July 2021

Jeff and Veronica invited our family to a rental on the Yellowstone River in Livingston, Montana. On our way, we decided to include states we hadn't visited, to do some genealogical research, and to visit relatives and friends. I had always been puzzled about the relatives in Burns, Wyoming, who helped my grandfather, Hiram Collins, in his final days in late 1935 and early 1936. After transcribing his correspondence with my dad (including names of relatives), I found the relatives' names on gravestones in the Burns cemetery. With pictures of the gravestones, we visited Burns to locate and take pictures of the actual gravestones. We also visited the town's library to find historical pictures of Burns.




Cemetery entrance, Hiram's uncle John and aunt Jennie (Collin) Lupkes

Hiram's cousins Carl Lupkes and Tena (Lupkes) Wertz


Aunt Jennie (Collin) Lupkes with daughters Lizzie (Lupkes) Stevens, Grace (Lupkes) Bishop, and Jennie (Lupkes) Judy in Burns, Wyoming 1936. Most likely these were Hiram's cousins in the picture. I'm not sure of the order. The other cousin who may have helped was Bena (Lupkes) Burma. They helped Hiram in his final days in 1935 and 1936.


While traveling in Wyoming, we received the news that my aunt Marilyn, the last surviving member of my dad's siblings, had passed away. We had visited her in Gunnison, Colorado, in 2019, and listened to the stories of her amazing life.  


Our next stop was O'Neill, Nebraska. We took pictures of the Golden Hotel and  St. Patrick's Church including the baptismal fount where my dad was probably baptized as well as the original stained glass windows:


A few miles away we visited Stuart, Nebraska, where my dad went to school at St. Boniface's:

From Nebraska we drove to White, South Dakota, to visit Barbara's aunt Christine. We had just missed the annual Pioneer's Parade with Christine as the Grand Marshall. At 95, she is the last surviving sibling of Barbara's mother, Ruth (Yeoman) LaPlante. Christine's husband had been the postmaster of White for over 30 years. I took a picture of her with Barbara in front of her spectacular garden and another one of a painting (perhaps by her sister, Ruth). After dinner at a nearby golf course, we headed to St. Peter, Minnesota.

After Mass in Nicollet, Minnesota, we followed the GPS directions to Wisconsin. Barbara and I had never visited Wisconsin together, so we bought cheese curds and crackers at a cheese factory in Wilson and took a picture to document our visit:

From there we went north to Duluth for a view of Lake Superior on our way to visit friends in Bemidji, Minnesota:


Bemidji claims Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox with these massive statues...



...but we travelled here to visit our Paradise neighbors, Edd and Caroline, who stay in a family cabin on this Minnesota lake each summer where they host family and friends. Edd cooked a tasty lasagna. Then Caroline and he gave us the tour of the lake, their home and another cabin for guests:


From there we headed west to Bismark, North Dakota, and took pictures of the pioneer statues in front of the State Capitol then drove further west to see the North Dakota badlands (Theodore Roosevelt National Park). This completed our visits to all the states except Alaska. We'll save that for another trip.


After spending the night in the sweltering heat (108 degrees) and hot thunderstorms of Billings, Montana, we decided to make one more stop before joining our family in Livingston. We followed directions to the Little Bighorn Battlefield. Nearby, we spotted a rest stop with a Montana-style pit stop for dogs.

As soon as we arrived at the Battlefield, we joined a group listening to a talented Ranger who told captivating stories of the battle then took a picture of a monument listing the nmes of the soldiers who perished in the battle with the cemetery in the background:

As we toured the battlefield, we noticed white tombstones marking the places where soldiers had died; red tombstones where Indians had perished. Each soldier had another tombstone in the cemetery where remains were buried or a memorial was placed if the remains were sent elsewhere.

Further down a path, we could see a metal rendering of Indians fighting and numerous granite monuments with inscriptions from the Indian perspective.



Cemetery for soldiers:

By the time we arrived in Livingston, Jason and Maggie were celebrating their 19th Anniversary:

We took took some family pictures:

The next morning, Arnie went fishing with Alex as Ellen and Ashley checked out the Yellowstone River...

Most of the others went floating and  white water rafting:



The following day Jeff and Veronica gave us the tour of the home they are building near Livingston at the base of the mountains...

...as Carson and Hunter tossed rocks into a nearby pond; later the Acevedo family posed at Chico Hot Springs

We finished our Montana visit peaking at Jeff and Veronica's home in Livingston during the 2021 - 2022 school year. Hunter and Ever have enrolled in a local school and look forward to moving into their new home by the mountains next June.

Next: August 2021

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