mrs. Grubb, came over to the house to help out during the families bereathment.’

He continued,
‘In its day the Grubb’s had one of the show place houses in Grand Junction. They had lots of trees and shrubs on the property…After she died, the house was rented out. Then it went downhill. Neither the landlord or the renters did anything to keep the place up. Finally the roof got bad and water started to get in, so no one lived in the house…’

We were told that the house burned down in 1984 or ’85 and the basement was back filled a year later. Indeed, all that remained of this place were the notations on an old map, some family photographs, the memories and stories passed down by the older members of our family.

After thanking the Hillman’s for the time and information they gave us, we walked back to the RV and left Grand Junction looking for the town cemetery.

Grand Junction Cemetery
Two miles west of town, on Highway E53, we found the Grand Junction Cemetery. The people who made Grand Junction a modern and up to date town during the late 19th and early 20th century were all there, their resting place as fine and modestly grand as the town they built had its self once been.

The graves of George and Anna Flora Anderson- Grubb were located on the east side of the cemetery, next to a large cornfield. Their family marker was a reddish-purple granite stone standing about two and a half feet high with an overall width of about four feet.

When Jane began climbing on George and Anna’s headstone stone, I called her down and began to explain what the marker stood for and our need to respect  their resting place. While talking, I suddenly realized that if George and Anna knew their 2G-grand daughter, Jane, was climbing on their marker, they would probably have told me to let her play. The twenty five percent of me that is George and Anna, told their twelve and a half percent composite, which has become Jane, ‘Go ahead and play, but don’t get hurt.’.

Sunday, September 20th was turning out to be one of those Fall days where if you wore a sweater it was too warm and if you didn’t, it was too cold.  By noon, the sun was just beginning to show itself  and small patches of sky could be seen amongst the fast moving cumulus clouds.

Margaret Grubb-Frantz
After lunch, we visited briefly with my elderly, seventy seven year old cousin Margaret Grubb-Frantz and her husband Leon Frantz. Margaret was the granddaughter of George and Anna Grubb, her sister Dorothy Grubb-Mount was my Fifth Grade mathematics teacher at Amphitheater School in Tucson, Arizona. (see youthful Margaret, leaning next to her mother, in the Grubb family photograph above).

The Frantz’s were obviously literate people. Decades earlier, Leon had been a successful hog auctioneer and gentleman farmer, as well as Mayor of Grand Junction for ten years. The Frantz’s sold their rural properties a couple decades earlier and were living in a modern, split level house in Grand Junction. There were books in evidence about the living room, including several thick religious books on an end table.

I noted that Margaret and Leon, as well as the Hillman family were all dressed in their Sunday clothes. The women were in nice, understated dresses; while the men wore white shirts, neck ties and quality vintage suits. They were all dressed from having attended church, an activity that is often second nature in small town America. Each was carrying on a custom they had learned as children, in the early decades of this 20th Century. These people had been, as children, the friends and relatives of George Grubb and Anna Flora Anderson-Grubb.

As we talked, Margaret said of Anna Grubb (her grandma),
‘She liked to have her way a lot. She was particular and tended to detail. Once they (George and Anna) had an argument and she went to bed for two weeks to teach him a lesson…’ 

A while later, referring to George Grubb, Margaret said fondly,
‘He was kind of gruff and liked to tease the grandkids.’

Margaret went into a back room and returned to loan me a 1914-15 photograph of George and Anna, as well as her childhood family sitting on the front steps of the Grubb house in Grand Junction (seen above).

Shortly thereafter, as we prepared to leave the Frantz home, Margaret and I hugged, looked into each other’s eyes and said our good-byes. That was the first and only time Margaret and I ever met, yet, it filled the two of us with a moment of sentiment. When we wished each other well, I had a lump in my throat and saw small tears in the corner of her eyes.
A few years later I received a letter from my Dad, informing me that Margaret had  passed away; Leon followed Margaret a few months later…and another generation was gone

Jefferson Cemetery
The next leg of our journey took us to nearby Jefferson, Iowa where we spoke for a half an hour with genealogy researcher, Shirley Ross.
Just before leaving Minnesota, we telephoned Mrs. Ross, whom was a long time member of the Greene County Historical Society, and asked her to find some information that we’d pick up a few days later as we toured Iowa. We were looking for the location of a farm owned by Harmon and Margaret Anderson, (my 2 great grandparents) the parents of Anna Flora Anderson-Grubb, whose now vacant homesite we’d just visited in Grand Junction.

