Mapping My Family Home

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Blogging / Mostly Musings


Today’s assignment is to write a post based on a map. I am doing that, but you will have to read for a while before we get to the maps.


It was, I don’t know, maybe 2013 or -14, a late afternoon, when my phone rang.  I didn’t recognize the number that came up, but I knew the 319 area code.  It is for eastern Iowa, where I was born and raised.

A family friend was calling to tell me that our old farmhouse was on fire. In fact, it was engulfed in flames shooting up into the sky. It was a planned burn, he said, by the latest owners who apparently found it the easiest way to get rid of the house.

His words were a punch to the gut. Granted, I hadn’t lived full-time in that house since I had left for college 40-some years earlier. My parents had sold the farm in the early ’70s when they moved to Colorado Springs; their buyers had also sold it, as those owners possibly did also. I had lost track of how many owners there were. Later I would learn that the last ones had bought the property for the land and the other buildings. They did not intend to live there.

Two or three years after that phone call, Mom died. On the day that my brother, his wife, and I went back to bury her ashes, we drove by the old place. The house was not only gone, but there was no sign it had ever been there. The foundation had been removed, and the lawn was repaired. We couldn’t get close enough for a good look because a locked gate blocked the driveway.

It’s just as well, I guess. Now the home, and the farm, can be however I want to remember them. And I choose to remember them as being grand.

The house was very old, even when I was growing up. How old? I’m not quite sure. Mom told me when I was young that it had been built in the 1840s, but I can’t verify that.

However, from studying the deeds in her scrapbooks, I know that the farm came into her family when Johannes Hagen and his wife bought it in 1884. From then, it was sold from parents to children through the generations, always for the price of $1. When it came to my parents in 1936, the recording fee was higher than the selling price.

This is a photo from my scrapbook, showing the house as it looked in 1947, when my parents brought me home from the hospital.

farmhouse 1.jpeg



All right. I’m ready to get to the maps now. Last week I was cleaning a closet and came across this musty old book, printed in 1966.


Let’s look inside it and zoom in on my family farm. First, here’s the map of Iowa, showing where our county, Scott, is located.


Within Scott county, here is our township, Sheridan.


And within the township, the red box marks our farm.

dierksen farm 1.jpg


So that is the exact location of the farmhouse that no longer exists.

Except that, of course, it most certainly does still exist. In Mom’s scrapbooks, in my photo albums, on the memory quilt that my sister-in-law stitched for Mom’s 90th birthday. And in the hearts and memories of those of us who ever lived or visited there.


  1. Ollie Stolberg says

    OMG Caryl. The memories come back almost every time I read Home Sweet Abbey. I was really stunned to see my Aunt Dorothy’s farm home in Mineral Point, WI. The same front porch, the second story which contained all the bedrooms (except, of course, ancient Aunt Pru’s bedroom (Prudence)on the first floor. I remember a “parlor” at the front of the second story section with its own “front door” for guests. My cousins and I used to play our instruments in there (that was the music room). We had cornets, trumpets, clarinets (both Bflat and Eflat) and of course, THE PIANO. Mom & Aunt Dot played the piano and held their ears as I tried to teach myself on it. My Mom was the pianist and she showed me some basics, like middle C, etc. I got to Pretty fair but never really good. Of course, the piano is a hallmark in my home today, even if I don’t play it much – it is there. I can remember hearing my Mother playing on it as we teenagers came down the lane after sweating out a day of haying up there on the farm.. Don’t we wish our folks could be around us today the give us more of those wonderful memories?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ollie Stolberg says

    sent a comment to your blog. Love, Love, Loved it. O


    On Wed, Feb 7, 2018 at 1:43 PM, Home Sweet Abbey wrote:

    > Caryl Dierksen posted: ” Today’s assignment is to write a post based on > a map. I am doing that, but you will have to read for a while before we get > to the maps. It was, I don’t know, maybe 2013 or -14, a late afternoon, > when my phone rang. I didn’t recognize t” >


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