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  • Writer's pictureTheFormidableGenealogist

At the Lake

Updated: Jun 9, 2023

Every town--even the smallest village or burg--has an identity. Maybe it's based on an historical event, like the huge asteroid that struck the earth 74 million years ago, giving my hometown naturally soft water. It might be an industry, like a case we worked on recently where all life revolved around the local mill. Or it could be a geographic feature.


Such is the case the spring-fed lake in north-central Iowa called Clear Lake. The town of the same name is one of those smaller lakeside areas whose identity is Summer. Swimming and parades and fireworks on the 4th of July are central to the childhood memories of generations of local families. Into the last century, the Dakota and Winnebago tribes of native Americans used the location as their summer home. My husband's grandfather, who was born in the 1920s, remembered seeing them at the lake during the warmer months when he was a boy.


Whatever the identities of the towns and cities in your family's history, don't forget to include that in your research and documentation. It's another way you can add dimension to your ancestors' lives. It's also a way in which you might find photos that you've never seen before of your ancestors. By researching those locations, you'll generally encounter vintage photos of town picnics, high school games, holiday parades, and local shops. And those photos might include faces familiar to you.


We don't know who all the children below are, but it looks like a school field trip to the shore of Clear Lake.


Clear lake is also the location of the Surf Ballroom. A concert at "The Surf" was the last one for Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper--hours before their deaths in a 1959 plane crash northeast of town.

Children wading in a lake
Children wading into Clear Lake in north-central Iowa


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