Overnight temperatures had dropped to the low 60’s so we both got up early, I cooked up some healthy steel-cut oatmeal w/ raisins & craisins, restocked our snack pockets in the packs, and drove to Lincoln Memorial Garden. Our plan today was to make a “warm-up” loop around the perimeter of the Garden then head south to the KOA Campground. The Mrs uses Map My Run on her iPhone to track our course mileage and times, which works okay most of the time. This morning, 30 seconds into our walk, it suspended its tracking and it wasn’t until we were over half way around the perimeter loop that we realized what had happened. oh, pooh…. So we completed our first loop, stopped at the Main Building for a potty-stop, then did another loop so we would know what our distance was… No big deal! The Garden was awash with children who, once they got out in the woods, were hootin’ & hollarin’ as kids do so we were glad to finish the warm-up laps and headed out to the road in search of Brunk Road. Brunk Road is almost right at the property line between Lincoln Memorial Garden and Villa Marie Retreat Center.
We took Brunk Road east to Lake Service Road, then south on LSR to KOA Road. Walking on LSR we went past a Morgan Horse Farm on the west side of the road, and an old ruin of a big old brick farm building on the east side. A little research enlightened me that this is the Brunk Farmstead aka Cotton Hill Farmstead. The Farmstead was posted to the National Register of Historic Places on December 17, 1999. In 1893, Joseph Brunk established a Morgan horse line named the Brunk Line, one of the more influential lines it turns out! The Morgan horse breed is honored as the First American Horse Breed!!
As we walked along KOA Road, we came to the intersection with Brunk Cemetery Road. I asked The Mrs if she would like to check it out and she agreed. We walked along the road which at one point had been paved over with asphalt, and was now a mix of asphalt, crumbled asphalt, and dirt. Our exploration took us to the gates of the Joe Brunk Cemetery.
At the time we knew NOTHING about the Brunk story or family, other than they have a road and cemetery named after them. We decided we should look for the biggest and oldest looking grave-marker to find the Brunks… It didn’t take us too long to see a promising marker in the northeast corner of the cemetery. We wandered that direction, stopping to read numerous tombstones along the way.
Just to the west of the Geo. Brunk family plot The Mrs pointed out a marker for a member of the Civil War unit – 114th Illinois Volunteer Regiment, Co. E. Near that was a marker for a Revolutionary War veteran Thomas Royal, who also fought in the War of 1812. I am a member of the 114th Illinois Volunteer Regiment, Reactivated (Co. A & Co. G) so I feel a special affinity to the past members of the 19th century 114th…
It appears, from the sources I have at hand, that Thomas Royal was the 2nd husband of Eleanor “Ellen” McCue, the widow of George Brunk II. I’ll have to return to this cemetery to do more research!!!
We returned back down the hill and road to KOA Road and marveled at the beautiful assortment of native flowers, and the standing water in the ditches and fields to either side of us. It was quite pretty almost the whole way to the campground.
We walked around the campgrounds checking it out, then went into the office to get a cold drink and chat with the owner. She told me they have been busy since Father’s Day weekend, which they are quite pleased with. We wished them well, and headed back down the road back to the Lincoln Memorial Garden.
We got back to the Garden and decided on another perimeter loop was in order to wrap up the day. It was much quieter now, the children were either snacking or sleeping or gone or some thing or another. We came upon a doe and her fawn… They walked up a pathway to the left, we took the path to the right.
Our last mandatory event was to stop at the 1787 oak tree and pay our respects and take a break on the nearby bench enjoying the great breeze blowing in off the lake. After a snack of fig bars and water we walked back to our car and clocked out with 8 1/2 miles under our feet this day.