The Dodge kids got a kick out of dressing up in 150-year-old Victorian costumes Sunday to honor their great-great-great-great-uncle.
“This is really old, so it's kind of ripped,” said 9-year-old Laura Dodge, the daughter of Omahans Nate and Meg. “But I love dressing up.”
Laura and her twin brother, John, along with sisters Eleanor, 10, and Isabelle, 7, greeted about 100 visitors to the Historic General Dodge House in Council Bluffs to celebrate the grand opening of a new display.
“Dodge's Tracks & Ties” is made up of eight display cases that highlight the life of railroad pioneer and Civil War Gen. Grenville Dodge: family, education, life in Council Bluffs, military career, other Iowans in the Civil War, railroad career, presidents he knew and other famous individuals with whom he had ties. The Dodge family is the city's most famous and influential.
The exhibit includes letters to Grenville Dodge from his wife, Ruth Ann, who complained about some residents who were nasty to her, as well information on Dodge's college life at Norwich University in Vermont.
Dodge and others in his class were kicked out for traveling to another town after curfew to attend a dance in the hopes of meeting girls, said Dannette Hein-Snider, staff member and researcher for the exhibit.
She spent five months putting the information together, and found most of her information from libraries, the National Archives and online sources. Many of the facts aren't well known. For example, Dodge was shot in the head during his service in the Civil War and initially was reported dead.
“Each piece of the exhibit is a little different,” Hein-Snider said, gesturing to the family section. “Gen. Dodge thought family was extremely important.”
In 1855, Grenville and his brother, Nathan, opened the Dodge Land Office in Council Bluffs. Grenville went on to serve as a general in the Civil War and then as chief construction engineer for the building of the Union Pacific Railroad. Nathan stayed in the land business.
Today, NP Dodge is one of the largest full-service real estate companies in Nebraska and Iowa. The ornate Dodge House, meanwhile, is one of Council Bluffs' most popular historical attractions.
The Dodge siblings who helped host Sunday's event are the great-great-great-great-grandchildren of Nathan Dodge. They politely greeted and said goodbye to the museum's visitors.
“We're all just walking around, saying hello,” John Dodge said. “I just wish the vest I'm wearing wasn't scratchy.”
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