Saturday, June 5, 2010

Adventures in Iowa

Finally, the long-awaited Road Trip.  Even though it was just a day trip, it felt so good to get out of town and go tromping through the cemeteries. 
The first stop was Spring Valley, in southern Minnesota, looking for a needle in a haystack, essentially.  We walked the entire cemetery looking for the resting place of one particular ancestor, which we did not find.  We’re back to Square One with him, but we did come upon this -

which was a tree trunk.  The top had the look of polished stone, but it wasn’t.  There appeared to be a very thick clear coating on the top of the trunk, with the lettering within the layers -
This unusual marker belonged to Cora N. May, 1870 – 1895, and was probably the neatest headstone I’ve ever seen.
We resumed the trip to Plainfield, Iowa, hot and tired, stomachs growling, ready for lunch.  We passed by numerous restaurants, even a Dairy Queen (oh my, did a Blizzard sound good then!), but we decided to eat at New Hampton, Iowa, instead.  While not a huge town, it seemed, on the map, big enough to have a restaurant or two.  After what seemed like an eternity, we arrived at New Hampton, and started looking for the business district, and the restaurants.   We drove forever looking for some place to eat, and finally concluded that there were no restaurants in New Hampton.  We decided on a gas station/convenience store, just to hold off The Hungries until we could find a restaurant.  Halfway through the store, one of my well-worn black tennies fell apart – the sole just fell off, almost all the way, as I walked.  It would have been better, at least in the short-run, if it had just come off all the way, but no - I was forced to lift my foot high off the ground with each step, to keep from doing a face-plant, as I made my way toward the checkout, other patrons looking at me with a mixture of confusion and pity.  I paid for the pathetic piece of ham pizza, which had no doubt been under the heat lamp since the day before, and high-stepped out to the car.  I was never so glad to leave anyplace as I was then!
shoeWe got back on the road, and very shortly thereafter, passed another exit to New Hampton.  As I choked down the last bite of my Rubber Pizza, I looked at the assortment of eating establishments we were passing, and wondered if we should turn around and go back home…
Rather than high-step my way through the next cemetery, we found a convenience store along the way that carried heavy-duty tape, so I was able to put my shoe, and my dignity, back together.
I was glad we had not turned around and gone back home.  The cemetery at Plainfield, Iowa, was worth the trip.  I not only found the stones I was looking for, but a number of others that I did not know existed.  Once we got home, I went about the work of “connecting the dots” with all of the burials we’d found.  The Rotten Luck Fairy, who had plagued the first part of the trip, had one more surprise for me to end the day – the discovery that there was another whole branch of the family buried a less than 5 miles down the road from Plainfield!  Oh well… another trip… 


  1. Was that the Willow Lawn Cemetery in Plainfield, and what surnames are you researching in that area. Man's people are from the Butler Bremer Chickasaw area.

  2. LOL, I love trips like that (except the rubber pizza). That was a neat tree trunk headstone and amazing that it could survive that many years and still be read. I found a headstone made of petrified wood one time and it was pretty neat too, but it had been polished on one side so the lettering could be done like a regular headstone.

  3. unique memorial. I forget where I saw it once, but I cam across a huge bolder, I wanted to know the story, but the person I asked didn't know.
    Let me know if your get to Calhoun, Greene, pochy, I have some in Jackson, and Clinton. Carter from Caroll.
    I have names like Carstensen, Hansen, etc from Schl. Holstein who settled Clinton but connect. Do Have Peterson so I'll
    have to keep better track of you.