Family Adventures · Iowa Icons · Museums and History · Roadside Iowa · South Central Iowa

Roadside Iowa: Why We Give Our Children Cigars


Agency, IA: Wapello County

“Let’s take the long way back!” One of the most common phrases you’ll hear in the Team Goodvin road trip-mobile. Without these voluntary detours, we wouldn’t have the inventory of blog posts we have now. Our recent trip to Ottumwa was winding down and we needed to treat our history buff personalities. Luckily for us, we were in one of the most historically important areas of Iowa. We followed the road signs and they were leading us through the town of Agency and to the Chief Wapello Memorial Park. Before we arrived at the the site, I needed to get my 12 year old son and myself a cigar….

These blue signs can be spotted in various places throughout Wapello County.

Between the train tracks and old farmhouse was our desired destination. We quickly learned of the immense significance of this patch of earth that’s less than an acre as we made our way to the interpretive shelter and humbled graveyard.

It was here, in the mid 1800’s, where the great Chief Wapello and his eventual best friend, General Joseph Street-US Army, negotiated the agreements for pioneers settling in Iowa. No longer on this site is the Street family home and agency office for the Sac and Fox Nation. What’s still here are the grave sites of Gen. Street and his family and his friend Cheif Wapello. We read all the info we could on the landmarks and walls of the main shelter. There was a 30 degree chill in the air with a slight breeze with gray clouds fillimg the sky. No one else stopped by nor did anyone drive past us while we were at the memorial. The grounds were well taken care of and we enjoyed soaking in the history of this site. Before we left paid our respects to all resting at the memorial, especially the iconic chief.

As a show of respect to Chief Wapello and his people, Charlie and I placed our cigars at the base of his grave. Something that has become a tradition for our family when visiting Native American landmarks. There have been decades of tensions between the indigenous nations of America and our governments and more could always be done to educate ourselves when it comes to these relationships. However, there are many examples of mutual respect and peaceful accords. Agency, IA is home to one of those stories we need to hear about more often.


Be sure to read about our visits to the memorials of Chiefs Black Hawk, Peosta and Keokuk.

Thanks for reading! -Team Goodvin

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