Mrs. Ross exceeded our expectations by locating not only the Harmon Anderson farm, but other properties that he owned later, in Scranton; she found Harmon’s Estate Probate papers as well as other information relating to the Harmon Anderson family.

Our next stop in Jefferson was at the Jefferson Cemetery. About seventy five feet inside from the main gate, the cemetery drive came to a ‘T’ at the base of a statue. The approximately life size statue of a Civil War soldier stood atop an eight foot high concrete pedestal. I thought the statue fitting, particularly in the graveyard; for Harmon Anderson was a Civil War veteran and had been a Prisoner of War at Georgia’s infamous Andersonville stockade.
[Photo at right. Me, standing near Harmon Anderson’s family monument in Jefferson cemetery.]

On the northwest side of the cemetery, we found the monument and family burial plot of my paternal 2G-grandparents Harmon  and Margaret (Horney) Anderson, parents of Anna Flora (Anderson) Grubb. The Anderson’s eight foot tall gray granite marker was one of the tallest and most ornate monuments in its vicinity.

We cleaned, then chalked the monument in order to make the engraved inscriptions stand out more clearly, then as we had done with the other family grave markers encountered on the trip, photographed the monument for our family archives.

Harmon Anderson’s Iowa farm
Late that afternoon, we found the farm property Harmon, Margaret and family had bought for $480 on 10 July 1868. The one hundred sixty acre tract was located about five miles south southwest of Jefferson, on the south side of Iowa Highway E53.

When the Harmon Anderson family moved to Iowa from Spring Valley, Ohio and bought the property, my great grandmother Anna Flora was only seven years old!

At the old farm site, we stopped the RV to look across the fields of ripened corn. And in doing so, saw the same geographical and sky conformations my ancestors saw ever day for the eleven years they lived on the property. In the late 1860s, that area had been prairie, dotted by small agricultural fields. As the decades passed and technology improved the fields became larger and larger, to a point where as far as you could see there were now crops. The land was prosperous and had proven fruitful for those who settled here permanently.

We stopped at the modern farmhouse that sat on the property.
Next to the driveway was a sign stating that the farm was listed in the Iowa State Registry as a ‘Century Farm’, meaning it had been in the same family for at least one hundred years. An old, gray haired gentleman, in his sixties, working about the yard stopped to watch us, so we climbed down from the RV, walked up the driveway and introduced our selves.

I was pleasantly surprised that this man was Mr. Graven, grandson of Clark Graven who brought the farm from Harmon and Margaret in 1879! Mr. Graven told us that his father had told him that (paraphrased),
‘The previous owners, the Anderson’s, had a T shaped log cabin on the same site as their house[9]. My grandfather, Clark, lived in the Anderson cabin after purchasing the land.’  The Graven’s present house, built in 1951 was the second house their family had built on the same exact location.

The farmhouse and out buildings, sat on a slight rise along the slope of a long gentle hill, situated about one hundred fifty feet from the passing highway. From their cabin’s location, the Anderson family could look out over their prairie land and see from the southeast around to the southwest.

Mr. Graven said he was harvesting one hundred eighty bushels of corn and forty bushels of soybeans per acre from the land and that it was recently appraised at $800 and $1000 per acre at a time when agricultural land prices were depressed.

[Heirloom family photograph: Inside Harmon and Margaret (Horney) Anderson cabin home, rural Jefferson, IA, ca. 15 January 1875: Son, Willie, lies in state, his sisters and brother look on (L>R): Elizabeth, ♥ Anna Flora, James.]

We chatted with Mr. Graven for about twenty minutes then returned to the RV and turned back out onto the highway.

