Land used as memorial preserve
BREMEN — The family of the late Howard Siefer has made nature a part of it’s history.
After Howard’s death, his wife Ellen sold the farm from which they grew and managed soybeans, wheat, and beef cattle. In a special dedication with family and friends April 21, Howard’s Woods was officially named as the 20 acres of land — 15 of it wooded — set aside on that property Howard and Ellen raised their family on on Miami Road in St. Joseph County.
Behind the scenes, Judy Skupien (Howard and Ellen’s daughter), Wisconsin; her husband Larry; her brother John, Chicago; and their nephew Jon, Plymouth; worked to make the private land dedication a reality.
The woods and an additional six acres was registered into the Indiana Classified Forest Program by the efforts of Judy’s husband Larry.
“He really initiated that. …We have a camping area and a ball field out there,” Skupien said of the land. “There are trails and it’s just a beautiful place to enjoy with a prairie and wildflowers. …My husband said he didn’t think most woods were this gorgeous. It’s not all overgrown; it’s pristine; it hasn’t been ruined by farming, cattle or other animals.”
She said her father had spent a lot of time enjoying the natural wooded area — often morel (mushroom) hunting — and that he and her husband had talked about preserving the land in the past.
Now, Howard and Ellen’s descendants can enjoy a place all their own that can bring them peace while enjoying the beauty and memories the area induces in them.
The couple’s great-grandchildren, Shannon and Bradley Siefer; Tim, Ashley, Josh, and Ellie Collier, led walks through the woods on the various trails named and marked by the family during the dedication, and one great-granddaughter, Ashley, illustrated a booklet given to the visitors which featured some of the birds, wildflowers, and trees that one might find there.
“We have more plans for it,” Skupien explained. “We want to plant a ‘Grandma Tree’ with a plaque for my mother and have other tree plantings so the family can watch them grow and see how long it takes. We also plan to put in some memorial stones for other family members that have passed away. We really wanted this to be a special place for our family to enjoy and come back to years from now.”