Night Train to Nisswa

This is a true story about the 1916 Packard, Iowa train wreck and the effect it had on three families from Traer, Iowa - the Van Vlietes, the Kobers, and the Dunlaveys. More

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About Mary Buffington

Mary Kathryn (Alesch) Buffington was born and raised in Northwest, Iowa. She was the middle of three daughters growing up in the small town of Le Mars where she attended Gehlen schools. After high school graduation in 1958, she attended the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, MN. She then completed her BA degree at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, IA in 1962.

Mary always enjoyed her English and language art classes, as well as Children Literature and Library Sciences. She taught elementary school in Iowa City and also substituted in Pre-schools as her four children grew to adulthood.

In 1984, Mary became secretary to her husband’s business, but along with an “empty nest” she became interested in researching her family roots. A love of genealogy began, which lent itself to publishing three books that traced both sides of her family. These publications were meant mainly for relatives.

In 2009, Mary became smitten with the story of the 1916 Packard train wreck revealed to her as she conversed with a friend who was related to victims of the disaster. This inspirational story lent itself to another genealogy project combined with researching the historical event that allowed Mary to write her first non-fiction book about an event in Iowa, namely, Night Train to Nisswa.

Mary hopes to continue her research projects, along with enjoying her family. Her “empty nest” is now filled with six grandchildren, who love to visit Grandma’s house when time and travel permit.

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