A quarter of a mile west of the farmhouse, we came to an intersection between Highway E57 and County Road 18. In the southwest corner, now a cornfield, there once stood a frontier school house. Anna, her brothers, sisters and neighboring children walked there for their schooling between 1868 and 1879.

Mr. Graven had just told us, ‘The school house is long gone, but the water well is reputed to still exist.’ Indeed, all traces of the school, save the remnants of a hand water pump, had been plowed into the field.
The images of children of hurrying to and from school along the rutted wagon trails, of great grandmother Anna Flora Anderson walking to and from school with her siblings, the sounds of children calling to one another, all lay hidden amongst the tall, golden, silent stalks of corn.

Visiting Scranton, Iowa
Very late in the afternoon, we arrived in Scranton, a nearby town, where Harmon and the family moved several years prior Harmon’s death. Scranton was only about two thirds the size of Grand Junction, having a business district only two blocks long and composted of about 8 to 10 brick buildings on either side of a wide street. It’s buildings, unlike Grand Junction, were mostly only one story tall and lacked the stylized flourishes evident of a town that has seen solid growth and a period of affluence.
Scranton was a sleepy town. Other than for a single, old man sitting on a sidewalk bench two blocks away, the village seemed deserted.
A block from the center of town, and in the same block as once stood Scranton’s City Hall, Harmon owned six of the eight city lots. All but one of the lots contained old and well kept, white, two story wood frame houses each surrounded by large, stately deciduous trees.

Harmon, like so many others of that area and of the late 1870s was heavily involved in land speculation. Our genealogical assistant, Mrs. Ross had told us, ‘ Generally, the people who arrived in a developing settlement bought up the land, speculating the area would continue to draw people and grow, hoping to make a relatively fast and handsome profit.’ I caught the term ‘speculating’ and realized immediately that Harmon and I shared at least this one common trait, he with land, myself with precious metals bullion and stocks.

Following the 1896 Plat Map eight blocks west of town, we found a six acre tract that Harmon owned and which Mrs. Ross thought was where the Anderson family lived after they sold the farm to Clark Graven and moved into town. There was no longer a house on the property, the land had become home to the not very large or prosperous looking, Scranton Manufacturing Company.

We drove back into Scranton and turned onto the main street on our way out of town. A few blocks north from the center of town, we found ourselves suddenly in the country, surrounded by Iowa’s ever present cornfields. We drove on, quietly talking amongst ourselves, everyone was tired and beginning to hunger after a full day of sightseeing.

Near the western horizon, the sky was filled with dark clouds whose upper most surfaces were illuminated with a soft white glow by the setting sun. Looking out across the fields toward the south, I noted that every few miles there were tall grain elevators located along the rail road tracks. We were  in the midst of the U.S. corn belt, a place of truly mighty food production.

It was dark when we reached Carroll, Iowa. We considered ourselves fortunate to find a Bonanza Steak restaurant, now quite hungry we stopped to eat. We all ordered the same meal, consisting of: soup, a plate pf goods from the salad bar, a baked potato with sour cream, grilled French bread, a sirloin tip steak, ice tea and a bowl of vanilla ice-cream for dessert.

Don’s hilarious story
After supper we resumed our drive, this time proceeding north, while looking for a campground in which to spend the night. Everyone was full, contented and beginning to relax, when suddenly, Don announced that he had a story to tell. It was about an event that had just occurred in the bathroom at the Bonanza restaurant.
Don continued, as we all sat listening to the story unfold:
‘I was sitting on the commode having a major poop when I passed a fart of such horrid smell that it ranked as one of the worst I ever let. Just then, two fellas came into the bathroom to use the urinal. One guy said to the other, ‘Boy the ventilation is poor in here!’ The second man, sounding about seventy years old, steps up to the urinal and said, ‘That’s the trouble with these places, the ventilation fans don’t work too good.’ The first man wouldn’t wait for his friend, saying, ‘I’ll wait for you outside!’ Meanwhile, the old man at the urinal began squeezing off farts while he tried to pee.
I sat on the toilet, one of those tall uncomfortable, paraplegic toilets, contemplating my own poop and listening to the old man fart, but laughing to myself, knowing there wasn’t a fart in the world thick enough to cover my odor. I laughed so hard after they left I could hardly wipe my butt.’

