ROAD TRIP, August 13-29, 2012
Monday, August 13 – Pete and I drove my car to Seattle so that we could leave his Blazer in our carport at home and my Corolla at Mom and Dad’s. Dad then drove Mom, Pete and me to the Amtrak terminal, returned to get Blaine and they rode with a neighbor back to the station. Sue met us there after a day with girlfriends.
The train from Seattle departed at 4:40 p.m. We were excited to be on our way. Although we found seats together in the nice upper level coach car, we were disappointed that there were no restrooms up there. Mom was having difficulty with her right leg after her recent hospitalization and I had tweaked my knee some days before, so I was hobbling, too.
We had dinner–take out sandwiches from the dining car–and stayed overnight on the train, without a sleeping car… just sitting in our reclining seats. It was very uncomfortable and fitful sleeping until Pete went to stretch out in the lounge car that was added at the Spokane stop.
Food and beverages were pricey on the Empire Builder. My favorite meal was breakfast in the dining car: scrambled eggs, grits, coffee and juice. Pete and I sat across the table from an older couple who were traveling together to head home back east.
Tuesday, August 14 – In the morning, the train passed by Glacier Park. We watched from the lounge car. Beautiful! Due to recent high heat in the Midwest causing the rails to buckle, the train was delayed more and more at each stop. Sometimes the train would slow to a crawl. A train passing this way earlier had such “turbulence” that all the food slid off the tables of the dining car.
We arrived in Wolf Point, MT about three hours later than expected. We were picked up by the rental car guy, arranged by Blaine and Sue. The hotel reservations I had made months earlier with the Homestead Inn were adjusted to “plan B” when we found out they’d put us on the third floor with no elevator, which would have been difficult for my folks. Instead, we went up the road to the cheaper hotel annex where there was one ground-floor room left that Mom and Dad could use. The rest of us had rooms upstairs. The place was not deluxe by any means, but there was WiFi so I could check my mail, and comfortable king-sized beds so we slept soundly. Boy was I TIRED!!! Train sleep the night before had led to the grouchies but we had excellent sleep Tuesday night in Wolf Point!
Wednesday, August 15 – After a quick continental breakfast, Blaine drove us in our rental SUV to Poplar and the First Presbyterian Church. We were greeted there by friends and church members. It was wonderful to see so many people from our distant past, and they welcomed us so warmly! We took turns getting misty-eyed at the emotion of it all. They served coffee and refreshments and had gathered the church records from during Dad’s time as pastor, showing baptisms, marriages and funerals recorded in both Mom’s and Dad’s handwriting. After we had visited there for a couple of hours, we got to go through the manse where we lived from 1960 to 1965.
After that we caravanned to one couple’s ranch home for a lunch of yummy “slush burgers” (sloppy joes). Then we drove back to Wolf Point to return our rental car and catch the delayed 4:30 train. Another night on board the train was even more miserable than the first. Dad, Mom, Blaine and Sue got off in Fargo in the wee hours of the morning to rest at a hotel briefly before they would pick up their car rental and head to relatives in Park Rapids, MN. Pete and I continued on the train to Minneapolis/St. Paul.
Thursday, August 16 – We were relieved to finally arrive at St. Paul/Minneapolis in the morning, a few hours late. We picked up our rental car, a 2012 white Chevy Malibu, and drove south to Rice County, MN. After breakfast at a Perkins along the way, we headed straight for the Old Prairieville Cemetery east of Faribault, where we met Tim and Sue Lloyd and their genealogist friend Peggy. They showed us the cemetery and we took photos of John Spencer’s grave. What tremendous work they have done there reclaiming the old historic cemetery!
Old Prairieville Cemetery, outside Faribault, Minnesota
Headstone of my ancestor, John Spencer
Pete and I left the cemetery and headed back to Faribault and the Rice County Museum of History. In the museum, I was able to get some more info on the history of the Old Prairieville area. Then Pete drove me to the public library to use the internet to book our lodging at New Ulm. We drove on a blue highway (14) to the Microtel and had dinner across the parking lot at Appleby’s, where the nice waitress gifted Pete with a package of 100 cardboard beer coasters! We liked our clean third floor room with king bed, although I couldn’t get internet in the room as was advertised.
