Niswonger Church Est. 1847

Niswonger Church & Cemetery 09-16-2014We were on curvy Hwy 72 west of Millersville when we got behind a piece of farm equipment doing about 10 miles per hour. After following him for a couple miles, I welcomed a chance to pull off at a neat white church and well-kept cemetery. I figured by the time I had explored the place he would be far ahead or have turned off.

Historical Marker

Niswonger Church & Cemetery 09-16-2014Right at the entrance to the driveway is a marker that tells how the Niswonger family came to these parts from North Carolina and how they crossed the river on ice near Ste. Genevieve on New Year’s Day 1800. One of the party, George Christopher, was 110 years old when he died in 1802, it said. You can click on the photos to make them larger, but I don’t know if you’ll be able to read the marker.

Historical oops

Niswonger Church & Cemetery 09-16-2014The back side of the marker has some corrections that were added in 1996. Apparently the 110-year-old man WASN’T George Christopher. They aren’t exactly sure WHO he was. They also cleaned up some other details at the same time.

Beautiful setting

Niswonger Church & Cemetery 09-16-2014Someone is doing a great job at keeping the building and grounds in good condition.

Men, Women and ?

Niswonger Church & Cemetery 09-16-2014Behind the church is a row of three locked outhouses. One is marked “Men,” one says, “Women,” and the third doesn’t say anything. I’m not sure who it is intended for.

The church was unlocked

Niswonger Church & Cemetery 09-16-2014I didn’t hold out much hope that the church would be open – I mean, they put locks on the OUTHOUSES.

Still, the front door swung open at a gentle pull. I left it open behind me after remembering how the Methodists tried to hold me hostage in the McKendree Chapel.

At the ready

Niswonger Church & Cemetery 09-16-2014Hymnals, collections plates, the piano and an electric fan were at the ready for the next service.

Plain, but neat and clean

Niswonger Church & Cemetery 09-16-2014It was a simple country church with plain walls and simple pews, but the paint was fresh, the floor was clean and there wasn’t a speck of dust anywhere. The carpet and plastic runner added a jarring note of modernity, but they were functional.

Cemetery Plots

Niswonger Church & Cemetery 09-16-2014One wall contains a list of interments. If you are doing genealogical research, this could be a good starting point. FindAGrave lists 93 interments and says about 89 percent of the stones are photographed and / or containing detailed information about the deceased.

Thanks to the farmer

Niswonger Church & Cemetery 09-16-2014I’m glad the farmer was on that stretch of road. If he hadn’t slowed traffic down, then I probably would have whizzed right past an interesting church and cemetery in Cape County’s Whitewater Township.

Dick McClard’s Many Talents

Dick McClard glass studio 04-29-2014Wife Lila’s Class of ’66 buddy Dick McClard and I are political oil and water. We enjoy sparring with each other, but we can do it without rancor and with good humor. What I’m beginning to realize is that he’s a man of many talents.

We started talking last year about what he thought was a lead on where the mass grave from the steamboat The Stonewall might be located. Weather and pressing business kept us from getting out there until this trip.

When I stopped by his house for the ramble, he invited me into his stained glass studio where his wife, Judy, and daughter, Jennifer, were doing restoration work on stained glass windows for the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Annunciation. Dick was responsible for getting me into the church before it opened after a major renovation project.

Here, he’s showing how Belinda Schearf has been creating color window panes by building up and firing multiple layers of different colors. This is a technique used in the huge eyebrow window in the other photos.

More than just a glass guy

Dick McClard glass studio 04-29-2014Dick is quite the historian, too. He and some other folks have collaborated in tracking 40,000 McClard/McLard/McLaird/MacLaird and Related Families from 1767 through 2003 (and growing). Volume One, an interesting history even if you aren’t a McClard, is 499 pages long; Volume II, an index and family tree listing, is 1,049 pages long. It’s available in pdf format because printing it would be too costly, he said.

We spent the day roaming Cape and Perry counties, poking around in old cemeteries, meeting oldtimers he knew and avoiding political discussions. Oh, and we’re not sure if we located the mass grave we started out looking for. We’re going to have to check back on that.

Glass studio photo gallery

If you walk into St. Mary’s some day and see these window pieces, think of Dick and his family. Click on any photo to make it larger, then use your arrow keys to navigate through he gallery.

Speaking to the D.A.R.

The Nancy Hunter chapter of the Cape Girardeau Daughters of the American Revolution invited me to speak on the topic “Fifty Years of Looking Through a Lens.” After it was over, one of the members snatched my camera out of my hands and turned it on Mother and me. I feel much more comfortable on the taking end of pictures, but I actually like this photo. The publications in the foreground are some of the works I’ve produced in the past two years.

Certificate and pin

Regent Charlotte Slinkard presented me with a Certificate of Award for an Outstanding Program. (She had it made up in advance, which indicates she had a higher level of confidence in my abilities than I have.) She also gave me a Bicentennial of the War of 1812 American Flag pin. Regent Slinkard is second from the right in this photo.

She should save something for the funeral

LaFern Stiver, center, introduced me. She’s Friend Shari’s mother. If I had known she was going to say so many nice things, I’d have asked her to save some of them back for my funeral. You really shouldn’t shoot up all your fireworks at the beginning of the evening. You need to hold something back for the grand finale. (Click on any photo to make it larger.)

Ancestors fought in the Revolution

Mother is sitting at the far end of the table. To her left is Mary Lee Rassmussen who is her second cousin (I think). She had done research on the Adkins side of Mother’s family that goes all the way back to Scotland. A couple of our ancestors were slain by Indians shortly before the Revolution, and we had relatives who fought in the war. She didn’t find any of the horse thieves that Mother has always been afraid would turn up if we too highly up the family tree.

Library has great facilities

The Cape library has some of the best facilities I’ve seen. I always bring all of the equipment I need to put on a show without relying on screens, projectors, sound systems and the like to be there and to work. The library was great: they had shades that darkened the room; the screen came down from the ceiling with the push of a button. All I had to do was to plug my laptop computer into a jack that connected to a ceiling-mounted projector and to connect another wire to the audio output. It was the cleanest and fastest setup I’ve ever had.

I’m sorry to say that I missed getting a photo of a woman who claimed she taught me to swim when I was four years old. Mother and I compared notes later and think she may have been thinking about Brothers Mark and David. I clearly remember taking swimming lessons at the Capaha Pool when I was about 10, not four. I knew from the moment that my skin touched that early June pool water that this boy was not cut out for any sport that requires you to crack the ice before you can participate in it. I finally learned how to swim at Boy Scout Camp Lewellen when I was about 13. The water in the St. Francis River in mid-summer was acceptably warm.