From its spring-fed source near Grou, Crispin Creek flows west by south-west toward its junction with the Mighty Muskrat. Near the southeast corner of the original townsite — where it is crossed by the road from Nimby¹ southeast of the city — the creek makes a gentle curve to the right, an arc of quiet slow-moving water near what archaeologists have told us was a camping ground of the Sac and Fox people, high enough above the Spring thaw flood water.
Beyond this point (behind the photographer in this view) the creek curves in the opposite direction before being crossed by South Broad Street and then straightway to the Muskrat. Just along the southern edge of the city alone, there are several not entirely complementary things: 1) the back lawn of what was once Walden Retreat, a private psychiatric hospital, 2) Gnostic Grove, the Sac and Fox campground which has seen subsequent human activity from vice to virtue, 3) the grain elevator built to serve the Milwaukee Road, and 4) the broad swath of flood plain that has been a community garden since the WPA.
The left (or south) bank remained agricultural until the acreage west of Broad became the Country Club. Otherwise, the creek was an effective barrier to the city’s southward growth, as the Muskrat was to the west. But it is the sunny patch called Gnostic Grove that engages my imagination again and again as the site of so many rituals, both civic and personal, public and private, from the community’s pre-history to the present. I invite you to search the archive for “Gnostic Grove” and in particular for “Harold Holt” or Hall as he was best known. Hal and his family have been the keepers of Agincourt history for multiple generations and his ashes are scattered among the council ring of stones that are the centerpiece of the grove.
¹The village of Nimby in the southeast part of the county presents its own story, a not always happy place that seems in perpetual shadow.