Friday, August 17 – After breakfast I sat in the lobby with my laptop to use the wireless and checked my mail while Pete chatted with other guests outside the hotel. The weather was perfect… sunny and gorgeous and not too hot. We first went to the Brown County Historical Society and Museum to view the 3rd floor display about the Dakota Conflict, but unfortunately that display was closed until the following Tuesday! OH NO! Disappointed, I instead purchased some books and a DVD about the conflict in their gift shop area. Then Pete and I drove up to see the Hermann the German statue and viewpoint. It was great looking out over beautiful New Ulm. Before we left town, we stopped for coffee at a fun coffee shop/used book store, then headed out of New Ulm toward Lake Shetek.
On the way, we stopped for gas in Sleepy Eye, MN at a Casey’s along highway 14. After he filled up the car, Pete chatted with the people inside the store, who informed him that the town was celebrating “Buttered Corn Days” at the town park and we should head over for some free sweet corn on the cob. So we did! We found the park, wandered through the craft booths and bought tickets for lunch. Tickets were 50 cents each, and my hot dog was 4 tickets ($2) and Pete’s burger was six tickets ($3). The sweet corn was free and DELICIOUS, served from vats of melted butter! Yum!! We were so glad to have taken the opportunity to do something interesting and spontaneous.
Buttered Corn Days in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota
Down the road in Walnut Grove, we also did something spontaneous by pulling over at the Laura Ingalls Wilder museum. There we took pictures and looked around in the gift shop.
Pete and I were the first of our bunch to arrive at the Lake Shetek Lodge. After we checked into our room, Pete and I drove around to the east side of the lake and into the State Park. We bought our 3-day pass at the park entrance and proceeded in to hear Paul Carpenter speaking for the Hatch group and the Fool Soldiers people there. There we also met Craig and Deb Eastlick and their son Ethan and family, including young Brett. When I told him we didn’t know how his Cornelius was related to our Alexander, he responded, “…yet!” and I said, “I like this guy!!” Craig and clan were camping at the new campground.
Saturday, August 18 – We were up early to get back to the park for the bus tour. Our guides were Jesse James, local retired teacher who has become very involved in Shetek history and lives on the Hurd cabin site, and Roseann, the park ranger we’d met ten years earlier. Back in 2002 she performed a memorized monologue as Lavina Eastlick telling her story, and she did so again this time.
The monument at Lake Shetek
After the bus tour, we met Tom, Donna and Presley Eastlick who had arrived at Lake Shetek to join in the commemoration and were waiting to take the second bus tour. As they got on the bus, the six of us in the Lewis party went to lunch at the Trail’s Edge General Store near the park. We had sandwiches, burgers and root beer floats! It had been years since we enjoyed root beer floats!
Then we drove out to Slaughter Slough to see the new kiosk and hear Bill Bolin speak about the rock monument there. We didn’t walk the quarter mile out to the rocks as it was very hot and I was exhausted due to standing for too long with my bad knee. But we did drive back to the park and sit in on the video playing at the interpretive center, “Return to Shetek: The Courage of the Fool Soldiers,” the same video I had purchased at New Ulm the day before. It was wonderful, featuring interviews with Paul Carpenter, Bill Bolin, Marcella Labeau, Karla Abbott….all the main Shetek players. It was produced by Barbara Brittain, who had contacted me through my blog last year. She was there in attendance at the Lake as one of the Hatch descendants. We were all moved by the video, so much so that Blaine and Sue bought a copy of the DVD in the park office afterwards. Then we all went into the park to the picnic shelter and joined in a meal put on by the Friends of Lake Shetek, for descendants and relatives of the settlers and Fool Soldiers. I had a chance to visit with the other Eastlick relatives there, as well as Marcella Labeau and Barbara Brittain and her sister Bonnie. Then we went to see Roseann appear as Lavina Eastlick.
Sunday, August 19 – Today we just flaked out at the lakeside lodge. Blaine and Sue left to go back to Slaughter Slough and over to Walnut Grove, while Mom, Dad, Pete and I relaxed at the Lodge all day. I showed Mom and Dad my photos taken on the trip up to that point. That night we had dinner at the Key Largo restaurant two doors up from the lodge and we celebrated Dad’s 80th birthday early on our last night together on this trip. Blaine conspired with our waitress to bring chocolate cake with a birthday candle and we all sang “Happy Birthday” to Dad.
Monday, August 20 – Pete and I drove Mom via the interstate to Des Moines to catch her plane. We left bright and early and made good time to get her there early. After we dropped her off, we continued on blue highways to Washington, IA and our hotel Super 8. The gal at the front desk gave us a “welcome package” of maps and brochures and recommended the Frontier Family Restaurant just off the town square. We had our first “home cookin’ meal” and Pete ordered country fried steak… his favorite!! When we got back to our hotel, Pete washed a load of our laundry in the hotel machines.
