Clayton Ridge 5th graders, with their teachers, Jill Stannard and Sara Lawrence, took a trip to the Garnavillo City Park shelter, May 24, to visit with “Althea Sherman” of National, Iowa, (a.k.a. Carol DeSotel, member of the Garnavillo Historical Society). “Althea,” who was born in 1843, shared with the students pictures and some of the history of the village of National as well as her personal and family history, describing what it was like growing up in the late 1800s and showing artifacts from that period, including a sled that belonged to her brother, Mark. She also showed some of her early paintings from when she was an art student and teacher.
Friends of the Sherman Swift Tower, Joyce Schoulte, Deanna Krambeer and Ron Kaiser, were present with lots of information on Chimney Swifts and their nesting habits. Althea Sherman studied many species of birds and traveled all over the world to do so, but one of her favorites for which, in 1915, she even built a special “home,” a chimney, was the chimney swift. Students watched a slide presentation on chimney swifts and were able to up close inspect a small scale replica of the inside of the chimney swift tower that Althea built, (a full size replica now stands at National). They also were able to view an actual nest.
For more information on Althea Sherman and to view some of her paintings visit the Garnavillo Museum. For more information on Althea and her study of chimney swifts, the Swift Tower and efforts to provide more chimneys to support the declining numbers of the swifts, contact Friends of the Sherman Swift Tower (FSST). Visit their web site at shermanswifttower.org/fsst-group.