History NotesChristmas memories recall festive times at Mt. Home Church
From 1905 to 1919, the growing Aebischer family lived on the 120 acres off of Aebisher Road. Their father, Chris, bought the land in 1894. By 1896, the house that remains there today was finished. Emily nee Aebisher Thorpe recalls:
"The Mt. Home Church has been like a light house set on a hill. We have many fond memories of Sunday School and meetings attended as we were growing up. I have a Certificate of Membership in the Mountain Home Sunday School dated 1905 and signed by Carrie Schmeltzer as teacher."
There were eight children in the Aebisher Family and they lived into the late 1970s. They were a robust group of kids who all learned how to harness the horses to take the buggy up through the canyon of Kruger Road.
Soon there were too many kids for the buggy, so their father would lead the oldest ones around through Wunderli Canyon on foot. Other neighborhood kids joined in, such as Lilian, Cassie and Eva Baker, Walter and Vera Vincent, Myrtle and May Strickler, and Anna Morris. It was the Wunderli family who donated their land for the Mt. Home Church.
"Our Christmas programs were a big event in the Mt. Home Church. How we practiced our songs and recitations! One year, Mary Courtney, Eva Davis, and I sang. We each had a wreath made from evergreens. We looked through the wreaths as we sang the chorus:
Framed in wreaths of Evergreen,
See us smile at you.
Merry Christmas to you all.
Happy New Year too."
During these times, there was another interesting tradition. For each of the children's birthdays, there was a ceremony of the children walking down the isle of the church during Sunday School and donating pennies for each year they were born. The money was used at the end of the year to pay for the bag or Christmas stocking of treats they received at the Christmas program.
"The church was beautifully decorated. The fragrant cedar branches greeted us as we entered. The red crepe paper bows and large bells added to the festive occasion. The coal oil lamps gave a soft glow to the church. In the front of the church in a corner stood the large Christmas tree which had been carefully selected in the woods by a committee. It was beautifully decorated. Near the end of the program, the candles were lighted. The eyes of the children grew big with wonder as they watched. A lighted candle fastened to the end of a long stick was used to reach the candles near the top of the tree." — Emily Thorpe
Even back in the early 1970s, I remember the ceremony of lighting the candles at each window of the church as the evening turned to night. The last thing to be lit was the tree, electronically.
The familiar carols were played and sang and there was a short sermon. I remember looking up at the tree and seeing a shadow cast on the wall, next to it. It looked like a person standing there. A young man with wild hair and a beard. It was not the speaker, nor could there have been anyone else on the stage. Could it have been some decoration casting the shadow, or the curve of the reader board? I will never know. Because all the lights went on and the service was over. I wandered over to inspect the tree and the wall, but found nothing.
The Sherwood History Center now houses and displays many of the Aebisher Farm Equipment. Brothers Lyle and Keith Ulrich just recently donated a second batch of farm implements to the Museum. I would also like to personally thank Jeannine Schmeltzer for her decades of compiling the Mountain Home History.
Our history center is now up and running once again. On schedule is our preoccupation with Sherwood trains as that is our new topic for the Art Walk and Christmas Open House.
Of course, we are always open on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 1to 4 p.m. to 4:00 for your history needs.
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