Today, many believe that our approach to teaching American history needs to be expanded to include the stories of those women and men who, even today, are overlooked because of race, sex, or religion. Too often, when working with our children about the history of Iowa – and in this case, Johnson County, the emphasis has been focused too heavily on those white settlers who first came here in the 1820’s and ’30’s.
One of the goals of Remembrance Park is to re-visit these stories of our earliest years in Johnson County, bringing a renewed sense of hope and enlightenment to our young people. In truth, there are amazing stories of diversity hidden in the pages of our history – stories of peace-making, cooperative collaboration, and intentional inclusion of those who, even today, are minimalized in our society.
Did you know, for example, that Sumner “Hawkeye” Phelps, the first ‘known-by-name’ white fur trader on the Iowa River, and his brother, William Phelps, working the Des Moines River, were highly respected by the Meskwaki people – known as honest and fair companions that co-labored alongside the often-mistreated Native tribes of eastern Iowa? Read more here.
Did you know, that in January 1838, in the very first business meeting held in Johnson County, the seven people attending included a Native American woman named Jennie, and an African-American man named Mogawk – all working together for the advancement of their community? Read more here.
The Remembrance Park Children’s Book
We believe our children deserve to have a deeper dive into our rich Johnson County heritage and learn more about the hidden stories that reveal a kinder, more diverse lesson – one that honors all the people that were involved.
Recently, the Remembrance Park Committee commissioned Iowa City artist Jo Myers-Walker to create several pieces of art that reflect the story of this diverse group of individuals who came together in the 1820’s and ’30’s to form the beginnings of Johnson County.
We’ve taken Jo’s beautiful watercolors and produced a mock-up of a proposed children’s book that tells the Remembrance Park story – a 12-page booklet that we hope can help younger people better appreciate our past. Below are the sample pages…
Our goal is to produce these booklets for use in local schools, churches, and other organizations – and you can help…
A Big Thank You to Iowa City artist Jo Myers-Walker. A beautiful work indeed!