Thursday, November 17, 2011
Sioux County History IV--Reunion
The Kosters were one of several families who set down roots right here in Sioux Center before there was a Sioux Center. They built a soddy where Central Park sits today, the first Dutch Sioux Center Warriors. Most Lakota warriors had gone west earlier, when the paleface flood began to heave itself over their hunting ground.
Charley Dyke says that one fine windless day Mr. Koster spotted smoke somewhere above the tall grass south, a gentle column that bespoke other settlers. Could have been Injuns, of course, but it could have been white folks too: Irish, German, Norwegian, or even Americans--the region was slowly being covered by a mosaic, an white ethnic quilt.
Koster left, walked four miles south or so, until he came to a sod house not unlike the one he'd just built for his family. When he got up close, he stopped--he must have been apprehensive, the man couldn't have known much more than a dozen words of English. What he knew was that it wasn't a teepee, and whoever lived in the sodhouse wasn't an Indian--that's all he knew.
"Ja," the woman said, "and are you Jacob?"
I don't know, really, that it has a moral. But when think about this Jacob Koster, when I pull on his bibs in my imagination, when I think about hiking up and down the swells of open prairie land right here outside my door in grasses taller than he was--when I see him standing there in front of that sod hut, waiting for who-knows-what to come out, I love that startling moment when a familiar face emerges and a woman looks at him so knowingly, so lovingly, here at the rough edge of the frontier.
"Such meetings," says old Charley Dyke, "can better be imagined than told."
But that's not a reason not to tell it.
There they stand, the two of them, she with her pail in her hand, he with hands down at his side, speechless. See 'em?
Besides, if it wouldn't be for them, I wouldn't be sitting here now, at this desk, in this basement, in this old house, just three blocks from Central Park, where once upon a time a man named Jacob Koster built a sod house on a plot of ground that became, a decade later, Sioux Center, Iowa.