“Little German Church”

Trinity Methodist Church Delta 02-12-2013_2185The sign in front of the plain, white church on Hwy N, two miles northeast of Delta (before the N.U.T. intersection), reads “Trinity Methodist Church” – “Little German Church.”

It looks like the foundation is made of field stones stacked atop each other with a little mortar to keep them in place.

What history he saw

Trinity Methodist Church Delta 02-12-2013_2172

I was amazed at the birth and death dates on Fritz Bock’s tombstone: the man was born before the Civil War and died in the middle of World War II. THAT’S a set of bookends you don’t see often.

I don’t know any of the church’s history, but the FindAGrave website has a pretty complete listing of the burials behind the building.

Little German Church photo gallery

Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side of the image to move through the gallery.

The Delta Windmill

Windmill outside of Delta 02-03-2013I don’t know if this is the Allen Henderson windmill I shot in the spring of 1967 on the Cape side of Delta along 25. There was another windmill missing all its blades about a tenth of a mile down the road that could have been it. (Click on the photos to make them larger.)

The 1967 windmill

Allen Henderson windmill 06-06-1967

Here’s the 1967 photo. You can read more about the Allen Henderson Farm in my 2010 post.

Mother and I cruised down to check on storm damage at Dutchtown – we might have lost a piece of tin off one of the buildings – then we decided to see where the tornado touched down in Delta. The F1 tornado lifted the roof off a brick building, held it in the air over a car wash, then dropped it on a house. It missed all the normal tornado magnets – mobile homes. It could have been a lot worse.

On the way back, I saw the windmill spinning lazily and did a u-turn. There was no shoulder, so I had to park and walk about a quarter mile. The temps were in the 40s for a change, so I worked up a bit of a sweat under my coat on the way out with the wind behind me. The walk back, with a brisk wind in my face, was a bit chillier.

Not happy with the photos

Windmill outside of Delta 02-03-2013I didn’t shoot anything that I liked as well as the 1967 photo. The 18-55mm lens I use on my Nikon D3100 is great because it’s light and adequate for most things, but it wasn’t the piece of glass I needed today. My first shot was with these red berries in the foreground. They aren’t strong enough to carry the picture and the windmill is too small.

Similar shot isn’t much better

Windmill outside of Delta 02-03-2013I walked down the fenceline because I liked the tangle of weeds in the foreground, but the composition is still not quite right. If I had moved to the right just a little more, the fence post would have shifted to the left and it would have balanced the windmill better. Focus and depth of field is hard to judge with this lens, too. The focusing ring on the lens is tiny; it’s clearly designed for folks who are always going to use it on automatic.

Compositionally, the top shot is the best of the current pictures, but it would have been improved if I could have used a longer telephoto like in the original B&W photo. There are some interesting things happen with that tangle of brush around it that would be worth exploring. Oh, yes, and some cows would have helped.

Maybe I should have just kept on driving instead of doing the u-turn.


Taming Swampeast Missouri

Keith Lewis had a story in The Missourian October 4 noting that work on the Little River Drainage District started 100 years ago. There was a good reason why old-timers refer to this area as Swampeast Missouri: a large portion of Southeast Missouri was nothing but nearly impenetrable swamps with names like the Dark Cypress, Old Field and Big Field.

This aerial photo was taken south and west of Delta and shows the old Whitewater River meandering through what once would have been swamp. Dad had a job to divert the river, essentially cutting off this channel years and years ago.

Miles and miles of farmland

Once the timber was logged off and the land cleared, it turned out to be incredibly rich for farming.

Cut trees when swamp froze over

I interviewed Wife Lila’s Uncle Ray Seyer a couple of years ago when he was 89. Ray remembers growing up in the Tillman community area and hearing stories from his dad about the old days. “Pop would ride a horse – no cars in those days – from Kelso down through Delta and most of the time the water was up to the horse’s belly.”

“When they started clearing that ground there – it was all wooded area – they couldn’t cut when that water was in there.. they’d wait until it froze over, then cut it above the ice and let it float out later.”

Video: Soft ground could swallow tractor

Ray told some stories I had heard from old-timers back when I was a kid. I’m hoping I can run across a tape recording I made of one of Mother’s friends describing putting 12″ x 12″ “mudshoes” on horses to keep them from sinking into the “sinky” muck.

Ray and Dad both said you’d better not stop once you started across the old swamp. Ray talked about a couple of guys who used to haul limestone out of there. Their Caterpillar-type tractor stalled out at the end of the workday and wouldn’t start. They decided to leave it until the morning. The next day, only two smokestacks were visible above the muck, he said.

Diversion Channel

The Big Ditch is one of the main ways to move water out of the basin into the Mississippi River. Here are some of the stories I’ve done about the Diversion Channel.