Dreaming of Minnie Ha Ha
Family keepsakes provide evidence of Sunset Hills' farming families and Native American roots beside the Meramec River.
Did you ever have one of those recurring dreams? You're driving down the road, heading for a curve and the river is just there on the side--it all feels very familiar-- and then you wake up?
That is the feeling I had when my mom and I drove south on old Gravois Road, just this side of the Meramec River. There is no longer a bridge crossing to the next town of Fenton, since it is being rebuilt. But if you turn right just prior to the river, you are in Minnie Ha Ha Park which is the newest addition to the City of Sunset Hills' 70 acres of park properties.
"Minnie has a rich history of recreation, including a dance hall and boat dock in the '20s and '30s and provided a place of passage over the Meramec River for decades," said Gerald Brown, Director of Parks and Recreation for Sunset Hills.
The area's earliest inhabitants included "Mound Builders" and Native Americans who were no doubt attracted to the shores and bluffs of the Meramec River---with its fertile ground and salt springs that led to the ceremonial and political center of nearby Cahokia Mounds, in Illinois.
Some believe Minnehaha means 'laughing water.' However, the most common interpretations include 'waterfall' or 'rapid water' in the Dakota language. The name of the Meramec River is said to have come from 'water of the bitter spring,' probably for the sulphur springs or 'waters of death' due to the dangerous undertow and currents that took lives over the years.
Many of the farmers of this area discovered quite by accident what archaeologists have proven with their findings of flint arrowheads. Evidence of salt kettle shards, pottery pieces, arrowhead tools, and burial grounds can trace this land as home to tribes dating to as far back as 2,000 - 3,000 B.C.E.
That may explain the large number of arrowhead and artifact collectors in the area, particularly with the later arrival of European settlers and farmers, the Kimkers, the Vogts and Sievekings, the Schultz property--and of course, my great-great grandfather's Eime farms.
I have included here a photo of just a small portion of the Eime collection of arrowheads, some of which came from the farm on what is now Eime Drive, off Kennerly Road. August Eime, whose farm is now Notthinghill Estates, was known to be quite a collector of flint arrowheads and tools. He would receive visitors from miles around who were interested in viewing his vast collection. He had thousands of them and now my sister Jayne and I share my grandfather's collection.
Minnie Ha Ha Park opened in July of 2005 and one can have a picnic, visit playgrounds, or take a peaceful walk on the trail along the Meramec River. With the low, peaceful murmur of the river flowing toward the Mississippi River, we might ponder our ancestors and how they came before to prepare this home for us.