On we drove through the darkness, with Don recounting portions of his story. Donna, who was sitting in the front passenger seat, was doubled over, clutching her stomach while screaming with laughter. My sides ached and tears rolling down my cheeks as I gasped for breath between fits of laughing. Don’s revenge on people who fart in public bathrooms was one of the funniest stories we’d heard in a long time!
At 8:50 PM, we found a place to set up the RV in Black Hawk State Park, by 9:30 PM we were all in bed.

The trip home
Monday, September 21 found us on the final return leg of our mini vacation.
Over the next two days we stopped and toured several parks in Minnesota including, Blue Mounds SP, Split Rock SP, Upper Sioux Agency SP and Pipestone National Park.

Blue Mounds State Park was created around a prairie hill that gently rose from the surrounding plains, only to terminate on its southern slope in the sheer drop on ninety foot  cliff. In by-gone times, the Indians chased buffalo up the incline, over the innocent looking hill crest to the ‘buffalo jump’. We took the one and a half mile nature trail from the Interpretive Center to the ‘buffalo jump’, walking through some of the only remaining native prairie in Minnesota.

We stopped early that afternoon, to set up the motor home at a KOA campground near Pipestone National Park. We’d been driving hard and doing a lot of sightseeing during the last few days so it was nice to take a break, stretch our legs and lounge around for a while. By late afternoon, the sky became over cast and a chill set ins. While Donna prepared supper, I sat at the kitchenette chatting with her, writing a post card to friends and watching the Evening TV News. Meanwhile, Don and Jane, wearing their jackets, took a walk about the campgrounds. The Grandpa-Granddaughter pair visited an elaborate children’s playground which included, swings, see-saw, merry-go-round, a slide, tether ball and a hobby horses mounted on heavy duty springs.
Until nightfall, when another motor home pulled in, we’ were the only ones in the campground.
After supper everyonel remained seated about the kitchenette table watching television and chatting, before retiring at 8:30 PM.

A leisurely morning
I awoke at 4:10 AM Tuesday, September 22, but remained in bed until 5:20 AM before quietly getting up.
While my traveling companions slept, I dressed and stepped outside into the predawn chill and walked to the KOA park’s modern bathroom to wash and shave. Returning to the RV a short while later and finding everyone still asleep, I put on a heavy jacket and took a walk about the campgrounds. It was pleasant to be alone, to look up at the twinkling stars and walk in that strange place. The chilly temperatures felt invigorating; I pressed my hands deeper into my jacket pockets to keep them warm.

Around 6:20 AM the rest of our group crawled out of their sleeping bags and came out, one and hurried off to the bathroom. After that, it wasn’t long before we were all sitting around the table enjoying our morning cups of coffee and a milk and cereal breakfast.

Most of the morning was spent seeing the Pipestone National Monument museum and hiking the park’s long, winding nature trail. During the previous centuries, Indians came from as far as 1000 miles, to mine the pipestone mineral from the rock quarry for their ceremonial pipes. Over time, the crude mining operations resulted in several dozen small mines each six to ten feet deep and ten to fifteen feet wide. At the bottom of each of these miniature ‘open pit mines’, there was about a two foot wide irregular working space. Rock refuse piles built up around each pit created an unstable and hazardous talus pile.
I felt  a chunk of pipestone an thought it was fairly soft, having a hardness perhaps only about two or three times that of chalk and a feel described as slick or wet. The mineral ranged in color from rose pink to brick red.

