When did I first hear of the Burwalde woods?
It might’ve been in Peter Braun’s strange family book entitled The Brauns of Osterwick which includes a hand-drawn map of the Burwalde area where Brauns had settled 1879.
“Dead Horse Creek with its woods was a favored location,” writes Peter Braun.
In The Early History of Burwalde, Edwin D. Hoeppner writes, “The woods, once so thick and dark, mysterious and wonderful, which rang with the axe blows of the men of Schoenfeld and the angry voice of Johnston Rinn in 1877/78, and later with the merry voices of loud, boisterous Burwalde children and the raucous taunts of brawny Burwalde young men in softball contests with the visiting team from Rosenbach, are thinner now. And the Dead Horse Creek, that musical Pinancewaywining…”
Hoeppner calls the woods along the creeks “ribbon-forests” and I love it.
“By the fall of 1874,” writes Hoeppner, “squatters were established … in the woods along Dead Horse Creek.”
The possession of the woods had become the source of a clash between Anglo-Celts from Ontario, and the Mennonites who were expanding northwest from Osterwick and Waldheim. Hoeppner writes that there was a particular “difficulty” over SE 30-3-4W and NE 19-3-4W which, I think, is very near the location of the Burwalde Woods today. (Again, an opportunity to correct me. I do invite such behavior.)
All I know is, these woods along this creek are filled with stories and I wanted to walk there. I found an opportunity when I met one of owners of property in the area, I was shown how to access the trails.
I disappeared into the Burwalde Woods at last.
Somewhere along here, I was envisioning the historical drama unfolding here under these trees, along this creekbank.
I imagined my ancestors and great-great-great-(?)-aunts and uncles trekking along here, or visiting these woods for building materials and firewood. Perhaps there were romantic walks here too, in addition to violent encounters.
Stores are certainly alive in these woods and I’m grateful to have walked here.
These woods are surrounded by farmland but thankfully the Burwalde Woods along Dead Horse Creek is now a protected area. I don’t really know the ins and outs of the rules here but it seems to me that if you “know someone” then you have permission. I took comfort in the fact I was shown the path by a resident. This sign makes it all quite official:
I look forward to returning.