Tuesday, August 21 – Since we’d had to rise early Monday, we slept in Tuesday. After breakfast at the hotel and a nice chat with Heather, our favorite hotel desk clerk, we drove out to Custer Cemetery and the location of Montgomery M. Crouch’s land. Although no one was home there, we did take some pictures of the house.
Headstone of my ancestor, Thomas Reeves
At the grave of my ancestor, Thomas Reeves
Then we went over to Pleasant Hill Church and Cemetery, where we got to chat with an older shirtless man who was painting the church hallway and basement. He gave us a bit of history. Pleasant Hill is where Mary (Reeves) Crouch’s brother Elijah T. Reeves and his wife Indiana (Custer) Reeves are buried. Then we drove past Samuel R. Young’s land, knocking on the door there to alert the owner before taking pictures.
Washington County, Iowa courthouse
After lunch, again at the Frontier Family Restaurant, I visited the courthouse and was able to get a copy of Thomas Reeves’ will! I was so excited to find out they even had it there! The typed summary I had received from the Washington County Genealogy Society by mail in 2009 had been transcribed from a book the volunteers could no longer locate, so I was worried there would be no way to see the handwritten version. Now I think that what was lost was the clerk’s transcript book, as this original-looking, yellowed handwritten will came from the attic at the courthouse!!
Will of Thomas Reeves, Washington County, Iowa
I got a Xerox copy and took pictures of the will with my digital camera. Then we went to the public library on the town square, housed in a brand new building since I was there in 2009, and I researched in the basement where the Genealogy Society materials are now stored. Then we drove on to our Super 8 in Burlington, IA.
Hancock County, Illinois courthouse
Wednesday, August 22 – The next morning, we rose early and drove to Carthage, IL for a quick research stop at the courthouse and Kibbe Hancock Heritage Museum/Historical Society. While Pete rested in the car, I did a little research on Isaac Broadhurst, looking for clues about his third wife Catherine (Conner) Redeyford Broadhurst, as I do not know where and when she died. I found a marriage reference for him, but nothing on deaths or burials, so I’m sure they died elsewhere. I hope to find her obituary to learn more about her parents and hopefully their names. While there, I copied some cemetery info on the Rinckels. Then we went for breakfast, but the coffee was terrible due to the funny-tasting water caused by the lake “turning over” according to our waitress.
We drove on to Hannibal, MO, to meet Crouch cousins Nancy and Fearn for lunch at the Mark Twain Dinette. We visited for over an hour and I showed them some Crouch family photos on my computer. Nancy gave me a little gold colored Quincy pin and we treated them to lunch. Cousin Patti was unable to make the trip north, so instead, we went south to see her.
Pete and I got lost coming out of Hannibal and mistakenly took the scenic route, but soon got back to highway 61 and headed south to Hillsboro. Heavy traffic was stressful and we missed an important turn, but were able to make it into town. We phoned her from town and she came to lead us back to her house. We had a nice, but brief visit. Her hubby Dave arrived home from work and Pete and he had an opportunity to visit over a beer as Patti and I put dinner on the table. She served delicious Italian spaghetti made from her mom’s recipe. It was so great to finally meet this cousin, the one who inspired me to join the DAR and my co-conspirator in Crouch/McCall/Reeves/Feurt/Pieret genealogy.
Pete and I wanted to get past St. Louis before nightfall, so we tore ourselves away right after dinner and headed on to our next hotel stop. It got dark before we could clear the city and its thick traffic. That was probably our most horrendous night due to being so late and driving after dark, with lots of road construction and missing our exit to the Effingham Super 8, having to circle back. A night I’d like to forget.
Thursday, August 23 – We slept in the next morning since it had been after midnight when we got to our hotel. We grabbed a Starbucks, then drove on the interstate to Terre Haute, then east and north on state and county roads to Crawfordsville, Montgomery County, IN. There we ate lunch on the way into town before heading to the beautiful public library and the helpful young librarian who had first become interested in genealogy when she was ten years old. She pulled records for me on the Crouch family and copied the microfilmed will of Andrew Crouch. Then Pete and I went out to Youngs Chapel Cemetery to see if we could find the Joseph Crouch grave listed in the cemetery records for that burial yard. We couldn’t find any Crouches there, but there were many missing and broken stones. Later in checking my records, I discovered MY Joseph Crouch was buried in a different cemetery so we were looking for the wrong Crouches, anyway, although these others are undoubtedly collateral relatives. I did some internet work to flesh out Andrew and his family before retiring that night in our Super 8 at Shelbyville, IN.
