My recent journey has been about family, history, roots. It is only fitting that I would find myself standing in the middle of Notre Dame University in the middle of my travels because almost fifty years ago I made a personal decision about that place that would alter the direction of my life. As I have visited the locales where my ancestors once lived and worked I have reflected on the choices that they made that eventually led to me and my brothers. At Purdue University I thought of all of the forces of the universe that gave me my grandson, Andrew, and then brought him back to the place of his birth. Each of us has a rather amazing story if one really thinks about it. From the very beginnings of time the world has been moving toward the destinies that we call our lives. Continue reading “Choices”
This morning we are heading to Indiana Amish country in the far north of the state on the border with Michigan. In planning the trip I had thought that our stay in Lafayette/West Lafayette would be focused only on the Purdue experience. Since Andrew had to return to his studies in earnest yesterday Mike and I did a bit of exploring on our own and learned that we had indeed been staying in a more interesting place than I had thought. Our campground was located in Prophetstown State Park, a name which captured my curiosity. Before leaving I finally learned what its significance was all about.
Back in the beginning of the nineteenth century people began moving from the east into the heart of North America in droves. At first the native people lived in a kind of strained peace with their new neighbors who were claiming bigger and bigger chunks of the wooded lands and prairies that had been the homes of the Shawnee and the Kickapoo and other tribes. They eagerly accepted trinkets like cloth, blankets, guns, bullets, and even alcohol from the newcomers. Before long though their entire way of life was being threatened by the numbers of pioneers who continued to pour in without abatement. They began to view the outsiders as invaders. A charismatic leader named Tecumseh became enraged by what he saw happening to his people. He traveled around the area attempting to create an alliance between his own Shawnee tribe and others. He believed that if they all worked together they would have the power needed to repel the white men. Continue reading “Unraveling a Mystery”
Mike and I had a grand weekend that centered around our grandson, Andrew, and Purdue University. Purdue is located in West Lafayette, Indiana about an hour and a half from Indianapolis. The town is an interesting mix of people and lifestyles. On the one hand there is the academically charged area around the university that hosts well over forty thousand students and hundreds of professors. On the other hand, within that mix are the men and women who work in the numerous factories that are located nearby, many of whom never attended college. The more educated individuals tend to cluster around the university in West Lafayette and the laborers live in Lafayette proper. There is a noticeable difference in the two places. Continue reading “Boiler Up!”
Before leaving Arkansas Mike and I made one more attempt to find the road to my grandparent’s farm. Using Google Maps we found the Caddo River and the bridge that crosses it. As soon as we saw it I knew that we were on the right track. It was just as I remembered it. It seemed to be a place suspended in time. The old wooden bridge will one day be gone. Little is left of it but enough to bring back such fond memories. It was so peaceful there. The crystal clear water looked clean enough to drink. Of course we knew better than to try it without some form of filtering. I learned that important lesson from my grandmother long ago and from all of our more recent backpacking adventures. I wanted to just sit along the banks in that quiet place and tarry for a long while but we didn’t have the time. Continue reading “Kentucky Kinfolk”
As children we aren’t usually much interested in learning about relatives from long ago. Thus it was with me. My father died long before I began to have questions about his grandparents and aunts and uncles. I imagine that he had a wealth of information but that went away with his death. His mother, my Grandma Minnie, sometimes attempted to provide me with a few details about her heritage but I much preferred her stories about birds and the other critters that she understood so well. The result was that I grew up knowing very little about the people who had come before me.
I had a first cousin named Howard who was one of my Aunt Opal’s sons. He and my dad had actually been quite close. They were only a couple of years apart in age even though my dad was Howard’s uncle. They both became mechanical engineers and they shared a number of interests, thus my parents often visited Howard and his wife. I was fascinated by this cousin of mine who was old enough to be my father. He had a collection of arrowheads that he had found along White Oak bayou before someone had the questionable idea of pouring concrete along its banks. He also raised baby alligators and collected all sorts of wonderful things. Visits to his home were always a ton of fun. Continue reading “The Old Family Home”