Research trip journal, day 3

2014.05.19 Monday

2014.05.20 Tuesday

2014.05.21 Wednesday

The town siren in Jewell, Kansas sounded at some frighteningly early hour, perhaps 6 a.m.  I hope that's not a daily thing I thought, before I returned to sleep. After I woke again and rose at 7:45, another pair of sirens sounded at 8 a.m. What a reveille.

I dressed and went to the bar next door, the Delaware Pub, where I was told I could get food. Yes, but not breakfast today. I spoke with the owner, Howard Floyd (?), who said he could fire up the grills for me each morning I'm here, except Sunday when the bar is closed all day. I biked around the town, just on the off chance that I would see some promising place for eating (No luck.) and finished the tour with a stop at the Jewell Grocery, where I bought some frozen bagels, butter (none available without salt), yoghurt, half+half, and frozen waffles.

I ate in the room, which is actually a small apartment with refrigerator, toaster oven, microwave, drip coffee pot, sink, along with passable table ware and cooking pots. No range though, Why are a skillet and pot in the cupboards?

So I had a late start today, even if my first "research work" is editing a set of outlines for these journal pages for my full trip. I arrived in Beloit during the noon hour. All offices in the courthouse and the parish were closed until 1:00 p.m. I walked around a bit, had am awful turkey Reuben sandwich at Plum Creek Café, and spoke with a pharmacy about getting a script for a drug that I am low on.

In the Register of Deeds office, Angela Engelbert helped me with my initial request to see the Tract Indexes for specific locations. I described the Tract Index that I found in Osborne County, and she showed me the variation of the document that Mitchell County has. Yet another type of source document!

Instead of presenting each quarter of the section, all transactions for the full section are listed in chronologic order. At least for the earliest deeds, four dates are recorded: the date of the transaction, of the notarization, of the recording, and of another process identified as "Ac'kt"—acknowledgement, meaning the date of notarization. Also these earliest deeds include the actual monetary value of the transfer. (In many deeds, the value is disguised and not part of the public record.)

My photographic setup had a few problems with glare. The early pages have been laminated in a semi-matte coating that still reflects ambient light. So my setup had to eliminate as much light as possible. I photographed only the pages from one book, so I could review the results later on my computer. In close-up, the glare you can see in this image is not problematic. So I will confidently continue my work there tomorrow. (Tami Eck is the Registrar, but she was out of the office today.)

I also spent about 90 minutes with the Clerk of District Court, where I listed the probate files I may want to copy. My initial list is long, and the clerk Pam Thiessen will give me access to pull the files myself and photograph the relevant pages. The county coffers have been lacking in funds to bring the district court and land records into the digital age. A small percent of the records, only the most recent, can be accessed online. The vast majority await funding before the paper documents can be scanned and set into a database.

After the courthouse closed for the day, I went to St. John the Baptist Church and photographed the exteriors of the church, convent, school, and rectory. The full block of houses across from the church have been torn down, so I was able to photograph from a unique vantage point.

I took a ride into the eastern part of Beloit township, reacquainting myself with the roads and topography. I photographed the ruins of my grandfather's house and farm buildings, and I remembered sleeping in the hayloft when I was a small boy visiting Grandpa Deneke on a summer day. The silky straw and the pungent wheat smell enveloped me more warmly than a comforter. I slept through my parents calling for me, and when I woke from my nap, I heard of their concern I had got lost or had gone to a neighbor's farm to play with their children.

Grandpa's house now is a tumble of stored fencing and farm implements inside. Many wooden planks in the floor are broken through, but the rock walls have remained strong and the mortar joints need no pointing. I once thought I could reclaim the rock for garden features around our Dayton home. But what would be the cost to transport them to Ohio ...or to California?

I drove south a mile, past the quarter-sections that my great grandparents owned, and stopped to chat with Rosemary, the widow of Edwin Deneke (1938-2001). Edwin was my first cousin once removed, the son of a brother to my grandfather. When I visited 13 years ago, Edwin was in the last months of treatment for late-stage cancer. He had come to terms with approaching death, but he was not docile about it. It was a year before I would see the battle up close, when Chuck would be diagnosed and treated for a malignant thymoma. With my personal experience of what support needs to be offered a person battling cancer, I realize now that I could have been more supportive of Edwin and Rosemary. I tried to express my thoughts and regrets to her, but she rather wanted to speak of her present—her four children and their families. One son now has title to the family land, and Rosemary lives on the homestead without need to operate the farm. The other son is manager of the Farmway Co-op Credit Union. One daughter has gone through nursing school, and the other has been a teacher for nearly ten years.

Finally, a good day of research done, I changed into a casual bike kit and rode through the town for a leisurely tour before sunset and the drive back to Jewell. A bit of work would be needed then, to examine the photographs of the Tract Indexes.


2014.05.22 Thursday

2014.05.23 Friday

2014.05.24 Saturday

2014.05.25 Sunday

2014.05.26 Monday

2014.05.27 Tuesday

2014.05.28 Wednesday

2014.05.29 Thursday

2014.05.30 Friday

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