On my final day of vacation, Memorial Day, Holly and I got up early and hit the road at 7 a.m. We stopped and got coffee and some flowers and made our way towards neighboring Jones County. After a year when none of us could go anywhere, this Memorial Day was going to be a busy one. But we started off our visits and two cemeteries where we were the only ones there.

I grew up in rural Jones County, just north of Anamosa. You've probably passed the old Cass Township Church and cemetery before if you've traveled much in Eastern Iowa. Since my family has farmed in the area for generations, many of those early settlers are buried at Cass Cemetery. My parents met Holly and I there to explain who was who. I knew that my great aunt and uncle, Galen and Arlene Brainard were laid to rest there. We also learned that my great grandparents, and my great, great, grandparents are also resting there too. How long have my relatives been in Iowa? My dad likes to tell the story of my great, great, grandmother making fresh baked pies and setting them out to cool on the window sill. Not all of them would make, as Indians would often sneak up and take one or two. True story? I like to think so.

Our next stop was on Holly's side of the family. St. Peter and Paul's Lutheran Church is just a few miles north of the Cass Cemetery. Holly's great grandmother and other relatives are buried there. How crazy is it that we have relatives buried within miles of each other, and never knew that until after we met and were married? The final stop was Oakwood Cemetery in Monticello. My grandparents on my dad's side are buried here. I never knew my grandmother, and my dad's father passed when I was barely three. I was often told growing up that I reminded many people of my grandfather. He was a big, gentle, giant. I wish I had known him longer.

Memorial Day in Jones County

I can't think of a more rewarding and memorable Memorial Day. I learned a lot about my family. It makes me want to know more about where I came from. Who I take after. I hope that you were all able to visit and honor loved ones this weekend.


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