Thoughts while returning home
We followed Highway #23 diagonally northeast, up across the state, from the southwestern corner of Minnesota, all the way to Foley. This was a quiet time. Donna was beginning to complain of a sore throat and felt like she was becoming ill. Don, Jane and I were all tired. During the previous four and a half days we drove nearly 1048 miles and stopped numerous times to visit my family’s ancestral prairie homesteads, the towns they lived in, we talked history with people, browsed through graveyards, saw the local sights, hiked, and visit museums.
I found that in our time in this world, we do leave traces that persist into deep time. The recognition of these traces are only realized when the proper key is inserted, when the proper questions are asked. When eyes that care look, old sights will be seen, lives sensed

When we reached Spicer, Minnesota, everyone was feeling the need for an energy lift, so we stopped at a Dairy Queen for an ice cream. Upon biting into our cones, Don, Donna and I all commented at once that the ice cream didn’t taste the way it use to. It was our guess that Dairy Queen had altered its ice cream formula, and not for the better. Thinking about declining ‘quality standards’ reminded me of a joke:
“A man walks up to the ticket counter at the Airport and inquires about prices. The ticket agent answers, ‘Yes, we have cheap rates and fast, efficient service. Which would you like?”

During the previous four days, while on the prairie in Iowa, we had seen very little wooded terrain, but as we approached St. Cloud, in central Minnesota, the area of forest coverage  increased rapidly. Also, Iowa’s agricultural fields  seemed to range in size between eighty and one hundred sixty acres, the largest field planted to one crop around St. Cloud is about forty acres.

Thinking about this, I realized that Iowa was settled by European culture a half century earlier than Minnesota. Iowa experienced a major influx of population between about 1840 and 1865. Minnesota followed with peaks in population growth occurring in the 1880s and 1890s. This is evident in the neighborhood of our rural home. The oldest farmhouses in Benton County date from the late 1880s to the early 1900s, these are ‘first generation’ houses. The oldest houses we saw in Iowa were second and third generation buildings.

Don, alone and not feeling well
We had a great time traveling with Don, but he’d changed since Eulah’s death. Don  seemed to have become more contrary and reclusive, noticeably so since his visit with us nine months earlier for Christmas.  Since his arrival, Don would get up after Donna went to work, come in from the RV for a shower, then spend the rest of the morning back in his RV having breakfast and watching TV. Of course, Jane kept him company. Grandfather and Granddaughter were frequently seen walking slowly along the driveway and about the yard.

Every day, Don spent maybe an hour or two working on this or that mechanical part of his old motor home. Some of the work probably needed doing, but I think he was also just trying to keep busy working on mechanical things, something he loved to do.  Don was not a happy man living alone. On top of his loneliness he was developing health problems: he’d begun complaining of an upper stomach pain or burning sensation, which he attributed to a haitial hernia or an ulcer.

Bright and early on the morning of September 28, after a nice eighteen day visit, we said our ‘Good Byes’ to Don, and he left, enroute back to his home in Anderson, California.

After our company left and life returned to normal around the house, I began writing up my notes from our trip to Iowa. It took seven hours per day for fifteen consecutive non weekend days, or one hundred plus hours work, to enter the story and associated colored pencil drawings into my journal.

[Above, photocopy of 1987 drawing from the front page of Journal 14: Trace of the Temporal Visitor]

This post is continued in Chapter 1987, age 44-45, Part 3 of 3.

[1] See ‘signatures lists’ below.
[2] Located in Spring Valley, OH
[3]  See Journal 13-2, Volume 2, Daily Diary, page 2403, ‘ 25 July Saturday’
[4]  Richard Matheson,  Bid Time Return,  (New York: The Viking Press, 1975)
[5] We traded information for about ten or eleven years, up until about 1990 or 1991.
[6]  See Journal 2, The Realm, page 221, ‘You and Your Family’, also the entirety of Journal 6, The Travelers Guide.
[7]  See Journal 14, Trace of the Temporal Visitor, page 2609, ‘Iowa Revisited’
[8]  When her husband, Francis died, Lydia finished raising her children on the farm. When they were grown she sold the farm to the neighboring, Galligan family.
[9] Since the Graven house and Anderson cabin are located in exact same spot, we stood chatting with Mr. Graven, in a spatial location, diagonally about 40 feet to the  left, beyond the door seen here …the Andersons were home and we were at their door step…112 years, 8 months and 5 days apart.

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Filed under Autobiography, __4. Little House in the Woods- Beginnings: 1980-1987

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