Cemeteries, Mold, and Artifacts
Posted on Tuesday, April 1st, 2014 by Kelsey Rausch
This semester, I am enrolled in “The History of the Midwest”. I took this class because it fulfills my last three requirements for “the Cobber Core” curriculum, and because I honestly believed it would be interesting! I am not much of a history person, but I went into the class with an open-mind because I thought that it might be interesting to learn about the history of the place where I have spent my entire life.
On the first day of class, I learned about an assignment that we were going to be doing throughout the entire semester. At first, I wasn’t excited about it. An assignment that takes the entire semester to complete can’t be fun… However, after getting started with the project, I began to like it more and more. Basically, our assignment was to choose a person who is buried in the Prairie Home Cemetery that separates Concordia’s campus from MSUM’s campus. My professor handed out a list of these random names, some with a couple random facts listed with them, on the first day of class and we were expected to pick a name and dedicate the semester to doing research on this person. On a whim, I chose a man by the name of “Peter Czizek”.
Researching his life was honestly one of the coolest things I’ve had to research. This person, who at first was just a name, became a real person. I found out about his wife, his job, his money troubles, his homes, and his family. It was a weird feeling! When a fellow student came across research that indicated Peter took a loan out from her character and then didn’t pay it back, I felt like I had to defend Peter’s actions!!
Last class period, we took a “field trip” to the cemetery to visit the actual grave sites of our people. There was a comical moment where, after searching for his grave for quite some time, I lamented to a fellow classmate that there was no way he was legitimately buried there because I couldn’t find his grave stone anywhere. She replied that she swore she had just seen it and sure enough, right behind where she stood was this HUGE gravestone with “Czizek” written plain and bold on the front. Soooo I fail at life. And finding really obvious things, apparently.
Another class period, quite a while ago, we took another “field trip” to the archives at the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County in the Hjemkomst Center. This place was FILLED with old, old, old books and historical records. Many of them were completely falling apart. Some of them were journals written in the hand of the people my fellow classmates were researching. A lot of them had mold and other gross dusty weird things growing on the pages. It was gross. But in an awesome “I’m-touching-something-very-historical” kind of way. I was really excited to come across a photo of Peter at HCSCC. He was a cute, fat, little man who was actually the FIRST Fire Chief of the Moorhead Fire Department. That’s pretty neat, if you ask me.
If I haven’t already convinced you that this was one of the coolest assignments ever, this next part will. Our research is going to be added to the HCSCC archives and will be looked at by other researchers for years to come. This means that something in the archives will have MY name on it, so someone doing research might have to include MY name in their bibliography. SO cool!