Saturday, October 3, 2009

Day #6 - Halfway

Halfway through our 12-day trip we find ourselves in Beach, North Dakota killing time this afternoon watching TV. We watched five hours of Iron Chef. I've done research at the library, met with the president of the Historical Society, visited Trotters Church, and checked out a local potter. There isn't much more to do in this tiny town, but we can't set out on the next leg of our trip because there isn't anywhere to stay for at least 100 miles.

The Golden Valley History Museum is extraordinary. By the time I arrived this morning, Judy had already pulled articles about my grandfather from large volumes containing the local newspapers from the 1930s. There were several about the progress of construction on the Trotters Church. Names of local people such as Lawhead and Halstead jogged loose some memories of my grandmother's stories.

I could have looked at newspapers all morning, but since we only had two hours Judy showed me around the seven large rooms of the museum. One unique exhibit is a room filled with glass fronted heritage boxes assembled by local families using old photos and artifacts. Another room is lined with vignettes of a doctor’s office dentist’s office, blacksmith shop, post office, kitchen, and parlor. Sewing machines filled one corner and an ornate piano dominated the center of the room. In another corner shelves were piled high with irons, canning jars, butter churns, and other household items.

Rebecca joined my for the 25 mile drive out to Trotters Church. The two-lane road went north over beautiful arid land. Suddenly the church appeared over the crest of a hill - except for a boarded up store it stood all alone on the prairie. When we went inside, I tried to imagine my grandfather standing in front of the crowded sanctuary on the day of the dedication. I could almost see my grandmother sitting with my mother and her five siblings in the honey colored pews.

Our stay here marks the end of the family history portion of our trip. Tomorrow we drive south into South Dakota where we will visit Mt. Rushmore and stay overnight in Custer. 

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