Small world: They knew way too much about Galena. . .I was curious


I am always amazed at how people are connected. When meeting strangers, it takes just a few questions to find a connection. That’s what I enjoy doing.

Last year during RAGBRAI, the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, I rode with a couple of new friends who live in New Hampshire. At the end of the first day of riding, they thought I knew half of the 20,000 people on the bike ride.

I hit a hot streak finding connections.

The same thing happened this weekend. Along with Mark Moran and Brett Noble, I participated in a 49-mile bike ride taking us from Mineral Point, Wis., to the big “M” just west of Platteville, Wis., passed the Wisconsin Territory Capitol buildings in Belmont and then back to Mineral Point.

For the record, I only saw the backs of Mark and Brett once. . .they lapped the field. . .so to speak.

Both of the organizers, Steve Halverson of Monona, Wis., and Ben Reeves of Platteville, work with Edward Jones. Both know Chris Curran.

Steve and his wife, Cheryl, knew way too much about Galena, me and the comings and goings of the community. His trivia contest during lunch even included questions about one of his historical heroes, Frederick Douglass, and the portrayal of Douglass by Steven Cole at the Galena United Methodist Church in February 2020.

Steve and Cheryl attended that program.

It turns out, they love Galena and in the past have thought about buying property here. They often stay at the DeSoto House and bring their bikes. Steve and Cheryl said over and over how much they “loved” Galena.

It gave this guy warm, fuzzy feelings. And they participated in the GOATS Ride the Ups & Downs of Jo Daviess County bike ride.`

This past February, one of Sarah’s Galena school buddies, Kim Kempert Warma, sent along this small world story.

She writes, Many years ago while walking on a small cove in Zihuatanejo, Mexico, I passed an obviously American man and woman. We all got to our respective ends of the cove, turned and retraced our steps meeting once again near the middle.

We struck up a conversation. I learned the man, probably in his 80s, was walking with his daughter. The man had lived his early years in Illinois. “Where?” Lena.

I mentioned I had family there, but grew up in Galena. He knew a man who moved to Galena, a man who played the organ.

“Ah, my grandfather played the organ,” I say.

He told me the man’s name was Al Kempert, and I told him that was my grandfather! Wow. We were all impressed by the serendipity of the moment. And the man told me that my grandfather was the first person to ever take him fishing.

When I returned home, I called my grandfather and relayed the story, telling him all about my meeting with Paul Witt. And then my grandfather told me that Paul Witt was my own father’s namesake: Robert Ray Paul Kempert.

Doesn’t that story just warm your heart?

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And finally, a throwback photo of a group of bridge builders from the April 13 Gazette brought back dear memories for Vivian Kepner of Lena. One of the bridge builders in the photo is Howard Ives, an uncle of her late husband.

She writes that Mr. Ives’ wife, “Aunt Sarah is a sister of my husband’s mother. I knew Howard Ives, his wife and their two sons...

“My husband was Herbert Kepner, a member of a premier family of Nora township. His grandfather Erastus Kepner came to Illinois from Pennsylvania in 1848. Erastus purchased this farm in Nora Township. My son, George is the fourth generation of Kepners to farm this farm.

I will be 98 years old in July 2022."


Reminder regarding letters to the editor

We have been running lots of letters to the editor recently. We love running your letters and commentary and please keep it coming. But there are two things to remember regarding length and frequency.

First, keep letters to 650 words or less. Shorter letters are better read.

Second, I have learned through the past 40-plus years that frequency begins to turn readers off. We shy away from running a letter to the editor from the same author in consecutive weeks. Our preference is monthly although we have made concessions in the past.

Third, if a letter raises “red flags” with us, we send it to our attorney for review. If our attorney has similar concerns, we ask the letter writer to revise the letter.

Thank you...


Busy week here at The Gazette

This is one of those weeks where we put two papers together in one week. Due to the Memorial Day weekend holiday, we’ll be putting next week’s paper together and sending the pages to our printer on Friday afternoon.

This means we have early deadlines for news and advertising. So. . .if you want something in next week’s paper, please get it to us no later than Thursday afternoon.

We wish all of you a safe and fun weekend.

by P. Carter Newton, publisher,