I think I just discovered that my great grandfather Louis Thomas and great grandmother May (Fultz) Thomas were the inspiration for the painting “American Gothic”. The painting was done in 1930 and the picture shown below of my great grandparents was taken in 1942. I guess I will let you be the judge. Now I know that the painting was done in Iowa, and supposedly the woman is the daughter in the picture even though we normally assume she is his wife. But maybe the artist took a vacation to Halifax Nova Scotia and was inspired there, took a picture of my grandparents, and then did the painting back in Iowa.
Spent a day visiting a couple places in Michigan’s thumb that I had never visited before. We spent a few hours at the Octagon Barn (https://www.thumboctagonbarn.org/) just outside of Gagetown. Did not take any pictures there but the website can fill you in.
Then we traveled about another ten miles and spent some time at the Sanilac Petroglyphs Historic State Park. Just a small place with about a 2 mile hiking trail and the site of Michigan’s only known native American Indian rock carvings. You can visit the DNR website here for information on this state park: http://www.michigandnr.com/ParksandTrails/Details.aspx?id=490&type=SPRK
The website has the better pictures, but here are a few I took along our walk:
We were able to spend a few hours (between raindrops) taking a small hike in the Hocking Hills State Park which is about 45 minutes southeast of Columbus Ohio. This area is rated #1 or #2 for the best hiking trails in all of Ohio. We only saw a small portion of the trails available. There are seven major hiking areas and it would take many days to see them and travel them all. I am not in the shape needed for a hiking trip like that.
Below are a few pictures of the area we visited, which included a short hike to Cedar Falls and part of a hike to Dead Man’s Cave. If you want to see more then head over to https://www.thehockinghills.org/
Day 13 – Traveled from Chadron to Yankton, SD. This trip crossed off another state on our list and was also located near Springfield Township in South Dakota which is a location that Hudson Dexter Mead (my great-grandfather) appears on an 1880 census.
Day 14 and 15 – Traveled to Urbandale, Iowa and visited for two days with our niece Amy and her family. We had a great time visiting (except for the rain out of a baseball game), playing some games and going to church with them. Amy gave me a copy of a report she did on my father in which she interviews him about his life growing up. Learned a couple things and also need to verify a couple things, but that is for another day.
Day 16 – Traveled to Illinois for a day to see my brother David and his wife Julie, who is currently recovering from serious shoulder surgery. As always, we enjoyed our stay there and David and I always have some great conversations.
Day 17 – 19 – Traveled to Columbus and visited my daughter and her family. Lot of games, finished a jigsaw puzzle, soccer practices and good food and company.
Day 20 – After 4,728 miles, we make it back home. It is nice to sleep on your own mattress!
P.S. – Once home I received a package from my friend I made in North Dakota, which included copies of “The North Dakota Sheaf” (the “Official paper of the Bishop and District of North Dakota Protestant Episcopal Church”) from the years that my grandfather Frank was a minister in North Dakota (from 1922 to 1928). I will do more later on grandpa Frank as I put together a short biography of his life, as I know it anyhow.
One thing I did learn that I will share now, is that he went to St. John’s College (now a part of the University of Manitoba, go U of M!) for his theological studies. This college is located in Winnipeg, Manitoba which is where he married grandma Muriel. Since Muriel was from Halifax, Nova Scotia, I wonder now if she went to the same college and possible met grandpa Frank there.
Day 12 saw us off to Nebraska. Our first stop was in Kimball Nebraska, where my mother, Gloria Jane Mead, was born on March 12, 1931. Kimball is about 50 miles east of Cheyenne or a couple hours northeast of Denver.
Once in Kimball we were able to take a few pictures of the house where my Grandpa (Hudson Dexter Mead II) and Grandma (Mary Esther) lived when our mom was born. The address was from a 1930 census. They were married in 1927 in Chadron, Nebraska but later moved to Kimball. Sometime before 1936 they moved to Oklahoma where my mom’s brother Hudson Dexter Mead III was born.
We also stopped at the offices of the Western Nebraska Observer, a paper that has been around since 1885. They were kind enough to bring up all the archived editions of the paper for the year 1931 and allowed us to look through them. We found a birth announcement and an announcement of a trip they made to Chadron after the birth. The coolest thing I learned is that my mom was born at home!
Then off to Chadron, with a stop to see Chimney Rock on the way there. Chimney Rock was used as a sign post for the travelers heading across country in the 1800’s.