Friday, August 24 – We had fallen behind in our itinerary, so we made up for lost time by dispensing with the Delaware Co IN research stop. Instead, we drove from Shelbyville IN directly to Portsmouth, OH, stopping for breakfast at a Country Inn on the highway after the Cincinnati bypass. In Portsmouth we stopped at the Chamber of Commerce first to get a county map. They are big on townships out this way, so the map they gave us was great because it showed all the township boundaries.
Pete took me to the Public Library where they had a great genealogy collection in the basement. I madly copied references to the Feurts and Reeves. There may be some good tidbits in those papers but I won’t know for sure until I digest it all back at home.
The public library in Portsmouth, Scioto, Ohio
Researching Reeves and Feurt families, Scioto County, Ohio
Then we drove north to find the Feurt cemetery where Mary (Davidson) Feurt was buried. Although we got close to the right area, we gave up when it appeared access in the brush and trees across the train tracks was going to be impossible with the overgrowth and my bad leg. After a quick lunch we headed back over to Lombardsville, which we had passed that morning, to find the Garvin Cemetery where Joseph Feurt is supposedly buried, but found no stone. In rechecking the cemetery records, they only refer to his info as “taken from burial records,” not from a stone-reading. Another source says he is buried in the “Old Pioneer Burial Ground” near Lombardsville, so who knows where that is.
We decided to abandon another research stop to make up for lost time: Flemingsburg, KY. Instead, we left Portsmouth and headed south into Kentucky on a nice highway (23) through beautiful terrain. Pete reminded me that highway 23 is called the Country Music Highway. We stopped for the night at a Super 8 in Prestonsburg, KY. There we found out that a big Nascar race would be going on that weekend in Bristol, not far from Kingsport where we were headed. This pushed up hotel prices considerably, so we decided that we’d make our next hotel reservation in Black Mountain outside Asheville NC. I had stayed there in 2009 and knew Pete would enjoy that area.
Saturday, August 25 – We left Prestonsburg and continued driving south through the beautiful green hillsides of Kentucky on highway 23, arriving at Kingsport, TN by 11:00 a.m. or so. We immediately found the Netherland Inn and were struck by the beauty of the Holston River out in front of the inn, the green of the lawns and wooded hillsides. We walked around the grounds and met the caretaker. The official tour was to begin at 2:00 so we chose to go get lunch first and came back for the tour.
The Netherland Inn, Kingsport, Tennessee
The Netherland Inn is on the National Historic Register, the only site that is both a stage coach stop and a boat yard. It was purchased in 1818 by my 4th great-grandfather, Richard Netherland, and the property stayed in the family for four generations. My branch, Richard Jr., actually moved away from Kingsport in the 1830s. Anyway, the volunteers were incredibly nice and seemed impressed to have a Netherland descendant pay a visit. We took the tour, and were given the royal treatment, including access to areas normally roped off to the public. Afterwards we purchased several items from the gift store, including a framed watercolor print of the Netherland Inn. The volunteers couldn’t have been nicer. I was so pleased with our whole experience there!
We then drove south through more gorgeous countryside and stopped at the most beautiful rest stop EVER, just over the border in North Carolina. Our hotel destination was the Super 8 in Black Mountain, the same one I stayed at in 2009. After our arrival, we were so pleased with the surroundings that we decided to stay an additional night so that we could relax the next day and prepare to ship items home first thing Monday morning from the local UPS Store.
Sunday, August 26 – Just like the previous Sunday at Lake Shetek, we relaxed the entire day. We slept in, lounged around the hotel room, went to the laundromat and bought a few more groceries for dinner. Sometimes you just need a day to kick back. We even found an incredible deal on a small shoulder bag for Pete’s iPad at the Goodwill Store. At that point we decided to stay a third night as our room was very spacious and clean and the price had been reduced to weekday rates after Saturday night. Plus we wondered what we’d do with ourselves if we showed up in Knoxville two days early. We would rather kill time in a quiet and beautiful small town in the mountains than in any city.
