A Journey Through Yesterday

Coming This September:

DawnMarie Moe (me), a Plainsman Museum volunteer, and Robin Johanson, great-great-granddaughter of early Hamilton County settlers the Lauries and the Waddells, are off on the journey of a lifetime by retracing the steps of John Laurie, Isobel Stroyan Laurie, James Waddell, and Mary Brown Waddell and their children and friends as they migrated from Scotland to Canada to New York to Wisconsin and finally to form the homesteading Scotch Colony in Farmers Valley, Hamilton County, Nebraska.

Our adventure starts by sailing through the sky to Scotland, poking around for stories, flying back to Canada to ferry down the St. Lawrence River, and driving an RV (modern day covered wagon!) as close to the trails of the wagons that modern roads allow - trails that brought the Lauries and the Waddells, to homestead in Farmer's Valley, Hamilton County.

What does this have to do with the Plainsman Museum? To find out, visit the large center exhibit on the north side of the rotunda which features a large mural depicting the Scotch Colony families.

The very first blog on this website in March of 2017 tells of Robin and her husband Frank accidentally finding the museum after driving from Florida to view the Sandhill Cranes (read the story ). They were looking at the aforementioned Scotch Colony display in the rotunda, and to Robin's surprise a featured photo was one she had seen before -- in her mother's guest room! A phone call to her mom revealed something she had never known - her Grandma Norma was born and raised in Aurora, Nebraska, a grand-daughter of John Laurie.

Thereafter, family memoirs and handwritten letters and vintage photographs from the Lauries and Waddells - carefully collected by Robin's father but only recently discovered by his family - were shared with Tina Larson, executive director of the Plainsman, who shared them with me. I promptly fell head-over-heels in love with the family stories and struck up an on-going conversation and ultimately a friendship with Robin.

As we corresponded, the stories and people came alive. A few months ago we got the wild idea to re-trace the journey of the Scotch Colony clan from Scotland to Nebraska.

Our long-term goal is to merge our present day experience of the journey with the 1860s version we have in memoirs, letters, and photographs meticulously kept by Robin's father, along with research into the past to shine a light on life then versus life now.

The journey begins September 2018, so bookmark this blog page, and we'll keep a running list of our journey's blogs. Hopefully next summer (with luck by July 4, 2019, a special date in this story) we'll be ready to present a special event at the Plainsman to share what we've learned.

Please join us for this journey. As we post photos and stories, we hope you'll add your comments and questions. After all, you are the community that grew from a journey by ship, ferry, and covered wagon from the Old World to the new.

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The Plainsman Museum 2020   ~  210 16th Street ~ Aurora NE ~ 402-694-6531 ~ plainsman@hamilton.net

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