Once in Chadron, Nebraska, (where I was born) we went house hunting. I had the house number of 601 Ann Street which was listed on my birth certificate, and 259 Chapin Street from the 1920 census listing where Grandpa Mead lived (14 years old) and also just a street, Shelton, from the 1910 census when Grandpa was 4 years old.
I was born in Chadron during the time my dad went to college there, at least for the fall semester in 1951. He went to what was called Chadron State Teachers College, but is now called Chadron State College. They are a division II school (go Eagles!) and they compete in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.
Spent four days in Colorado with Stephen, Heidi and Noah. Lots of good time with them and Heidi’s family. The following are a few picture highlights of our stay in Colorado. (and if you just want to see pictures of Noah, then scroll to the end)
A few shots of Noah and his family as we said our good-byes and headed for Nebraska and eventually home.
Just a short post as we headed from Casper Wyoming to Thornton Colorado to start a 4 day visit with my grandson Noah (and his parents!). We took a less traveled route down 487 and 30 to I-80 so that we could take the Happy Jack Road between Laramie and Cheyenne. The road was nice, but the weather wasn’t as it actually snowed about half the drive. At the exit on I-80 (323 in Wyoming) was a nice memorial of Abraham Lincoln, appropriate since this is the Lincoln Highway.
And the ultimate goal of our trip is to see:
Traveled today from Billings Montana to Casper Wyoming. Beautiful ride all the way and the weather was great. We stopped at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument about an hour outside of Billings. Was very educational and worth the visit. Not a lot to see in pictures. You are best served to come and visit in person.
They have about a 5 mile self guided tour, with informational stops along the way. You can look out over the fields and just imagine the battle going on, including all the markers where the various soldiers and warriers were killed.
From Montana we made it to Wyoming with a quick stop at the visitor center.
Once we got to Casper, we looked up on my Alltrails App for a good hike and ended going to the “Garden Creek Waterfall Loop” which was rated as easy. If this was easy I sure am glad we did not try the two hour moderate hike. We would have never made it without our trusty guide Mark who we met at the site and went with us all the way. It was quite wet and slippery with some fresh snow from a day ago, and even some logs to cross to get across the stream. In fact, Mary even had a little spill, but thankfully not down the hillside.
And here is a short video Mary took with her camera.
First a stop at the Painted Canyon Visitor Center, a part of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park in western North Dakota.
Then headed to Medora and the main entrance to the National Park. We took an auto tour through the park, except we could not do the whole loop due to part of the road being washed out, but it was awesome anyway. It’s hard to view all this beautiful, intricate and varied nature scenes and think everything just occurred by random chance. The more I see, the more I am convinced that evolution could not have possibly done this. Which leaves me no option but to believe God created everything. Amazing!
Wild people and wild flowers
Also stopped at the Pompey Pillar National Monument. Wilson Clark, of Lewis and Clark fame, stopped here on his way back east when canoeing down the Yellowstone River and left evidence of his journey on a rock face.
Today was all about our visit to Bismarck North Dakota. But our first encounter of the day was a visit to Frontier Village in Jamestown ND to see the worlds largest Buffalo.
Then on to Bismarck where we were very fortunate to meet up with Tom and Sharon Tudor who are members of and local historians of the St. George Episcopal church in Bismarck. We met them at St. George’s and got a tour of their current building. It is a beautiful church and designated as a memorial church for various reasons, but the main reason is all the stain glass windows, each of which include a border of stain glass pieces from various churches in England that were destroyed during WWII.
Fortunately for us, the original church now stands on the historical Camp Hancock site in downtown Bismarck. We may have missed this fact all together if it wasn’t for Tom and Sharon. They drove us to the location and provided a guided tour for us. All in all we spent about 3 hours with them and had a great time viewing this preserved church, as well as some sight seeing in Bismarck.
Grandpa Frank served from 1924 to 1928 according to the plaque on their wall. My records document that aunts Barb (b. 1922) and Marion (b. 1925) were born in North Dakota, so I am not sure what he was doing for the first couple of years he was in North Dakota. Perhaps he was an assistant to the current pastor at that time.
Last but not least, as we left Bismarck for our stay in Dickenson North Dakota, we had a view of “Salem Sue”. North Dakota has more than it’s share of oversize animals and sculptures. To see what I am talking about, just google “the enchanted highway”.