Monday, August 27 – First thing in the morning, after sleeping in of course, was to take our big framed print of the Netherland Inn to the UPS store to have it wrapped and shipped home. Then we picked up a USPS Flat Rate Box to fill with my books and DVDs, padded by Pete’s bright orange Lake Shetek sweatshirt. Mission accomplished, we then went and ate breakfast at Louise’s, a local restaurant in an old house. We had a farm-style breakfast while seated on the broad front porch. It reminded Pete of a similar place in his past. We had a laugh when Pete discovered a stick in his grits. Other than that, we agreed it was our best breakfast on the road.
Later in the afternoon, we drove to Lake Tomahawk to check it out. We were rather underwhelmed by this man-made spot, although it was fun getting a little sun by the water. We saw some geese there, including a white one with feathers on his head that looked like he had an afro.
Tuesday, August 28 – We packed up and waited around our Black Mountain Super 8 long enough for me to do our airline check-in online. Then we drove toward Knoxville, but took a side trip to New Market, TN, so that I could show Pete the cemetery there.
New Market, Tennessee cemetery. The Goodykoontz lot is at the foot of the tree in the center back.
I took a few minutes in the hot sun to clean the lichens off the three Raymond stones and two of the Goodykoontz stones. The only one I didn’t clean was Jacob’s headstone, as the way it is tilted forward made it very awkward to get to. Also, unlike last time when Dad and I visited in 2009, the bushes had grown up and almost over the Goodykoontz plot. I would like to contact someone about cutting them back. Pete and I chatted with a man who showed up there to see the headstone of his buddy who died of cancer in 2010 and he suggested we contact the mortuary nearby.
After that we attempted a final “blue highway” route going to our Days Inn near the Knoxville airport. Unfortunately, we took a few wrong turns and ended up a bit lost. But thanks to helpful people at gas stations, we were able to get there. For dinner we ordered out pizza.
Wednesday, August 29 – We rose at 6:00 a.m. to allow PLENTY of time to return our rental car and get checked in at the airport. Both tasks turned out to be a breeze. We flew from Knoxville to Denver for a quick change of planes, then flew to SeaTac. We took a cab from there to Mom and Dad’s to get my car and drove home to PT.
Another incredible journey in the books….
My favorite highlights were:
Our warm welcome in Poplar
Our time at Lake Shetek
Old Prairieville Cemetery with Tim and Sue Lloyd
Finding the will of Thomas Reeves
Meeting Cousins Nancy, Fearn and Patti
Our experience at the Netherland Inn
Most restful sleep: Lake Shetek Lodge.
Worst sleep: Empire Builder.
Best research facility: (three-way tie) Crawfordsville IN Public Library, Washington IA Genealogy Room in the basement of the new library, Portsmouth Public Library genealogy collection in the basement.
Most helpful genealogy volunteer: Crawfordsville IN (although the older gentleman at Carthage was really nice).
Best home-cooked meal at a restaurant: (tie) Frontier Family Restaurant, Washington IA and Louise’s, Black Mountain NC.
Best REAL home-cooked meal: (tie) Beck’s slush burgers, Patti’s spaghetti.
Bed bugs: NONE.
Best hotel: Microtel, New Ulm MN; Super 8, Washington IA; Super 8, Black Mountain NC.
Friendliest hotel clerk: Heather, Super 8, Washington IA.
Worst drive: Hillsboro MO to Effingham IL.
Worst drivers: Missouri.
Best roads: Hwy from St. Louis to Hillsboro MO; Hwy 23 from Portsmouth OH to Kingsport TN.
Worst signage: Effingham IL construction zone, Pigeon Forge TN Dollywood area.
Most beautiful drive: around Lake Shetek; southern MN in the early morning; scenic road south of Hannibal MO; Hwy 23 through KY, VA.
Handiest laundry room: Super 8, Washington IA.
Best (only) welcome package: Super 8, Washington IA.
Disappointing lack of internet: Empire Builder, Lake Shetek Lodge, Microtel at New Ulm MN (none in room but lobby worked).
Best corn on the cob: Sleepy Eye MN.
Favorite town: (tie) New Ulm MN and Black Mountain NC.
Most picturesque historical courthouse: (tie) Washington IA and Carthage IL.
Worst dinner: Doritos and Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Burlington IA.
Best root beer float: Trail’s Edge General Store, outside Lake Shetek State Park.
Warmest welcome: Poplar parish, Patti & Dave, Netherland Inn volunteers, and the storekeepers of Black Mountain NC.
Best rest stop: just over the border into NC on Hwy 23.
Most unusual animal: afro-goose at Lake Tomahawk, Black Mountain NC.