Sparkling like thousands of tiny diamonds,
Tumbling down out of the moist craggy bluff,
The flow of spring water falls without a sound
Dropping into the meandering creek below.
The deep blue sky, so gently hidden from my view,
Stately branches of tall burr oaks, leaves gently rustling
From dawn to dusk create arrays of changing hues
Beside the shady, ever-trickling hillside spring.
I wonder what stories there are to be told,
Here by the Spring over on the Bluff!
Over the centuries, resting or quenching a thirst,
Sitting or reaching out with tightly, cupped hand,
Perhaps the place with cool clear water was first
Enjoyed by natives of this hilly prairie land.
Perhaps it was a small band of Otoe Indians
On a hunting excursion to the bluestem prairies,
Dressed in beaded deer and buffalo skins,
Riding wild mustangs, gripping their sides with bent knees,
Who first caught sight of the peaceful falling water
Of the Spring over on the Bluff!
With brown painted faces and long black hair flying,
Sudden fierce cries of the Otoes and their racing mustangs
Sent grazing herds of bison suddenly stampeding
Over the high steep bank, tumbling to their death below.
We can imagine the excitement of the Indian village,
Dressing out skins, bones, and meat of the fallen bison
In the cool breezes of the scattered oaks and cottonwoods
Rising out of the nearby meandering creek bed;
And at other times, quietly chipping away at flint tools.
By the Spring over on the Bluff.
In the 1850’s, a family came to live
Traveling from Lee County, Iowa, to homestead.
Settling on Kansas land, the Hennebergs hoped would give,
What, while living in Germany, their dreams had said.
It was to be Karl’s son, Christian Henneberg,
Or maybe it was Christian and Minnie’s sons,
Young Emil and Otto, looking for the cattle herd,
Yet, with shotgun in hand, decided to have some fun
Along the flats of the creek bank, they traveled
And found the Spring over on the Bluff!
In 1891, Otto married Mamie Tunison.
To the west eighty acres of his father’s property
Into a white house, they went to live and raise a family.
Over the years were born Louis, Frances, and Lola.
A few years afier Louis’ return in 1918,
From serving in France with the United States Army,
With his wife, Esther Force, children Fay and Mary,
They came to live on and farm this quarter section.
Here were born Dean, Vera, Milton, Eva, and Frances.
Growing up near the Spring over on the Bluff!
Hay and cornfields were raised to the north of the creek.
While his dad and brother Dean ran the hay stacker,
With their teams of horses, Cap and Snip, for many weeks,
Milton was to refull the crock jugs and bring them back
With the refreshing drinking water for the thirsty workers
From the Spring over on the Bluff!
Over the years, many a horse has been watered
In the shade of the cool stream that crosses the farm.
Some, ridden for pleasure, but many had been worked.
Nancy, the brood mare, was Otto’s to keep from harm.
The Dave and Daisy Team took their turns working the fields
Before drinking at the Spring over on the Bluff!
And more memories of other horses down by the spring,
As Milton recalls Colonel, the spotted riding horse,
Sailor was a big horse from my point of seeing!
And there was the white mule named Jack in the 40’s.
But horses gave way to orange tractors over the years,
As Milton took over to plant and harvest the fields.
Climbing from the Allis Chalmers, for a drink nearby,
To doe and fawns, lingering in the brush, he would speak.
Over the fence he went, making way to the tin can,
And the Spring over on the Bluff!
Now in the years of 2000, another generation farms
With larger John Deere tractors, planters, and combines.
Driven by a grandson who has found the same charm
For Jonathan Berges, taking care of this land is just fine.
Just as the tiny Mill Creek bed has changed course over time
As trees and foliage have bent to the will of the seasons,
Memories of the spring change with the rhythm of time.
Perhaps that is the charm of the place, the simplicity,
Allowing each of us to focus our hearts on the essence
Of the Spring over on the Bluff!
By Deborah K. Henneberg Berges
August 14, 2003
Revised July 3, 2005
Dedicated to Grandma Esther Force Henneberg
Born August 14, 1894.
Inspired to be written by Milton Henneberg.