Ernestine Marie Owen, my Mother, did not worry about world events. She filled her days (and nights) as a homemaker and a mother -- she focused her creative energies on artistic craft projects; she spent her ‘spare time’ filling many scrapbooks with pictures and memories of her family and friends. This is a collection of her memories, from her diaries, photos and scrapbooks. It is her eyewitness account of “The Greatest Generation”.
I invite you to join me as we journey to Stony Point, Dark Hollow and Cod Fish Hollow. You can breathe fresh air of springtime and hear the sounds of rural life in 1930's.
Cod Fish Hollow was settled in the early 1800s by families from the northern coast of Germany and nearby areas of Denmark. Ernestine was born in her paternal grandparents home at the east edge of Cod Fish Hollow; also the childhood home of Ernestine’s future mother in-law, Ralph Owen’s Mother, Helena (Schneekloth) Owen. Helena was a young girl, when she and her family moved to Cod Fish Hollow during the late 1800s. Yocum Schneekloth, Helena’s father, was the first person buried in the Cod Fish Cemetery; her mother and brother are also buried at Cod Fish Cemetery. Later, In 1910 Helena married Hiland Owen; Helena’s mother, Margaretta, and her brother William Schneekloth, sold their place in Cod Fish Hollow and moved in with the Hiland and Helena Owen family, living at the Bill Schneider farm east of Maquoketa.
Much like Cod Fish Hollow, Dark Hollow is a mystical place. An aerial view shows a kidney shaped bowl, with a tree- covered ridge running north and south through the middle of the bowl. Grassy pastures and a few hardwood trees cover the steep slopes of Dark Hollow. Before the 1950s, tall trees nearly touched their branches across the narrow dirt road that cut a path through the deepest, and darkest, part of Dark Hollow. Now, if you drive through Dark Hollow, there is more sunlight on the road -- some of the trees have been cut and the dirt road has been widened and covered with a layer of gravel.
Dark Hollow might still be holding a secret; in 1907, local residents had great hopes for finding ‘black gold’ in Dark Hollow. On farmland, owned by Sam Earles and later by Harry Miller, the Texas Oil Drilling Company drilled 1700 feet into the ridge atop the western slope of Dark Hollow. Local newspapers around Jackson County reported the Texas Oil Drilling Company had leased more than 1,000 acres of land surrounding the site of the oil well. Big plans of striking oil in Dark Hollow failed to materialize, and the Texas Oil Drilling Company quickly stopped all drilling efforts – leaving some broken drilling equipment beside a deep hole, filled with foul smelling water that rose upward within 82 feet of ground surface. During the late 1940s, Grandpa Miller still had a glass jug of ‘black water’ he’d saved from the first oil well ever drilled in Jackson County.
The road through Dark Hollow is still a scenic drive – the deepest part of the hollow is still overgrown with brush, and it seems an unlikely spot to have a Sunday picnic dinner. Mom's diary offers details of the Dark Hollow picnic)