August 2022 – The Daily Iowan Reports On Remembrance Park.

Sabine Martin, Managing Editor
August 28, 2022

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Photo by Lilly Stence
Remembrance Park is seen in Johnson County on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022.

Tucked away on the corner of Sand Road and Napoleon Street south of Iowa City, a slice of land which dates back to the 1800s is Johnson County’s newest dedicated historical site.

The piece of land, called Remembrance Park, honors Jenny, a member of the Meskwaki Nation, and Mogawk, a Black man, who helped set up the county’s government in January 1838 alongside fur trader John Gilbert. The park is slated to be permanently set aside as a wildflower park during the first weekend of September.

One of Meskwaki Nation’s former encampments stood on Sand Road, as did fur-trading posts at the time of the county’s founding, Marybeth Slonneger, head Remembrance Park organizer and Iowa City artistic historian, said.

Slonneger said Jenny was a talkative woman and worked for the Phelps Trading Company, which traded fur, according to historical records. Mogawk also worked at the Phelps Trading Company.

Map by Jami Martin-Trainor/The Daily Iowan

Meskwaki Nation is the Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa, located in Tama, and formally purchased 80 acres of land in Tama County in 1857.

Slonneger said she started researching the history of Johnson County 30 years ago and has since worked to add the historical site honoring the county’s founding.

“It just wouldn’t go away, the idea didn’t go away,” she said.

Members of the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Meskwaki Nation, and area musicians will gather on Sept. 5 for a ceremony at the park to unveil landmark plaques.

Dianna Penny, who oversees and is a pastor at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, will read two of her original poems at the ceremony.

“They involve a more humanistic approach to things [are] and more related to the ups and downs and joys of life in general,” Penny said. “Even though they touch on being Black in America a little bit, it’s not necessarily all about that. It’s about enjoying life, no matter how you find it.”

Penny said she is happy to see the contributions of America’s Black citizens being recognized.

“I mean, America is a big country,” she said. “And there are things that people have done nationally, things people have done locally that made a difference.”

An anonymous farmer donated the land for the park and agreed to maintain it, Slonneger said.

River Products Company, an Iowa City-based stone, and gravel producer donated two boulders for the park. Slonneger said the stones will eventually be engraved.

Marty Boller, writer of Iowa City blog “Our Iowa Heritage”, said there are some truths in the context of Iowa City that some of the earlier historians have left out, including the story the Remembrance Park is honoring.

To progress the Remembrance Park project, Slonneger and her team are talking with the educators in the Iowa City Community School District to add a booklet of the watercolor paintings by Iowa City artist Jo Myers-Walker on the history of Johnson County that Slonneger commissioned for students to utilize in school.

“As they go into the fall, I’m hoping to set up some programs, PowerPoint programs in various social organizations, and perhaps schools,” said. “It’s my intention to pursue it to not only educate children but there’ll be a whole lot of adults that don’t know about this history, for sure.”

Click here for more information – www.johnsoncountyremembrancepark.org

Press Release

From: The Friends of Johnson County Remembrance Park – Iowa City, Iowa

To: Local Press

Announcing: Johnson County Historical Site To Be Dedicated On Labor Day, September 5

The story: The Friends of Johnson County Remembrance Park invite all to join together at 10:30 am on Labor Day, September 5, 2022 for a one-hour Dedication Ceremony of Johnson County’s newest historical site – Remembrance Park – located at the corner of Sand Road and Napoleon Street – south of Iowa City. This small piece of land is being permanently set aside as a wildflower park dedicated to the memory of the earliest Johnson County residents – the Meskwaki tribe, to Jenny – a Native American woman, to Mogawk -an African-American man, to the Phelps brothers – early fur traders in Johnson County, and to the handful of settlers who helped set up our county‘s government in January 1838. It’s this small group of individuals who guided our course towards a spirit of diversity – a hope we desire to carry forward today.

The program: A diverse group of Johnson County residents will join together with a handful of friends from the Meskwaki tribe in Tama to dedicate two stones at Remembrance Park. After the unveiling of the landmark plaques, there will be a group of area musicians and speakers, including a Meskwaki festive dance, all designed to remember the diversity of those who helped start Johnson County in 1838.

More details: http://www.johnsoncountyremembrancepark.org/

Contact:

Marty Boller (319) 361-5256 mjbhawkeye@gmail.com

Marybeth Slonneger (319) 400-0713 mbslonn@mchsi.com

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I faced about again, and rushed towards the approaching Martian, rushed right down the gravelly beach and headlong into the water. Others did the same. A boatload of people putting back came leaping out as I rushed past. The stones under my feet were muddy and slippery, and the river was so low that I ran perhaps twenty feet scarcely waist-deep. Then, as the Martian towered overhead scarcely a couple of hundred yards away, I flung myself forward under the surface. The splashes of the people in the boats leaping into the river sounded like thunderclaps in my ears. People were landing hastily on both sides of the river. But the Martian machine took no more notice for the moment of the people running this way and that than a man would of the confusion of ants in a nest against which his foot has kicked. When, half suffocated, I raised my head above water, the Martian’s hood pointed at the batteries that were still firing across the river, and as it advanced it swung loose what must have been the generator of the Heat-Ray.

No, but I am their friend, although I live in the land of the North. When they saw the Witch of the East was dead the Munchkins sent a swift messenger to me, and I came at once. I am the Witch of the North.

To be sure, the broad river now cut them off from this beautiful land. But the raft was nearly done, and after the Tin Woodman had cut a few more logs and fastened them together with wooden pins, they were ready to start. Dorothy sat down in the middle of the raft and held Toto in her arms. When the Cowardly Lion stepped upon the raft it tipped badly, for he was big and heavy; but the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman stood upon the other end to steady it, and they had long poles in their hands to push the raft through the water.

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As I watched, the planet seemed to grow larger and smaller and to advance and recede, but that was simply that my eye was tired. Forty millions of miles it was from us–more than forty millions of miles of void. Few people realise the immensity of vacancy in which the dust of the material universe swims.

Near it in the field, I remember, were three faint points of light, three telescopic stars infinitely remote, and all around it was the unfathomable darkness of empty space. You know how that blackness looks on a frosty starlight night. In a telescope it seems far profounder. And invisible to me because it was so remote and small, flying swiftly and steadily towards me across that incredible distance, drawing nearer every minute by so many thousands of miles, came the Thing they were sending us, the Thing that was to bring so much struggle and calamity and death to the earth. I never dreamed of it then as I watched; no one on earth dreamed of that unerring missile.

That night, too, there was another jetting out of gas from the distant planet. I saw it. A reddish flash at the edge, the slightest projection of the outline just as the chronometer struck midnight; and at that I told Ogilvy and he took my place. The night was warm and I was thirsty, and I went stretching my legs clumsily and feeling my way in the darkness, to the little table where the siphon stood, while Ogilvy exclaimed at the streamer of gas that came out towards us.

That night another invisible missile started on its way to the earth from Mars, just a second or so under twenty-four hours after the first one. I remember how I sat on the table there in the blackness, with patches of green and crimson swimming before my eyes. I wished I had a light to smoke by, little suspecting the meaning of the minute gleam I had seen and all that it would presently bring me. Ogilvy watched till one, and then gave it up; and we lit the lantern and walked over to his house. Down below in the darkness were Ottershaw and Chertsey and all their hundreds of people, sleeping in peace.